Lesson 2 July 6 - July 12

Claiming the Treasure

Read for This Weeks Study: Matt. 13:44-46; Luke 7:36-50; 12:13-34; 14:25-35.

Memory Text:  "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Luke 12:34).

Key Thought: The Father's love and grace compels Him to search for us. And once He finds us, the same grace offers to restore us to our original position as His children. How we respond to His offer determines the course of our lives.



For those of you who like to make notes as you study, this lesson incorporates an answer/comment form for your personal use.  You can enter your responses to questions posed by the lesson or make comments at the end of each section. It may be appropriate to copy/paste a text or enter your own response.

You need to enter your email address below to have your comments returned to you.  When you are done for the session, press the [Send] button.  The form will be sent to a server which will anonymously (to the best of my knowledge) send it back immediately formatted as a web page and shortly as an email message.  If you want a printed copy of your responses, print the returned web page or the email message.  

Those who study the lesson in several sessions may find it convenient to combine the email messages from each session into one document, editing out the extraneous material with a word processor or text editor.


THE PEARL OF ASIA was discovered by Persian divers in 1628.  Drop-shaped, three inches long, and approximately two inches thick, it is the largest natural seed pearl in existence.   Grave robbers stole the pearl from the tomb of Ch'ien Lung, Manchu emperor of China, in 1799, one hundred years after his death.  The whereabouts of the pearl remained a mystery until it resurfaced 18 years later in Hong Kong as security for a large loan that eventually defaulted.  After that, an unintified buyer from Paris bought the pearl for an unknown price.  Two thousand years ago, Jesus told a story about another merchant who purchased a pearl of great price.   This story and others that Jesus told help us to take the next step in our understanding of salvation.   It is true that Jesus' loving grace seeks us out while we are yet sinners.   It is equally true that His finding us requires us to respond to His love.   The parables we will study for the next two weeks deal with the value of truth, the effort necessary to secure it, various ways of receiving the truth, and things that might prevent us from accepting it.

Sunday July 6

THE PERFECT PEARL (Matt. 13:45, 46).

The Greek word for "merchant" refers to a wholesale dealer, as opposed to a retailer or tradesperson.  Merchants were highly respected, and some priests even engaged in the profession.   "In the ancient world pearls had a very special place in men's hearts.   People desired to possess a lovely pearl, not only for its money value, but for its beauty.   They found a pleasure in simply handling it and contemplating it.... The main sources of pearls in those days were the shores off the Red Sea and far-off Britain itself; but a merchant would scour the markets of the world to find a pearl which was of surpassing beauty."-- William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew (Philadelphia, Pa.: The Westminster Press, 1975), vol. 2, pp. 86, 87.

The pearl was costly because it was perfect in every way. With this in mind, whom does the pearl symbolize? Col. 2:3; 1 Cor. 1:30; Eph. 3:8.

Describe the merchant's behavior when he found the pearl. Matt. 13:46. What does his behavior tell us about the pearl's value? Does his behavior suggest we must somehow purchase salvation?

This parable represents people who search diligently for their Saviour. This Saviour is worth all any person has, just as the pearl was worth all to the merchant. But if there is nothing we can do to purchase salvation (Rom. 3:21-28), why must we be willing to relinquish all to gain it? Because what we own often owns us. Because possessions may control our lives, something that only God should do (Matt. 19:16-26). But deeper yet, salvation costs the price of pride, personal aspirations, and base habits. Yes, salvation costs all that we have. But its worth is inestimable.

How do we become aware of the perfect Pearl? John 14:16-18; 15:26; 16:13, 14; 1 Cor. 12:3.

Compare Paul's words in Philippians 3:7, 8 to the merchant's behavior when he found the pearl.  Do you feel as Paul does?  If not, why?  If so, what can you do this week to share the"excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus" (NKJV), your Lord?  (Note the "double significance" of the parable.  See Christ's Object Lessons, p. 118.)

