This parable is similar to the previous one where a man finds a great treasure in a field and covers it until he can buy the field. However a few nuances make this parable slightly different.
In that previous parable (verse 44) the man discovers a treasure hidden in the filed. He didn’t know or expect it to be there for he wasn’t looking for treasure. He just stumbled onto it and realising his luck, took full advantage of it. Some Christians come to the Lord that way. They are not necessarily looking for God, but they stumble across him and realise this is what they have been looking for all their life.
However in this second parable of the merchant seeking pearls, we see a different perspective. In this case the merchant is looking for pearls of value. He is searching and seeking diligently to find a valuable pearl. Then again we see he finds one pearl of immense value, so he goes and sells all of his possessions so that he had sufficient money to but that pearl.
There are people who likewise are looking for the truth. They have been through all kinds of systems, religions and philosophies but nothing satisfies. These are the other lesser value pearls. While some may provide a little value, some are rubbish and worthless. Then they find Jesus, Jesus may find them and they discover the fullness of what he offers. In comparison to everything else they have been looking at this is awesome. So they give away all they have and as Paul wrote when he found God, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:7-8)
Paul had discovered the pearl of great value in Jesus Christ. He was a perfect example of the man described in this parable. Paul was searching for the truth but until Jesus revealed himself to Paul, his life was going in the wrong direction.
The lesson here for all of us is that when we find such a valuable asset, whether by stumbling on it like treasure in a field or seeking a pearl of great value, make it your own. There is nothing that compares to the worth of knowing and being known by Jesus Christ.