Jesus Christ transforms lives.
That’s what I would say to anyone who might ask, “Why should I
become a Christian?”
Ask anyone who has had a genuine encounter with the Saviour. As we sing in Amazing Grace, “I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see”.
Maybe you’re reading this thinking, “I’m not lost. And I see perfectly well. I’m a good person. Religion is for the weak-minded. Transformation? Don’t need it. Others might, but not me.”
But you know, deep down, you’re not perfect. You’ve done things, said things, thought things — shameful, secret things.
You’ve failed to do things you should have done.
If there were a video of your entire life — every thought, word and deed — is there one person on earth who could say, “I’d never be convicted of moral failure”?
One of the holiest men who ever lived, the prophet Isaiah, recognized his own moral failings, and said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips.”
All of us, without exception, fall short of the standard of purity required by God. And all of us, without exception, will one day stand before the judgment seat of God and account for all that we have done.
We are all sinners. The word “sin” is an archery term in the ancient Greek. It means, “you missed”. It’s what a slave boy might have said to his master during target practise. “Sin” means we have missed the mark when it comes to making right moral choices in life.
Christians are no exceptions.
The difference is we have a saviour, Jesus Christ, who pre-paid our penalty for us.
In olden days, when the heir to the throne was a student and misbehaved, a “whipping boy” would receive his punishment for him — it was not permitted to lay hands on the future king.
It was hoped that the prince’s conscience would restrain him from doing anything to cause an innocent person to suffer.
Jesus is a kind of whipping boy, but his acceptance of our punishment happened 2,000 years ago at Calvary. Yes, he was whipped, but also crucified to death in payment for our sins.
Once we realize the amazing sacrifice he made, it is transformative. We no longer want to heap any more punishment on him. In other words, faith in Christ transforms.
Zaccheus was the head tax collector in Jericho, where Jesus was preaching. He wanted to see Jesus, but the crowds around him were too great and he was a short man.
So he ran ahead and climbed a tree. Jesus stopped under the tree and said, “Zaccheus, come down. I must stay at your house.”
This caused some grumbling from the crowd. Tax collectors were hated and regarded as huge sinners, as they were agents of the occupying Romans and often extorted the people.
But Zaccheus recognized Jesus knew he was searching for spiritual fulfillment. He said, “Here and now I give half of my possessions to poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Jesus transforms the heart. He makes us realize that worldly wealth is ultimately unsatisfying. He inspires us to right wrongs and make restitution.
Another remarkable transformation was the demon-possessed man in the Gerasene area across the Sea of Galilee.
He was so wild that he wore no clothes and lived in a graveyard. Jesus expelled the demons into a herd of pigs, who stampeded off a cliff and drowned in the lake below.
The astonished townspeople “found the man ... sitting at Jesus’ feet, clothed, and in his right mind.” There is nothing, including demon possession, that Jesus cannot heal.
But let’s look at a less extreme example.
Nicodemus had it all. He was a Pharisee and an influential member of the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of the Jews.
Even Jesus called him “Israel’s teacher” — in other words, Nicodemus was one of the most respected rabbis of his day.
He was considered a model of moral rightness, yet he knew he was missing something. He came to Jesus at night, in secret.
Jesus told him he had to be “born again.” This mystified Nicodemus, so Jesus explained no one could enter heaven unless he is born of water (baptism) and the spirit.
To be born of the spirit means a person accepts Jesus as his savior. When that happens, the Holy Spirit of God comes to dwell within him.
No one is the same after that moment of acceptance.
There is a feeling of exhilaration, of freedom from the stain of sin.
As stated in Isaiah 1:18” “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”
Jesus transforms lives.
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