Monday July 7

BURIED TREASURE (Matt. 13:44).

Imagine that you live in a time when there are no banks.  Thieves abound, and new Political powers heavily tax your possessions.  Furthermore, the threat of plundering armies looms frequently on the horizon.   How would you safeguard what wealth you had?   Bury it perhaps?   In Jesus' day, that is exactly what many people did.  But it would not be unusual for you to forget the exact spot where you had hidden the treasure.  Or perhaps you die, are imprisoned, or exiled.   Then your treasure is lost until someone comes along to till the land and, in so doing, unearths it.

Like the parable of the perfect pearl, this story symbolizes the value of the gospel treasure.  And just as the plowman was ready to surrender everything he had to obtain the hidden riches, so "the finder of heavenly treasure will count no labor too great and no sacrifice too dear, in order to gain the treasures of truth."--Christ's Object Lessons, p. 104.

What motivated the farmer to sell all to buy the field? Matt. 13:44.

"This selling of all is no arbitrary condition, imposed from without, but rather a delightful constraint acknowledged within: even as a man would willingly fling down pebbles and mosses with which he had been filling his hands, if pearls and precious stones were offered him in their stead."--Richard Chenevix Trench, Parables of Our Lord (New York, N.Y.: Fleming H. Revell, 1861), p. 106.

That the finder feels he must have the treasure for his very own signifies that true religion consists of a personal relationship with the Saviour. Christ says, "Come to me" and "Learn from me" (Matt. 11:28, 29, NKJV; italics supplied), while 1 John 5:12 states that "whoever has the Son has life" (NRSV). You must be able to believe that Christ loves you. He died for you.

Matthew 13 relates seven parables, four of which Jesus told to a multitude.   But He told the parables of hidden treasure and the perfect pearl only to His disciples (verse 36).  What do you think His reasoning was for doing this?

Ellen White states that "the field containing the treasure represents the Holy Scriptures."—Christ’s Object Lessons, p.104.  What, then, does this parable suggest about Bible study?  How can you start improving your Bible-study habits today?

Tuesday July 8


Read Luke 14:25-35.   How do the parables in verses 28-33 relate to the parables we studied Sunday and Monday?

Describe the circumstance that prompted Jesus to tell these parables.   Verses 25-27.

"He turned" (verse 25).  As the multitude pursued Jesus, He stopped and turned to face them.  He was on His way to Jerusalem and the cross.  But most of the people following Him thought He was on His way to establish an earthly empire.  Thus, He told them that anyone who followed Him must do so with a loyalty that would renounce their most cherished possessions.

"Hate not his father" (verse 26).  "In the Bible, 'to hate,' often should be understood simply as a typical Oriental hyperbole meaning 'to love less.' "--SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 811.  (See Matt. 10:37.)  Therefore, if we love anything or anyone more than we love Christ, we cannot be His disciple.   The cost of discipleship includes all that a person has in this life--"plans, ambitions, friends, relatives, possessions, riches--anything, and everything that might interfere with service for the kingdom of heaven."--SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 812.

To emphasize the necessity of counting the cost of discipleship, Jesus then told the parables in verses 28-32.  The tower could have been a reference to the high structures in vineyards where watchmen sat to guard against robbers who might steal the harvest.  Or Jesus could have been thinking about Herod who was obsessed with constructing great buildings.  Such buildings others would no doubt imitate.   And no doubt many of these imitations remained unfinished, owing to insufficient planning and funding. But the cost of being a Christian must include a complete and lasting surrender of our wills to Christ.

"Here [Luke 14:34], the flavor of 'salt' represents the spirit of devotion.   Discipleship without this spirit of devotion, Jesus declares, is without meaning."--SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 812.

Have you counted the cost of following Christ?  What motivates your relationship with Him?

Wednesday July 9


What situation prompted Jesus to tell the parable of the rich fool?  Luke 12:13 (compare Deut. 21:17).

