Jesus and the Desert Dude

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There was this rugged desert dude in the Bible who turned out to be quite the preacher man. He had some earthy clothes made out of camel’s hair. And an awesome beard, I’m sure. And probably some dreads because I don’t think they made hair brushes in the desert back then. Though, he might have brushed his hair with a cactus. But, probably not, seeing as that’s a bad idea.

He ate gnarly food. Like crunchy grasshoppers. Which he most likely dipped in honey so they wouldn’t taste so grasshopperly. This rugged desert dude’s name was John, and he believed the whole point of his earthly existence was to point people to Jesus. (He very much believed Jesus was the remedy for the human condition.)

So, everyday, after his grasshopper and wild honey breakfast, John would stand out there in the dusty desert and preach and people would come way out there just to listen to him. He shouted it out–that folks should “repent” and stop running away from God and run toward Him instead.

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There were quite a few folks who listened. So, John would baptize them. I guess he had to walk a good ways with them, out of the desert and right up to that sparkly river, or lake, or whatever water hole was close enough. And when those people plunged underneath the cold stream and came back up again, they were demonstrating to whoever was watching that they were washed from their old ways of running away from God and were beginning a new life of living close to Him, instead.

One day when John was out there at the water hole, baptizing folks, he looked up and saw Jesus coming toward him. So, he yelled out, basically, “Everybody! Look! This is the guy! He’s the one I’ve been telling you about. God’s perfect lamb. He comes to take away the sins of the world.” (see John 1:29-34)

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The other morning, I read this story while sipping my coffee on the couch and it sort of stopped me there in my tracks. I just closed my eyes and soaked it in–the part where Jesus came to take away the sins of the world.

Because I don’t know about you, but I always needed Him to do that.

The Gospel–it’s the story of Jesus’ life, death and raising up from the grave, yes–but it literally means “good news.” Now, it’s probably not good news if you’re not a sinner. If you don’t need some Divine Jesus guy to come and die and wash your heart clean or if you’ve always been just fine and you don’t need a rescue, then it’s not at all good news. It’s just a bunch of hogwash.

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Or, if you are a sinner, but you’re the worst kind of sinner because you feel like you’re too far gone, way past the point of return, then the Gospel is a nice story. A fairy tale, perhaps, but it’s too good to be true, so it’s not good news, at least not for you. (At least, that’s what the ole’ devil, who always tells us lies, and your own condemning heart would have you believe.)

But, if you recognize that you mess up and you can’t get your insides clean and you’ve got some faith in your heart, like a child, then Jesus invites you to come to Him. Maybe you’ve always been an outsider, like the kid on the playground who’s always watching but never really a part of things, then Jesus says to you, “I want you. You’re in.”

And even if you’ve done the worst things, like things that people in their right minds can’t forgive you for, and you don’t blame them, but you desperately want to be washed and new again, then Jesus says to you, “Come.”

Jesus, who lived and died and burst through that that cold dark tomb still speaks to us, even now. “You don’t have to run away from your Maker anymore. You can toward Him. Here I am.  My blood has reconciled you. My cross has bridged that great gap between you and Him that sin made. I’ve made everything right again. So, c’mon with Me to my Father’s house. Here, take My nail-scarred hand.”

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And even if you’ve been a believer for a long time, but you keep doing that stupid thing that you think there’s surely no more mercy for, Jesus still offers Himself, daily to you. “Come over here,” He says. “Every time you confess your sins, I’m faithful and just to forgive you anew and purify you  from all your unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

The words of that desert dude that lived a long, long time ago keep echoing through the wilderness of our existence, “Look! Here He is! This is the One who all my life, I’ve been pointing to. He comes to take away the sins of the world.”

Can you imagine it with me? The whole world washed clean.

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