“THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR, HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE DOWNTRODDEN, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.” Luke 4:18-19, NASB
The bitter, night air penetrated my jacket as we rushed toward our destination. Eager for a bit of warmth, I didn’t linger even though the sidewalk with its streetlights painted a pleasant picture. Suddenly, we stopped. In the cold. Directly in our pathway sat an overweight woman with shortly cropped hair. Looking up at us from her wheelchair, she begged for money.
People who are destitute, imprisoned, sightless, or oppressed absolutely know it. Like this woman my husband and I met, they suffer in their respective conditions day in and day out. In a spiritual sense, these are the type of people Jesus came to save, a truth He reiterated when He said, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32).
A thought runs through my mind like a flame flickering to life:
Do I truly comprehend my DESPERATE NEED for Jesus?
I want to answer, “Of course I do. All the time.” But I know myself, that sometimes I forget. Sometimes I’m quite comfortable in my Christian life, and I forget my utter emptiness without Christ. I fail to see my sinful nature’s depravity, mistakenly thinking I’m a pretty good girl. And sometimes–oh, I shudder to admit this–I adopt a horrid, self-righteous, “better-than-you” attitude. While it might stay hidden, it lurks within me now and then.
The church in Laodicea received a strong word from the Lord: “Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent” (Revelation 3:17-19).
Jesus came to rescue those who understand their dire need for Him. While we recognize our need for Him–at least in some capacity–when we trust Him as Savior, we can wander off track later on. Because of this world’s novelties, the cravings of our flesh, and the evil one’s temptations, we easily can lose sight of
our critical need.
Our church buildings are numerous and enormous, pumping out music with tremendous skill.
Our good deeds abound, and we feel good about ourselves.
Our biblical knowledge increases, and we rest contently in all we know.
Our leaders are well-spoken and attractive, giving us much to admire.
But what about Jesus?
He’s waiting for you and me to repent–to change our minds–about what we love more than Him. About our reliance on self rather than Him. About our ignorance concerning our condition.
He’s calling us back to Himself.
As we rejoice this Christmas about the truth that Jesus came, let’s remember why: We’re spiritually bereft, enslaved by sin and the evil one, trapped in spiritual darkness, and entirely helpless … without Christ.
Unlike the woman in the wheelchair, we don’t have to beg. We simply have to trust. Willingly JESUS CAME, and “by His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5, NIV).