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The One Thing

October 15, 2018
by Matthew Rawlins

Graphic showing a book with pages folded like a heart, which says "Who do you say I am?" - JesusIn Mark 8:27-29, Jesus asks two interesting questions of His disciples. He begins by asking, “Who do people say that I am?” They reply with some of the things they’ve heard others say, “Elijah, John the Baptist, one of the prophets.” After their response, He asks the more personal question, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter’s response is “You are the Messiah.” Peter gets it. King Jesus is the One they have been waiting for.

It’s interesting to me that He asks this question before explaining to them the cost of discipleship. I don’t believe that this is by accident. It was important for them to understand what He would be asking of them within the context of knowing that He was Messiah. He was the promised King. He was the fulfillment of everything that they had been waiting for. As King, He had full claim over their lives. The demands may seem great, but He was worth it.

Although this question was asked of the disciples, I believe it is a question that every follower of Jesus must answer. Who is Jesus to me? Who is Jesus to you? How we answer that question has huge implications for how we live our lives and how others see Jesus in our lives. The easy thing to do is to answer the question like Peter did and to move on with our lives. But if we give thought to that response, it requires much of us. It requires that we alter our lives accordingly. It demands that our lives demonstrate that Jesus is the passion of our lives.

As I think about examples in Scripture of people who truly seemed to grasp this idea, two names come to mind. The first is King David. In Psalm 27:4 he writes, “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” Wow, David! The “one thing” you want is the Lord and to simply stare at his beauty and to be with Him?
So, is it possible to do the “right thing” while missing the “one thing”?

This statement holds even more meaning when we take a look at the verses before it. David writes these words within the context of conflict and war, with his enemies all around him. With an army camped against him, the “one thing” he wants from the Lord isn’t victory or revenge. He wants to be fully immersed in the presence of the Lord.

The second person I think of is Mary, the sister of Martha. In Luke 10:38-42 we find Jesus stopping for a visit at the home of Mary and Martha, and we see a stark contrast between being busy for Jesus and abiding in Jesus. In this story, Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus and basking in His presence while her sister, Martha, is running around the house with great care and preparation in service for Jesus. I think it’s important to note that Martha is doing the culturally appropriate thing here. Based on doing the “right” thing, she appeals to Jesus to get Mary to help her in doing the “right” thing.

From a cultural perspective, Jesus's response could be considered a bit of shock. The passage states that Martha is “distracted with much serving.” Jesus tells her that she is “anxious and troubled about many things.” What, Jesus? Doesn’t He realize she’s doing all of this for Him? He then goes on to say, "one thing is necessary," and He notes that Mary has chosen it. Mary, who is gazing on the beauty of the Lord, has chosen wisely. She has chosen the one thing “which will not be taken away from her.”

So, is it possible to do the “right thing” while missing the “one thing”? From this passage it certainly appears so. I confess that even in writing this out now, my life doesn’t always reflect that Jesus is King—that Jesus is Messiah—that Jesus is Lord over all of my life and the “one thing” I long for with all of my heart. This presents a problem if I am to be actively sharing the “Good News.” If my life is not reflecting that Jesus is the most valuable thing I have—the thing worth giving up everything for—the supreme passion of my life—what I think about when I wake and as I fall asleep, then the words that come out of my mouth will have limited impact. Are we really giving an unbelieving world an accurate picture of who Jesus is? I’m not sure we are, and I believe it stems from the true answer to that question, “Who is Jesus to you?”

My thoughts are not meant to elicit feelings of guilt and shame—quite the contrary. Jesus is well aware of our propensity towards other things. His grace extends even to that. I believe, though, that He is daily calling each of us into deeper experiences of Himself. He invites us to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” He beckons us to simply rest and abide in Him. My prayer for you is that you will see and know and experience Jesus in deeper and more meaningful ways than you ever thought were possible.

I pray that in all of your study of Jesus, you will seek to know Him as a person and not just an idea. As Jesus takes you into deeper experiences of Himself, I would encourage you to constantly go back to the question, “Who is Jesus to you?” and indulge in the joy and emotions that follow as you seek after the “one thing.”