By God’s grace, I’ve been a Christian for a long time. That time is getting longer every day. So when I look at what God continues to teach me through His Word, I can only shake my head at my thick-headedness and my pride… and whatever else it is that keeps me from learning the centrality of the gospel.That’s what’s been hammered home over the past months as the Gospel of John has been a constant companion. The centrality of the gospel… which is to say, the centrality of Jesus Christ.
It isn’t only that he miraculously fed thousands, or healed incredibly recalcitrant diseases, or stopped storms. It isn’t even that he said he was the bread of life, or the resurrection and the life, or the source of living water.
It’s that he really is those things. On an ongoing basis.
Religion, as helpful as it can be, often gets in my way. What I mean by that is that religion can be twisted (by me) to be a sinful practice, not an edifying one. I can run self-metrics, rather than joyful worship: how much prayer have I been investing in; whether I’ve fasted recently; how many people have I “touched,” “checked in” with, or otherwise “ministered” to; whether I’ve avoided a particular sin I’d like to have ‘victory’ over. I start having pride, not in my repentant response to sin, but in my superficial, external cleanliness. In my diligence and efficiency. And so I functionally put my hope in my performance of “good” things… not realizing that they have no goodness in themselves. They have goodness (and are fruit) only if they are truly worship of a worthy object.
Eventually… when my eyes are opened… I look again at my own heart, eager for self-exaltation, and again have to come to the cross… repenting…asking forgiveness… and putting my trust, my only hope… in my Savior.
Jesus is my bread of life (John 6:35). He is what I take in, forever.
Jesus is my light (John 8:12). He’s the only way I see… ever.
Jesus is my shepherd (John 10:11). He leads and cares and finds me.
Jesus is my resurrection (John 11:25). He’s the only reason I’ll live forever.
Jesus is my life (John 11:25). He is, right now. I only act like my life is about me.
Or, to put the above into the negative statements they infer:
On my own I starve.
On my own I’m blind.
On my own I’m lost.
On my own I’ll die, or perhaps I’m dead already.
On my own I have no life now.
Why do I think I could ever do anything on my own?
This is why I was so struck by Mary this week, in John 12. Heartfelt worship… not posed, not calculated, not even fully understood… but entirely appropriate because of the object of the worship.
May our hearts be filled with grateful joy at the life our Savior gives. May we find joy in prayer because it is with him… may we excitedly follow where he leads… May we find all we are in His finished work on our behalf… and our certain future in union with Him.