We all see things coming in our life that we dread, experiences that we know will be difficult. Last month, I faced surgery. I did not want to submit myself to the knife! I dreaded the pain, the dependence on others, the limits that came with the procedure; but it had to be done. So, I willingly set aside my preferences. I made the choice to take the pain to own my healing! Think of the choices you make to go through a time of difficulty to own a better outcome.
This is Holy Week, the time we remember, with gratitude, the Lord Jesus’ willing to descend into darkness that was incomparably worse than any choice we make. He told His friends, “As you know, Passover begins in two days, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” (Matthew 26:2, NLT) He knew it would be terrible, and He was filled with dread, so much so, that He prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Matthew 26:39, NLT) As surely as He knew the Cross was His destiny, He knew the Resurrection was His hope. But, even with that hope, it was hard to go through the pain, the alienation from His Father that came with bearing my sin to reconcile me to my Father!
I want to encourage you to think long and deeply about His sacrifice, that it was not forced on Him, that He willingly embraced it for me, for you, because of love. (We will stand before the Cross on Good Friday evening in our Communion worship. You’re invited to join us at 7 PM.) He made the choice to descend into the darkness, not for Himself, but for us. His loss was our gain. His obedience bought our salvation from sin, death, and Hell! He bridged the chasm that sin had carved between the Father and His Creation. Oh, praise Him! The Cross is ugly, but we must not rush past it to get to the Empty Tomb! The glory of the Resurrection morning only is meaningful because of Good Friday’s horror.
Take encouragement from this, disciple. It may be that you are confronted with some very difficult choice in your life. You know the will of God leads against your desires. You know that the way He would lead you will take you through pain of self-denial, even death to Self. Will you do it? Will you willingly descend into the dark of that situation, so that He can lead you into the Light of His purposes?
The Word encourages us with this pattern.
“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV)
Look past the pain to the Glory! Grasp the promise of abundant life – presently and eternally – and present yourself as a ‘living sacrifice.’ My prayer for you is this:
“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20-21, NIV)
I think upon Your sacrifice,
You became nothing,
Poured out to death.
Many times I’ve wondered
At Your gift of life,
And I’m in that place once again.
I’m in that place once again.
And once again
I look upon the cross
Where You died,
I’m humbled by Your mercy
And I’m broken inside.
Once again I thank You,
Once again I pour out my life.
Thank You for the cross,
Thank You for the cross,
Thank You for the cross, my Friend.
Now You are exalted
To the highest place,
King of the heavens,
Where one day I’ll bow.
But for now,
I marvel at this saving grace,
And I’m full of praise once again.
I’m full of praise once again.
EMI Christian Music Publishing
© 1995 Kingsway’s Thankyou Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)CCLI License No. 810055