"According to the Mosaic law of inheritance, the older brother received two shares of his father's goods, and the remaining brother or brothers a single share each.... Perhaps it was the younger son who in this case appealed to Jesus and objected to the older brother's actually taking the double portion assigned to him by law."--SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 795.

How is the rich fool different from the two characters in the parables we studied Sunday and Monday?  How is the questioner in verse 13 like the rich fool?

The foolish rich man asked the right question ("What shall I do?").   But he gave the wrong answer ("I shall build bigger bams.").  And in so doing, he branded himself as a slave to the idol of his own greed.  (See Col. 3:5.)

Notice how many times the fool used the words I and my.  His love for self prevented him from fufilling the first requirement of the law:  "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind" (Luke 10:27, NIV; see Deut. 6:5; Exod. 20:3-11).  Naturally, then, he could not fulfill the second requirement of the law:  "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27, NIV; see Lev. 19:18; Exod. 20:12-17).  Instead of using his abundance to feed widows, orphans, and other impoverished people, he used it to gratify his own desires.

The verses immediately following the parable (Luke 12:22-34) pointedly provide an alternative lifestyle to that of the rich man in the parable.   Jesus implies that even the birds and flowers know better than the wealthy fool!  Verse 34 pronounces the folly of living for material goods and the final verdict against our poor rich fool-his heart was locked inside his musty storage buildings, withering away for lack of the Son's light.   We may safely assume that the life Jesus characterized as worthy in verses 22-34 is the life lived by the merchant who searched for the perfect pearl and by the man who found the buried treasure.

Where is your treasure stored?  Why does this parable not rule out careful provision for our financial future?

Thursday July 10

THE TWO DEBTORS (Luke 7:36-50).

The parable of the two debtors displays the only two attitudes we can have toward God's forgiveness-gratitude or selfish indifference. The parable shows the principle that an individual's appreciation for God's forgiveness is based on that individual's sense of need for His forgiveness.

Identify and describe the three main characters in Luke 7:36-40.

Now match the people in the parable (verses 41-43) with the characters in verses 36-40.

The man who owed much  
The man who owed little  
The money lender  

The amount each debtor owed did not make a difference.  Neither person was able to repay his loan.  The difference lies in the appreciation each debtor exhibited toward the creditor's forgiveness.

As a Pharisee, Simon based his righteousness upon his own ability to follow a set of laws.   Confident of his own strength, he felt he was already a good person.   Therefore, he was not aware of his need for Christ's forgiveness.  "The one thing which shuts a man off from God is self-sufficiency."--William Barclay, The Gospel of Luke (Philadelphia, Pa.: The Westminister Press, 1956), p. 95.

With great scorn Simon viewed the scene before him.   Pharisees believed that men incurred ceremonial defilement if a woman touched them.   To have a prostitute touch you incurred serious defilement.   And here was the rabbi Jesus allowing this harlot not only to touch Him, but to kiss Him and to anoint Him with costly perfume possibly purchased with funds gained from her profession.   But this woman recognized her inability to redeem herself.   Her behavior, unlike Simon's, demonstrated both this recognition and her profound appreciation for the Saviour's gift of grace.

How Simon must have bristled when Jesus did not declare his sins forgiven while pronouncing that the woman's sins were forgiven.  

With which of the characters in today’s lesson do you most identify? Are you honest enough to admit that maybe it might be Simon, whose debt was the greater? (See The Desire of Ages, p. 567.) How deeply do you sense your need?

Friday July 11

FURTHER STUDY:   Wednesday's lesson dealt with greed and how it keeps us from accepting God's offer of salvation.   Study the following instances of selfishness and selflessness.   What does the outcome of each tell us about these two characteristics?   Num. 22-24; 31:8; Joshua 6:24; 7:1, 19-25; John 6:1-14; Acts 9:36-42.

