The Vanity of Self

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Daily Reformation, Mark 14:1–15:47

From the Reformer

“And out of his fullness.” He begins now to preach about the office of Christ, that it contains within itself an abundance of all blessings, so that no part of salvation must be sought anywhere else. True, indeed, the fountain of life, righteousness, virtue, and wisdom, is with God, but to us it is a hidden and inaccessible fountain. But an abundance of those things is exhibited to us in Christ, that we may be permitted to have recourse to him; for he is ready to flow to us, provided that we open up a channel by faith. He declares in general, that out of Christ we ought not to seek any thing good, though this sentence consists of several clauses. First, he shows that we are all utterly destitute and empty of spiritual blessings; for the abundance which exists in Christ is intended to supply our deficiency, to relieve our poverty, to satisfy our hunger and thirst. Secondly, he warns us that, as soon as we have departed from Christ, it is ill vain for us to seek a single drop of happiness, because God hath determined that whatever is good shall reside in him alone. Accordingly, we shall find angels and men to be dry, heaven to be empty, the earth to be unproductive, and, in short, all things to be of no value, if we wish to be partakers of the gifts of God in any other way than through Christ. Thirdly, he assures us that we shall have no reason to fear the want of any thing, provided that we draw from the fullness of Christ, which is in every respect; so complete, that we shall experience it to be a truly inexhaustible fountain; and John classes himself with the rest, not for the sake of modesty, but to make it more evident that no man whatever is excepted.

—John Calvin, Commentary on John (1:16)

Pulling It Together

The cry of humanity is, “Crucify him!” It claims otherwise but it is true, nonetheless. Actions speak louder than words. Everywhere is heard: “We can do it ourselves! We do not need Christ’s help.” All the while, the proof is all around us; we do need help. Nevertheless, we insist that we are a fullness in ourselves.

The Anointed One came to free you from this tyranny against the heart. “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). One would do one thing but another thing altogether is accomplished. “For I don’t know what I am doing. For I don’t practice what I desire to do; but what I hate, that I do” (Rom 7:15). Confess it. You are lacking and it is only the Messiah who can fully fill you. Open up to him, showing him (and you) your emptiness.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reformation: Devotions with the Reformers

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