2002-10-24 - The Box
2 Cor 3:2-3 You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts. (NAS)
An interesting archeological find was announced this week. A collector of Jewish antiquities asked someone to translate the aramaic on the side of an ossuary (a burial box). The translator read, "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" from the text on the small box. The box has been scientifically dated to around 63 A.D. which fits the approximate date of James death. Needless to say there has been a great deal of excitement, especially in Christian circles over this news, and understandably so.
There are skeptics, of course. And even those are are convinced the ossuary genuinely contains the remains of the brother of Jesus' are not willing to say categorically that it has to be so. There is always a chance, however unlikely, that there was another father-son-brother combination that matches Jesus' family. My first thought on hearing the news was some excitement. A direct link to the past to Jesus Christ would be exciting.
That cooled quickly with the thought that this really does not affect my personal faith one iota. If this box was never found, if it had been destroyed by the ravages of time, I would still believe in Jesus. He is as real to me as this desk or computer, or the people I work with. The Holy Spirit lives in my heart and bears witness to my heart and soul that Jesus is alive and has sealed me with His promise of eternal life.
The thief on the cross was never baptized, never had a chance to speak to anyone after his conversion, but he has spoken to millions upon millions across time with his simple statement of belief and defense of Jesus innocence. Who knows how many have read those passages and were stunned with the reality that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the Son of the Living God? Simon Peter's simple yet eloquent statement of faith at Jesus' question to His disciples asking who the people claimed He was has surely touched many people. The search for Noah's Ark in Turkey has caught the attention of the world at times. And now this simple stone box may indeed sit and bear a simple witness to the life of Jesus, stepson of Joseph, half-brother of James.
And what about my life? Does it speak the same thing to the people around me? I can speak about Jesus until I am blue in the face. But if my life does not match my words, my speech will fall on stone deaf ears. If my faith is not part of my life then my striving for excellence in the things I do will not say a word to anyone about the love of God for a fallen race or my thankfulness for my salvation. James may speak to us across 19 centuries of time. Can my life speak across the isle to my coworker, or my children or my friends? Does it matter more than a stone box?
Consider the power of such a life.
Lord Jesus - Cleans us and fill us, prepare us to be Your witnesses. Help us to be living stones in Your temple and faithful voices in Your choir. Amen.
Grace & Peace,