Mostly Dead

Jeremiah 5:1 “Roam to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and look now and take note. And seek in her open squares, if you can find a man, if there is one who does justice, who seeks truth, then I will pardon her.”

John 12:24–25 “Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.”

Observation: Jeremiah was establishing reasons for the coming judgment. God had commanded that all Jerusalem be searched to seek one righteous person, in which case God would pardon the city from approaching destruction. This passage echoes an earlier challenge to Abraham who had negotiated with God a pardon for another sin-filled city if only enough righteous people could be found. Of course, both Abraham and Jeremiah found that God had correctly assessed the hearts of the people, and destruction followed. But just as this verse is an echo of the past, it also points to a future time and place where the Lord Jesus Christ, in the John passage, describes His own coming death as the model for me to follow in receiving an eternal pardon.

Application: There are important similarities as well as differences between these two passages. In Jeremiah, all wicked people were to pay the price for their sin; none would escape. But in John, only One would die for the sins of many. Jesus Himself, the innocent one, would take my sin upon Himself, and His death would be a gateway to eternal life in Him. John 12:25 calls me to lose my life in order to save it, to hate the life of the world and the flesh and all the striving that daily presses in. As a result, He promises I will enter into His life for eternity. 

My problem is this: It is a constant battle to die effectively. Like the wizard in Princess Bride who pronounces the corpse only “mostly dead,” so it seems that the tug of the world lingers in the background of my soul, always eager to tempt me again into pursuing temporal pleasures rather than pure unity with God. So the struggle continues with battle lines stark, sharp, and without compromise. Sin cannot be only “mostly dead”; it is either all dead or it is not dead at all. Similarly, there is in God’s economy no such thing as being “mostly righteous.” His call to me is to enter fully into His death, that I might gain His life.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You have pointed the way. You have told me clearly what must be done to enter into Your life. Search my heart for areas of compromise, Lord. Show me what You see there, that I might make a fresh decision to crucify all that is not of You.

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