At the end of a hall, with only a small sign sits a modest lion statue. It’s not very big, not particualry beautiful, but it has a storied history. It used to adorn a famous building. It used to decorate, along with 20 other lions, the top story of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Take a break and see how many you can write down. How many did you get? (Colossus of Rhodes. Pyramid of Giza, , Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Lighthouse of Alexandria, Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Temple of Artemis at Ephesus). I got five and half. I thought it was a statue of Athens not Zeus. Artemis totally slipped my mind. The lion statue is from Halicarnassus.
Only a handful of artifacts remain. It stood for many years on the southern coast of Turkey, but by the Crusades it had been toppled by Earthquakes and then scavenged to build new buildings. In the late 1800’s during a period of intense interest in Archeology this lion was discovered. Through careful reading of ancient texts an archaeologist bought a piece of land and stared excavating. Then he burrowed under the neighbors lands until he found the ancient ruins. He then went and bought the plots of land he really needed, knowing what was beneath them. (It harkens back to a story Jesus told about buying land containing a treasure).
We stumbled upon this lion in the archaeology museum of Istanbul. There is not much fanfare. You can take a selfie with it. People were casually touching it. Most people just walked past it and did not notice. I was shocked at how little interest most people paid to this important artifact that represents the best of the ancient world. Later in the museum we looked at several other world class, earth shattering artifacts. One was hidden in the dark. The other was made so hard to see that most people dismiss it without a second glance.
I wanted to shake people and make them take notice. I wanted to tell them the story, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to be that guy, so I just looked intently at the items and enjoyed them myself. I think that is what a lot of us do about Jesus. We know he is more than just an ancient prophet. We know that he deserves our full attention, but don’t want to be thought of as crazy as too sold out and too annoying. So we just enjoy him ourselves and don’t share.