Sermon for Sunday, 11th August 2013
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also .” Luke 12:34
There’s an old Jewish story about searching for treasure in in order to find contentment of heart.
The story is told of Isaac the son of Jacob, a Jewish rabbi living near the Polish city of Cracow many years ago.
One night Isaac the son of Jacob had a strange dream – he dreamt there was treasure buried under the bridge to the imperial palace in the Czech city of Prague. “What a strange dream”, thought Isaac to himself when he woke the next day. The next night Isaac the son of Jacob had the same dream: under the bridge to the imperial palace there was treasure buried. “What a remarkable dream”, thought Isaac to himself the next day, “the same dream two nights in a row”. That night, Isaac the son of Jacob had the same dream for a third time, there was treasure buried under the bridge to the palace in Prague.
Having the same dream three nights in a row clinched the decision in Rabbi Isaac’s mind – he must go to Prague to find this treasure. Prague was many, many miles from Cracow and for an old rabbi it was a long and hard walk.
When he reached Prague he found that the imperial palace was heavily guarded, many of the guards were guarding the bridge – the rabbi knew there was no hope in digging for treasure here.
He was spotted by the captain of the guard. “What are you doing here, old man?” asked the captain.
The rabbi decided he might as well tell the truth. “I had a dream that there was treasure buried under this bridge”.
The captain of the guard roared with laughter, “Treasure under the bridge indeed. You silly old man, are you not old enough not to believe in dreams? I myself had a dream last week. I dreamt there was treasure buried in the house of a rabbi called Isaac the son of Jacob. What would you make of that dream, old man?”
Isaac the son of Jacob said nothing. He turned and walked back to his home outside of Cracow. Digging up the floor of his house, he found the treasure of his dreams, enough to Isaac and his family for years to come.
“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”, says Jesus. He is saying that the things that matter in our hearts are the things we spend our money on. When we find true treasure, we will find our heart’s content.
We live our lives like Isaac the son of Jacob, always looking for that treasure, always feeling there is something to be found.
How often we are like Isaac the son of Jacob, dreaming of something more than what we have. When we are asked what it is we most want we talk about things like happiness, contentment, peace of mind, and similar thoughts.
Where is our true treasure?
Like Isaac the son of Jacob, we will search far and wide – we are not quite sure for what. If we have a certain house or a certain car or a certain lifestyle, then we will have got there, then we will be happy. Like Isaac, the son of Jacob, we arrive at our destination and find there is nothing there; we find our heart is still not content.
The point of being a Christian is that we do not need to search, we do not need to be constantly spending in the hope of finding something. The greatest hope, the most precious treasure, is at home, it is within us. Everlasting life – here and now, what more can we possibly want?
Perhaps it is only in the extremes of life that we are driven to think about what is true treasure, where our hearts are truly content, only in the extremes of life are we able to see the things that really matter.
During Adolf Hitler’s reign of terror across Europe, there was a systematic attempt by the Nazis to exterminate the entire Jewish population. One Jewish family found refuge with a non-Jewish friend who hid them in the attic of his house. Eventually the man’s friends discovered that he was hiding the Jewish family. They were sympathetic but they warned him that he was putting his life in danger. “I am here”, he said, “and the time is now”.
In those few words that German expressed a truth about life that most people never come to realise. Centuries earlier the mediaeval mystic Meister Eckhart had expressed the same thoughts, the only life I have is this one, the only time I have is now.
“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”, says Jesus. Sometimes we have to ask ourselves what it is we seek. What happiness do we hope to buy? We can spend years wishing for a past that will never return or looking forward to a future that never comes.
We have this one life, this one opportunity, we pass this way but once. We are here and the time is now.
“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. If we have our heart in the right place, then true treasure will be found.
Thank you for the sermon for Sunday, 11th August 2013 by Ian Poulton drawing on Luke 12:34 “For where yoru treasure is, there your heart will also be.” What is the source of the old Jewish story about searching for treasure in order find contentment of heart?
It was a story I heard told, possibly on BBC Radio 4, about twenty years ago. I had never found a source for it until Googling it today. Here is one variant: