Why we can’t find satisfaction anywhere else
We have reflected on the glories of God, the forgiving Father, in this post we are thinking about Jesus the sacrificial Son of God.
“There is a God–shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made know through Jesus Christ…What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace?Blaise Pascal
This quote comes from a defence of the Christian religion published in 1670 and written by Blaise Pascal and I think it raises and answers one of the biggest questions of our day. Where do we find meaning, purpose and value in life?
It is a question that gets to the very heart of societies issues, the aggressive ideologies, the intolerance and hatred of others and the ultimate value of the individual. It is shown by those who are willing to board a flight and be the only one not wearing a mask, it was demonstrated in the killing of George Floyd and it goes on almost constantly on social media.
We are all looking for an answer to that whole, that longing, that need, the thing that keeps us up at night or makes us unable to focus in the day. We long to be known, loved and accepted, but more than that we long for God. Many people never get to the point of recognising that Jesus is the answer, which is why God sent Jesus.
Jesus didn’t come to tell us the answer, although he did. He didn’t come to show us how to live, although he did demonstrate what it means to be truly human. Jesus came to die. Yes the only way God could repair what was broken was to put himself in our place. For Jesus to take the punishment for our rebellion, our rejection of God, so that we could be forgiven and welcomed back.
Our craving and helplessness as Blaise puts it point us to Jesus. There is nothing that, science, art, technology, relationships, possessions or knowledge can do to meet our deepest longing or help us in our helplessness. It is one of the reasons why the levels of suicide and depression have grown hugely.
Yet there is hope, there is a way to fill that vacuum, to find what we really crave for. Jim Shaw wrote to the Chapel last week about the moments when Jesus was isolated and what is most striking about this is that his isolation was by choice. An isolation that ultimately led to our being united, being welcomed into God’s family.
When Jesus went into the wilderness before he started publicly teaching and healing people he proved he was the faithful and trustworthy one. Israel was called to be God’s beloved people, to be faithful to him and attract the nations to the one true living God. They failed, they spent 40 years grumbling and being disobedient and then once they entered God’s promised land they began to worship other Gods. Yet Jesus went into the wilderness and was faithful, he was the new Israel, the one that would attract people to the living God. The question is how would all of our sin, our rebellion, our idol worship be forgiven?
Which leads us to Jesus’ ultimate isolation, Jesus’ arrest, trial and crucifixion. It begins with his friends fleeing but ends with the greatest abandonment possible. Even his closest friends denying knowing him proved insignificant compared with the ultimate act of isolation. The moment we experience vividly as Jesus took our sin on himself on the cross and was cut off from his heavenly Father. Jesus was cut off from the eternal love of his Father, the intimacy and relationship which gave him the strength to face the cross in the first place. To be separated or lose someone we have known for years, decades or longer is heart wrenching, soul destroying and leaves us grief stricken. Yet imagine multiplying that infinitely and the quality of the relationship beyond our imagining and then we realise that Jesus gave it up for you and me. There is no lockdown, isolation or prison sentence that could ever compare to the loss Jesus must have experienced. Jesus was cut off from his Father, totally isolated, condemned and died.
What is most amazing is that it was Jesus’ purpose and choice to go through it for us. In John 10:11 Jesus said: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. John 15:12-14
And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:2
He is the propitiation (the sacrificial self giving to make us right with God) for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.Hebrews 10:11-18
Reality is a pretty dark place when we face up to it, as we look out at a hurting world or look within to see our thirsting souls. However where the world offers distractions that fail and only make us feel our need more, Jesus offers the light and hope we have all long for. Jesus is the one we need, precisely because he has defeated the very thing that we are powerless to change. Jesus offers us hope and life, when we are fearful and scared of death. Jesus offers us purpose and meaning now, we don’t have to wait for it. Most of all Jesus offers to bring us out of isolation and into a family that cannot be broken, with a future that cannot be taken away and a hope that will never fail. So let us seek Jesus and in doing so find everything we have been looking for.