Jesus Christ is our Husband; we are His wife. He is our Good Shepherd; we are His sheep. His role is to go before us and prepare our way and path; to lead and guide; to protect and provide; to direct and decide. It can be summed up in one word: Grace. Our role is simply to wait, listen, and follow; to respond in trust, submission, and obedience. It can be summed up in one word: Faith.
But most of the time we get it mixed up. We take Jesus’ role. We try to be the husband and the shepherd. We try to initiate things. We try to go ahead and prepare our own way and path. We try to lead and guide ourselves. We try to protect and provide for ourselves. We try to direct and decide for ourselves. That is called religion.
Religion is all about what man can do for God; the Gospel is all about what God has done for man. The way of religion is us trying to work for God; the way of the Cross is God working for us. Religion makes us the husband and Jesus the wife. Religion says that we must pursue God, serve Him and work for Him so that He will respond to us. That is absolutely backwards. The Gospel is the Good News of how God has pursued us, served us and worked for us so that we will respond to Him. Hallelujah!
If we take Jesus’ role as husband and shepherd, then He will take our role as wife and sheep. He will simply wait, listen and follow us with open arms, ready for us to come to the end of ourselves… Ready for us to come running back to Him… Ready for us to give Him His rightful place once more.
I once had a powerful picture that explained this to me. I saw myself in thick bush. I was trying to whack my way through the bush in order to prepare a path for myself. I was toiling, labouring, striving, struggling and sweating. I was covered with scrapes and scratches. But I wanted to move forward. There were things to do and places to go. I needed to get through this bush. How would I get anywhere if I didn’t do anything? And so, there I was bush-whacking away. Self-righteous bush-whacking!
A little way behind me, on the very short and narrow path that I had managed to clear, was Jesus. He was patiently waiting behind me. He was following me in my self-righteous bush-whacking. He was quietly, peacefully and restfully waiting for me to get fed up with it all, come to the end of myself and come running back into His open arms. He wasn’t angry or upset. He was patient, kind and respectful.
The picture zoomed out further. Just behind Jesus was a road. Or rather, a highway! A massive, smooth, straight, immaculate highway. It was grander than the greatest runway! There was not a single bump. There were no inclines or declines. It was as straight as straight can be. And it stretched out for miles; as far as the eye could see and beyond. It was what Isaiah 35:8 calls the Highway of Holiness…
Isaiah 35:8 NKJV
A highway shall be there, and a road, and it shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for others. Whoever walks the road, although a fool, shall not go astray.
Ten chapters later, Isaiah prophesies to a man named Cyrus (who hadn’t even been born yet). Once he had been born, and had grown up, he became the king of Persia who would be the one to conquer Babylon. The Jews were in exile and captivity in Babylon at the time. And God planned to use Cyrus to release them from their captivity, and send them back home, many years before Cyrus was ever born. He spoke words to him, through His prophet Isaiah, that are now ours for the taking if we mix faith with them…
Isaiah 45:2 NKJV
I will go before you and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron.
Self-righteous bush-whacking or the Highway of Holiness. Which will you choose?
In his grace!
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