I became fascinated with Mel Fisher’s discovery of the Atocha a few decades ago after reading about it in a National Geographic magazine. The Atocha was a 400-year-old Spanish Galleon that sunk somewhere in the waters outside of Key West. Fisher spend the majority of his life looking for it. Along the way he and his team experienced much hardship, poverty, illness, drug and alcohol abuse, and fights with the Florida state government and the US government over keeper‘s rights. Worst of all, he suffered the deaths of his son, daughter-in-law, and a diver when one of their search boats sank in the middle of the night.
When the treasure was finally discovered, it contained almost 1,000 silver ingots weighing 32 tons, 114,000 silver coins, huge masses of coins still fused in the shape of treasure chests, silver and gold artifacts, gold bars, discs, coins, and chains, and 3,000 emeralds weighing up to 77 carats. A few years ago I visited the museum in Key West that houses a good portion of the treasure, and it is overwhelming.
The world would look at such a haul and think that Fisher had hit the mother lode of riches. How do you define riches?
Paul speaks of the unsearchable riches of Christ in the third chapter of Ephesians. Let’s explore what he defines as “riches.”
Ephesians 3 (English Standard Version)
7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.
8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things,
Paul clearly identifies the unsearchable riches of Christ as the plan for the salvation of not just the Hebrew nation, but of all nations. This was a radical teaching for the Jews of the time. Their anticipation of a Messiah who would come to conquer the warring nations around them did not match the gentle shepherd from Nazareth. Paul’s task was to convince not only the Jews, but the Gentiles, who had no expectation of being included in the redemption plan that was offered to them.
It was indeed a mystery hidden for ages in God from the very beginning, and it was up to the church to explain it to everyone:
10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.
Mel Fisher’s riches cost him everything. The good news for us today is that the unsearchable riches that are offered in Christ cost nothing. The price has already been paid. When we search for him we will find him, and the manifold wisdom of God is made known in the process.
I believe the church itself is one of those riches. If you don’t have a church home, I pray you will find one. The church is the vehicle God uses to make his riches known. If you’ve been burned by a church, find another one. The online options are endless.
Paul invites us to come before God with boldness and confidence. Christ is the access. The church is the door. It’s time to discover his riches. Today’s the day!