By Hannah Stevens
After a long winter, spring comes slowly, full of gentle promise. The days slowly get
warmer, the sun’s rays lose their frigid stare, and all creation begins to respond. Birds
bustle busily, gathering bits of this and that for their nests. The trees tiny leaf buds
emerge and with pain-staking precision begin to open. Every day there is more green,
and brilliant hues fill our eyes and feed our color-starved vision. Slowly, life is perfected
until early May finds us in a wonderland of growth, life, sound, and fragrance. It is in
these moments that we get in touch with the longing.
The longing. It isn’t the solid satisfaction we feel when a job is well done. It isn’t the sigh
of relief after a long day’s work is over. This longing, the deep groan that unites all of us
as humans, is that deep guttural longing for wholeness, for completion, for perfection.
It is the longing for Eden. Our fore-parents Adam and Eve didn’t long for it but lived it,
walking perfectly through a perfect world with their perfect Friend. No other human on
earth has had that experience, but, still, somehow we know and carry it. The knowledge
of that “something more where all shall be well” resounds in the heart of each of
Adam’s race over generations. We don’t feel it only when we experience the suffering
and dissonance of a world still so broken by sin. We feel it also in moments of utter joy
and happiness. There remains a wistful nostalgia: it is longing for the Eden we haven’t
experienced yet but where we know we belong.
We long for Eden because it reveals the Man who made it. Jesus Christ, firstborn of
the Father, perfect. He is higher, more beautiful, more amazing, more just, and more
compassionate than anything we could ever comprehend. His glory is revealed in His
transcendence and also in His immanence. Colossians 1 declares the irrefutable glory
and authority of Jesus over all things. Read it now, underline the phrases that most
impact your heart, and answer the following questions.
Colossians 1:15 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible
and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things
have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in
Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He
is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to
have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the
fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself,
having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether
things on earth or things in heaven.
1) Of the phrases you underlined, which is most striking to you? Why?
2) What does this Scripture reveal to you about Jesus? How could this revelation impact
the way you live your life?
In early days of Jesus’ ministry, we find John the Baptist devoting His life to preparing
the way for the Messiah. After years of preparation in the wilderness, John the Baptist
emerges as a radical prophetic voice, calling Israel to repent and come clean before
the Messiah is revealed to them all. After Jesus is revealed and His fame begins to
spread, John’s disciples come to Him, wondering how John will take the fact that He is
no longer in the main spotlight. John responds with this stunning revelation. Read the
passage, underline what impacts you, and answer the following questions:
John 3:27 John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has
been given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I
am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’ 29 He who has the bride
is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him,
rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been
made full. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease. 31 “He who comes from
above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the
earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.
3) What did John live for? What brought him greatest joy?
4) What does it look like for Jesus to increase and for John to decrease?
The word increase in John 3 is the Greek word auxanó. In the meaning of this word
is a continual progression into greater levels of increasing. There is always more
space within us that Jesus can fill. There is always more parts of ourselves that, as
we surrender, can be filled with the glory of Christ. Like John, we too are invited to live
our lives in such a way that makes way for the growing revelation of Jesus Christ to
our world. John Bloom, staff writer for Desiring God writes, “A mark of our increasing
maturity as disciples is an increasing experience of joy in Jesus’s influence eclipsing our
own, both internally and externally.” Read this final Scripture and answer the following
2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the
surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;
5) How do you feel the Lord inviting you to let Him increase in your life?
6) Are there any things that you need to surrender into His hands so as to allow Jesus’
increasing preeminence in your life? List them here.
Take time in this moment to pray a prayer of surrender from your heart. Choose to come
under the stunning revelation of Christ’s worthiness and supremacy over all. Ask God for
a deeper revelation of who Jesus is, that you would be compelled to give everything, and
that He would take His rightful place in your heart. He is the sum of all things. He is the
fulfillment of the longing of every heart.