The Apostle Paul, in Ephesians 5:14, paraphrases this verse in Isaiah when he writes, “Wake up O sleeper, rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.” Jesus is the light of the world, and when this truth illuminates our being, we become painfully aware of just how deplorable our sinful life is. We clearly see ourselves for what we are…miserable, wretched humans…spiritually dead and doomed to eternal punishment. But both verses encourage us by saying, “Don’t wallow in sin anymore – a new day is dawning – rise up out of the muck and mire, and receive your salvation.”
If you had never heard the Good News of Jesus…where would you be today? It’s a very sobering thought, and for many of us, we’d probably be dead. Now whether it was spiritual or physical death, we’d all be doomed to spend eternity in hell. But instead, someone brought us the Good News…proclaiming deliverance and victory over the guilt and punishment of sin. And so we stand here today, forgiven and set free. So why wouldn’t we want to proclaim His salvation to others?
The Prophet Isaiah again speaks of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. These verses speak of the promise to come for both Jew and Gentile… of life, salvation, wisdom and justice in place of spiritual blindness, falsehood, and ignorance. At the very beginning of His Ministry, Jesus confirms this in Luke 4:18-19, “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Jesus is the covenant between God and us…He’s the bridge over the deep chasm that keeps us far from God… for no one can come to the Father except through Him.
This Messianic prophecy of Isaiah’s pointed to the coming of Jesus Christ. It correlates with the verse in Psalm 118:22 which says, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.” Jesus is the only firm foundation on which anyone can build their life. He is the chief cornerstone of our faith and trust…for only through Him do we have the forgiveness of sins and hope of eternal life.
When people look at you, what do they see? Do they see Jesus smiling back at them from behind your eyes? You can’t help but do this if you have a firm grip on just how kind and gracious God has been to you. If you really understand the depth of God’s favor and protection…His plan and purpose for your life…the victory over sin and death He has afforded you…how can you do anything but manifest His love through you?
The thread of our Lord Jesus Christ is woven throughout the Scriptures. The Hebrew word in this OT verse for “Save us!” is Yasa. The personal name of Jesus comes from this root word, Yasa. This can be found in Matthew 1:21 as the angel of the Lord is revealing to Joseph the miraculous conception of his soon-to-be wife. “Mary will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” “Save us!” can also be found later in Matthew as Jesus is making His triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the crowds along the road are crying out “Hosanna!” or “Save us!” Jesus was and still is the Savior of our souls and the world today.
For many, they’re playing a version of the old game show, “Lets Make a Deal” with God. They’re bartering “good works and deeds” in hopes it will get them a free pass into heaven. Or they’re pinning their eternal hope on the shirt-tails of a Believing Grandparent. Neither will work…for there is no earthly commodity that exists that’s a fair exchange for our soul. We can’t trade anything we have for the free gift of salvation Jesus offers us…and no amount of good deeds will get us any closer to heaven. So the answer to the question, “What can a man give in exchange for his soul?” is simple…there is nothing.