Just Breathe by Eddie Vedder

My first “Roadhouse Hymnal” was composed by Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam.

 

“Just Breathe” by Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam

 

John 3:16 (NIV): For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Isaiah 53:5 (NIV): But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

God gave up His son, for us. He let Him die on a tree, mocked, tortured, ridiculed, and abandoned. For you and for me. He took on the pain, shame, and finality of death that awaits every single one of us in the next life when the vessel we call our body finally reaches its inevitable shelf life. It’s called sacrifice for a reason, and we are the reason. John 3:16 sums up Christianity at its core in one short sentence, a couple dozen words depending on the translation. God, the Creator of the universe loved us so much He sent His son to live among us and take all our sin on Himself to reconcile the punishment we all deserve through his crucifixion giving every believer from that point forward eternal life. That is the Christian faith broken down to its simplest explanation. Believing it defeats death and brings eternal life. It doesn’t seem like it should be that simple, does it? 

Still not convinced that’s all it takes? Jesus hung from a cross flanked by two others persecuted for their crimes. The difference? They were both guilty, of what we can’t say. But they weren’t God and therefore carried the same sin we all carry as imperfect humans living in a broken world. And in their final moments alive on earth, Jesus used them to show the simplicity of what it means to believe in His holy name. One criminal taunts and torments Jesus to prove his divine bloodline by setting Himself and them free. The other, recognizes and acknowledges Jesus’ divinity and simply asks that He have mercy on him in the next life. He doesn’t seek anything from Jesus before he believes. He doesn’t demand proof. He simply listens to his heart and puts faith that everything that had been said about Jesus in the 1000 years prior and certainly within the months and days leading up to that afternoon on a hill at the edge of Jerusalem was true. 

Jesus’ response? Jesus tells the man they will meet again in Paradise. Today. Jesus did not ask the man how often he went to synagogue, where he grew up, his national origin, political party, how he identifies, or to give up the habit he hides from everyone first. The man gave Jesus the one thing He requires, his heart. He believed and that was enough. That was it. It was really that simple. The world around us and if we are honest, even followers of our faith can certainly make it more complicated than that. Maybe if we are really honest, we too are guilty of making it more difficult by setting prerequisites on exactly who Jesus lets in the Heavenly Kingdom. But Jesus showed us 2000 years ago how it really is that simple. Acknowledge Jesus is the Son of God and paid for our sins through His sacrifice on the cross. That’s it. Don’t try to make it more complicated than it is. He’ll take care of the rest because there is more, but the good news is He works endlessly to teach, mold, guide, and lighten the load this broken world places on our shoulders. 

All too often those of us who have come to know Jesus and seen the impact He’s had on our lives and the lives of others forget we all had a journey that started somewhere. We can’t demand everyone’s journey looks like ours. The journey seldom looks the same for most of us. Maybe your journey included trips to Sunday school every week as a kid, or a grandparent who openly shared their faith. Maybe a friend, spouse, sibling, or someone at work invited you to learn more about this “Jesus” and changed your world and life forever. Or maybe you found Jesus under a bridge, homeless, alone, and scared. Maybe you were halfway through your 12 step program or recently fired from your job and left bankrupt. Your journey toward your faith may have started after an addiction to gambling, an extramarital affair, pornography, drugs, or something worse allowed you to finally hit your rock bottom. You might have even been incarcerated when you found Jesus and His saving grace. Perhaps you still are. It’s okay. Just like the criminal hanging next to Jesus hon the cross, Jesus’ invitation to Paradise is open to you as well.  

The journey is different for us all and as Jesus showed on that hill, our starting points may look vastly different, but the destination is the same for every single one of us if we simply believe He did what is written and He will do what He has promised. Everything else will take care of itself along the journey. We will be stretched. We will learn, grow, and begin to seek the face of our Savior and help others do the same. Our journeys will not look alike, but we have a Father and a teacher who will walk with love and patience while he teaches us about the plan He has uniquely created for each of us on our earthly journey. He will do it in a way that captures our heart and somewhere along the way we will fall in love with our Father and live a life we could only dream about, not just a life here on earth, but one that is eternal. He loves us that much, so much He sent His only son to show us all the way.