Pastors, show us the treasure chest

November 11, 2013

When something is known to possess worth or value, we seek to honor it, show it, tell others about it, and treasure it for ourselves. Just take one of Apple's latest inventions as an example. Corporate executives, wedding DJ's, high school football players, and stay-at-home moms want to own it and show it off to others. Technology geeks want to do more than just own it - they'll talk about it, write about it, hack it, and buy all sorts of accessories for it. Thieves will break into stores or snatch purses to steal it. Without question, that small metal box of silicon transistors, glass, and dangerous chemicals known as the iPhone is esteemed by many in the modern world as something having a great deal of worth and value. This is externally evident by the lengths many will go to in order to have one.

Almost 2000 years ago, something of tremendous worth and value had captured the attention of a former Jewish Pharisee we call Paul the Apostle. In his letter to the Ephesians, he said:

“To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,”
(Ephesians 3:8 ESV)

Paul had discovered the exceedingly great worth of Someone - a Man known as Jesus of Nazareth. His ambition and God-given mission was to make sure as many as possible knew about how valuable that Man was.

We do well to ponder Paul's choice of words to the Ephesians. He says that Christ possesses riches. What does that actually mean and what wealth does He have? Surely Paul is not primarily speaking about material goods, though Jesus does own all things (John 3:35; John 13:3; Psalms 24:1). The endless treasure Jesus generously shares with those who desire it is the treasure of Himself. Paul says in one of his other letters that in Jesus are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). Jesus is an endless treasure because everything about Him is telling us what God is like. He is an endless treasure because He Himself is our God. That single reason makes Him worthy to be lauded and loved by every living creature.

Paul also describes the riches of Jesus as being unsearchable. The NASB translates this word as unfathomable. Paul is not saying that it is impossible to know anything about Him. On the contrary, he's using "unsearchable" as a superlative. Jesus is the only fountain that will never run dry, the only ocean depth that can never be plummeted, and the only storehouse with incalculable bounds. We can never deplete the riches of His greatness. As we come to Him, we will never lack the "water of life" (Revelation 22:17) to slake our thirsty soul because He is our unending source of the knowledge of God.

When we find new things of greater value than old things we currently have, we discard the old because they no longer possess worth to us in light of the new. In like manner, "the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus [his] Lord" is what led the Apostle Paul to count everything else he had gained as "rubbish" (Philippians 3:8). After encountering Jesus, there was no greater desire he had than to more deeply know Him and make Him known through imitating Him: “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” (Philippians 3:10)

This should prompt questions for us as ones who profess to follow the same Jesus that Paul did. As we roam as sojourners on a narrow path towards life in the age to come, is the provision of Jesus and His Spirit in us enough? Are we really supposed to hold His words, His life, His cross, His divinity, His humanity, His sinlessness, His return, and all that is glorious about Him high above everything else, even good things like ministry goals and life dreams? Has He really invited us to discover and possess Him as our supreme treasure?

As I peruse the New Testament and survey those who had been with Him personally or met Him by God's intervention, I cannot help but answer those questions with a resounding yes! To be a Christian is to profess faith in Jesus and be on a never-ending journey of searching the depths of Him so that He may be our greatest treasure and highest joy. All of His gifts and promises to us, as precious as they are, are designed to lead us into a greater delight in Him as the Giver. It is a Person that we put our faith in and relate with. He saves us from God's wrath on the Day of the Lord - not a concept, a church, a ministry, a doctrine, or a "radical" lifestyle.

Preachers, leaders, pastors, teachers, moms, dads, mentors, and anyone else who holds a position of influence or are in leadership over one or over many - I plead with you, get to know Jesus as much as you can and tell us about Him. Life principles, a vision for revival, raising families, the details of the end-times, and five-step plans to spiritual growth are important and can certainly be helpful to us, but as you walk like He walked and unashamedly speak of His splendor, those secondary things will find their rightful place in our hearts much more easily. Help us to see the worth He possesses. Tell us His story. Talk about His life. Talk about what His friends said about Him. Make much of His cross. Point us towards a full hope in His soon return. Show Him forth as the unfathomable treasure that He is. Put Him ever before us that we may together say as Paul did: "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord".

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About the author

Joshua Hawkins is a pastor, Bible teacher, and content creator for disciples of Jesus from College Station, Texas. He co-hosts The Apocalyptic Gospel Podcast, a weekly audio show exploring how a first century Jew would have understood the Gospel. He's also an all-around tech nerd and enjoys road cycling.

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