The Jeweller’s Black Velvet

Before I proposed to my wife, I visited many jewellers in pursuit of the perfect ring. I learned about base metals, brilliant cuts, and cluster settings. By the time I had finished my rounds, it was evident that the choices were infinite, and the prices varied greatly.

One aspect of my shopping experience that I had never witnessed before was the jeweller’s use of dark fabric as the backdrop for an item. Whenever I chose a ring to look at more closely, a rectangular piece of black velvet was spread carefully over the glass counter, and the selected item was placed upon it.

This was fascinating to me because it seemed as though the diamond ring had a new level of brilliance against the dark backdrop. This metaphor is particularly helpful when considering Christianity. Everybody in the world is in the market for something: a bigger house, a nicer car, a better education, a successful career, and so on. We are all “shopping” for happiness and lasting satisfaction. At different stages in our life we meander through the “religious section” of the store, and to be honest, most of us are disappointed with what we find. The jewels in this showcase look like relics, and do not work with the rest of our life’s ensemble.

Many of the religions are distasteful or just don’t fit. Some are marketed as incredibly valuable but are found to be cheap imitations with many flaws. Christianity, however, is unique in one important way: its eternal value can only be seen and understood when viewed upon the dark velvet of our unworthiness. Let me explain.

Every religion assumes and asserts one unchanging notion: man is essentially good and can therefore achieve the standard required to enter heaven through effort and perseverance.

This striving takes many forms. For some, it is regular attendance to the church, partaking of the sacraments, being confirmed, and obeying God’s laws. Others pin their hopes on philanthropic gestures, charity, and reaching out to fellow man. A large portion of people believe that one day the cosmic scales will bear witness to the fact that they generally lived a good life, and because their morality outweighed their evil, they will be considered worthy to enter a pleasant afterlife.

Whilst all these notions seem agreeable, and even help to uphold the moral fabric of society, none can offer any permanent hope because they are all based upon the foundational flaw that man is essentially good. This is where the jeweller’s black velvet provides some help.

God’s Word, the Bible, teaches us that all of mankind is corrupt from birth. We did not begin well and turn bad like the proverbial apple in the barrel, rather we were born bad. Our mind, our hearts, and our bodies all bear the marks of sin and depravity. The Bible says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

As humans, we tend to make comparisons among ourselves. We say, “Well, I’m not as bad as so-and-so, I’ve never killed or raped anyone. I’m sure God will accept me.” There is one serious problem with this concept: God’s standard for entrance into heaven is perfection.

If you have ever dabbled in archery you will know that the small red circle in the middle of the target is called the “bull’s- eye”. That is what you are aiming for. In God’s economy, only a person whose life hits the moral bull’s-eye is worthy of an entrance into His presence and kingdom. If you miss this mark, you have missed everything, and all of us have. This truth is clearly taught in the Bible: “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it” (James 2:10). We are guilty. We are lawbreakers.

We deserve the full weight of God’s justice which is eternal death. This is the black velvet background.

This is our sinfulness and unworthiness, but don’t stop reading!

The Jeweller’s Glorious Piece

In our little metaphor, we now stand at the counter with the black velvet laid out before us, and if that is all there is, we are in serious trouble! Thankfully, there is a glorious piece about to be presented.

The God who created every jewel throughout the world now unveils to you a treasure of matchless worth. The ring is laid upon the dark backdrop, and it glitters and sparkles under the Jeweller’s light. Before you lies a flawless diamond in a setting of pure gold. The features are remarkable, and its facets innumerable.

Having understood the blackness and darkness of our state before God, let us now consider how we as sinners can be made right with God. It is obvious by now that we are incapable of meeting God’s standard of perfection.

In other words, for there to be any hope of attaining to God’s standard (the bull’s-eye), there must be another way outside of us. There is. His name is Jesus. Now, at this point it is important that any preconceived ideas about the man Jesus are laid aside because much of what has been said and written is inaccurate, and does not present the truth as taught in the Bible. Firstly, and most importantly, Jesus is God’s Son. At the bidding of His Father, He took on human form and was born to Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem. He was no ordinary baby. Within Him resided two distinct natures: the human and the divine. His human nature meant that he looked and acted like any human child. His divine nature meant that He was God in the flesh, having all the characteristics of divinity, which is why He could perform great miracles during His time on earth. One essential truth to understand is that, whilst he was human in every way, he did not have a sin nature, which qualified Him to be a substitute for those who were sinners by birth (you and me).

The entire purpose of Jesus’ entrance into this world was to rescue sinners. The Bible says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). We are the lost that Jesus came to save.

But how would He save us? Having lived a perfect life, and having hit the “target of God’s perfection” in every way, Jesus died on a cross as the substitute for all those who would believe upon Him.

The death of this entirely righteous man provided for us a means by which we might be set free from our guilt and the wrath of God that abided on us. (John 3:36).

In other words, the good news is that we do not have to die in our sin. There is hope; there is help; there is a future for all who believe that Jesus died in their place, and then rose again from the dead. His resurrection was to show His power over sin and death, and to give us the hope that when we die, we too will be raised to life, just like Him.

Back to the Jewellery metaphor, this message is the glorious piece.

The gold setting represents the infinite value of God’s Son and His eternal nature.

The diamond represents His death: Jesus, under immense pressure and the burning heat of God’s justice, died in our place and this is how the “diamond of God’s grace” was formed for you.

Now the Jeweller picks up the precious piece and holds it out to you.

“I can’t afford to pay for this”, you say. With a loving smile, the Goldsmith says, “you’re right, you can’t”.

This item is not for sale because it has already been paid in full by Jesus. It is a gift. Will you take it?

The Jeweller’s Offer

A decision lies before you. Will you accept the ring, or will you refuse God’s gift? The answer to this question will determine where you spend eternity. The Bible says, For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Choose carefully.

Let me share with you what happened when I accepted God’s gift. As I stood there in this metaphorical jewellery store, my mind was at war. Should I accept this treasure? Is it real? What is required of me once I don this ring? These and many other questions entered my mind. However, something within convinced me that accepting this gift was the only way to be rid of my guilt. With a blend of fear and confidence, I reached forward and took hold of the ring.

Immediately, a light dawned upon my soul, and all the fear and guilt fled away.

The Jeweller took my hand and gently placed the ring upon my finger and said,

“This is the seal of my promise, He that has my Son has life.

Now go and bring others to me that I might introduce them to my Son too”.

As I left the Jewellery store, I stared at the ring. I turned it over and noticed an inscription on the band. It said, “Property of the King.” I suddenly realised that I had not only received forgiveness for my sins by means of Jesus’ death and resurrection, but I also was now a member of the royal family. I am a child of the King and heaven is my home!

It is my prayer that this metaphor helps you to see your desperate need as a sinner before God (the black velvet), and the incomparable worth of knowing Jesus (the glorious piece). If you would like to talk about this some more, if you need clarification of things said, or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me anytime.

With love from one unworthy sinner to another,

Pastor Daniel Kriss