The biggest ‘but’ in history

There must be numerous contenders for the most game-changing word in the history of the world, but today I’m going with this one: ‘but.’

Today I was reading through Mark chapter 14 and was meditating on the time Jesus spent in the garden of Gethsemane before he went to the cross.

The first half of verse 36 struck me like never before. Jesus was praying and said these words: “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me.”

In this are two profound things. First, Jesus knew that God could do anything. He knew that it was well within the power of his Father to pull the pin on redemption and instantly take His son back into the eternal glory from which He had come. Furthermore, Jesus asked for it. Such was his agony at the thought of what he was to endure, that he asked his Father to remove it from him.

The Father would not deny the Son. Except for one entirely game-changing word: ‘but.’

At the most intensely pivotal moment the world has seen, the Son surrendered his will to His Father’s saying ‘Yet not what I will, but what you will,’ and the Father, in that moment of Jesus’ submission, overruled the will of His Son. Together they endured the cross, despising the shame, for the redemption of mankind.

How grateful I am for Jesus’ submission to the will of His Father, and how challenged I am by my lack of it.

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You Couldn’t Handle the Guilt.

Photo Credit: Mare-of-Night

Painting Credit: Mare-of-Night

Growing up in a Christian home meant that while I always knew I was a sinner, my ‘good little Christian girl’ behavior often made it hard for me to really see myself that way.

As I grew older, and my understanding of both myself and the gospel deepened, I came to understand that while I was good at avoiding the obvious, visible sins, in my heart, I was no better than anyone else. I understood this, but I often struggled to really feel it; instead of wrestling with guilt, I’ve wrestled with not feeling guilty enough.

I’ve prayed through this many times, grappling with the paradoxical desire to fully comprehend my sinfulness (which would hopefully enable me to more completely experience God’s graciousness) while at the same time recognizing that the cross has done away with my sin and I am clothed with the righteousness of Christ.

I was struggling with this once again on the weekend; struggling with my lack of guilt and my apathy towards my sinfulness, when I sensed the voice of God say to me ‘Sarah, you couldn’t handle the guilt.’

I know that I’m a sinner, and I know that I’ve trusted Jesus with my sin, so instead of wrestling with not feeling it enough, I need to rejoice in God’s grace. He knows that I could not stand under the weight of my own guilt, and He has not asked me to. Jesus paid for that too.

Jesus beside the Cross

torn-cross_21293264This weekend I visited the young adults’ camp for my church. While I was there our pastor spoke about having no confidence in the flesh or the law, but rather trusting fully in the person of Jesus Christ for both our salvation and sanctification. Even as he was speaking, I found myself wresting with my need to feel more repentant; to work harder to know Jesus, to somehow maneuver myself into the right frame of mind.

I closed my eyes and took my insecurities, fears and sins to the cross. But instead of laying them there and walking away, I wrestled with them. I wanted to do it right; I wanted to feel genuine; I wanted to know that I was truly repentant.

In my mind’s eye I saw the cross: empty, with blood running down across the muddy ground beneath my knees, and as I struggled with myself at the foot of the cross, I saw the face of Jesus, standing to the side. He looked on me in love and compassion, and gently reminded me ‘Sarah, it is finished.’

When people come to the cross, attempting by human effort to make some form of restitution for their own sins, they will not find Jesus hanging there. Instead He stands beside it, to remind them that ‘It is finished.’ There is nothing we can add to the cross. Jesus paid it all, and then it was finished, for now and forever.