Salvation starts with God.
This is what Jesus says in John 6:44: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them.”
When you read John in the original Greek, that word there that we translate as “draws,” everyplace else in the New Testament, and most other places in secular literature of the time, is translated “compels.”
So Jesus is saying, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me compels them to come.”
God compels us to come to Him. Look at how he compels us. He compels us through Jesus, and Jesus is so compelling. Jim Rayburn, the founder of Young Life, once famously said that it is a sin to bore a kid with the Gospel. Why is it a sin to bore a kid with the Gospel? Because Jesus isn’t boring. He’s compelling. He’s so amazing. There’s no one like Him. He’s worthy of all of our time and attention and effort. He just draws us in. And even people who don’t believe in Him who ultimately reject Him, admit that he is compelling.
He’s compelling in his humanity. Why do we celebrate Christmas? Because He was born as a man, and that’s compelling.
He’s compelling in His death and resurrection, and that’s why we celebrate Easter. The Cross, which was meant to repulse us, which was meant to warn people, which was meant as an instrument of terror, is now compelling, so much so that we keep one in our churches and wear them around our necks and on our ears, and we place them in our houses. Something that was meant to repulse is now compelling because of Jesus.
He’s compelling in his love. He’s compelling in his wisdom. He’s compelling in his graciousness and his compassion. He’s compelling in his divinity, where he walks on water and where he calms storms and where he feeds 5,000 people and where he heals people and where he raises them from the dead.
He’s compelling in what he promises. Have you ever been in a tough situation and heard the good news that there is life abundant; real eternal life that overcomes death, and that you can be raised up on the last day? Isn’t that compelling when you’re hurting? That God is with you, that He became flesh to be with you to save you. It’s compelling.
God compels us through beauty. He compels us through truth. He compels us in creation. He compels us through music. He compels us through science. God compels us when we look through a microscope or when we look through a telescope. God compels us when we study history and see Him on the move, and when He says, “Come to me!”
Jesus is compelling us, and that is very good news.
Adapted from Pastor Jon’s sermon, “The Bread of Life,” on July 3, 2022. Watch the whole message here.