Jesus died for me. What a treasure I must be!
Now where in the world does this notion come from? Over the years, I’ve heard many people say something along these lines. But a few minutes of honest self-assessment should leave the best of us with serious questions. Not to mention the fact that this notion isn’t in the Bible.
No, Jesus didn’t die to purchase treasures. Jesus died to ransom enemies (Mark 10:45; Romans 5:10). Jesus came to call rebellious sinners, not righteous treasure-people (Luke 5:32). We are not the Pearl of Great Price; Jesus is (Matthew 13:46). It is the alchemy of the Atonement that transforms our base iron of sinful depravity into the gold of the Great Treasure. It is only in being united to Christ that we become the treasures of God.
The Extraordinary Power of Lenses
So where does this notion come from? Faulty lenses.
Somewhere along the way, people’s blinding pride, demonic deception, and/or defective teaching caused them to look at the cross, see Jesus hanging on the sin-cursed tree where they belong, and somehow see a statement of their self-worth, rather than the worth of the true Pearl and his amazing grace that saves wretches like us.
Lenses are extraordinarily powerful things. We interpret reality depending on the way we see it. If something is wrong with our seeing — our lenses — we won’t see what’s real. We will see a distortion.
And this is far more important when it comes to spiritual sight than it is with physical sight. Here’s how Jesus said it:
Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. (Luke 11:34–35)
The degree to which our spiritual eyes are bad is the degree to which our understanding is dark.
We All Need Corrective Lenses
The truth is we all have bad spiritual eyes that need corrective lenses to let more light in and refract it accurately. And the corrective lenses that Jesus provides us with are his word and the gift of teaching in the church (Ephesians 4:11). When teachers “rightly [handle] the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), people receive corrected sight and their “eyes” become more healthy and their soul more full of light.
And when it comes to seeing, there is nothing more important for people to see clearly than why Jesus came to die.
Fifty Reasons Why
As we remember the death and resurrection of Christ in more focused ways in the next couple of weeks, you might benefit from reading John Piper’s book Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die. It’s only 122 pages long, and each chapter is only two pages, and yet it is a powerful, clear lens on the most important event in human history. Or maybe there is someone you know who could benefit from a clearer seeing of why Christ died for them, which would also help them see everything else more clearly. This book is available free electronically, or you can order a physical copy.
Right handling of Jesus’s word is one of the greatest gifts we can ever receive or give to anyone else. Through it, we all receive healthier eyes and illumined souls.