In search of treasure

Monday, April 13

Scripture reading: John 20:1-18

 

 

There is a well-known legend that somewhere in the rugged desert terrain of the Superstition Mountains in Eastern Arizona lies the Lost Dutchman’s Gold mine.

Legend has it that in the latter part of the 19th century, a certain Dutchman discovered gold, a lot of it, somewhere in that vast wilderness. It was said that he would frequent some of the towns telling people about his find, even showcasing proof of his new found wealth periodically, only to disappear back into the mountains. 

People tried in vain to get the Dutchman to reveal the location of the gold—but he could not be tricked and he would not be coerced; the map he claimed to have would never leave his possession. Some even tried to secretly follow him into the mountains, but he always had a way of losing them.  And so it would go over a period of years. 

But then one day the Dutchman died. It was a devastating blow for those who had been working so hard to get close enough to the Dutchman that they might get a share of the treasure. But for many even his death would not put to rest the possibility of gaining great wealth. 

In the hundred and some years after his death, countless people from near and far, having heard rumors of treasure, would continue the search for the gold. Each one was convinced he had a better chance than those who tried in the past—many dying from the extreme conditions: getting lost and disoriented, suffering heat exhaustion in the ruthless desert territory.

I still remember reading in one Arizona newspaper about one man’s life-long obsession to find the gold. He specified in his will that when he died he wanted to be cremated and have his ashes spread over the Superstition mountain range in hopes that even one of his ashes might someday come to rest on the gold!

Some say there is no gold, that it’s just a fairytale a crazy old Dutchman concocted to get attention. Others say that even if the gold does exist, it might be buried by now so deep that it will never be found. But all agree that the answer to the legend of great wealth lies in one man’s grave—and he isn’t talking!

Two thousand years ago man called Jesus made His entrance onto the world’s scene. He was your classic sojourner, a stranger to most and just kind of strange to everyone else. He was different. 

And He would speak of great treasure the world could not afford. He was known to frequent the towns and villages showcasing proof of the treasure. You could see it in His hands with every person He touched—blind people regaining their sight, diseases healed. You could hear it in His words; when He spoke, things were made different. You could see it in His face; when you looked into His eyes, you could never be the same.

The public had a mixed reaction. Some rejected His message altogether and refused to believe what even their eyes could observe.  Some called it Fool’s Gold. But those who did believe, well, they really fell for it! So much so that they dropped their nets and left their tables and staked their reputation on it—giving up everything to find this treasure. Jesus said they had to forsake everything, and so they did (Luke 18:22; Matthew 19:29). They thought they were on their way.  

But then Jesus died. Just when they thought they were about there…. They had given up all, burning their bridges as they went. When Jesus died, for all practical purposes, they died too! All their hopes and dreams. He was the only one with the answer to what they sought. 

The gospels tell us that some disciples came early to the tomb on the morning of the third day after Jesus’ death (John 20:1-2), weary with grief. You can imagine their surprise and anger to discover that His body wasn’t even there. They had their spices and everything necessary to give Him a proper burial. Now they couldn’t even say good bye.

But in the days that followed, something unbelievable happened. Jesus kept showing up! But only to those who had believed before. The angels had told them that He was alive, but they had to see it and experience it for themselves. And He would let them not only to see and hear Him, but even touch his side and feel His hands. 

Jesus tried to tell them the purpose of His coming.  He wanted to give them abundant and eternal life (John 10:10; 14:1-4). It all sounded good, but until now it had all been so cryptic and the promises so elusive. But now they understood! For when they looked into His eyes this time, they saw that the treasure they had been looking for had been with them all along! Mary was the first to figure it out, and when she did she grabbed hold of the treasure and didn’t want to let go; the rest would catch on eventually and would be comforted by the promise (John 14:19; Matthew 28:20).

They would find the treasure was living each day in relationship with the living Christ. Peter declared, “He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (I Peter 1:3). This time it could never be taken away! Christ was raised never to die again. He defeated death and became the final word over the grave for all who live in relationship with Him. Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6)

Today some say the resurrection didn’t really happen; that it was just wishful thinking from some dispirited, emotionally distraught fools. Others say that it was all just a nice story to teach moral lessons. And then there are those who claim it is all a silly crutch for the weak.

But for those who do believe, we find that “we have this treasure in earthen vessels.” We have come to know that the message is foolishness only to those who are perishing; to those who are being saved, it is the power of God!

Jesus came to show and tell that there is an answer to the questions our souls long to find. That there is something more than what we presently know and what life is apart from Him. But our skepticism and cynicism, our selfishness and persistence to do life our way, our refusal to fully believe, our sin prevents us from being able to share the treasure.

So Christ died that He might show us the way is not in ourselves: not in our wisdom, not in our strength, not in our self-centered living, or self-defined morality. He was raised from the dead in reality to make abundant and eternal life a living reality within us. Because Christ was raised, we too can have victory over the grave. Death need not be the final word.

Jesus wants to show us the treasure. He is saying, “Come here, let Me show you where it is.”  “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me” (Mark 8:34).  “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). In Philippians 3:10, Paul wrote, “That I may know Him!” In so doing we receive the treasure of eternal life with the treasure of Christ within: “Christ in you, the hope of glory!” (Colossians 1:27; Philippians 3:10-16).

Prayer: Lord, you are the author of life. and you give it abundantly and eternally. May I never settle for less than who you are.  

Pastor Marc