Pompeii was a flourishing city in the south of Italy until 79 AD when the volcano Vesuvius erupted unexpectedly for two days and completely destroyed Pompeii and all its beauty. The city was buried for 1700 years under 20 metres of ash and lava until it was by chance discovered in 1748. When excavations began in 1910 they uncovered the tragic events of 79 AD: petrified bodies (see photo) of people clutching each other, of mothers holding their children, of people desperately trying to escape, etc. One woman was clutching some of the finest jewelry of the ancient world. People differ in what they regard as precious. In their last moments loved ones embrace each other, a mother holds her child to her breast, others desperately try to survive, and some clutch jewelry.
We could also ask: What does God find precious? For what will He sacrifice his life? The answer is: for us, you and me! The good news is that it isn’t something that God will still do; He has already given his life. In Jesus He came to the earth as a human being, and suffered and died on a cross for us. He gave his life for us and therefore we know that we are his most precious possessions: Remember Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example … When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when they tortured Him, He made no threats … He Himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness (1 Pet. 2:21-24).
We belong to God, we are his possessions, we were bought with Jesus’ blood, through his death on the cross: Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body (1 Cor. 6:19, 20).
The church fathers realized centuries ago already: knowing that we are God’s most precious possessions brings us the greatest comfort in life. The question they asked was: “What is your only comfort in life and in death?” And the answer (in short): “That I, with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, hath fully paid for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil …” (The Heidelberg Catechism).
My consolation is that I belong to my faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ. May we still remember it when we experience bad times like now with the Corona virus. God never promised that everything will go well for us. But He did promise that He would always be with each of us, because we are His most precious possessions. To his children God says: “Can a woman forget her own baby and not love the child she bore? Even if a mother should forget her child, I will never forget you. Jerusalem, I can never forget you! I have written your name on the palms of my hands (Isa. 49:15-16)
Our heavenly Father, we thank You that we are your most precious possessions. For us it is an overwhelming comfort that we belong to You. Amen