This is a cost that has already been incurred and thus cannot be recovered. A sunk cost differs from other, future costs because it has already happened and cannot be reversed. Sunk costs are independent of any event that may occur in the future.
You've heard of people who get into a project, sink a load of resources into it, and experience a critical moment when they must decide whether to continue or walk away. The investor stops, considers the sunk cost, and decides.
If he decides to continue and the project turns out to be profitable, he celebrates and we consider him charmed and wise. On the other hand, if he continues and experiences more sunk cost, we conclude he is foolish for throwing good money after bad.
Jesus talked a lot about money and investments. Some folks say he talked more about finances than any other subject. The fact is, He talked more about money than the subjects of heaven and hell combined.
On one occasion, He told a story about a pearl that was worth a fortune. As He gets going with His parable, He intrigues us by telling us that this pearl was buried in a field. Then, He introduces an investor who identifies the field where the pearl is buried. Jesus concludes His story stating that the investor sold everything he possessed and purchased the field in order to procure the pearl.
The investor's colleagues likely thought him speculative--figured the investor's wealth was now a sunk cost. Unless of course, there really was a pearl of great price and he discovers it.
Of course, Jesus told this story to convey that He is the pearl. Those who preach about this passage liken us to potential investors, and the point is clear: Give everything you hold dear in this life, no matter how pitiful or grand, in order to obtain the pearl that is salvation in this life and the next.
Considering the glories of eternal life, absolute forgiveness, and a home in which there are no tears, how could one go wrong by investing? Everything.
But my thoughts this evening are not about you and me and whether we "invest" or not in Jesus-the-pearl. No. My thoughts this evening are about God the Heavenly Father, the divine person of the Trinity identified as Jesus' Father.
The Bible portrays Him as the one who gave the "pearl" away, relinquished it, and buried it.
And, the Bible conveys a similar concept about the pearl, Jesus, in that He gave everything through death by crucifixion with no guarantee of rescue.
Bluntly, Jesus Christ was a sunk cost--for both God and Jesus.
Within the biblical Trinity, a price was paid that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered. The personal cost stands apart, independent, of any other sort of investment. As a sunk cost, this cost cannot be recovered.
What's amazing to me, as I think about this, is that God and Jesus agreed to pay this cost--knowing the sacrifice would be a sunk cost.
Further, understanding all this, God and Jesus sunk the full resources of heaven in hopes that men and women fully possessed of free will would value their speculative investment, i.e. through faith. Alternatively, the same men and women who are prospective investors in heaven's wager are also completely free to invest in their own resourcefulness instead.
I'm telling you now: If I was God, I wouldn't have done it. It was foolhardy, if you ask me. The good news is, I'm not God, He didn't ask me for counsel, and He went ahead and fully invested knowing it was speculative--that is, dependent upon our decision--and that the cost was indeed sunk.
Nothing can reverse or recover a sunk cost. This is true in finance, and its true in spiritual life. Herein is belief. Not belief that Christ's death occurred; that is historical fact and an established sunk cost. Rather, by belief I mean that there is nothing you or I can do to repay or recover what Jesus did in order to make spiritual life available to us. If we truly believe, all that remains is to accept the incalculable cost as the source of life we all seek.
Like a responsible investor, God accepted His sunk cost--considering us worth the gamble. The question remaining is whether we will reconcile our wills to this investment. Candidly, as investors, the stakes are whether we will invest in this life or in the pearl of great price.
Just so you'll know, there is another pearl of great price to be considered. But from a different angle.
That's a thought for another day.