Jesus often taught in parables, stories with a meaning. He used stories because they were easy for the people to remember and relate to. He used common elements people would know. The Parable of the Pearl is actually two analogies found in Matthew 13:44-46. Children love stories and find parables easy to understand. Teachers enjoy parables with activities because children engage in ways that help them remember the story later.
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Something of Great Value
Read the scripture passage using The Message version of the Bible. Ask the children to describe the most valuable thing they own. Allow time for several to share. Bring out something of great value you own and share it with the children. Suggestions include a picture of a loved one, a family treasure or a favourite book. Explain that the man in the first illustration found something buried in a field and sold everything to buy the field so he could have the pearl he found. Ask the children if pearls grow in fields. Of course, they don't. Someone hid it there because it was valuable, and they didn't want to have it stolen. God hides valuable things in your life so you will find them when you need them. The valuable things might be a Bible passage, a friendship or your faith. Have the children draw something valuable in their life.
Real and Fake
Read Matthew 13:44-46 in "The Message" Bible. Show the children something that is real and an imitation. That might be a real pearl and costume jewellery or a picture and the real item or person. Ask them which item is more valuable and how they know. The merchant seeking the pearl was looking for the real thing. Jesus considers you so valuable he was willing to die for you. He wants to see real faith in your life. Ask the children to give examples of how God might find real faith in their life. Give young children a colouring page about the merchant's pearl.
Searching for a Prize
Tell the children you have hidden something valuable in the room, and they must find it. Give them hints, but don't make it too easy. After they find the item, have them sit in a circle and read Matthew 13:44-46 in a children's Bible. Ask them what they might do if they found a prize hiding in an empty field. Why did the finder buy the field? Explain that God finds you so valuable he gave up Jesus for you. Ask, "What kinds of things are buried in your life?" Suggest character traits of honesty, love and strength. Have the children create a collage of character words God seeks in their lives.
Giving up Everything for the Best
With older children, ask them what kinds of things they might give up everything for. Read Matthew 13:44-46 and then provide stories of two or three missionaries who gave their lives for the message. Discuss how they might be like the men in the parables.
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- Bible Gateway: Matthew 13:44-46; The Message
- eBible: Pearl of Great Price Flipchart; Terry Taylor
- The Berean Christian Bible Resources: The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price
- Kid's Sunday School: The Pearl of Great Price
- Bible: What's It Worth to You?; Jeff Miller
- Middletown Bible Church: Missionaries: Their Lives and Their Message