I do not plan to make any blog posts for the next 2 1/2 weeks but I will leave you with this thought:
“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” (John 12:21)
Desire. Pure and simple…a desire to see Jesus. Can there be a more beautiful thought? Can there be a more pure desire? Can there be a more soul satisfying pursuit? Christians come to experience personally the joy the Father has in the Son. We too can say: “This is the beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased” (cf. Matt. 3:16). The prophets of old anticipated that Jesus would be the desire of the nations. Isaiah said Gentiles would stream to Jerusalem with this desire, “to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths” (Is. 2:3).
Today it is throughout the nations that songs emerge extolling the glory and grace of Jesus in every tongue. It is in fulfillment of Is 42:10 (“Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise from the end of the earth”) that assemblies of Christians in the farthest reaches of the earth now sing songs like “Fairest Lord Jesus.”
“Let them give glory to the LORD and declare his praise in the coastlands” Isaiah says (Is. 42:12).
“Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor, thou, my soul’s glory, joy, and crown,” the nations now sing of Jesus.
It is with good reason that the nations turn to Jesus. “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God and there is no other,” God proclaims through his prophets (Is. 45:22). “There is no other name under heaven, given among men by which you must be saved” (Acts 4:12). “To him all the prophets bear witness that whoever believes in him receives forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10:43).
And so it is by the irresistible grace of God that men and women among the nations like Sergius Paulus have “sought to hear the word of God” and have turned to Jesus (Acts 13:7). In the sovereign grace of Almighty God, the voices of the redeemed across the continents now join the heavenly choir with a loud voice giving glory to God. “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 6:10). The ranks of humanity are at this time still full of rebels yet earth’s history is being guided toward the day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father!
“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
Jesus went on to tell them, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in the world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him” (John 12:25-26). It is in the atoning death and victorious resurrection of Jesus that we are given life in Jesus. But it is in our own loosing of our lives that we experience life in Jesus. “I die daily,” the apostle Paul said. But it is in this experience that he says, “remember Christ” (2 Tim. 2:8) and “Christ…is our life” (Col. 3:4). Elsewhere he expresses his desire in this way:
“But whatever gain I had I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith – that I may know him in the power of his resurrection and may share in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Phil. 3:7-11)
And so my thoughts go to Zambia…Though John Owen’s words were for another time and another place, I can still own them for my sentiments toward Zambia:
“The tears and cries of the inhabitants of [Zambia] after the manifestations of Christ are ever in my view. If they were in the dark and loved to have it so, it might something close a door on the bowels of our compassion; but they cry out of their darkness and are ready to follow everyone whosoever, to have a candle. If their being gospelless moves not our hearts, it is hoped that their importunate cries will disquiet our rest, and wrest help as a beggar doth an alms.” quoted in Robert Oliver, “The Life and Times of John Owen,” John Owen: The Man and His Theology, p. 21.
“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”