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In today’s Bible reading, we come across a word that Matthew has only used one other time previously: parable. Those of us who have been around church for very long have heard about parables. But have you thought about why Jesus used parables? And that begs the question, “What is a parable?”

A parable is an extended metaphor. It’s a story with a deeper meaning. “Parable” literally means something that’s thrown alongside. You could say that a parable is an “object lesson” or a “word picture”. Many times as Jesus came across something in life, He’d tell a story about it with a practical application to the Kingdom of God. (On a side note, it’s very interesting that Jesus is the only person in the entire New Testament who used parables.)

I remember early in my ministry, children would hand run up to our Children’s Pastor and give him an object, a toy, or something they found. He would talk about that object and spin it into a gospel message. He was a master storyteller!

Not everyone who heard a parable understood what Jesus was trying to convey. Yes, He meant to do that. Many people (most people?) just thought Jesus was telling stories. Matthew 13:11 tells us two of the reasons that Jesus used these parables: to reveal things about the Kingdom of God and to conceal things about the Kingdom of God. Matthew adds a third reason in Matthew 13:34-35 – to fulfill prophecy.

One day Jesus and His disciples may have strolled through the market when they spotted a well-dressed man arguing with a common merchant about a collection of pearls at his table. Jesus may have used that occasion to tell His disciples about the “Priceless Pearl”. (Matthew 13:44–46)

A “regular Joe” may not care much about pearls, but a collector does. A pearl collector would recognize a unique, priceless pearl in a tray of pearls. And when he finds “the one”, a wise pearl collector would give everything he has to buy it. That pearl may look like every other pearl in a tray, but to a discerning eye, that pearl would stand out from all the rest.

To a common bystander, a kingdom is a kingdom. But to a disciple of Jesus Christ (then and now), the Kingdom of God isn’t a common kingdom among lots of other kingdoms. The Kingdom of God is a priceless pearl of a Kingdom. And for anyone with a discerning eye, the Kingdom of God is worth selling everything you have in order to get it.

Application

Do you have a discerning eye? Do you recognize the Kingdom of God when you see it? It doesn’t look like any other kingdom. And yet, it doesn’t even look like what most people would expect it would look like. And look at the King: most people didn’t recognize Jesus as the King. Neither did is disciples!

A few chapters ago (Chapter 6), Jesus told His disciples to have His Kingdom at the front of their minds. He told them to prioritize His Kingdom and His righteousness above everything else. To do that takes a lot of focus. And it requires putting a lot of other things out of focus.

The Kingdom of God is worth more than anything else you could ever conceive of.
Ask God to give you eyes to see its worth today.

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