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Posts Tagged ‘Christ’s sacrifice’

The place name dogged me all week–my thoughts returning again and again to the words of John 18:5.THE NEW YOU

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it. (NIV)

Familiar with the story of Christ’s death and resurrection, I knew of the events preceding the crucifixion. The humble Creator stooping over the dirt-encrusted feet of His disciples and cleansing them of Jerusalem’s desert sand—the actions of a servant. Christ—breaking bread in the presence of beloved companions and a friend turned foe.

But until a few days ago, my eyes seemed to pass by any mention of Kidron Valley. What could be its significance? Why hadn’t I noticed before? Jesus walked purposely through the Valley of the Shadow of Death to reach the Garden.

The symbolism is too rich to ignore. Kidron Valley, meaning black or sad, was a burial site to Jewish kings, priests, and prophets encased in tombs along the rocky slopes. And today? Thousands of limestone coffins stand end to end—the bodies of Jewish hopefuls awaiting deliverance through the long-awaited Messiah.

I can almost imagine Jesus surveying the valley and its surroundings. There, high on the slope, He could make out the southeastern edge of the Temple. How many hours had He spent within its walls proclaiming the truth? Inhaling deeply as He passed by a stand of olive trees, Christ might have swept His gaze to the far edges of the landscape and noticed the Mount of Olives. Did His stride quicken as He anticipated ascending into Heaven from that hill—the Father’s call beckoning Him home?

Determined, Jesus continued on as the dark valley rose sharply on either side–evening shadows deepening. He knew the history of the place—He’d seen it clearly from Heaven’s throne room. Christ knew of the treachery encased between the walls of this gorge—when the Chosen Ones had displayed worthless idols here. The people turning away from I Am not once…not twice…but three times. (1 Kings 15: 12-13, 2 Kings 23:6, 2 Chronicles 19:16).

Jesus knew—they would again turn from the Way and choose another.

And soon, the blood of hundreds of thousands of lambs would spill into the wadi, filling the valley with the scent of death; innocent blood staining its walls. The disciples might have noticed a look of satisfaction cross Jesus’ face as He considered the near future—that moment when His own, untarnished blood would pour out for all sin and sinners. Once for all—if they would only accept His gift. The perfect Lamb. The ultimate Sacrifice. The exchange of the Sinless for you and me.

Each step Jesus took in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, friends, brought us closer to Him. Because of His death and resurrection, we can claim the beautiful promise of Ps. 23,

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (NIV)

 

 Thank you, Jesus, for walking the dark valley of sin that we might be the sinless ones. Praise God for His mercy and overwhelming love. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I read the child’s name and my throat constricts.  The words seem detached from the page and I wish I could wrap my hand around each letter–crushing the message they bear.  Dead.  Eight year old.  Mother attempted to revive.

Pausing, I think of my own children and something like guilt washes over me.  My children have been spared death.  They have escaped from the clasp of pneumonia…the rebellious actions of desperate youth…and the threat of childhood illness.  My daughter survived when she was resuscitated–and the memory of unmatched pain still lingers within.  And my heart aches for this mother.

Then, I think of the little boy–thin and frail when I knew him as a preschooler–and marvel at the way God used him to touch the lives of so many.  On Christmas Day, the boy drewMP900438983 his final breath.  And because of that boy several other children received an unimaginable Christmas gift–the gift of hope.

A blind child awakened to the colors of an undiscovered world while another now touches tender flesh marred by stiches–proof that much had been sacrificed for hope.

And my thoughts are of the boy–and of Hope.  The one who fully restores the brokenhearted mother…the dying child…the blind and desperate.  And I Ask for the grace to accept Hope’s promise for today.

 

Scripture for Reflection

“Put your hope in God and know real blessing.” Psalm 146:3-9 MSG

“Blessed are those…who have made The Lord their hope and confidence.” Jer. 17:7

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Forgotten memories– filtered long ago by a child’s fear and need for normalcy–have begun to emerge from the dark and hidden places of my mind. It’s as if a veil is being slowly removed and I see more of the landscape. Vision is no longer as limited.
So I wander back through time to revisit those dreaded places to be freed from their hold on my today’s and tomorrow’s. Fear settles heavy in my stomach, churning until my body releases it in desperation and I wish mother’s arms would seal the false promise that things are fine.

And today, I hear the words “to live courageously is to believe in God’s Grace.”

Do I believe? Honestly? Not always. But through and because of His grace on the cross, I choose to live as if I do. Circumstance never did –or ever will–force the absence of the One who is the Beginning and the End, mercy personified, glory revealed.

Are you the newlywed abandoned by your beloved? Are you the parent kneeling in prayer, wondering what you might have done differently? Do the faults of the past grasp at your heels with the tenacity of hell? There is freedom in His grace, Friend.

We can choose to live courageously–for Him and through Him–because He chose to die courageously for us.

Scripture for Reflection–“Courage, daughter.  You took a risk of faith and now you’re well.”  (Matthew 9:20-22 MSG)

 

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