True treasure

Pastor Tom Jeske

The decks were awash. What about his treasure? Scant moments later the masts of a sailing vessel slid beneath the surface of the Atlantic. The year: 1718. Like all sinking ships, this one scattered artifacts and question marks over its debris field.

Nearly 300 years later, scuba divers identified a wreck lying off the coast of North Carolina. It was the flagship of Blackbeard’s fleet, Queen Anne’s Revenge.

Were you in fourth or fifth grade when you first read some tale of treasure lost and found and sometimes lost again?

Pirates don’t interest you? Maybe your idea of treasure is a prized article of sports memorabilia, an heirloom piece of jewelry, or that old car in the storage unit.

Some will say, “If you have your health, you have just about everything.” Others quickly produce pictures of their first grandchild. We daydream about treasure, display it on our walls, post it on Facebook, keep it in a drawer, or hold it in our arms. Truth is, we can’t get enough of what we love.

But hold on for a second. Name something you once considered to be treasure but which you no longer possess. Was it lost? Damaged? Taken from you by fraud or force?

Would it surprise you to learn that Jesus himself had a strong interest in treasure? Why not? He shared our flesh and blood. Satan even tempted him with the treasures of the world. He was aware of the human desire to possess a treasure, to say, “I count on this thing to make my life good.” Jesus went so far as to suggest that an ordinary person should be able to recognize genuine treasure by asking three questions: Can a moth nibble on it? Can rust break it down? Can a thief steal it? (Matthew 6:19,20).

Visualize your prize. If your answer is yes to any of Jesus’ questions, your treasure doesn’t qualify simply because it’s vulnerable, so exposed to loss.

Name a person you once relied on for help or attention but who is gone. Did he or she move? Die? Forget about you?

A treasure worth the name ought to be something that you can depend on in good times and return to for comfort in tough times.

Can your treasure transport you beyond the limits of your life? Is yours something that withstands the shivers of the stock market? Something that retains its value in spite of inflation? Something that is not susceptible to the fading of a current fashion or the fall of a flag? “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20). Listen as Jesus tells of a treasure that neither aging nor hurricane nor motivated thief can take from you!

Queen Anne’s Revenge may tantalize our imaginations, but she was compromised and sent to the bottom. The Father sent his Son down to share our experiences with loss inflicted by thieves, moths, and rust. Alone on his planks of wood, Christ also sank from sight, consigned to a dreadful fate. The gospel, however, is the greatest of all treasure tales, for this Jesus has been brought up again into the sunlight. He is your treasure, now revealed more sparkling and appraised more breathtaking than any competition.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).

Christians contentedly treasure their return to their Father’s side via Jesus. In his house there are no chewing moths, no corrosive rust, and no motivated thieves. The baptismal treasure proves out Jesus’ appraisal. Truth is, we can’t get enough of what we love.

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Living Hope Lutheran Church, Omaha, NE