Written by Rachel Denison
Preface: I recently heard an awesome sermon by Jimmy Seibert on the cross. These are my reflections on said sermon.
“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3 ESV). As I look to the cross, I am deeply comforted by the fact that Jesus is able to identity with me. When I see the cross, I see a God who knows and understands everything I am going through. Jesus is fully relatable. None of us could ever say God doesn’t understand. And he made sure of it. Through the cross, Jesus took on every type of pain we could experience on the earth. I am thankful for a God who not only comforts me in my sorrow, but gets down in the trenches with me, bears my sorrow for me, and lifts me out of the deep. I feel deeply connected to, known by and comforted by this kind of King.
With Jesus, I am able to see past my grief. Though Jesus does not discredit my pain or sorrow, he provides a way of healing out of it by looking to his cross. I am able to see past my pain, horrible as it may be, to this King who redeems all the devil meant for harm. Walking with Jesus on this earth will never forfeit me from harm; it certainly didn’t forfeit him from it; but it does mean I am not alone in my hurt. My identity is not in my circumstances or the misfortune that may come my way—but in the cross. The resounding, eternal invitation sung by my King beckons me to die to any self-centered reality so that I may live—live fully in him. He lifts my eyes from the pain of this earth to his eternal reality of hope.
Jesus introduces new power to our pain. Jimmy Seibert said, “There is no fruit to death apart from resurrection!” The reality of this eternal hope is anchored deeply in our souls.
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” -1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
To any of the death, pain, sorrow or suffering we may experience as a byproduct of walking this fallen earth, Jesus speaks resurrection. He says to it,“Talitha cumi.” Rise (Mark 5: 41). There is no suffering whatsoever apart from hope when you are looking to the cross and walking with Jesus. What a gift he gives us. He says to us, “Nothing is in vain. Nothing is wasted. I will breathe life into every lifeless bone.” Anything we feel is lost finds its resurrection in him. He is a God of promise. And he plans to keep every single word he has spoken to us. So in this world, when we must grieve, we can grieve. But we do not grieve as those who have no hope.
“So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” -Hebrews 6:17-20
I can live convinced of the unchangeable character of his promises, anchored to the sure and steadfast hope he offers me when I look to the empty cross and empty tomb. This God is worthy of all my trust, worship and honor, even in the midst of my greatest sorrows. He gets it. He's with me. My Great Atoning Sacrifice, breathe hope into me.