Are you old enough to remember Ed McMahon? His was a household name back in the 1970s, but not so much as a funny sidekick for Johnny Carson. It was because he was the bearer of treasure! He was the one you hoped was knocking on your door with a hefty check from the Publisher’s Clearinghouse sweepstakes.
That thrill of sudden wealth has always been part of history. Archaeologists have unearthed ancient records of kings whose extravagant treasures were plundered when their countries were conquered. This happened frequently, and every king guarded their storehouses diligently because greedy people lurked everywhere.
One of the more famous stories was told over 2,000 years ago: A treasure was hidden in a field when a hired hand stumbles upon it. Knowing that it rightfully belonged to the landowner, he digs it up and hides it in a different spot. He goes home, gathers up his belongings and sells everything he owns. With that money, he goes to the landowner, buys the land, and Poof! He’s an instant millionaire!
We all know that this is a story that Jesus told, recorded in Matthew 13:44. Was he trying to warn us about greedy hired hands? On the contrary, this was designed to show what we recognize as priceless treasure. This story doesn’t tell exactly what was in the treasure chest; what could it have been? Gold? Jewels? A deed to a lavishly furnished palace? We can only imagine.
But that leads to the question: What would you regard as treasure?
To answer that, you’d have to widen your imagination a bit. How about a new sportscar? Maybe you’ve always wanted your own private Caribbean island. Is it simply a profuse amount of money that would make you happy? The Mega Millions lottery might total $500 million. Is that enough?
The underlying description of treasure for all of us would be something that would change our lives. Let’s look at the top contenders:
MONEY? Anybody who has won the lottery knows that big money brings its own problems, whether it’s security, gigantic tax responsibility, or reckless choices that cause disastrous outcomes.
FAME? Famous people tell us that fame only complicates lives, holding them hostage by stealing their privacy and security.
GOOD HEALTH? This is highly sought after, especially by those struggling with chronic or terminal conditions.
But notice a huge problem with all of these: they are temporary. Money runs out (or is stolen), fame is fleeting, and good health lasts only until we die. And we will die.
The only treasure that will last forever is a relationship with Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of Heaven is the treasure in Jesus’ story. We trudge through our lives searching for something better, and suddenly we stumble upon a treasure chest. And inside is eternal life, Jesus Christ. “For where your treasure is, your heart will be also.”
This priceless treasure can be yours! Open a Bible and start reading. Then find a church nearby where you can hear God speaking to you. Develop relationships with good people who can help nurture a deep, meaningful relationship with Jesus. Your life will be transformed! And that’s eternally better than any check delivered by Ed McMahon.
The writer is the pastor at Sidney First Presbyterian Church.