(91) S5E13 SOTM: Pearl

Continuing the Sermon on the Mount working through Mt. 7:6.


  • Richard Rohr's "Sermon on the Mount": https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003A0IASQ/ref=cm_sw_r_em_api_uOXEFbGCN7ASQ
  • Dallas Willard's "The Divine Conspiracy": https://www.amazon.com/Divine-Conspiracy-Rediscovering-Hidden-Life/dp/0007596545/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=dallas+willard+divine+conspiracy&qid=1601907374&sr=8-1

Pearl
 
To those who know not life, our death is vain
Moonshine muscled into our very souls
But they can't see truth of what they disdain
These pearls in mud in which the pig wallows
 
Ungulates can't know supernatural
Nor can minds fathom the depths of the sea
Unless God overcomes the rational
Changing dumb asses to talking donkeys
 
To all those who have wisdom let them hear
Before us there stands a pearl of great price
Two choices lay ahead, the first is fear
Second, sell all you have for Paradise
 
Kingdoms of Earth and Gates of hell will fail
While pearly Gates of conquered will prevail
 


 

[Mt. 7:6] This refers to the foolishness of the Christian life. To the world, the Christian’s sacrifice and way is foolish. In the first line I say “our death is” rather than “our deaths are” to emphasize the unity and oneness of the Christian life and aim. However, in the next line I will separate this to emphasize that we are still individuals (souls). 
 
Moonshine here can mean three things. 1) They think we’re drunk and intoxicated on religion, like those on the day of Pentacost believed about the Christians. 2) They think our religion is “moonshine,” or craziness. We are ignorant fools. 3) What we are selling is crazy. We’re liars. We’re snake oil salesmen. This is somewhat like setting up Lewis’s “Lord, Liar, Lunatic” example, though without the Lord part. The world believes that this stupidity we believe has muscled its way into our lives – either by force or by massage, by necessity or by brainwashing over time. This idea of “muscle” is also a word play on “mussel,” which are the freshwater variant of the bivalve which forms pearls. In this sense I am alluding to the idea that the pearls created in us are pearls from streams of living water (fresh, running water) – a significant image in the New Testament and early church for the life of Christ in us. 
 
This is an obvious allusion to where Matthew talks about throwing our pearls before swine. The pearls of a Christian’s life and wisdom mean nothing to a lost world. Our pearls are muddied by the world, and the beasts cannot recognize their splendor and worth. This use of swine may also have a deeper meaning in Matthew, and it certainly does as I use it. Pigs are one of the few (maybe only, I’m not sure) animals which appear clean on the outside (cloven hooved) but are not clean on the inside (don’t chew their cud). Without a close inspection of swine, nobody would ever know they were unclean by their appearance. Often times it is the same way with the wise/fool, believer/unbeliever, etc. 
 
I carry on with the theme of beasts and pigs in two ways. First, I refer to “ungulates,” which are just hoofed animals. Second, I use the word “supernatural.” In the middle of this word we find the Latin “perna,” which is the word from which “pearl” gets its name. “Perna” means “leg” in Latin, and pearls come from this word because the creatures which form pearls were seen as being in the shape of a leg (a pig or sheep leg). This line, then, emphasizes the beast and pig reference. 
 
The beasts can’t understand the depths of the sea where pearls come from, so how could they understand the supernatural pearls? Here I use “fathom” as a double reference, both to mean “comprehend” as well as to emphasize the depths of the sea, as “fathom” is a unit of large measurement in the ocean depths. 
 
But if God couldn’t give beasts understanding, who then could be saved? We know that God can work in beasts, for we’ve seen it done. He made Balaam’s donkey speak, and he made Nebuchadnezzar dumb like an animal, and then normal again. God can give understanding and blindness. If he can give animals understanding, certainly he can bring about humility and understanding in dumb asses. I of course mean “dumb asses” here in the technical sense of non-verbal donkeys and by no means am stooping to vulgarity in a double entendreic way😉
 
“Pearl of great price” is a name Jesus gives to the Kingdom of God in Matthew 13. 
 
When we come across a pearl of great price, we have two options. The first is to ignore or pass up the opportunity due to a fear of the gravity of the choice before you. It is indeed a risk to sell everything . But the reward is great. So the second choice is to pursue the pearl, at which point we receive paradise.
 
Jesus says that the gates of hell will not prevail against his church. Gates are not offensive, and Jesus means for this to imply that from his resurrection on, the church will be the assailing the gates of hell as Christ’s enemies are made his footstool. Nothing can withstand the onslaught of the church. This onslaught is meant not to be against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of darkness – the gates of hell. 
 
This is a pearly gates reference, a common depiction of heaven which comes from Revelation. I am also depicting the notion of the upside down kingdom here. I say that the conquered will prevail, which seems counterintuitive. But it is those conquered by Christ who will prevail against the world. Second, I say that the gates will prevail, which is counterintuitive. If you read the book of Revelation, you’ll get all of this counterintuitive sort of thing. Conquering and prevailing in Revelation does not look like spilling another’s blood and violently defeating them. In fact, of the 18 times the word “blood” appears in the book of Revelation, 10 (and possibly 11) of those times the blood is that of the martyrs or of Christ. The other 7-8 times it is referenced metaphorically in relation to judgment (e.g. the moon turns to blood). Revelation is all about heaven conquering not by warring, but by standing firm in love and conquering by the laying down of our lives. We can stand behind the pearly gates of heaven because Christ has already conquered. As it has been said, we don’t fight for victory, we fight from victory. This is the wisdom of God, exemplified by The Wisdom of God. Take these pearls of wisdom to heart.

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