Strength For Today

A journey of keeping my heart, mind, and body in TODAY

Contemplating the Cross

on April 16, 2014

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines contemplate:

1.  To think deeply or carefully about something

2. To consider with continued attention; to meditate on

 

The words “contemplate the cross” have been on my heart this week.  As we enter into the final days of the “Lenten Season”, or the 40 days leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus, I have been trying to be very intentional about thinking of Jesus and what the cross represents in my life.

The cross used to be just a symbol to me;  a symbol that I saw in church.  A symbol that meant I believed in God.  I thought the cross was pretty when it was worn as jewelry.  I liked looking at the cross in church when I was growing up. But I never really spent time thinking about how the cross affected my life.  Why?  I guess because it really didn’t much affect my life back then.  I didn’t look at Jesus as playing an active role in my current life.  I didn’t look at Him as a friend, or counselor, or leader, or guide, or anything like that.  He was God’s Son, He lived and performed miracles thousands of years ago, He died on the cross, He was resurrected from the dead, He rose again to spend eternity at the right hand of His Father.  I believed all of those things.  It’s just that I didn’t see any connection with my life.  It was like He was “up there”, up in Heaven, looking down on my life and watching over me.  There was a disconnect somewhere.  I thought that Jesus was a passive presence in my life.  I thought He paid attention to all my sins, and was always disappointed in me.  I thought He was keeping track of my good deeds, and my poor choices – deciding whether or not He would allow me into heaven someday.

It wasn’t that I didn’t believe.  It was that I didn’t understand.

I didn’t understand that Jesus is an active part of my life, very much interested in every detail of who I was, who I am, and who I am growing to be.  I didn’t understand that His love for me runs deeper than I can possibly imagine.  I didn’t understand that He longs to be in relationship with me; close, intimate relationship.  I didn’t understand that when He said, “Follow me” 2,000 years ago to some men on a boat; that those very words would continue to ring true in the hearts of every single one of God’s creations.  I didn’t know that He was pursuing me with the same longing as He pursued each one of His disciples.  I didn’t know that when Jesus died, He chose it – He accepted it – He went to the cross WILLINGLY.  I didn’t realize that He would have still gone to the cross if I was the only person on the face of the Earth.  I didn’t get it that Jesus took every one of my sins onto Himself, and endured the agonizing torture of separation from His Father.  I didn’t know that Jesus asked God if there was any way that the cross didn’t have to happen…but in the same breath He surrendered to the will of His Father.  I didn’t understand that the blood that flowed from Him on that day continues to flow through the hearts and lives of all of His children today.  I didn’t realize that Jesus was 100% human and 100% God; that He experienced every emotion, temptation, and problem that all humans have to face, without the sinful nature that all humans are chained to.  I didn’t realize that when Jesus healed the sick, blind, deaf, mute, dying, and diseased of His time, He would still do that today – both physically and spiritually.  I didn’t understand that Jesus is eternal, infinite, all-knowing, all-loving, ever-present….that the echo of the cross could be heard even before the cross was created.  I didn’t realize that the grace God gives us through the death of His Son Jesus, is a free GIFT – which cannot be earned, and cannot be lost.  I didn’t realize that to receive this gracious gift of LOVE, I had to accept it.  I had to open it.  I had to invite Him in to my heart and my life.  I didn’ t realize that Jesus is as real as I am, as alive as I am, as totally able to communicate as I am.  I didn’t know He would speak to me through the Power of His WORD.  I didn’t know that the words he spoke audibly 2,000 years ago would still be spoken to my heart today.  I didn’t know that when I openly confessed my sins to Him and repented from my behavior, that I instantly received His beautiful gift of forgiveness.  I didn’t know that He took my sins and threw them as far as the east is from the west.  I didn’t realize that He would make me brand new – from the inside out!  I didn’t understand back then.  I was missing the amazing, precious, Almighty, gracious, kind, compassionate, loving, forgiving, constant, eternal LOVE of Jesus because I didn’t recognize the cross for what it really is.

The cross is far more than a symbol in a church, or a symbol showing I believe in God.  The cross is where Jesus laid down His life for the sake of His friends.  For my sake.  For yours.  He chose DEATH.  He died willingly.  He carried each one of my sins on His shoulders, endured the punishment that was meant for me, suffered agonizingly at the hands of His enemies for my sake, and then crawled WILLINGLY onto the cross in order to be tortured, taunted, and tormented to the point of unfathomable, excruciating pain.  The worst part?  By doing all of this for me, He was separated from the only sure thing He had ever known – the love of His Father.  The strength of His Father.  The presence of His Father.  Gone. For that awful moment, when He cried out “Why have you forsaken me?”, Jesus actually lost all relationship with His Father.  Why?  So that I could be healed.  So that I could be saved.  So that I could be set free!!!!  And so can YOU.

Have you contemplated the cross lately?  I promise you, Jesus is beckoning you there….right now.  Won’t you sit with Him and discover who He really is?  Experience first hand, the life-changing, mind-altering, transformational, intoxicating GRACE of the Lord, Jesus Christ.  All you have to do….is accept His gift, invite Him in, and let Him move.  I promise you – it is a choice you will never regret.  Christ is amazing.  His love is amazing.  His grace is truly awesome!!!  So, sit with Him a while today….and let Him break you, shake you, MAKE you – as He shows you – His unequaled, unconditional, undying LOVE.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed. ~ Isaiah 53:5

 

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