Articles and thoughts by Steve Green.
As Marijean and I sat in our Jerusalem hotel room this morning having coffee and spending some time rehearsing the gospel, we were struck with an odd realization.
This week we have visited Capernaum and Nazareth. We spent time on the Sea of Galilee. (I actually caught a fish!) We saw the most likely place where Jesus was baptized and where the multitude of Israelites crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land. We walked places where Jesus walked and sat on the Mount of Olives overlooking the City of David. We are profoundly grateful for the privilege of visiting the Holy Land. Yet, as we read our pastor’s prayer/devotional for today our hearts were melted, our eyes tear-filled with emotion and our passion for Jesus stirred beyond what any experience here has done. Why is that? What a place cannot do, the gospel can! This is a remarkable land, but for the vast majority of brothers and sisters who will never make the trip, you already have the greatest treasure right where you are. You can this day, encounter Jesus in all of his grace. Here is Scotty’s prayer.
Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” John 4:29
Dear Lord Jesus, it would’ve been a holy joy to hear this broken, Samaritan woman reenact her collision with the gospel for her friends (John 4:1-42). Water from Jacob’s well was superseded by the water you alone can give—living water that slakes our death-doling thirst.
You exposed her sequential affairs with men then, instead of crushing her, you cherished her—you brought the gospel of the kingdom to the dark continent of her heart. And as she stood in the public square of her community, she was never so free. No longer any need to pose or pretend, she was “out there,” perhaps in the hearing of some of the six men with whom she’d been. “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”
What but the gospel can give a man like me the freedom to be thoroughly known? Indeed, Jesus, you are the Christ—the Messiah… my Lenten Lord… the heart-knower… the lover of my soul… my righteousness from God… my only hope of glory…
Jesus, you’re the only one who knows every vain, foolish and evil thought I’ve ever conceived… every lustful, greedy fantasy in which I’ve engaged… Only you’ve heard every grace-robbing, grand-standing, gossipy word I’ve ever spoken… Only you know the ways I’ve failed to live up to the demands and delights of God’s Word, and the ways I’ve gone way beyond them.
Only you know my broken-cisterns of choice… my “empty-nothings”—my idols… my sequential attempts to find life somewhere else, other than in you. And as I enjoy your presence this morning, Jesus, I feel both indicted and invited by the gospel. I don’t have to mimic the words of my spiritual dad, I actually mean them… in this very moment. “Cheer up! You’re a whole lot more broken, needy and desperate than you think you are, Scotty. Cheer up! You’re a whole lot more welcome, accepted and loved than you ever hoped or imagined. Both are true because the gospel is true!”
Only this gospel can change me, and is changing me. What a wonderful, merciful Savior you are, Jesus… so very Amen, I pray in your transcendent and transforming name.
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