Summary: This is an evangelistic message I used at the homeless mission where I minister.
Each week approximately 14 million people tune into the Antiques Road Show. I am one of those who watch it on a semi regular basis.
In 2009 a woman in North Carolina brought in a Jade collection her father had brought home from China somewhere between 1930 to 1940. It turned out to be worth $1.07 million dollars.
On other episodes, a man and his wife brought in an oil painting which had been given to them as a wedding gift. It depicted the Grand Coulee Dam as it was being built and was valued at $500,000.
Still another episode introduced us to a man with another oil painting. The man's great, great, great, Grandfather had purchased it and it dated back to 1847. The painting was of the second most famous 19th century politician, Senator Henry Clay, standing next to Abraham Lincoln and was valued at $300 - 500,000.
But even cooler than all of those would be the discovery of a first edition of the Gutenberg Bible. It was the first book ever to be printed in 1456. There were several hundred copies originally printed but finding a first edition would net you $25 - $35 million dollars. A single page would net you $25,000 which is no chump change either. Several years ago just one volume of the two volume set sold for $5.5 million.
Most people can only hope to find one of those valuable treasures and a lot of people will spend most of their time thinking that if they could just get a "lucky break" like those people on the show that they would be set for life.
But..., as rare as all those things are, there is something far rarer and infinitely more valuable than all of those things combined.
Since that first printing, the Bible has been translated and printed into almost every language on earth. It is consistently ranked as the number one best seller year after year and also for all times, with over sixty billion copies having been printed since that first printing in 1456.
Because of that, for those with a collector mindset, to take a Bible to the Antiques Road Show for an appraisal would be silly. There are billions of them in print and you can get them in every secondhand store for a few cents. In fact there are all kinds of charitable organizations that give them away free to anyone who asks. Abundance has a way of devaluing things so the Bibles we have in our possession may not net us very much money.
However: it is what is in the Bible that is the rarest of all finds no matter if you obtain one for free, purchase one at a second hand store, or pay top dollar for one at Barnes and Noble.
In Mathew's Gospel Jesus said; "...narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."
You might say; Wait a minute!! Millions of people have a copy of and read the Bible as attested to by the billions printed and sold, and you are telling me that few find the treasure of "Life" contained within its pages?" ABSOLUTELY!!! Now you are getting it!
That "Life" is the treasure hidden within the pages of the Bible.
Note the rarity of those who find that life Jesus spoke of.
With 60 billion Bibles in print you would think that finding the life it offers to the reader would be more common, but that is not the case.
So what is it that makes finding that life difficult? Jesus said; "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life." Not willing to come to Him? Why? In John's Gospel Jesus is recorded saying; “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." Notice the exclusivity of the life he offers.
And to further aid us in discovering that treasure he says; "...I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."
In his second epistle the Apostle Peter explains to us that everything that pertains to this "Life" is given to us through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. Where but the Bible will one find that knowledge of God and Jesus?
This life we see spoken of within the pages of the Bible is rare indeed. Despite a nation where "churches" are abundant, that life lies buried in the homes of multitudes of church goers and religious people.
It is not that people do not read their Bibles or know where they are at any given moment.