Laila and I left Sunday in a 16-foot box truck. Our purpose was to deliver chairs to two churches in southwest Virginia, meet our son-in-law in Wytheville and pick up carpet for the church, travel to North Carolina and pick up furniture for the church.
This letter is being written from a motel room in Greensboro NC. Every stop has been wonderfully successful. We are loaded, will rest till morning and should be to Covenant by noon.
Feeling the effects of the last 36 hours I asked myself "Why make such a trip?"
The answer came quickly: "Because of Christ and the price He paid for our salvation!"
We call this Passion Week. The week leading to the crucifixion and resurrection. On one Sabbath Jesus rides on a donkey into Jerusalem and is heralded as king. Only days later Jesus is arrested, sentenced in a sham trial and condemned to death.
Jesus' persecution and death were by the most cruel method known to man at that time. Crucifixion was a science that maxed pain but allowed the executioner to choose the time of death---which could be days. Rome popularized crucifixion as a method to control civil unrest.
The price Jesus paid was ultimate. While others were crucified, Jesus suffered the physical pain while bearing the sins of the whole world. He shed His blood as an atonement for our sins. He purchased our redemption through his death on the cross. He bore the sins of every person to the cross.
Because the Sabbath would be the Day of Atonement (highest holy day of the Jewish calendar) the legal machinery moved quickly for execution and to get Jesus' body in a grave.
I thought of these things as I drove the truck with winds buffeting and twice passing through areas with tornado warnings. I thought of what I have done in life. I thought of things I have done that had no return or were self-serving, of projects and personal achievements.
I thought of my sins and my confession and acceptance of Jesus as a 14 year-old boy. I thought of my failures since being age 14. I thought about His grace and mercy and occasionally sang a song of praise while Laila worked on Bible Quiz assignments for teenagers.
The more I thought the less I thought of my sacrifice. The more I pondered Christ's love for me, the less I thought about what I have done for Christ. The more I considered His I Corinthians 13 love, the more it became apparent that "all our righteousness is as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) in comparison to the price of Calvary.
We are not heroes when we labor for Christ. We are not seeking human favor, worldly fame or selfish gain. We rejoice for the privilege of being poured out as a thanksgiving offering for the glory of Christ.
Paul speaks in II Corinthians 12:15 NLT "I will gladly spend myself and all I have for you", as he writes of his love for the Church which was the purpose of Jesus' passion (Ephesians 5).
The Apostle Thomas captures a moment of passion when he says to other disciples in John 11:16 "Let us also go, that we may die with him."
To finish with death is noble. But Paul makes note that living for Christ is capturing the passion of Christ "To live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21). Failure to do so is less than life, less than our purpose in life, and less than necessary to "die and gain" eternal life.
Hebrews 12:29 reminds us that "Our God is a consuming fire." Oh, that the Passion of Christ would consume us until all that we are and all we hope to be would be a vessel for grace to be poured through for His glory!
The price we pay is like a grain of sand on the seashore compared to the price Jesus paid.
"Let us press toward the mark for the price of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus," Philippians 3:14.
This is my prayer for Covenant Church and for every believer.