Life of Christ 38
It isn't hard to spot people who don't know Jesus. They think they are pretty good people.
In the sudden flurry that enveloped fisherman Peter, with entire schools of fish swimming straight for his breaking nets, and his boat in danger of being swamped by the sheer weight of fish, he didn't think about it. But the minute things calmed down it struck him like a boat oar – this man Jesus, the one my brother Andrew is following, is Who He says He is. He is the Messiah!
Following that thought, like chain lightning, came the only logical next thought, 'When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord' (Luke 5.8). He instinctively knew He was in the presence of righteousness, and that he was the complete opposite of that righteousness. He was a dirty, rotten, no-good heathen and this Man Jesus shouldn't even be seen in the same zip code with him.
Isaiah had the exact same reaction on finally seeing God revealed as He really is. 'Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts' (Isaiah 6.5).
It is my considered belief that the more clearly we see Jesus for Who He is the more clearly we see our own sinful condition. People that think they are basically good don't know the Lord from a lawn chair. Knocking a few blocks of doors out soul winning shows you that relatively quickly. The Pharisees with whom Jesus would contend so often in His life had an inflated sense of their own righteousness. It was, of course, a hollow, empty self-righteousness, and He spent much time trying to get them to see the reality of their condition. But no matter how much He tried they simply refused to accept it (John 5.40) thus revealing they never did actually see Him for Who He was. No wonder they thought they were all that and a bag of chips!
As a young preacher I was relatively enamored with several big-name preachers who evidenced an arrogance of spirit. I found it all terribly fascinating, and the macho strut with which they walked their Christian life and tangled with the common people was something to see. With great sadness, as the years have passed, I have come to realize that so much of what enthralled me with those men was really pride – pride of position, pride of success, pride produced by the praise of men, etc. and it is no wonder they made hash of their ministry. You see, if they really had known Jesus as they claimed to know Him they wouldn't be proud at all. No, if they really were close to Christ, seeing Him for Who He really is they would have seen themselves as wretched sinners, without a single redeeming virtue other than Christ in them, the hope of glory (Colossians 1.27).
When you see Christ in His fullness you, at the same time, see yourself in your emptiness. And it is a painfully precious thing.
May it ever be so, beloved, in your life and mine.