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Posts Tagged ‘sacrificial love’

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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Adjusting the volume, I pressed the black button on the panel’s surface.  The tremor in the woman’s voice struck a chord as words filled the lonely space in the car.  “I always thought I had to prove myself–to convince Him that I took my faith seriously.”

A series of images played in my mind–family members, friends, church acquaintances–and I wondered.  How many women are striving to earn God’s stamp of approval?  Attempting to love God by doing more…serving more…being more.

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If you are that women, dear one, please hear the heartbeat of God in these words.

God loves you–just as you are.  Nothing you do will convince Love that He made a mistake in choosing you as Daughter.  No action on your part can separate you from His life-giving, freedom-imparting, grace-conferring love gift.

Eliminate the mental checklist of do’s and don’ts.  Discard the heavy baggage of comparison.  Step into the throne room of Agape and embrace the liberty of a love large enough to see the true you.  You created in Hs image.  You dressed in Jesus’ innocence.  You loosed to live as a woman in relationship–not rules–with the Lover of your soul.

 

Scripture for Reflection:  

I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.  (Romans 8:28-29)

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We are, if we have chosen the good part, sitters at the feet of Jesus, just as Saul
of Tarsus sat at the feet of Gamaliel; Christ is to us our great Instructor  

–Charles Spurgeon

 

An uncommon God, He lived as a common man. Exchanging the beauty of heavenly glory for human flesh, Christ—the One who had strolled through the streets of heaven–walked the streets of everyday towns filled with common people burdened by common problems.

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He–who had known perfection–surrounded himself with the imperfect. He willingly gave up abundance for poverty, worship for rejection, and self for others.

hands-731265_1280Why did Jesus—who once stooped to breathe life into dust—bind himself to the earth…to men and women whose feet carried them further from truth and deeper into the deception of self…of false hopes and misplaced dreams…of willfulness and rebellion?

 

Because He knows what we are made of. (Psalm 103:14) And simple dust, once stripped of protection, shifts in the wind—sometimes mere inches while at other times it is moved completely from its place…drifting and unsettled. For hundreds of years, Dust had lived under the dark curse of sin–tossed about this way and that.

No one remained untouched. Suffering. Disease. Death. Corrupt men subjugated innocents to forced labor—stealing youth and hope. Outcasts—considered less than human—suffered in pain on the edges of the city while rotting flesh ached for relief. Human souls cried out to heaven and Jesus was the answer. And in becoming like the rest of us, God made clear the extent of his love for Dust.

 

A love so encompassing and grace-filled that He intentionally wandered from place to place—offering forgiveness, speaking words of love, and bringing the kingdom of heaven to aching, hurting people. And, unlike any other god before or since, the man named Jesus died to save Dust. The same feet—soiled and dirtied from travelling to the dwellings of Despair and Need—were nailed to the tree. Their blood flowed downward and marked the hill at the base of the cross. And blood and Dust became inseparable.

Jesus gave everything for this woman of dust. He gave everything for you, too, dear Friend. And at the nail-scarred feet of Jesus we receive the life of a common man and an uncommon God. 

Scripture for Reflection

Surely it is you who love the people; all the holy ones are in your hand. At your feet they all bow down, and from you receive instruction… (Duet. 33:3)

…and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. (Luke 8:35)

…but few things are needed–or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)

 

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In the sheltered simplicity of the first days after a
baby is born, one sees again the magical closed circle, the miraculous sense of
two people existing only for each other. 
-Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I thought I understood love–it’s complexity, depth, and vulnerability.  Then I had children and all of my preconceived notions about love were shattered.  Blossoming in their place like a seedling receiving its first drops of water, a pure, true love sprang up.  Tender.  Unselfish.  Sacrificial.

It was a love strong enough to urge a sleep-deprived mother out of bed during the black hours of the night to comfort a colicky infant; a love tender enough to encourage a mother to stay for endless hours in the NICU singing softly to the baby struggling to for every breath; and a love dedicated enough to stretch and exercise her son’s twisted feet despite his cries of pain.

I thought I understood love–then I had a Savior.  Tender.  Unselfish.  Sacrificial.

His was a love merciful enough to offer forgiveness to a lost and lonely child; a love tender enough to be a Father when she was without hers; and a love sacrificial enough to give his life in her stead.

Parenting is the closest I’ve come to experiencing the sort of love He has for us.  Real love.

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