Why Pick Second Best?

When it comes to eternal issues, put first things first.

by Trey Graham

Have you ever read about the gymnast who, after earning a gold medal, chose to accept the silver instead? Have you ever witnessed someone stating his or her preference to be named salutatorian instead of valedictorian? Do you know anyone who declined a raise because he felt the company owed that money to another, more deserving employee?

Have you ever experienced any of these? Of course not. Why? Because we know that first is best, that primary is better than secondary, that no one would ever choose second best when first place is waiting.

Moses or Jesus?

The Pharisees, a group of influential Jews in Palestine who were known for their accurate interpretations and zealous observance of Jewish law, announced, “We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from” (John 9:29). They were expressing their doubts about the spiritual authority of Jesus of Nazareth. These Jewish scholars, about six thousand strong in Jesus’ day, were confident in the godliness and character of Moses but unsure about the religious qualifications of an itinerant preacher — the son of Joseph and Mary.

Earlier in the Gospel of John, the author writes, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (1:17). In other words, God’s judgment and wrath were given through Moses, as seen in the law; God’s grace and love were given through Jesus, demonstrated by the Cross. Yet in the first century, some people still preferred to believe in Moses rather than Jesus. For centuries, and even today, some Jews prefer to place their faith in Moses, God’s chosen leader, rather than in Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son.

Goodness vs. grace

In your life, have you ever picked the difficult road over the smooth road? Have you ever chosen the painful way over the painless way? Would you prefer judgment if grace were available? The Pharisees did because they believed that their pious living was holy enough to allow them to escape judgment. Thus, they felt that they did not need God’s grace. Sadly, when their lives ended, they learned in death what we must all learn in life: Your pious deeds and my good works are not enough to allow us to escape judgment. In faith, “All of us have become like one who is unclean” (Isaiah 64:6).

As sinful human beings, we cannot escape God’s judgment; we can only beg for mercy. The Pharisees were too proud to admit their need for a Savior. Thankfully, by God’s grace, I am too sinful to be deluded by my own righteousness. I know I need a Savior. I know you need a Savior. His name is not Moses.

Moses was a godly man, a talented leader, a skillful administrator, a trusted deliverer. Yet he was also a murderer and a coward. Moses knew he was not the Savior, but the Pharisees, who knew the law but not the God of the law, failed to understand that.

True identity

Who was Jesus of Nazareth? Pilate asked Jesus if He was a king. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37).

What is the truth? How can you know the truth? Jesus himself explained, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (14:6).

In this verse Jesus explains the exclusive plan of salvation. He gives the solitary road map to eternal life. You do not receive eternal life by believing in Moses but by placing your faith and trust in Truth himself, Jesus Christ. Salvation comes not by Moses or Abraham or Elijah or John the Baptist or Billy Graham or Martin Luther King, Jr. Everlasting salvation comes only by the Savior of all these men, God’s promised Messiah, a carpenter born in Bethlehem named Jesus Christ.

Why pick second best when first place is waiting to receive you? Why pick Moses when Jesus is calling out to you? Why pick a human when you could pick God himself? Why depend on your strength when the Creator of the universe offers you His power?

Don’t pick Moses; pick Moses’ Messiah. You need a Savior; I need a Savior. We all need to know God, and we can only know Him through His Son. Give the control of your life to Jesus; ask Him to be your Savior. Don’t pick second best when first place is waiting.


Scripture quotations are from the New International Version.