More thoughts on the road to the Cross. The encounters Jesus had (actually during the crucifixion!) at Calvary were very brief and very powerful. The following is a quote from Fulton Sheen on the exchange between Jesus and the thief on the cross beside him.
"A dying man asked a dying man for eternal life; a man without possessions asked a poor man for a kingdom.…In the divine plan it was a thief who was the escort of the King of kings into paradise. If our Lord had come merely as a teacher, the thief would never have asked for forgiveness. But since the thief’s request touched the reason of his coming to earth, namely, to save souls, the thief heard the immediate answer. “I promise thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). It was the thief’s last prayer, perhaps even his first. He knocked once, sought once, asked once, dared everything, and found everything. When even the disciples were doubting and only one was present at the cross, the thief owned and acknowledged him as Savior."
We often hear how hard it can be to respond with forgiveness when wronged. Yet we are called to it nonetheless. What we don't hear about as often is the power that lies within this act of forgiveness. The triumph of Jesus over evil is shared with us as we forgive others as we have been forgiven by God.
The following was found written on a wrapping paper at Ravensbruck concentration camp in WW2:
"Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted upon us. Remember rather the fruits we brought, thanks to this suffering: our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown out of this. And when they come to judgment, let all the fruits we have borne be their forgiveness."
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Today we focus afresh on what it means to follow Christ in his steps to Calvary. The love and grace that are bound up in the Cross are the gifts of God meeting my greatest need. That love also then becomes my greatest pursuit.
Lord, lest I forget, lead me to Calvary.
Came across the following from Charles Spurgeon. It ties in with us following God's leading and recognizing his glory and grace in our lives. More on that this Sunday. For now, enjoy Spurgeon's good words:
"He whose life is one even and smooth path will see little of the glory of the Lord. He has few occasions of self-emptying and, therefore, little fitness for being filled with the revelation of God. Among the huge waves of bereavement, poverty, temptation, and reproach, we learn the power of Jehovah because we feel our own littleness. Thank God, then, if you have been led by a rough road."
Today's Lenten thoughts come from Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book "The Cost of Discipleship," talking about Jesus' call to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him:
"It is laid upon every Christian. The first suffering of Christ we must experience is the call sundering (splitting apart) our ties to this world. This is the death of the old human being in the encounter with Jesus Christ."
As we have entered the season of Lent and prepare ourselves for the Easter season, I would like to share a devotional thought each week from different authors. The following is from Soren Kierkegaard:
"It is well known that Christ consistently used the expression 'follower.' He never asked for admirers, worshippers, or adherents. No, he calls disciples. It is not adherents of a teaching but followers of a life Christ is looking for. What then, is the difference between an admirer and a follower? A follower is or strives to be what he admires. An admirer, however, keeps himself personally detached. He fails to see that what is admired involves a claim upon him, and thus he fails to be or strive to be what he admires."
Pastor Ward Parkinson