The Bible is filled with incidents of joy. Think of the joy in the three parables about individuals who found their lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son. Imagine the joy in Heaven over every sinner who repents, or the “Blessed (happy) are the …” beatitudes. But there are also many verses in the Bible that speak of sin, sorrow, and sadness. Imagine the persecution and slavery Israel suffered in Egypt though it was due to her unbelief and idolatry. The Savior’s agony at Calvary was horrible, but out of it came forgiveness and eternal life. The saddest verse is not “Jesus wept” because later He resurrected Lazarus from the dead. No, the saddest verse in the Bible is found in John 5:40 NKJV: “But you are not willing to come to me that you may have life.” It is because of this verse that unknown multitudes of both men and women have poured out their life’s blood in the Christian ministry. Why? So that “if by any means they might save some” (Romans 11:14 KJV}. Let’s briefly examine this saddest of all Scripture verses.
- The Tragedy. “Come to me that you may have life.” There are two important truths I see in this statement. First is the fact that eternal life is available to all. There are many verses available but consider Revelation 22:17 GW: “Let him that is athirst, come: and let whosoever will, take of the water of life freely.” An old preacher was speaking on this text one hot Sunday morning. The congregation had trouble staying awake. A glass of water sat on the pulpit and occasionally after repeating his text he would take a sip of cool water. A little boy sitting in the front row was growing thirstier by the minute. After hearing the text repeatedly, the boy walked to the pulpit and took a few sips of water. The congregation was stunned, but the pastor went on encouraging everyone to come as a little child. I’m not concerned whether or not you are one of God’s elect. Evangelist D.L. Moody said the elect are the whosoever will, and the non-elect are the whosoever won’t!
Secondly, eternal life is accepted by few. Jesus talked about the broad road that leads to destruction where many were traveling and the narrow road to eternal life where few were on (Matthew 7:13-14 NKJV). Further, according to statistics, the chances of making a decision for Christ between the ages of 18-25 are 5000 to 1; between ages 25 and 35, 25,000 to 1; from 35 to 45, 89,000 to 1; and between 45 to 85, 1 million to 1. Are you with the majority that will miss eternal life, or among the few who will trust Christ as Savior?
- The Trouble. “You are not willing to come to me.” It is not because people are too wicked. Christ’s blood covers the vilest sin. It is not because God wants people to be forever lost. Christ is not willing that any perish but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9). The truth is that people are not saved because are unwilling. The original language says it even stronger: “You do not will to come…you have no heart, desire, or inclination to come to Me.”
An atheistic barber was riding with a minister through a city slum area. The barber said he couldn’t understand how a God of love would allow poverty, filth, and crime in the ghetto. At that moment, a disheveled tramp crossed the street, filthy, unshaven, and needing a haircut. The minister said, “You are a good barber, why do you allow such a man to go untidy and unshaven?” The barber replied: “he never gave me a chance to fix him up.” “Just so,’ said the pastor, “men are what they are because they reject God’s help”
- “That you may have life.” Someone outlined life like this: “Tender Teens; Teachable Twenties; Tireless Thirties; Fiery Forties; Forceful fifties; Serious Sixties; Sacred Seventies; Aching Eighties; Shortening breath; Death; Sod; God.” But there is more to life than just the short-lived time we have on earth. We are creatures of eternity. The life that Jesus spoke about was eternal life (John 5:39 (NKJV). He came into this world not to establish a religion, but to give life. That word “life” occurs forty-four times in John’s Gospel.
A young minister told C.I. Scofield, founder of the Scofield Bible, that he had gotten religion ten years ago. Doubting his salvation, Dr. Scofield replied: “And why you were getting religion, why didn’t you get saved?” The young man was shocked, but when Scofield told him how Jesus came to give abundant life, the young man knelt and prayed to receive Christ.
Beloved, life with Christ is an endless hope; life without Christ is a hopeless end! Your greatest need is eternal life, and it is only to be found in Christ alone. Don’t say you don’t have time in your busy life. That is as foolish as saying you don’t have time to breathe. Dear reader, just be certain that this saddest verse in the Bible does not become your epitaph!