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.
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?
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.
It tells us in John 12:25 that, “The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” Everyday is a struggle, where our affections are pulled one way or the other. The glitter and lure of the world is great, with its promises of immediate gratification and unending ecstasy. But the cold hard truth is that our excessive fondness for things of the world will only lead us down a path to self-destruction and death. For the world tells us to live today to the fullest… to eat, drink, and be merry, with no regard for tomorrow. But the Lord tells us that there is life beyond the grave, and that the world is blinding us from this truth. If I want to save my life, I must lose it in the person of Jesus Christ…I must turn my focus and affections from the temporal to the eternal…from the fleeting to the everlasting.
When was the last time you actually thanked God for saving you? When was the last time you expressed profound gratitude and appreciation for delivering your soul from the guilt and punishment of sin? If it’s been a while, then take the time right now to stop and thank Him. But as important… when was the last time you told someone else about Jesus? Isaiah 52:7 exclaims, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!” Telling someone the Good News of Jesus isn’t hard if you can imagine it this way…you’re simply a beggar telling another beggar where they can get bread.