During Jesus' earthly ministry, many different people came to Him. At times the multitudes numbered in the thousands, and at other times there were individuals who sought Him out for a private conversation.
What were the reasons why people were interested in Jesus? What were their motives, and what were they hoping to receive from Him? There were many different reasons back then, and the same is true today. Ranging all the way from the sublime to the ridiculous, people's reasons for being interested in Jesus are varied. Not all of these reasons are good ones, even when the seekers are sincere. When we study the accounts of Jesus' life, what we find is that some people came to Him for reasons that were inconsistent with the purpose of His ministry. (In Luke 12:13 , one man even wanted Jesus to intervene in a legal dispute he had with his brother.)
If we are serious about Jesus today, we should want to know what He said about His purpose, so that if we come to Him at all, we will come seeking the things that were closest to the heart of His mission in the world.
Here are three things worthy of our highest seeking. If we're thinking rightly, these are the things we most truly desire in the gospel.
(1) Forgiveness. Whatever secondary blessings Jesus may have bestowed, He made it clear that His primary purpose was to provide the forgiveness of sins. Before He was born, the angel said to Joseph concerning Mary, "She will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). After Jesus began His ministry, some were shocked that He should claim to forgive sins, since only God has the power do that (Mark 9:2-6). His enemies rightly understood that He claimed to be equal with God (John 5:18).
But although it was shocking, it was true. Jesus did indeed have the power to forgive sins and He desperately wanted people to see that their need for that gift was far greater than their need for anything else. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness," He said, "for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6).
No one ever received a more tender welcome from Jesus than those who came to Him penitently -- the humble people who were conscious of their sins and wanting, more than anything else, to be reconciled to God (Matthew 5:3,4; Luke 7:36-50; 18:9-14; etc.). As for the self-righteous who didn't believe they had any sins that needed to be forgiven, the "welcome" they received from Jesus when they came to Him was a rebuke intended to prick their conscience.
The gospel of Christ is about salvation from our sins. He died to make that possible, and that is the one thing He most wants to give us. Many other joyful things come to us after being forgiven and reconciled to God, but none of those would be worth anything without the salvation of our souls. As Jesus said, "What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" (Matthew 16:26). And to the crowd that came back wanting more food on the day after He had fed the five thousand, He said, "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him" (John 6:27).
This website, therefore, is concerned primarily with the forgiveness of our sins. In the belief that Jesus was indeed the Son of God and that His gospel is the way of salvation, these resources are meant to send us to the Scriptures asking the same question as the Philippian jailer: "What must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30). There is no other question we may ask that comes close to being as important as that one. So when we "seek" Jesus Christ, may it be, first and foremost, because we are conscious of our sins and are looking for a Savior. Let us be people for whom eternal life is the treasure we long for above all else.
(2) Faithfulness. After receiving the forgiveness of our sins in Jesus Christ, we also long to be faithful to Him for the remainder of our lives. We know that our sins have done great damage, and we want to learn a better way of living. Even if the Lord's discipline and training of us might be painful at times, we want to be faithful to Him, whatever it takes. We are eager to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18).
Knowing that the sins which separated us from our God were acts of treachery and rebellion, we want, now that we have been reconciled to God, to learn the meaning of faithfulness, allegiance, trustworthiness, dependability, and loyalty. Yes, we will sometimes fall back into disloyalty to God, but when we realize what we've done, we will make the necessary corrections and resolve to be more faithful in the future. Whatever happens, we have determined never to give up. No matter how many times we fall, we will get back up, seek the Lord's forgiveness, and . . . keep reaching forward.
(3) Ultimate Hope. Beyond the boundaries of this broken world, we know, as Christians, that eternal life is waiting for us. We know that it is promised to those who, having obeyed the gospel of Christ, are the "heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together" (Romans 8:17). We cherish the words of the apostle Peter who spoke of the inheritance we have in Christ: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials" (1 Peter 1:3-6).
In the final analysis, it is this eternal hope that separates the Christian from the non-Christian. As far as the good things that people may enjoy in this life, the Christian may enjoy some of those, along with unbelievers who also enjoy some of them. Jesus said that God "makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45). But the hope of eternal life is a gift that can only be enjoyed by those who, by God's grace, have been reconciled to Him through the gospel of His Son, Jesus Christ.
If you have that hope, I rejoice with you as a brother in Christ. But if you have not done what the New Testament teaches in order to receive that hope, I pray you will study the Scriptures and ponder your situation carefully. This website will encourage you to investigate both the "why" and the "how" of obedience to the gospel. And we stand ready -- twenty-four hours a day -- to assist you in studying the gospel. You can email [email protected]
As a good friend of mine likes to say, "If we miss heaven, we've just missed all there is." In Jesus Christ, thanks to God's grace, we don't have to miss it! But Jesus also urged us to be careful: "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:13,14).
May God bless us in our study the Scriptures -- for it is in the Scriptures that we will find Jesus' "words of eternal life" (John 6:68).
Henry - AreYouaChristian.com