Sermon Illustrations on Price


Pearls of Great Price

Pearls were of much greater value in Jesus’ time than they are today. Queen Cleopatra is reputed to have had two pearls which together were worth around 15 million denarii. A denari was roughly a day’s wage for an unskilled labourer, so based on the current minimum wage in Australia, that comes out as maybe AU$2.25 billion (US$1.5 billion) for those two pearls. Even if my maths isn’t quite right, pearls were incredibly valuable in the ancient world.

Jacob Traeger

The Price of the American Dream

USA Today published a report in 2014 that put a price tag on the American Dream: $130,000 a year, which includes a nice six-figure salary, luxury vacations, college savings, and retirement.

Kristen Welch, Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World: How One Family Learned That Saying No Can Lead to Life’s Biggest Yes, Tyndale House Publishers.)

The Moussaieff Red Diamond

The stone had been formed in the depths of the earth centuries before it was found, transformed from worthless carbon by unimaginable temperatures and pressures. It had been driven to the surface of the earth by tectonic forces and had made its way down various tributary streams until it came to rest at the edge of the Abaetezinho River in Brazil. No one could know how long it was there, unrecognizable, covered with mud and sand. It looked like any ordinary stone, but it was precious beyond words.

In 1990, a Brazilian farmer needed some water for his fields and stooped down to get it. The stone somehow caught his eye, and he scooped it up, dripping and dirty. There’s no way the farmer could have known that he had just discovered the largest red diamond in history—13.9 carats in its rough form. All diamonds are rare, but red diamonds are the rarest of them all. That red diamond would eventually be cut into a triangular shape weighing 5.11 carats. It is now known as the Moussaieff Red Diamond, after the collector who purchased it in 2001. Its sale price was undisclosed, but estimates put its value as high as $8 million. This amazing red diamond is exceedingly precious.

Andrew M Davis, The Power of Christian Contentment, Baker Publishing Group, 2019, p.12.


Lowering His Price Based on Appearances

Honoré de Balzac would eventually become a celebrated writer in post-Napoleanic France. He was renowned for his complex characters and realistic writing style. But like many young and aspiring writers, he lived a rather bohemian and frugal lifestyle. Nevertheless, when word got out in Paris that he was a writer of significant promise, a Parisian bookseller decided to offer him 3,000 francs for his next novel.

Upon arriving at Balzac’s address, clearly in a rough part of town, he decided to drop his price to 2,000 francs. Once entering the house, he again dropped his price to 1,500 francs. When he finally entered Balzac’s cramped attic apartment, the price dropped again to 300 francs. This was ultimately how the manuscript for The Last Fay, a genre-breaking book would be published, a book that would help catapult his career.

Stuart Strachan Jr.

Reason for my Rhyme

It is said that upon his (Edmund Spenser, 1552-1599) presenting some poems to the Queen (Elizabeth I) she ordered him a gratuity of one hundred pounds, but the Lord Treasurer Burleigh objecting to it, said with some scorn of the poet, of whose merit he was totally ignorant, ‘What, all this for a song?’ 

The Queen replied, ‘Then give him what is reason.’ Spenser for some time waited, but had the mortification to find himself disappointed of Her Majesty’s bounty. Upon this he took a proper opportunity to present a paper to Queen Elizabeth, in which he reminded her of the order she had given, in the following lines: 

I was promised on a time

To have reason for my rhime.

From that time, unto this season,

I received nor rhime, nor reason. 

The paper produced the intended effect, and the Queen, after sharply reproving the Treasurer, immediately directed the payment of the hundred pounds she had first ordered. 

Quoted in John Gross, The New Oxford Book of Literary Anecdotes (Oxford Books of Prose & Verse). OUP Oxford. Kindle Edition. Source Material from Theophilus Cibber, The Lives of the Poets, 1753.


Up for Sale?

One of the early hits of the internet had to be eBay. Suddenly getting rid of your old junk, or otherwise unnecessary “stuff,” could be sold, not just to your neighbors in a yard sale, but to anyone with an internet connection and an eBay account. And because human beings are, well, human (aka odd), there is a never-ending supply of strange things that have been auctioned off on the site. For instance, a haunted rubber duck, which the seller purported to have the ability to possess children.

Who wouldn’t want a haunted rubber ducky? Well, apparently enough people to drive the price to 107,000! What about a grilled cheese sandwich? Not interested? Well what if said sandwich came with the face of Mary, yes that Mary, the mother of Jesus? That sandwich sold for $28,000. If you are starting to think some people have too much money (and time) on their hands, you are not alone. One of the strangest items to go up for bid, however, ended up breaking the eBay terms of service.

One 10-year old girl from England tried selling her grandmother. I’m not exactly sure why she was ready to cart off her poor grandmother, but maybe she was desperate for something–a doll perhaps?

Perhaps the strangest item to be put up for sale was a man’s own life. This is what the ad said:

My name is Ian Usher and I’ve had enough of my life. I don’t want it anymore. You can have it if you like. Whatever it is, it’s all going up for sale in one big auction, everything I have and everything I am. On the day that it’s sold and settled, I intend to walk out the front door with my wallet in one pocket and my passport in the other, nothing else. And then get on the train with no idea where I am going or what the future holds for me.”

Ultimately, Ian sold for $305,000 and with that money, the man moved to Australia. It turns out his wife had left him after six years of marriage and he was so dejected, so rejected that felt his life no longer had any purpose.

Ian clearly needed a reset, but was selling his life the solution to his problem?

Stuart Strachan Jr.


The Old Rug

Well, several years ago at the University of Cambridge in the chaplain’s house, there was an old rug and it was a very big rug. And it had been there so long. C. S. Lewis stayed in that chaplain house when he was at Cambridge and the rug had been there way before he got there. And several years ago the people said, ”Hey, we want to get rid of this rug. It is old, it is gross, it is out of date, and we want to just scrap it.”

And they were getting ready to do that until they did some research on the rug. And they found out that the rug was an Old Persian rug. It was a very rare rug. It was worth $4,000 a square meter. They had a rug that was worth $250,000 dollars, a great treasure, something so very valuable, but they didn’t know what they had. And because they didn’t know what they had, they misused it, and they abused it, and they took it for granted. They wiped their feet on it. They spilled food on it. They didn’t realize that they had such a treasure in that Persian rug.

Jeff Schreve, Rich Man Poor Man.


A Grand Gesture

A man appears before the pearly gates. “Have you ever done anything of particular merit?” St. Peter asks.

“Well, I can think of one thing….” the man offers. “Once I came upon a gang of high-testosterone bikers who were threatening a young woman. I directed them to leave her alone, but they wouldn’t listen. So I approached the largest and most heavily tattooed biker. I smacked him on the head, kicked his bike over, ripped out his nose ring and threw it on the ground, and told him, ‘Leave her alone now or you’ll answer to me.'”

St. Peter was impressed. “When did this happen?”

“A couple of minutes ago.”

Source Unknown

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