A recent story about the discovery of treasure found off the Caesarea Coast of Israel had the internet abuzz. It seems scuba divers out for some fun discovered a cache of almost 2,000 gold coins. Archaeologists believe that the coins were minted in the 10th century AD. From the time the merchant ship was swallowed by the sea 1,000 years ago, literally ten and thousands of people have looked at the treasure-laden waters completely unaware of what lay beneath. The value of the coins has not been assessed, but the term “priceless” is being bandied about.
Interestingly, the divers who discovered the treasure will not receive a finder’s fee; the treasure was claimed by the state. It seems the only reward the divers will receive is the knowledge that they made an once-in-a-lifetime discovery. Treasure – it seems- is a bit fickle; one moment it’s in your grasp, the next, it’s gone.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”*
In the preceding chapter Jesus delivered His famous Beatitudes sermon during which He challenged the prevailing wisdom about what makes a person righteous before God. At no time did He mention earthly wealth. Jesus wanted the people to understand that physical treasure can be ruined by nature (moths and vermin) or stolen. The truth is no matter how much money we have, or the number of toys we accumulate, at the instant of death, none of it is going with us. Our “treasures” such that they are, will be left for others to discover and do with as they please.
The good news is that there is abundant treasure waiting to be discovered. There is no need to dive into ocean depths or hike to the top of some obscure mountain to find it. Treasure, that is really treasure, can be found in fellowshipping with the lonely, preparing a meal for the homeless who can offer nothing but a heartfelt thanks, comforting those who mourn, and thanking God as a beloved pastor put it for the, “extraordinary blessings found in the ordinary.” None of these can be ruined by nature or taken by others.
Gold coins are great; they are beautiful, rare, and possess great value. They will likely outlast everyone who is presently alive. I imagine a 1,000 years from now someone may “discover” them locked away in a dusty vault. They will become one more relic of a bygone era. Pieces of metal that tell a story of what the society valued but nothing beyond that.
Unlike the nameless, faceless divers who discovered the coins, the deeds of the faithful are known. And the reward for those who serve the Kingdom is beyond anything that can be imagined.
May we invest our time, our resources, and ourselves building an eternal treasure.
Amen and amen.