This past fall, you might recall, I seriously needed to reclaim some perspective. Troubling heart palpitations and a subtle, but relentless, sense of anxiety over the seemingly deliberate reign of chaos in Washington were beginning to truly get to me. I needed to remember who is really in charge of the nations.
So, I started this series on hope. Just reading the Bible and remembering who God is helped my chest pains to literally go away. I haven’t experienced them since. If you need some serious reminding or discovering, you may like reading some of those blog posts in their entirety (click on the title to read it on the website, and click the back arrow in order to find old posts), but as a shorthand, this is what I’ve rediscovered:
- My God is Lord of all, including nature. Despite perceived chaos, the sun still rises and sets, the rain still falls (and falls, and falls, here in Seattle).
2. I am never completely alone, and no place or person is beyond God’s reach.
3. God can still the storm around me–or choose to still the storm within me.
4. God is a refuge and strong tower–stronger than any evil the world may conjur up.
5. Political leaders must answer to God for their actions.
6. God always keeps his promises.
7. God kept the biggest promise of sending his Son, Jesus, to show us the way back to Him.
Which brings us to today!
8. Jesus came to pay the price of death for our sins in order to save us once and for all, and he actually did it.
Let’s think about that for a minute. If he knew he’d be raised again after just a couple of days, was that really so hard?
How did Jesus, human Jesus, actually feel about his divinely-appointed task? The Bible gives us an idea:
In Mark 14:34, just before he is arrested, Jesus tells his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” He also prays, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me.” Luke adds the detail that he was in such anguish that “his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44).
On the cross, when darkness “came over the whole land,” Jesus cried out, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34).
So, not easy after all. Cowards need not apply.
Through it all, however, Jesus said, “yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus had, actually, been tempted to take an easy way out, and bypass this whole crucifixion ordeal. All he had to do was worship Satan. Jesus refused (see Luke 4 for the whole story).
In the church calendar year, we’re just about to enter the season of Lent, a time to reflect on our own sins, and our need for a Savior like Jesus. Try it. It’s not easy. I don’t want to even own up to a few “little white lies” that might have slipped out without thinking, or to admit to the ways that selfishness or pride get in the way of my relationships from being as loving as they could be.
Think of the heart-heaviness that must exist for the person who is owning up to deplorable acts. It must be nearly impossible to bear (Dr. Nassar’s cowardly letter to the judge comes to mind). A compassionate Harry Potter tells even Voldemort, in a last-ditch effort to help save the despicable villain who had murdered his own parents, that he must try for remorse. Voldemort, of course, lacks the courage.
Jesus’ job–owning up to our sins–all of them, all at once–was not a job for sissies. Yet, he actually did it.
Thank you, Jesus! You’re my hero!
Image credit: from Spiritfuel.me