Friday, March 17, 2017

The Rocks That Rocked the World


One of the most profound experiences I've had on this journey happened here, in the Church of All Nations at the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem. 

If you look closely at the picture, above, you'll see that there's a metal railing surrounding a large section of flat rock. The boulder in the far left corner is reminiscent of an altar, and just the right size for propping against as you pray or leaning against as you rest.

The rocks are the centerpiece of the chapel because they're believed to be the rocks on which Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Are they the exact rocks? There's no way to know that for sure, but they could've been. 

Regardless, they serve as a focus point in pondering the agony of Christ.

The church wasn't as crowded as the last time I visited, and I was able to approach the front of the church, where I saw the kneeling rail. One of our missionaries was already on his knees. I glanced his way as I took my place on the rail near him and saw him wipe away tears. 

I'm ashamed to say this, but for a second, I wondered about the tears. Just as quickly, I understood. The events on those rocks rocked the world. 

The battle for the redemption of mankind was fought and won there. Jesus surrendered. Death was defeated. Victory over sin was won. There was still the cross to come, but the surrender to it happened right there, on the rock.

I looked at the rock in the hush of the sanctuary and thought about Jesus, leaned against the large boulder, praying. The words of John 17 came to mind, not just the, "Not my will but Thine be done," prayer, but the prayers for His disciples and all those who would come after.

"I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one - as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me." John 17:20-21 NLT

There are only a few more sentences to the prayer before we read, "He went forth..."

The last prayers of Jesus before He headed to certain torture and death were for His disciples, including me. 

That thought hit me like a boulder. Beaten. Spit upon. Crown of thorns. Ridiculed. Dragged through the town. Clothes stripped away. Giant nails hammered through feet and hands. Crucified. Dead in a tomb for three days. 

Risen.

As I pondered the enormity of what Jesus did for us, people who so often take His sacrifice lightly, my own tears began to flow. 

I wouldn't have done it.

I wouldn't have let my son do it, even if I knew the empty tomb waited on the other side.

But God did, because it was the only way. 

Something changed in me at that altar of stone. 

I have a new appreciation for the agony and sacrifice of Jesus, a deeper understanding, a greater desire to honor His gift of life, to live the way He intended.

Jesus intended that we live as the disciples did - 100% committed to Him above all else, totally in love with God and our fellow man, and willing to lay down our lives for our Savior. 

Today, let's take a close look at what Jesus did for us and at the response of our lives and our attitudes. Maybe you, like me, need a deeper appreciation for what He did for us and a greater commitment to live as He intended. 

Let's live like we love Him. Live in such a way that we make His sacrifice understandable to those around Him. Live so that others want what we have...
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In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post, The Disappearing Sin-Paper

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