This weekend is special to me. I can stand with other Christians as the Bible is read in the open-air, as we remember Jesus and His journey to the cross, but even more important, I can remember that I’m His. It’s personal. When Jesus asks us to be ‘In remembrance of Him’, I believe He would want our hearts to dwell on His presence – the tremendous privilege of being able to spend time with Him.
Isn’t that why He did it? So that impure, unclean people like me, so unworthy and unfit to be seen by a pure and holy God, could come to Him and find our rest? Come to Him as we are and breathe a sigh of relief, knowing He took the punishment for our unloveliness so we wouldn’t have to?
Because Jesus took that punishment, God can look at us. We don’t have to cower away, but can linger in the presence of the heavenly King – our Father the King! Once, Jesus couldn’t rely on His friends to stay with Him for even one hour; now His true worshippers can sing about resting in His presence, not rushing away.
Jesus went to the cross despite Peter, James and John failing to stay with Him. He didn’t need heavy-eyed humans in order to do God’s will, but we need Him – always, and His work on the cross has made a way, the only way, for us to get to know God. We could resist; sadly many do, or we could lean in to what He has for us. Saying yes to Jesus, trusting Him fully with our lives – it takes a simple, childlike faith to do that.
And when we have the faith to say yes, Lord, You died on my behalf, then we have something to look forward to! Like the child of a millionaire, you or I become an heir: An inheritor of God’s promises and a co-heir with Jesus, who’s unashamedly our Brother. We belong! We have a place in God’s family, but that’s not the end; not the happy ever-after. Instead, it’s a new beginning! It’s not just a metaphor when Christians talk about being baptised into Christ’s death, and being buried with Him when we go underwater. Asking God’s forgiveness and undergoing baptism is a burial of the old self, and the start of life as a new creation. Now every day, we can count ourselves dead to sin and alive to God.
I heard a story of when King George was still on the throne. Some children stood expectantly with a man and his dog. The man barked a command; it was always the same. “Rex? Die for the king!” The dog threw himself to the ground. However much the children poked and prodded, there was no sign of life. But as soon as the owner clicked his fingers, Rex sprang to his feet! We can count ourselves dead to sin. We can die for our King! And when He snaps His fingers, when He calls on us, we can be ready for complete obedience.
Obeying God wouldn’t be possible without getting to know Him, and the way to get to know Him was opened for us that dark day when Jesus laid down His life on a cross.
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Thanks to Bonnie Gray, whose 7 OneWordLent prompts inspired this post, and to Rex the dog of course.