The 100 Steps of Jesus
Jul 30, 2014 3650
There is a saying in some parts that is so common that some people believe it is actually in the Bible. The saying goes that “you must take one step toward God and then he will take ninety-nine steps toward you.” Somehow I think that those people who believe this have gotten their maths wrong.
The only ratio of 1:99 that I know of in the Bible is Jesus’ parable of the Lost Sheep in Luke 15:1–7. In this story, the shepherd has 100 sheep, one becomes lost, so he leaves the 99 and goes to find the one. In this story, the shepherd is the one who goes all the way to find his lost lamb; he takes all 100 steps.
The shepherd doesn’t say to the sheep, “If you partially find your way home, I will do the rest and come to pick you up.” I used to believe this. I used to believe that if I put in my part, say 5% righteousness, then Jesus would supply the remaining 95%. Somehow our works are supposed to be the trigger for Christ’s salvation. How deceptive this kind of thinking is! How we rage in fury and impotence at the salvation that Jesus offers us by grace alone!
In Christian terminology, we talk about “coming to Jesus,” and similar expressions. While these expressions do have a basis in the teachings of the Bible (John 6:35–40; Rev 22:17), they can be only understood in terms of our total acceptance of Christ’s total salvation, understanding that it is Christ who has provided a total and perfect atonement at Calvary. To “come to Jesus” is to turn in repentant helplessness to Him alone, for even faith itself is a gift from God (Heb 12:2).
Consider the teachings of Jesus. The lost lamb could not start to find its way home. The man wounded on the road to Jericho could do nothing for himself. The paralysed man by the pool of Bethesda could not take a step towards the water. The lost coin could do nothing to find itself. Although the prodigal son was on his way back to his home, he was still in a lost condition, trying to bargain with his Father in his mind; it is the father who comes running and finds him and covers him with his robe. Although the merchant finds the pearl of great price, it is only when he has sold everything he has; in other words, when there is nothing more that he can do. This list of examples could be very long indeed.
The Christian message is the story of a God who came to us and found us in our helplessness. In the person of Jesus Christ, God came all the way down to where we were, not 99% of the way. There is no salvation in the 99%; there is no joy in that sort of hopeless maths. That’s why I say that legalism is always counting; and its maths is always wrong.
So what are we to do? God is calling everyone to repentance; he is calling everyone home. When we, with the open, empty hand of faith, receive the gift; in that very gift is all that we need for this life and for eternity.
My trying to find God through my own means will always lead to depression and hopelessness. I will always rejoice that heaven came down and found me. Jesus came all the way.