He had… no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men. (Isaiah 53:2)
Are you feeling hopeful today? Take a look under the hood. How much of your hope is linked to some promise of a more attractive, prosperous, impressive future you — a you others will admire? Feeling discouraged? How much is linked to someone else’s disapproval?
The world has a gospel and preaches it all the time: be sexy, successful, or smart and you will be saved. What you will be saved to are the heavens of others’ esteem, desire and envy — and the various perks that usually come with it. What you will be saved from are the hells of others’ rejection and indifference — and the various undesirable extras that usually go with them.
The more you have of sexiness, success, or smarts — and, even better, of all three — the more assurance of salvation you have. According to this gospel you are justified by others’ approval. You are sanctified by self-improvement.
It’s a compelling gospel. You can tell because we Americans fuel much of our economy trying to get saved.
But it’s no gospel. It makes big promises that prove empty. If we achieve the approval we seek, we soon realize it’s no salvation. Approval today usually turns to rejection or indifference tomorrow. Even sustained worldly success doesn’t produce sustained satisfaction. This gospel leaves almost everyone feeling condemned.
If you’re laboring and heavy laden under the tyranny of this un-gospel, hear Jesus again:
Come to me… and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28–30)
Come to him. Come just as you are right now and receive what you most desperately need: his salvation and his hope.
Jesus did not come for the well, but the sick (Mark 2:17). He did not come for the righteous, but the sinners (Luke 5:32). He did not come for wise, but the foolish; not for the strong, but the weak (1 Corinthians 1:27).
When he came to earth, he had “no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2). He had no academic degrees (John 7:15). His family was poor (Leviticus 12:7–8; Luke 2:24) and he came from an obscure town in an undistinguished region (John 7:52). He succeeded in getting himself brutally killed — killed so that losers like us could live forever.
Jesus did it all backwards so that you would hear the real gospel: believe in him and you will be saved (Acts 16:31). You don’t need to be sexy, successful, or smart. You just need to believe in him (John 11:26). You only need to repent of your sin — rid yourself of that heavy, horrible burden — and receive his free gift (Romans 6:23).
Come! Cast your burden on Jesus, for he cares for you (1 Peter 5:6–7). Find rest for your soul in complete forgiveness of all your sins and in the heaven of the Father’s eternal approval. It’s the only approval you really need. And he lavishes it on all who come to him through Jesus.