October 29, 2013

Introducing the Why

He simply hung in place, matted in blood and gasping for breath. Though it’s often used in hyperbole, in this case the weight—and, for that matter, the hope—of the world was literally on His shoulders.

For the past 24 hours a universal audience of angels, demons, and unfallen beings had been fixated on Planet Earth. They watched as beads of blood poured down His cheeks and as He was condemned by a kangaroo court. With their own eyes they saw His back bend under the ultimate symbol of humiliation before being nailed to it like a common criminal.

After nearly 4,000 years of seeing “through a glass darkly,” they were coming face to face with the truth, which was suddenly so clear: Jesus was love, justice, mercy, and truth.

Satan was not.

On that dark afternoon the universe was enlightened with clarity. But inside the heart, mind, and soul of the Savior, evil forces sought to enshroud Him with doubt.

As we know, when life is at its worst, Satan works his hardest, pouncing like a predator on a wounded animal that falls behind the safety of the herd.

Ellen White sheds light on Satan’s unrelenting attacks on the wounded Son of God: “The Savior could not see through the portals of the tomb. . . . He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal” (The Desire of Ages, p. 753).

Undoubtedly, heavenly angels, who finally grasped the full scope of the great controversy, wanted to jump out of heaven and bring Jesus back to His rightful throne.

But this had to be done, and He had to face it alone.

For six hours a war waged within Jesus. Even as it did, He remained meek and peaceful, never once lashing out against those who were truly guilty.

When the weight of sin became too great, Jesus bowed His head and left the world the same way He came in: humble and innocent. His last victory provides the ultimate example of trust, conviction, and courage.

Ellen White wrote: “In those dreadful hours He had relied upon the evidence of His Father’s acceptance. . . . He was acquainted with the character of His Father. . . . He committed Himself to God, the sense of the loss of His Father’s favor was withdrawn. By faith, Christ was the victor” (ibid., p. 756).

Faith Like Jesus

If you’re anything like me, you run back to your favorite Bible promises when times get tough. In the face of adversity, uncertainty, and doubt the assurances of Scripture are a constant reminder that God is faithful and has our best interest in mind. One of my favorites, and perhaps one of yours too, is Proverbs 3:5, 6.

Let’s take a brief look at verse 5 (next month we’ll examine verse 6): “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

In my experience it seems we tend to hone in on the first half of the verse, the part about trusting God. If you’ve ever confided in a Christian friend during a difficult time, you’ve undoubtedly heard such sentiments directed back to you: “You just have to trust God.”

True, trust and faith are where each of us must begin when we face trials. However, without further detail, a plea to trust in God can sound ambiguous, clichéd, and empty. That’s where the part about not leaning on our own understanding comes in.

In His experience on the cross Jesus provided the perfect blueprint. Despite His dire circumstances and complete separation from God, Jesus didn’t rely on a gut feeling. Instead He focused on the just, merciful, and loving character of His Father.

As end-time believers we’re called to have similar perseverance in times of trouble (see Rev. 14:12). Follow the example of Jesus: Don’t be captive to feelings; have faith in whom you know.

He sees the beginning from the end. Most of the time, we can barely see at all.