What does this parable mean?
"... the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls."Remember that the "kingdom of heaven" is not a physical location. The word "kingdom" is translated from βασιλεία (basileia) - which refers to "royal power, kingship, dominion, rule; not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom."
This means it refers to the consciousness of accepting the dominion and superior nature of the Supreme Being.
So what is the merchant? A merchant in Jesus' times was a trader or a shop-keeper. A person who bought and sold stuff. So when a merchant is looking for fine pearls, he is looking for something exquisite: Something extraordinary.
This represents someone who is looking for spiritual happiness. The word "fine" is being translated from the Greek word καλός (kalos), which means "beautiful, handsome, excellent, eminent, choice, surpassing, precious, useful, suitable, commendable, admirable; beautiful to look at, shapely, magnificent" according to the lexicon.
We are all looking for happiness, but we are looking in the wrong place. We think that the temporary forms and things of the physical world will bring us happiness, but they don't. They simply bring emptiness. Why?
Because we are not these physical bodies. We are the spiritual being that occupies this physical body. We are eternal spirit-persons falsely identifying with a temporary physical body.
This becomes apparent as the body ages. When we look back at the body we see that it is changing, yet we feel like the same person. And science confirms that the physical body changes. It is estimated that within five years every molecule of the physical body will be recycled and replaced by new molecules. It is like looking at a waterfall. We might thing it is the same waterfall but the water keeps changing. There is new water flowing all the time.
So who is the constant person who occupied both the younger body and the body we have on now? This is who we are: Each of us is an individual spiritual being - originally created by the Supreme Being to love and serve Him.
But He also gave us the freedom to love Him or not. This is why some of us are here in this physical world - because we decided we didn't want to love and serve the Supreme Being. We decided we wanted to love and serve ourselves. We became self-centered, in other words.
So the Supreme Being gave us these temporary physical bodies and allowed us to forget Him - so that we could escape Him. This is the ultimate in love and kindness. The Supreme Being doesn't force us - He allows those who want to be away from Him that opportunity.
But because He is always around, He had to create a virtual reality - to hide Himself from us. This is the physical world.
This only means that as soon as we truly decide we want to return to our loving relationship with Him, we can return to Him in the form of renewing our relationship with Him.
This is what Jesus is speaking about with this parable. The merchant represents each of us - as we are 'trading' the goods of the physical world - but always looking for happiness.
"When he found one of great value..."Finding a pearl "of great value" represents rediscovering ones eternal relationship with the Supreme Being. This relation is always there, but currently it is covered up because of our self-centeredness.
Imagine seeing a new car completely covered in mud. Does it look new? Hardly. But the new car is still there under the mud. Once the mud is taken off the car looks new again.
"... he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”The fine pears of Jesus' parable represents ones relationship with the Supreme Being. Once a person truly rediscovers this relationship, they become willing to sacrifice everything to grow that relationship and maintain that relationship.
This is the reason we find so much sacrifice by devoted saints and apostles through the centuries. Those who rediscovered their loving relationship with Supreme Being (the kingdom of heaven) are willing to give up everything in order to pursue that relationship.
This is also the meaning of Jesus' own sacrifices. Jesus gave up everything to teach about God. While most in the ecclesiastical and secular institutions see the crucifixion of Jesus as a vehicle for their own salvation - a self-centered proposition - the real meaning of his sacrifice has been grossly overlooked.
In fact, it is grotesque that ecclesiastical and secular institutions gave this day the name "good Friday." What is so "good" about the murder of the physical body of the Supreme Being's most beloved loving servants?
The meaning of Jesus' allowing his physical body to be tortured is being described in this parable, in fact. Once within a devotional relationship with the Supreme Being, His loving servant will sacrifice everything to please Him. Consider how Jesus wanted to please the Supreme Being:
"By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." (John 5:30)Jesus illustrates how pleasing the Supreme Being was his life and soul. This is because Jesus was in love with the Supreme Being. Isn't this what motivated Jesus to teach, and motivated him to suffer due to those teachings.
This is because a loving relationship with the Supreme Being is so satisfying, so blissful, and so fulfilling, that a person becomes willing to give everything up to maintain that relationship once it is discovered.
(For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Gospel of Matthew without institutional sectarian influence, see the Devotional Translation - translated from the original Greek texts.)