You can’t really get that far into the New Testament and particularly the Gospels without realizing that one of the central themes of all Jesus said is life.
“I come so that you may have life,” Jesus says, “and have it abundantly.”
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that “narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
In Luke 12:15 he said that “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
In Luke 17:33 Jesus says that “whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses their life will preserve it.”
At the beginning of John’s Gospel, which opens as a parallel with Genesis 1:1, Jesus is described as “the Word,” and John’s first description of Jesus: “in him was life, and that life was the light of men.”
Then there’s the famous verse that all of us know: John 3:16 … “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
John 5:21 says “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.”
In John 6 Jesus tells a crowd of people that he is the “bread of life,” and that the bread is “my flesh, which I give for the life of the world.”
When Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead he tells the people that he is the “resurrection and the life,” and that “the one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” (John 11:25)
Jesus came to give life. Not to teach people how to avoid sin. Not to teach people how to get to heaven when they die. He offers the promise of ‘eternal life,” which wasn’t primarily a chronological thing that starts after we die, but rather a quality of life that is available here and now. For Jesus, the life of heaven is accessible today. Heaven starts now.
When you start to view the Way of Jesus not as something you just ‘believe in’ or ‘agree with’ but as a way of living today, it changes the way you view life. The miracle of Christianity is not that we can have life after death but that we can have life before it.
Jesus is all about life in all its various forms. He wants you to thrive. He wants to to rejoice and enjoy all that he has created. Don’t settle for simply avoiding sins. Don’t settle for “being good.”
Forgiveness and grace is huge. But if that’s all you’ve ever been told that the Gospel is about, then you’ve been sold half of it. Forgiveness of sins is the foundation for the life that Jesus meant for us to live here and now, the “good works that he prepared in advance for us to do.”
Not sure about you, but I want to live.