|Vol. 2, No. 2||Page 3||February 2000|
The Treasurer Finds the Treasure
Dr. Williamson, a Canadian geologist, had been slipping along a rain-soaked road that led through Tanzania’s backcountry when suddenly his Land Rover sunk to its axles in sticky mire. Pulling out a shovel, he began to dig his four-wheel drive out. After some time he uncovered some sort of pink-like stone. Being a geologist and naturally curious about rock formations, he picked it up. The more mud he removed, the more excited he became, but hardly believed what he saw. At last the stone was clean, and Dr. Williamson had found a diamond!
Any diamond would be a surprise in that situation, but he had found the now famous giant pink diamond of Tanzania. That muddy stone sparkles today in the royal scepter of Britain, and Williamson is world renowned for this find - accidental though it was. Interestingly, the geologist found the diamond. Similarly, the Bible tells of a treasurer who found treasure. Jesus compared a sinner who learns the Gospel to one who finds great treasure (Matthew 13:44-46). This is illustrated by an Ethiopian treasurer who found the Gospel treasure on a lonely road leading back to Africa from Jerusalem (Acts 8:26-40). Why did he - of all the people in the world - find the treasure that day?
The treasurer was willing to look for something more. This Ethiopian had traveled fifteen hundred miles to worship (one way), but was still reading his Bible (Isaiah 53) on the way home! Because he was an eunuch, he had not even been allowed into the temple proper during the ceremonies (cf. Deuteronomy 23:1). He rode 3,000 miles to sit in the foyer! He knew something of the Bible, but wanted to know more. He was like a man at sunrise tilting his manuscript to catch the first rays of the rising sun of Christianity. God rewards careful and diligent Bible students (2 Timothy 2:15) with greater knowledge. God promises that all who fear him can learn the truth (John 7:17) and to reward those who truly look (Hebrews 11:6; James 4:8; Psalms 9:10; 14:2; 25:14; 145:18; Proverbs 8:17). Some seek worldly things (Matthew 6:32), some seek after signs (Matthew 12:39), others for their own welfare (1 Corinthians 13:5), but the truly wise person seeks the treasure of the Gospel (Matthew 5:6; 6:33; 7:7). Its value is eternal; its worth inestimable. Many today, like this treasurer, read their Bibles on the way home from church services and wonder why what they have just experienced differs so from what they are reading in the New Testament. We should never be satisfied with a religion less than what we find in Scripture. We can do better. Christ’s church exists today.
. . . listen to another viewpoint. When Philip gave the treasurer an opportunity to learn more of God’s Word, he did not turn him away. He was humble enough to admit to a complete stranger that he did not understand what he was studying. (He could have told this aggressive preacher to “get lost,” but then he would have “stayed lost.”) He listened as Philip showed how Jesus fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy, talked about his death on Calvary, and then his resurrection. Jesus was the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8; cf. Mark 10:45). Jesus meekly submitted to the outrages perpetrated against him, offering no more resistance than a lamb being sheared or slaughtered. A goat, killed in the traditional manner, sends out blood-chilling cries that can be heard a mile away; but a sheep submits to the butcher’s knife without a whimper. “In his humiliation . . . judgment was taken away . . .” The verdict of Jesus’ Roman judges was “innocent”; but Pilate changed the verdict to crucifixion (Luke 23:4; John 18:38; 19:6).
The treasurer learned the Truth because he was willing to consider another viewpoint. What about us? Are we willing to investigate another perspective and do our own thinking or do we simply accept what others tell us to believe? Truth never suffers from investigation - if we were right then we will simply confirm it. But if we were wrong - we need to know before the Judgment (Matthew 7:21-23).
. . . leave his past. As treasurer for his country, he was doubtless an intelligent and industrious man. His religion was good. He was comfortable with it. He knew its customs, understood its theology. It taught high morals and had benefited his life to this point. But now the preacher suggested that he give it up for something better. It no loner pleased God and was powerless to grant salvation. What went through his mind? Change religions? Go against my family? Offend my friends? Start over? Admit I’ve been wrong? Nonetheless, he desired to please God more (cf. Galatians 1:10) and was willing to do what others were unwilling to do - give up false religion (John 12:42) or sinful pleasure (Acts 24:25). In heaven, he will never regret this decision (nor ours).
Philip evidently said something about baptism because the eunuch interrupted the Bible class to point out that they were passing some water which might serve as a suitable place for baptism. (He may have thought, “If I don’t ask now there may not be another river or lake until after he leaves.”) Something is wrong today when someone claims to preach Jesus, but whose hearers never request baptism. How can any man preach the Gospel and answer the question, “What to do to be saved?” and not give the answer Jesus told us to give (Mark 16:15-16)? Each of God’s steps to salvation is important: Faith changes man’s thinking (Hebrews 11:6); repentance changes his lifestyle (Acts 3:19); confession forces him to “come out in the open” (Matthew 10:32) and baptism changes his guilty state (from “outside” to “inside” Christ’s body, Galatians 3:26-27).
Philip proceeded to see if this man was a proper candidate for baptism. No one can be scripturally baptized unless he has faith in Jesus (John 8:24; Mark 16:16) and is willing to make it known (Matthew 10:32-33; Romans 10:9-10). This treasurer readily confesses that Jesus is God’s Son and obeys the command to be baptized. He does not hesitate or procrastinate. He was not told he would have to be voted on (whoever came up with that?!) or that he would be on probation. He did not have to go through weeks of classes. He did not have to wait for several others who also wanted to be baptized.
Note carefully how baptism was done in the New Testament. They both went down into the water and came up out of the water (cf. John 3:23; Romans 6:4-5). Some have said that the eunuch was holding up a water jug when he said, “See here is water . . .” (One older lady heard that and said, “My Bible says they both went down into a jug?!” Insert “jug” for water in the text and see the silliness of it.) Baptism in the New Testament was always a burial - never sprinkling or pouring (Mark 1:10; Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12).
This treasurer may have been wealthy in Egypt before his journey, but he left this scene a far richer man. In the last view we ever get of this man, he is pictured with a ‘smile on his face.’ You’d rejoice too, if you’d just found a treasure.