The dusty saloon doors swing open as a cowboy enters. He swaggers to the bar, slaps down a fistful of dollars and says, “Drinks for everyone on me!” People raise their glasses and shout, some clap, and some say, “3 cheers for our new friend”.
What a great deal for those in the saloon that night; a free drink from a stranger. It wasn’t asked for. This cowboy just gave it in honor of something he wanted to celebrate, perhaps a successful trail ride. Whatever his reason, most people gratefully lift their mug and accept the free gift.
But imagine a table in the corner of the room with several whiskered gamblers. Most are getting their refill. But one begins to ask questions. “What is this guy’s motive?” he says. “I wonder what’s in it for him”. “You mean to tell me he’s going to pay for everyone’s drinks?! There must be a hundred people in here. Is there enough money in that fistful of dollars to cover the tab?”
Unconvinced, this skeptic plods out of the building and doesn’t accept his free thirst-quencher. What an unusual reaction.
We’ve viewed the above scene a hundred times on old westerns and reruns of Bonanza. It reminds me of a similar scene in the Bible; one written by John in his Gospel account. In this scene a similar offer was made by Jesus. During a conversation with Nicodemus he basically said, “Drinks on me!” Well, not quite, but a similar offer that is countless times better. Here’s what he said,
“…whoever believes on me has eternal life and will not perish.”
What a fantastic offer!
It’s fantastic in quality. An offer to live forever! Who makes that kind of offer? Only God.
It’s fantastic in quantity. He said “whoever”. Does this mean those who were within earshot? Does it mean Nicodemus and his friends? Does it mean Israelites who were familiar with the promise of Messiah? Does it mean those alive during his ministry or people of all time? Does it mean all the people of the world? The answer is “yes”.
Anyone who hears about this great offer and believes that Jesus can deliver on His promise receives the result which is eternal life. What a magnificent gift!
A gift of this quality and quantity would seem to have strings attached. But it doesn’t. Jesus simply said those who believe in Him receive this gift of never-ending life.
What a contrary thought to the American way of receiving great things. People would feel better if Jesus said, “say a dozen prayers, help 100 poor people, be a good girl, finish your chores, don’t kick the dog, and help a few old ladies across the street. Do those things and I’ll give you this great gift.” We like to have a part in the big things we get. But Jesus didn’t require those things of us (although they are good things!). He said believe.
Many people who hear about this offer accept it. Imagine though, the skeptic above. He would ask a few questions. “How can Jesus offer this? How can belief be all that’s required? Who’s paying for it? Does he have enough money to pay for it?”
Just like the barroom scene where some people cheer the generous offer and some people refuse, Jesus’ offer brings different reactions. Today his offer is still good. You can believe in him to give you something none of us can earn, or you can be skeptical. Everyone responds differently.
But to those who believe in Jesus to deliver what he promised, they get the gift: eternal life.
Believe it or not.
John 3:36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (nkjv)
(note: this article is not intended to promote alcohol, drinking, drunkenness, etc. Just a simple, familiar metaphor to teach a lesson. For those who don’t “get” it, I understand. If you are offended by it, I understand. Now – go tell someone about Jesus and his offer.)