Scratching the Surface of the Psalms
“Everybody Needs Jesus”
Jesus warned us about false prophets: “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
Succinctly, a true prophet points to Jesus by the book alone for existential peace and eternal salvation. A false prophet points to anyone or anything other than Jesus to steal peace and salvation.
The challenge is false prophets, as Luther explained, often come as “angels of light” to trick us into believing there are other paths to personal peace and eternal salvation. They come, again, in sheep’s clothing. They come looking like one of the good guys and gals.
Jude observed, “They slither into the church and turn the grace of God into religious promiscuities by denying Jesus as the only Lord and Savior of humanity.”
Paul said something like this: “They tickle, endorse, enflame, and enable our lusts and seduce us to the dark side.”
Or as Isaiah noted so long ago, “They say bad is good and good is bad and light is darkness and darkness is light.”
They mirror the damning madness of their master; or as the Rolling Stones sang, “Confusing is my game. Can you guess my name?”
Or as Dylan crooned, “But the enemy I see wears a clock of decency.”
Republicans or Democrats.
Uh, sound like any politicians that you’ve heard in DC or Springfield?
Sound like any pulpiteers and pewsitters that you’ve heard?
Remember, walking into a church makes a person into a Christian about as much as walking into McDonald’s turns a person into a Big Mac.
Just because they’ve fooled enough people to get a seat in Congress and swore to uphold the Constitution doesn’t mean they mean it.
Just because they’ve made it through college and seminary and denominational scrutiny and church votes and said they love Jesus and Holy Scripture doesn’t mean they mean it.
If you doubt that, look at all of the socialists in DC and Springfield.
Look at all of the syncretists and universalists in American pulpits and pews.
Like Islamofascistnutball savages, they sneak in across unsecured borders to ravage, rape the soul, and steal existential peace and eternal salvation.
Jesus was clear and conclusive in His invitation to everybody: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
The Church has always echoed its/His most essential invitation/guarantee: “Believe in Jesus and you will be saved…There is salvation in no one else.”
The Church has always fenced its pulpits and leadership from anyone who does not believe in Jesus by the book.
That’s because the Church wants to be God’s salvation army.
I like how Francis Chan put it in Letters to the Church: “The Church was meant to be a beautiful army, sent out to shed light throughout the earth. Rather than hiding together in a bunker, we were supposed to fearlessly take His message to the most remote places. People should be in awe when they see His people with a peace that surpasses comprehension and rejoicing with inexpressible joy.”
Before anyone suggests or conspires with darkness to mislead, Jesus and people who follow Him by the book are more inviting, welcoming, and including than any other “religion” in history.
Jesus said, “Come to Me, everybody and all of you, and I will take care of you.”
Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek nor slave nor free nor male nor female nor color nor class nor culture distinctives in the Kingdom. We are all united and equally saved by grace through faith in Jesus.”
That’s why everybody needs Jesus.
Because everybody wants to be saved forever and overcome the meanness, madness, misery, and miscreance of life in the modern world, everybody needs the only One who can make it happen.
David understood the need for Him; singing the prayer, “As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, God. I thirst for God, the living God.”
Speaking for everybody’s need, David asked rhetorically, “Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me?”
His answer: “Put your hope in God!…Our Savior and our Lord!”
Jesus expands or fills full the meaning of Psalm 42 in His 4th beatitude in Matthew 5: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
Peterson’s paraphrase captures the Greek sense of our Lord’s wording that brings a contented cow to mind and recalls David’s panting for God deer that represent everybody: “You are blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.”
Do you remember the opening scene in The Wizard of Oz?
A vexed Dorothy Gale tells Uncle Henry and Auntie Em that mean old Miss Gultch is threatening to take Toto to the sheriff and have him destroyed for chasing her cat and biting her.
Caught up in the midst of the hard farm life of Kansas, Auntie Em tells Dorothy to go someplace where there isn’t any trouble.
Dorothy asks Toto, “Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto? There must be…It’s far, far, away.”
Then the screen lights up and our hearts pound with the thirst and hunger of everybody else panting for a better place somewhere over the rainbow:
Somewhere over the rainbow way up high
There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.
Everybody thirsts and hungers and pants for that.
Staying with that movie classic that just turned 80, that’s what compelled Dorothy’s new friends to head down the yellow brick road with her to Oz’s wizard.
The Scarecrow wanted a brain.
The Tin Woodsman wanted a heart.
The Cowardly Lion wanted courage.
Dorothy wanted to go home.
Pero the wizard turned out to be a poser yet still could see there was a greater Spirit that had already come through for them; for the Cowardly Lion always ended up leading the charge, the Scarecrow always ended up figuring things out, and the Tin Woodsman was always rusting up about something pulling on his heart strings.
The same was true for Dorothy.
The good witch Glinda said Dorothy could always go home to Kansas because she had learned a great truth: “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. There’s no place like home.”
That’s the message of Psalm 42.
That’s message of the 4th beatitude of Jesus.
That’s the gospel.
Wholeness, happiness, joy, and eternal salvation aren’t somewhere over the rainbow.
It’s as close as Jesus is to you and me and everybody else.
Blessings and Love!
Wake up! Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!
Shatter the sound of silence!
Salt! Shine! Leavenate!
Shatter the sound of silence!
Salt! Shine! Leavenate!