Posted by: pastormikemcdowell | September 27, 2014

September 27, 2014 “Jars of Clay”

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”        (2 Corinthians 4:7)  

There’s a television show that perhaps some of you have seen called “Antiques Roadshow”, where people bring in items they have inherited, bought at flea markets, etc. to be evaluated regarding their significance, antiquity, and value. Sometimes, they are not considered to be very remarkable. But there are times the owner is surprised to learn that their possession is actually rare and quite valuable. One never knows what might be stashed away in an attic or trunk, or even an old earthen jar. One such discovery by a young shepherd boy tending his herd of goats turned out to be one of the single greatest archaeological discoveries of all time. Here’s how the story goes:    (copied from an online source at christiananswers.net))

 “Juma (a young shepherd boy) was beginning to get nervous. Some of his goats were climbing too high up the cliffs. He decided to climb the face of the cliff himself to bring them back. Little did Juma realize as he began his climb on that January day in 1947 that those straying goats would eventually involve him in “the greatest archaeological discovery in the twentieth century.” Such thoughts were far from his mind when he saw two small openings to one of the thousands of caves that dot those barren cliffs overlooking the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea. 

He threw a rock into one of the openings. The unexpected cracking sound surprised him; what else could be in those remote caves but treasure? He called to his cousins, Khalil and Muhammed, who climbed up and heard the exciting tale. But it was getting late, and the goats had to be gathered. Tomorrow they would return—perhaps their days of following goats would come to an end once the treasure was uncovered!

The youngest of the three, Muhammed, rose the next day before his two fellow “treasure-seekers” and made his way to the cave. The cave floor was covered with debris, including broken pottery. Along the wall stood a number of narrow jars, some with their bowl-shaped covers still in place. Frantically, Muhammad began to explore the inside of each jar, but no treasure of gold was to be found… only a few bundles wrapped in cloth and greenish with age. Returning to his cousins, he related the sad news—no treasure.

No treasure indeed! The scrolls those Bedouin boys removed from that dark cave that day and the days following would come to be recognized as the greatest manuscript treasure ever found—the first seven manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls!”

Talk about hidden treasure!  Paul compared himself and those that shared the Good News of Jesus Christ as being “jars of clay”, little more than mere common vessels, filled with treasure. The value, he emphasized, was not the vessel itself, but its contents. Paul was not one seeking accolades or fame. He wanted his adherents to keep their eyes focused on his message rather than on him, so that God, not he, would be accorded the praise and the glory. The treasure of the message he said, came from “this all-surpassing power … from God and not from us.”  Don’t be fooled by what you see. You never know what treasure might be hiding in some ordinary-looking container…maybe even in you. If you are a believer, than you have a valuable treasure within you. Share it with those around you. Share it with your spouse, your children, your grandchildren. Share it with co-workers and friends. Share it with store clerks and waitresses. Share it with everyone. Let’s pray!

Gracious Lord; May I never shy away from sharing the treasure that dwells in this “jar of clay” you have fashioned for your purposes. May the wonderful content of the Good News of the Gospel be proclaimed by word and deed each day, I pray, in Jesus’ Holy Name. Amen!

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