Isaiah 55:1-2 (NIV) 1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
Somehow, the message had gotten lost by the time Jesus showed up on the scene. The Jews of his day were practicing a very soul-killing spirituality, a lifeless religion of duty and obligation. They had abandoned desire and replaced it with knowledge and performance as the key to life. The synagogue was the place to go to learn how to get with the program. Desire was out of the question; duty was the path that people must walk. No wonder they feared Jesus. He came along and started appealing to desire.
To the weary, Jesus speaks of rest. To the lost, he speaks offinding your way. Again and again and again, Jesus takes people back to their desires: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matt. 7:7 NIV). These are outrageous words, provocative words. Ask, seek, knock-these words invite and arouse desire. What is it that you want? They fall on deaf ears if there is nothing you want, nothing you’re looking for, nothing you’re hungry enough to bang on a door over.
Jesus provokes desire; he awakens it; he heightens it. The religious watchdogs accuse him of heresy. He says, “Not at all. This is the invitation God has been sending all along.” He continues,
You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want. (John 5:39-40 The Message)
LIFE IN ALL ITS FULLNESS
Eternal life-we tend to think of it in terms of existence that never comes to an end. And the existence it seems to imply-a sort of religious experience in the sky-leaves us wondering if we would want it to go on forever. But Jesus is quite clear that when he speaks of eternal life, what he means is life that is absolutely wonderful and can never be diminished or stolen from you. He says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV). Not, “I have come to threaten you into line,” or “I have come to exhaust you with a long list of demands.” Not even, “I have come primarily to forgive you.” But simply, My purpose is to bring you life in all its fullness. Dallas Willard writes in The Divine Conspiracy,
Jesus offers himself as God’s doorway into the life that is truly life. Confidence in him leads us today, as in other times, to become his apprentices in eternal living. “Those who come through me will be safe,” he said. “They will go in and out and find all they need. I have come into their world that they may have life, and life to the limit.”
In other words, eternal life is not primarily duration but quality of life, “life to the limit.” It cannot be stolen from us, and so it does go on. But the focus is on the life itself. “In him was life,” the apostle John said of Jesus, “and that life was the light of men” (John 1:4 NIV). Notice that the people who aren’t so good at keeping up with the program but who are very aware of their souls’ deep thirst are captured by Jesus’ message. Common folk tear the roofs off houses to get to him. They literally trample each other in an effort to get closer to this man. I’ve never seen anyone acting like this in order to get a chance to serve on some church committee or to hear a sermon on why dancing is “of the devil.” People act like this when it’s a matter of life and death. Crowds trample each other to get out of a burning building; they press into the mob to reach a food line. When life is at stake and the answer is within reach, that’s when you see human desire unmasked in all its desperation.
–Desire: The Journey We Must Take to Find the Life God Offers (John Eldredge)