It has been said that the Roman Empire ran on olive oil. It was used in cooking, bathing, medicine, ceremonies, lamps and cosmetics. For decade, olive oil from Southern Spain was shipped to Rome in large clay jugs called amphorae. Those jugs, not worth sending back, were discarded in a growing heap of broken shards known as Monte Testaccio. The fragments of an estimated 25 million amphorae created that man-made hill, which stands today on the bank of the Tiber River in Rome. In the ancient world, the value of those pots was not their beauty but their contents.
Because of this, the first-century followers of Christ would have clearly understood Paul's illustration of the life of Jesus in every believer. "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, than the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us" (2 Cor. 4:7). Our bodies, like amphorae, are temporary, fragile, and expendable. In our modern world that highly values outward beauty, we would be wise to remember that our greatest treasure is the life of Jesus within us. By God's grace and power, may we live so that others can see Christ in us. We are just the clay pots. Jesus is the true treasure within us. Christ is seen most clearly when we remain in the background.