For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
— Ephesians 2:8–9
Have you ever had an “only Jesus” moment? You know, that time when only Jesus could have rescued? That time when only Jesus could have satisfied? That time when only Jesus could have redeemed? That time when only Jesus could have made it — whatever it was — possible? “Only Jesus” moments are those times when nothing can explain it away, only Jesus.
As I have been thinking about this devotional, I have been reminded of several “only Jesus” moments that have occurred over the course of my life. One of the more vivid moments was when I was teaching in a remote part of northern Ghana called Paga. Very few people had gathered to listen to me preach, for fear that the Muslim leaders and husbands would punish congregants and family members if they attended our crusade. As a result, many people stayed at a considerable distance, watching but unwilling to come near.
As I started to preach, all of the electricity in Paga went out. When I say all, I am being literal. ALL of the power went out for as far as the eye could see. I turned and asked our host what I should do, and he simply responded, “Preach the Word! They can turn off the lights, but they will not silence our voices.” Admittedly shaken, I continued to teach, but I was teaching to complete darkness. It was one of the most awkward things I had ever experienced. I got to a place in my message where I was transitioning from talking about a secondary character from the text to talking about the primary focus of the text, Jesus. As soon as I said the words “Now let me tell you about Jesus,” every light for as far as the eye could see came back on. This was surprising, because in northern Ghana, if the power goes out it could be off indefinitely. To my surprise, as the lights warmed back up it became clear that, under the cover of darkness, well over 300 people had drawn near to the Word of God. These people were literally 10–15 feet in front of me. That night, at least 20 people were saved by the grace of God. Only Jesus. I still get chills when I think of that story, but it isn’t the most powerful story.
I have seen people healed of diseases that left medical teams scratching their heads. Only Jesus.
I have seen prodigals so far gone that there seemed to be no hope of them ever returning home, but they did. Only Jesus.
I have seen marriages that had already ended in divorce rekindled and made new. Only Jesus.
I have seen people face and overcome fears that for decades had paralyzed them. Only Jesus.
I have seen people so shackled by addiction that there didn’t seem to be a path toward sobriety set free. Only Jesus.
I am a person who has recognized the depth of my depravity and fully understood that the only thing I deserved as a result of my sinfulness and rebellion was eternal separation from God, and yet found the way to be forgiven. I found the way to be made new. I found the way to walk in victory.
None of these things were found in my benevolence and kindness toward others. None of these things were found in my intellect or work ethic. None of these things were found in my personal disciplines. None of these things were found in anything that had to do with me.
All of these things — forgiveness, newness, victory — were found in Jesus alone. Only Jesus.