36. The pearl of great price
Characters: Teddy, Noddy
Props: (Fake) pearls, shiny table-tennis ball set in matchbox, or similar. Paper and pencil.
[This story is adapted from a passage in Disciple by Juan Carlos Ortiz (pp 34, 35).]
In Matthew 13, Jesus says that the kingdom of God is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. And when he finds a pearl of great price, he sells everything he has to buy it. But what did Jesus mean? I wonder if there is something very special to you that you like to collect? Some people collect stamps, or match-boxes, or minerals. Well, Teddy just loves pearls. He has a big collection of pearls, and he loves looking at them, admiring their gentle silver sheen. And of course he is always on the lookout for more. One day when he is at the markets, he meets a very strange looking character – his head doesn’t seem to sit up properly! On the table in front of the stranger is the largest, most beautiful pearl Teddy has ever seen. It sort of glows. ‘Oh,’ says Teddy, ‘what a beautiful pearl! I would love to have that pearl! How much is it?’ ‘Oh,’ says the stranger, ‘it is very expensive.’ ‘Yes,’ says Teddy, ‘but how much is it?’ ‘Oh, a very large amount,’ says the stranger. ‘Do you think I could buy it?’ asks Teddy. ‘Of course,’ says the stranger, ‘anyone can buy it.’ ‘But didn’t you say it was very expensive?’ ‘Yes,’ says the stranger. ‘Well, how much is it?’ asks Teddy, getting a bit impatient. ‘Everything you have,’ says the stranger. Teddy thinks for a minute, and then looks at the beautiful pearl. ‘Alright,’ he says, ‘I’ll buy it.’ ‘Well, what do you have?’ asks the stranger. ‘Let’s write it down.’ And he pulls out a sheet of paper and a pencil. ‘Well,’ says Teddy, ‘I have $17 in the bank.’ The stranger writes down $17. ‘Good,’ he says. ‘And what else?’ ‘That’s all,’ says Teddy. ‘That’s all I have.’ ‘Nothing more?’ asks the stranger. ‘Well, I have a few dollars here in my pocket.’ ‘How much?’ Teddy starts digging. ‘Well, let’s see: $2, $3, $5, $5.20.’ The stranger makes a note on his paper. $5.20. ‘That’s fine. Now what else do you have?’ ‘Well, nothing,’ answers Teddy. ‘That’s all.’ ‘Where do you live?’ asks the stranger. ‘In my house, ’ answers Teddy. ‘Yes, I have a house.’ The stranger writes: Teddy’s house. ‘You mean I have to live in my caravan?’ exclaims Teddy? ‘You have a caravan? That too,’ says the stranger, adding it to the list. ‘I’ll have to sleep in my car!’ says Teddy. ‘Oh, you have a car?’ He writes it down. ‘What else?’ ‘You already have all my money, my house, my caravan, my car. What more do you want?’ ‘Are you all alone in this world?’ ‘No, I have Mrs Teddy and my two children ... .’ Mrs Teddy and the two children get added to the list. ‘What else?’ ‘Oh!’ cries Teddy. ‘I have nothing left! I am left all alone now.’ Suddenly the stranger exclaims, ‘Oh yes. I almost forgot! You yourself too! Everything becomes mine: wife, children, house, car, money – and you too.’ Teddy suddenly has a bad thought – the sort of thought that bears have when they have made a big decision without asking Mrs Teddy first! But then he looks at the beautiful pearl, and he knows it is alright. The stranger says. ‘Now, I will let you use all these things. But you must never forget that they belong to me, just as you do. And whenever I need any of them, you must be prepared to give them up, because now I am the owner.’ So Teddy became the very happy owner of the pearl of great price. And, this is what it means to place yourself under the ownership of Jesus.