Tap. Tap. Tap-tap-tap.
Drops of blood struck a staccato beat as they fell into an ever-widening pool, saturating the dirt around rough-hewn beams gouged into the earth. Blood’s heavy iron scent settled in a stifling cloud over nearby onlookers.
Soldiers clustered in conversation a little distance away, raising their voices over the heartrending wail of mourners. One soldier threw a puzzled glance to the sky, wondering at the darkness shrouding the sun since midday. He shrugged in the inky darkness and turned back to his fellow servicemen. For those assigned to crucifixion duty, the agony that daily played out around them faded quickly into mundane.
But their talk halted abruptly as a figure on one of the three crosses heaved against the spikes and cried out,
“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”
My God, my God, why have You abandoned me?(Matthew 27:46)
Centuries later, we wonder what could possibly compel the God-man on that cross to knowingly and willingly submit to such agony?
To a death that left Him unrecognizable as human?To total and utter separation from God the Father and the Spirit?
Surely, it must have been to satisfy a desperate need.
To mend His eternity, torn by the sins of His creations.
To fill the aching loneliness left by their desertion.
To secure for Himself workers in the establishment of His kingdom on earth.
These are logical conclusions, but they’re based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the character and heart of God . . . one I’d never really considered until now. If it’s a new idea for you, too, cool! Let’s learn together in this safe space!
In essence, we ask
Did Jesus die to redeem me because God needs me in order to be happy?
To be joyful?
To be satisfied, or fulfilled, or in community?
To be effective, powerful, or present?
Does God need me . . . at all?
Stings, doesn’t it?
But let’s invite our egos to take a seat and talk it through . . .
Because it’s actually THE BEST news.
God needs nothing.
He lacks nothing; the world and everything in it are His.
He does not need our offerings, praise, or provision.(Psalm 50:7-15)
Instead of needing anything, He is the source of everything.
He gives us life and breath.
He determines our days and our boundaries.
He, Who made us, cannot be contained by us.
Our service does not fulfill or empower Him.
He is not bound by our understanding or creations or imagination.
He is fullness of joy.
While He offers to share His joy with us, His joy is NOT dependent upon us.(John 15:11)
He has no need of us.
But take heart; we’re coming to the best part.
If the God-man on that cross knowingly and willingly submitted to such agony to satisfy a desperate need, His sacrifice would have been one of obligation.
Instead, He embraced His suffering
Unto disfigured death and utter abandonment
to satisfy a desperate love.
No, He doesn’t need us.
But oh, how He wants us!
How He loves us!
In those moments when….
the enormity and ugliness and shame of our sin
punches us in the gut, stealing our breath and leaving us longing
to peel off our skin, climb out, and be someone else because we can’t stand to be this wretched mess for one more second . . .
Oh, how He wants us!
How He loves us!
For here, in the absence of need, the fullness of God’s want
astounds us with its flourishing passion.
Beholding the sobbing heap of mistakes and regret before Him,
Against all human logic, with obligation nowhere to be found,
Driven by abiding love,
He wraps us in His scarred arms and whispers,
“Beloved, I chose the cross, because I choose you.
Even here. Even now.”
(Cue the ugly cry. Every time.)
What will we do with this stunning reality?
Perhaps you’re experiencing significant lack, or feeling small and incapable . . .
His truth reminds you of the God Who needs nothing,
Who is the source of all, and is graciously, your Provider.
Perhaps you’re drowning in condemnation and shame, feeling wholly unlovable . . .
His truth resoundingly declares His incomprehensible love for you.
Perhaps He’s asking you to respond to His love by stepping out in forgiveness, obedience, or repentance . . . .
Here, in this unforced space, you are free to proclaim grateful devotion to your Father, Lover, and Helper.
Move into truth and act upon it, knowing full well the One Who loves us best is for us!
As we reflect on these questions, seek His heart, and follow the gentle nudges of His Spirit, we can walk on in partnership with the One Who loves us best.
Questions 2, Day 15
Actively remaining with Jesus is difficult when so many other things compete for our attention! It requires a daily surrender and humble choice “to stay and be kept” with Jesus.
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