014: A Man, A Book, A Burden
“I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back.” I looked, and saw him open the book, and read therein; and as he read, he wept and trembled; and not being able longer to contain, he brake out with a lamentable cry, saying, “What shall I do?” (John Bunyan)
Pilgrim’s Progress opens with a dream, and the first thing seen in this dream was a man. This man is a description of what lost people when they come under the conviction of their sin are like.
He was clothed with rags (Isaiah 64:6). They recognise that they are not good enough for God. Nothing they have done, even the apparent good, makes them acceptable to God and cause Him to let them into heaven.
He was standing in a certain place and looking away from his house. He was ready to turn his back on his family, neighbours, community (Luke 14:33).
He had a book in his hand. The book is the Word of God, which had begun to challenge and disturb him (Hebrews 4:12).
He had a great burden on his back. He feels the weight of his own sinfulness before God and the realisation that he was under the wrath of God (Romans 3:10-11). He has become aware that he has broken God’s law, is accountable to God, and liable to God’s judgment.
He was weeping and shaking. Deeply concerned for his plight (Hebrews 9:27). Conviction of sin is never a light thing.
He broke down saying, “What shall I do?” These are the words of a trembling sinner who has come to realise their need for salvation, but has not discovered where this might be found. He needs someone to tell him how (Acts 16:30-31).
Lost people need God’s Spirit to reveal, as they read the Bible and hear it preached, not only the truth of what they are really like, but also how it is they can be saved.
(Photo: Julia Joppien)