Through the New Testament in a Year

Today's Reading – Ephesians 3:1-21 – The unsearchable riches of Christ

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Do you remember the story of the Magic Tinderbox? A soldier is returning from the wars when he meets an old lady on a quiet road. She asks him to fetch her tinderbox which, for some reason is in a tunnel beneath the roots of a tree.

The soldier climbs down under the tree and enters the tunnel. There are three doors on the right of the tunnel. He goes into the first and there is a treasure chest and seated upon it a dog with eyes as big as saucers. He lifts the dog down, opens the chest and finds it full of copper coins – but no tinderbox. He stuffs his pockets full of the coins, closes the chest, sets the dog back upon it and leaves.

He then enters the second door. There is another treasure chest and on it a dog with eyes as big as dinner plates. He lifts the dog down, opens the chest and finds it full of silver coins – but no tinderbox. He empties the copper coins out of his pockets and stuffs them full of the silver coins. Then he closes the chest, sets the dog back upon it and leaves.

Lastly he enters the third door. There is another treasure chest and on it a dog with eyes as big as cart wheels. He lifts the dog down, opens the chest and finds it full of gold coins, and there also is the tinderbox. He empties the silver coins out of his pockets and stuffs them full of the gold coins. Then, taking the tinderbox, he closes the chest, sets the dog back upon it and makes his way back to the old woman.

If you want to know the rest of the story you will have to look it up for yourself. I tell you this much because being a Christian is, in one respect, like being this soldier. The Christian life is a wonderful adventure in which we discover more and more of the inexhaustible riches of Christ; we just go on discovering more and more of the riches that our ours in him. And, much better than this story, we never have to throw away what we have already discovered in order to appropriate more of these riches. Here is the sense in which we can say "God wants you to be rich!" He wants you to discover more and more of the riches which are yours in the Lord Jesus.

Paul mentions a few of these riches in the verses that follow, though the whole of his letter is glittering with gold. In 3:10 he speaks of the "manifold wisdom of God" which is displayed in the church and which leaves all heaven amazed. God's wisdom, in all its various sparkling forms has been devoted to our salvation. In verse 12 Paul reminds us that because of Jesus we have the ability to come to God with freedom and confidence. In verse 17 he reminds us that Christ himself has taken up residence in our lives, we have become the palace of a king. In verses 18-19 he expands on the immensity of Christ's love for us, love that is quite beyond our comprehension. In verse 20 he reminds us of the power of God at work in and through us, and that God is able to do more for us and through us than we can ask or imagine.

These are just some of the riches that are ours in Christ Jesus – along, of course, with redemption, forgiveness of sins, adoption into God's family, eternal life... The list is endless. The treasure chest of his riches towards us in Jesus is inexhaustible.

Father God, we are filled with wonder and thanksgiving as we rejoice in the riches you have given us in the Lord Jesus Christ. Help us to discover more of those riches today and to revel in your immeasurable love for us. Powerfully work in us that these riches may spill out of our lives to the blessing of others and the glory of your name.

Peter Misselbrook