Just Jesus.

Do you have a favorite t-shirt?

One of my all-time favorites was one I bought the summer God began to turn my world upside down and move me out of the band room into the pastor’s study.

The shirt was a plain gray shirt with two words on the front and two on the back.

Just Jesus

Nothing More

It came from a song we sang that week at camp. It was written by the worship leader for the week, Tom Duckett. I’ve looked all over for the recording but cannot find it. The lyrics were so beautifully simple that I remember them still.

Only Jesus paid the price for me

Only His love could set me free

Nobody else could open heaven’s door

Just Jesus and nothing more

I’ve been reminded of this as we spent so much time in Philippians 3 this weekend and we heard Paul saying that knowing Jesus was the thing that mattered. In fact, he testified that all of the rest of his accomplishments and experiences and hopes and dreams and aspirations were like a pile of garbage (or worse) in comparison.

It seems that, if you asked him what in all the world he wanted, Paul’s answer would have been, “Just Jesus, nothing more.”

I am finding more and more that, when I passionately press in to know Jesus, He seems to do things in me and through me that I cannot do. He teaches others things I cannot teach. He loves others in ways I cannot love. He speaks words of comfort and peace and hope that I cannot speak.

And when I look at what He commanded, I see that the essence of it all was to love Him with all that I am and to love others like I’m inclined to love myself. But I wrestle with the question: how can I be focused on Him and loving to others at the same time?

I think maybe I’m starting to get it. When I am so heart-soul-mind-strength focused on Jesus, He goes around loving others and I come along. He goes to my neighbor and serves Him and I come along. He does the things I cannot do and directs the steps I don’t know how to take and speaks the words that I have no way to express.

And what do I get?

I get what I most desperately need and most desperately long for and most desperately hope for…

Just Jesus.

Nothing more.

Because when we get Jesus, everything else melts away in insignificance.

I’m convinced that the work He wants to do in transforming my life is not about me. It’s for you. He wants to transform me to serve you. And He wants to transform you to serve another.

And in it all we get the key to everything – Jesus Himself.

I have come to understand that genuine love does what is best for the one loved. John told us that God so loved the world that He gave us what we most needed—Himself.

What do you need? Really?

Just Jesus.

Nothing More.

The Mess of Death (Finally)

There are several places in the Scriptures in which there were people raised from the dead. It was, by no means, a normality or commonplace. But it wasn’t something that had never happened before.

But, in each one of those cases, someone else had come along and caused them to be raised. And, in each of those cases, those individuals returned to the grave sometime later. Even Lazarus, the one Jesus called back from the tomb four days after his death, eventually returned.

But Jesus…

Join me in looking at the events of John chapter 20 as we see how Jesus stepped into the mess of death and brought resurrection.

[This video has some technical issues for which we do apologize. But it’s what we have of an important message.]

You see, Jesus went on through the grave and conquered it. And, because of this, death, for every person who puts their trust in Jesus, is temporary.

Death is an inevitable reality in this world… for now.

Do you know Jesus? If you do, death is just a temporary bump on the way to a vastly more wondrous road.

All the Best and Far Beyond

When someone dear to you is about to leave—whether it is to move across the world or to face the painful reality of death—it seems absurd for them to tell you how much better things will be for you.

That’s the way Jesus’ followers must have felt when He was telling them about the better things in store for them.

He told them that things would be different. When the Spirit comes, the presence of God in the world will not be limited to the place where Jesus was, but would be all around, in the hearts of all believers, and, through them and the power of the Word, influencing people.

Jesus describes some of the ways He will work.

And when he comes, he will convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (John 16.8-11)

These things were descriptive of what Jesus did as He walked the earth—only better. In the same way that Jesus seemed to make people aware of their sin when they were in His presence, the Holy Spirit would be showing people their sinful condition in every place that the Word would be carried forth and proclaimed by His people.

Just as Jesus walked through this world giving the perfect expression to the holy life to which we are all called, so the Spirit would enable every believer to live that life out more and more and more in such a way that the world would see and recognize the righteousness of Jesus in them.

Jesus pointed people to the hope of His sacrifice as the only way to escape the judgment to come. So the Spirit, He promised, would make clear the choice to be judged with the ruler of this world, Satan, or to follow the Savior of the world.

You see, Jesus had shown them the so many things, things far beyond the good things they had known, better than they had ever imagined. And now Jesus was describing for them a forthcoming reality in which they would experience all the best things they had seen in His presence.

He promised that the Spirit would be better. That’s hard for us to imagine. But think about it with me.

When Jesus went off by Himself to pray, He was, for just a while, away from them. When He would take Peter and James and John up further upon the mountain, the others would no longer be experiencing His presence.

BUT… when the Spirit would come and take up residence in the heart of every believer, they would NEVER be deprived of His presence. They would NEVER be separated.

Jesus promises that, with the indwelling Holy Spirit, they would experience all the best things… and so far beyond what they could comprehend.

He had great things ahead, but they were on the other side of some of the most painful things they would ever experience.

And today you and I, if we have put our hope and trust in Jesus, are experiencing that great expanse of possibility as His Spirit is at work in us. He is at work, doing all the best and far beyond.