God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ .... Ephesians 2:4-5a
It was 1932, the years of the Great Depression. One woman, in desperation, tried to make ends meet by cleaning houses.
To her amazement, one of her customers kept throwing away stuff that seemed perfectly usable. One day a Chinese flower vase ended up in the trash, and the cleaning lady asked if she might take it home. With permission, she did so and put it in the kitchen where it was used to display her flowers. It stayed there for 20 years. It would have stayed there forever if a friend hadn't talked her into showing the vase to an appraiser, who worked in the Buffalo Museum of Fine Arts.
He told our lady, "If it's a fake, it's a valuable 200-year-old fake. If it's real, it's 2,000 years old and worth a fortune." Then, as an afterthought, he asked, "But what's all this discoloration in the bottom?"
He about fainted when the lady offered, "It's from the cut flowers I put in it. It's my flower vase." The common had become uncommon. The worthless had been proven valuable. Trash had become a treasure.
Making trash into treasure, that's what the Lord does.
Two thousand years ago, when Jesus was going about doing the Father's business of saving us, the world considered Him to be not much better than trash. The Gospels record how the Redeemer was called a liar, a Samaritan, a devil, a partygoer, a false prophet, an insurrectionist, and a blasphemer. The establishment thought the best thing they could do with Jesus was having Him executed and put Him out of the way ... permanently. In the eyes of the world, Jesus was not much better than trash. Indeed, His death by crucifixion, a death reserved for slaves and society's worst criminals, showed how poorly the world thought of Him.
But the Lord makes trash into treasure.
Through His resurrection on the third day, Jesus, a glorified Jesus, showed to all the world that He had done what no mere man could do: He had conquered death. True Man and True God, Jesus had offered His life as our ransom, and His resurrection continues to show that His work has been accepted.
The Lord makes trash into treasure.
When Adam and Eve first sinned, they went from being perfect to being flawed, from being sinless to being sinful. If the Lord had looked upon humanity with the cool eye of an appraiser, He might readily have said we were fit only for the junk pile. But the Lord in His grace continued to look upon His lost children with love. Right then and there He made a promise: I will send my Son to rescue, redeem and recycle you.
Through faith in the Redeemer, the Lord turns us who were trash into treasure, and we who were doomed to eternal damnation are now made recipients of eternal life.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I confess there is no merit or worthiness in me. Without the Savior's sacrifice, I would be lost, but with Jesus' triumph over sin, death and Satan, I am forgiven of my sin, freed from Satan's bondage, and shall live with Him in paradise. I give thanks You have saved my lost soul and made trash into treasure. In Jesus' Name I give thanks. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries