On our own, we are incapable of recognizing the value of God’s Kingdom.

We tend to invest our lives in much less important ways – killing time pursuing the little pearls of this world when we are offered the pearl of great price.

This lesson shows students that while it may cost them everything they have, they will lose nothing if they follow Jesus.



Bible: The Pearl of Great Price – Matthew 13:45-46

Bottom Line: God’s Kingdom is an all-in investment.



Fairly heavy kettlebell (about 40lbs) or dumbbell for each team (needs to be light enough for them to lift, but heavy enough to need both hands)

Small tarp to cover each weight

5-6, 3oz Dixie cups (depending on the size of each team. You need one cup for each person, besides the last person to play the game.)



Towels for clean up 


Set up cones in a simple obstacle course for the students, through which they will have to carry cups of water – in the form of a relay race.

Tell students that they will earn 10 points for every ounce of water they still have by the end of the game (making a maximum of 180 points).

Let teams know that after the winning team finishes, they’ll lose 10 points for every 20 seconds over-time that they go.

The last item of the relay is worth 200 points – don’t tell them what it is.

If they set any of the cups down at any time, they lose the cup permanently.

Only the first student carries a single-filled Dixie cup.

The second student must carry both cups.

The third student carries three cups – and on and on.

It gets quite challenging as a student is trying to carry 5 or 6 cups by themselves.

When you come to the last student, he/she will most likely have to make a choice on whether to carry the cups or the kettle bell (though they’ll probably attempt to do both at first).

After explaining the rules, play the game.



You may want to touch on these terms to help students better understand this lesson.

Parable: A short story or illustration that reveals a spiritual reality.

Kingdom of God/Heaven: This is God’s dynamic reign where he brings justice, peace, healing, and freedom along with His presence.


Small Box (preferably transparent)

Ping-pong balls (enough to fill up most of box. Leave a few to the side)

Balloon that is blown up big enough to fill almost entire box.


Imagine your house is on fire and you have time to save a couple of things.

Besides family or pets, what would do you choose to save?

What holds the greatest value to you?

Give students time to answer.

Now, what would it cost to buy that item from you?

Let me give you a real-life illustration.

In 2016, it was discovered that a Filipino fisherman had found the world’s biggest pearl inside a giant clam.

He kept it under his bed for 10 years, until his house burned down.

Imagine if you came across this man with this pearl valued at over $100 million and you offered to buy it.

He tells you it’s very special to him and won’t be cheap.

After some haggling you settled on terms, but in order to raise the money, you have to sell everything you own.

In a fire, I would try to save things that are very valuable (my laptop, phone, car), but I would sell them in a second to buy this pearl, because with the pearl, I could buy everything I own a million times over.

While it may cost me everything I have, I will lose nothing.

Listen to how similar this is to how Jesus describes God’s kingdom.

Read Matthew 13:45-46 (ESV)

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” 

Here are some of the highlights of these verses.

1. The kingdom is available to those who recognize its value.

The merchant’s selling is not a sacrifice but an investment.

No one sells everything to buy something of lesser value.

It’s not a matter of whether it’s worth it, but rather who will recognize its worth.

Maybe the thought of selling your possessions may hurt or feel scary, but it’s not a sacrifice when you recognize you’re receiving much more than you’re giving.

For some, when we see the cost of following Jesus, we might think we’re losing something or the cost is too high.

Like the kettle bell in the game, it makes sense to drop the water to pick up the kettlebell, because it’s worth so much more.

Often, we see value but worry about comfort more than opportunity.

In an odd move, Jesus seems to praise the merchant’s behavior that is unwilling to be comfortable.

2. The Kingdom is an all-in investment


Hold small box.

Our life is like this box, filled with different things and activities that we enjoy and pursue to make us happy.

Many of these we put our identity in.

I’m a student (toss another ping-pong ball in the box), I’m a basketball player (toss in another), I’m in band (toss in another).

We can view our walk with Jesus similarly as just something else that we add to our life.

I go to church/youth group (toss others in), read my Bible (toss in another), pray (toss in another).

We can think of Christianity as one more item that fits in our life – that’s already full of other stuff.

However, what Jesus shows us here is that the kingdom is more like this (the balloon) and to possess it, you have to (dump contents of box out) allow God to rearrange everything else in your life.

As in the game, you must forsake all other pursuits and no matter how well you worked in keeping all the water, the Gospel, like the kettle bell, is something that you must pursue exclusively.

When we try to follow God’s kingdom as just one more thing, we miss His kingdom.

It’s too heavy to carry along with other things, but will we recognize its value?

God’s Kingdom is not an add-on item, but an all-in investment!

Give an example of someone your students will know who has gone “all-in” – possibly someone everyone knows at church, an athlete, or an example from your own life. 


On our own, we are incapable of recognizing the value of God’s Kingdom.

We will continue to invest our lives in much less important ways – killing time pursuing the little pearls of this world when we are offered the pearl of great price.

We invest in what we believe will satisfy us.

To some extent all of us devalue the pearl of God’s kingdom and get caught up with the things of this world.

We also have a tendency to overvalue the other pearls.

Things like popularity and prestige become overvalued so we put our time and energy into things that will build them – like sports, music, art, etc.

For some, we think the goal of life is to be as entertained as possible, so we never dare to exchange the comfortable for the valuable and we choose to let the pearl leave us undisturbed.

For others, the exclusivity of pursuing God’s kingdom turns us away because we doubt it can really be that valuable.

Perhaps we wonder that if we gave sell all our goods to purchase it, we will find out it’s a fake, so we hedge our bets.

This may be wise counsel in all other ways of investing, which is what makes Jesus’ parable so shocking.

Be all in or miss out.  What will you be?


It may be impossible for us to be “all in” with the Gospel until we realize that Jesus himself was “all in.”

God is not simply trying to squeeze something extra from us; Jesus had to die to give his kingdom to us.

If it was worth the Son of God dying to give it to us, it’s worth our lives to receive it.

It’s the most valuable investment you’ll ever make in your life, but the question is, “Are you all-in?”


React to this statement: “Failure to give up everything for the kingdom means you don’t really understand its value.”  Agree/disagree and why?

Tell me what this means to you – “God’s Kingdom is not an add-on item, but an all-in investment!” Do you like this idea or not?  Do you agree or not?  Why or why not?

In what ways have you tried to make the pursuit of God’s kingdom an add-on in your own life rather than its central pursuit? What’s the hardest thing to “sell” in order to acquire God’s kingdom?

What’s one thing that you can do tomorrow to pursue God’s kingdom exclusively?

Are we willing to step aside from all we have to obtain what we want?


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