Because of Easter…
“For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched by the feelings of our infirmities, but was tempted in all ways as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly before the throne of grace to find mercy and grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16
I’ve been smitten by these verses lately. It has been my “Easter” scripture even though it is not one that usually comes to mind when I think about the event that made a way for me to have eternal life. Without the resurrection, these verses mean nothing. If Jesus had not lived like us and not sinned, we would have no way to come boldly. There would be no mercy and grace. There would be no help. We would be separated from God and on our own forever in a dark and beyond miserable place.
Jesus is our High Priest. In Old Testament times, the high priest, once each year, fearfully entered the Holy of Holies to make intercession for the sins of his people. Jesus is seated at the right hand of God. This fellowship He has with His Father is constant. We are constantly seen and known and have access to forgiveness because He is always with God and always with us and for us. He is on our side.
Jesus knows how we feel. I mean it. No matter what situation we face, what pain we experience, what failures we live with, He knows. Being a female, I used to think, “Yeah, right, how could he really know?” This just revealed to me how much more my faith needed to grow. God is smart enough to place in His Son the ability to empathize with every struggle mankind faces. My puny mind does not grasp it, but that doesn’t change what He is able to do.
Jesus was tempted. To understand this is to realize that Jesus was fully man and fully God. For Jesus to be tempted or be “appealed to” means He did indeed have the option to disobey His Father. It is important to know that before the Fall, there were human beings who had not sinned. Human beings do not have to sin, but they do. Jesus could have called ten thousand angels to rescue Him from that cross, but He did not. He obeyed His Father, and those that trust in that obedience are redeemed!
He arose boldly, and we can come boldly to Him. There was a mixture of fear and great joy when those who were there at the tomb felt the earth shake and saw that the stone was rolled away. Even more when they saw the tomb empty and the grave clothes folded to signify His coming return.
“In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. And behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” Matthew 28:1-6
It can be scary when I know I’ve blown it, again, and need to confess and ask forgiveness. I am fearful that maybe this time God will say, “Okay, this is enough. You’re fired! I’ve got so many other followers who are tons more faithful than you. I really don’t want to hear how sorry you are.” But, thankfully, I know He does not treat me like that. He truly doesn’t remember the last sin I’ve repented of. It’s been removed as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103) So, after the fearful part, comes the rejoicing as I experience a clean heart and renewed spirit.
We have all the grace we are willing to open our hands and hearts for.
We can have all the mercy and grace we need. There are no limits to the supply of mercy God has for us, because His Son was willing to put no limit to the suffering He endured to purchase it. Mercy means we do not have to be punished for our sins. Another word for mercy in the Bible is loving-kindness. Love is kind. Period. God is love and He is kind and has pity on us like we have a soft heart for our own kids and loved ones. He took the wrath of God for our disobedience so we wouldn’t have to.
We have all the grace we are willing to open our hands and hearts for. Grace is a whole other story. Grace is above and beyond mercy, pouring into our lives the beauty of art in everything we see and do. The beauty of receiving all the unlimited gifts of God with gratitude. Grace doesn’t come without gratitude. If the gifts are there and you have an unthankful heart, you are just trampling them under your feet. The gifts need held up to God with a lifted face and heartfelt thanks. The birds’ songs, the flowers, the tree blossoms, along with the pain that teaches you trust. All of it, a gift, so that all of it can be used to grow your faith, give you joy in all things, and especially in your time of need, which, for me, is just ALL the time.
Have a joyous Easter friends. Remember the cost to create in you a clean heart and rejoice because “It is finished.” Our faith in Christ will take us from here to there.
(Photos by Melanie Lamb of Little Lambs Photography)