Read any of the following: Christ's Object Lessons, "Hidden Treasure," pp. 103-114; "The Pearl," pp. 115-121; "Gain That Is Loss," pp. 252-259; The Desire ofages, "The Feast at Simon's House," pp. 557-568.

"There are some who are seeking, always seeking, for the goodly pearl.   But they do not make an entire surrender of their wrong habits.   They do not die to self that Christ may live in them.  Therefore they do not find the precious pearl....

"A daily consecration to God brings peace and rest.   The merchant sold all that he had to possess the pearl.  When those who are seeking for salvation refuse to fail or be discouraged, they will find peace and rest in the Lord.   Christ will clothe them with His righteousness."--Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 399, 400.


1.   Explain what you have learned this week about the balue of truth, the effort necessary to secure it, various ways of receiving the truth, and things that might prevent us from accepting it.

2.   What possessions guide your life and direct you away from God?  Might God be asking you to give up these posssessions in order to spend meor time with Him?  When does giving something up mean getting rid of it completely or controlling yourself in the use of it?

3.   What does the parable of the rich fool teach us about the stewardship of abundance?  Was Christ condemning wealth or one's attitude toward it?  Explain your answer.

4.   In Luke 7:50, Jesus tells the woman that her faith has saved her.  What does this imply about the relationship of faith to forgiveness?  (See Heb. 11:6.)  What does the woman's behavior tell us about the relationship between faith and works?  (See James 2:14-25

SUMMARY:  God stands ready and able to grant us forgiveness and a new life in Him. If, with great appreciation, we are willing to give all of ourselves to Him, His saving power will take effect in our lives.

A Helping Hand

Neria da Silva Mendonca

On Sabbath afternoon, I went to visit a family whose name I had been given.   A man, Joao, his wife, Lucilene, and four small children lived in a scene of intense poverty, hunger, and filth.  I wondered how the family could focus on studying the Bible when their material needs were so great, but Joao eagerly told me about a dream he had.   "I was going to a dance, but I came to a crossroad, and I did not know which way to go.   A man dressed in white with a Bible in his hand stood beside me.  I asked him for directions, and he opened the Bible and said: ‘The way is this one.’"  Then Joao added, "God has brought you here.  Yes, we want to study the Bible."

I went to visit the family several Sabbaths in a row but did not find them home.   Then I learned that they had moved.  I located them living in a hut made of dirty planks under a tree infested with ants.  Their month-old baby's body was covered with ant bites.   Because of their need, some church members and I began a Branch Sabbath School there.  We taught hygiene and health, and slowly we were able to change these people's habits.   Community Services helped with clothing and shoes, and soon Joao and Lucilene asked for baptism.   But Lucilene was a minor, and they had not been married, so they had to wait for baptism.

One day Joao called me, very upset.   I went to see them and found that Lucilene had been beaten by the neighbors.   Joao was so angry he wanted to kill the offenders.   Weeping with them, I opened the Bible to Romans 12:19-21 and read, "Do not take revenge, . . . but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written:  'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord.... Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."  Slowly Joao calmed down.

We prayed and asked God to help them find another home.  When I returned home, I met a friend who needed someone to live on an unoccupied ranch he owned.   It had a house, water, and light. I hurried to tell Joao and his family.   Two days later, the family moved.  It was difficult for them to get to church, but they did not lose courage.

Today they live happily with their children.   They have enough food and a good home.   Daily they praise God, awaiting the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, because they heard the voice of an angel.

Niria da Silva Mendonca is a lay worker in the Ribeirao Preto Central Church in Sao Paulo State, Brazil.

For Current Newsbreak.  Call 1-800-648-5824



Join the SSNET moderated email discussion group.  You are also warmly invited to join a group discussion of this lesson Sabbath morning (usually 9:30 AM) with your local Seventh-Day Adventist congregation.

Last updated on July 10, 1997
Prepared for the Internet by the SSNET Web Team
Copyright © 1997 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. All Rights Reserved.