Jesus bore my cross
There came a point in my Christian walk where I discovered that I was guilt-tripping myself into loving Christ more when the Easter weekend came around. Even though I would be filled with gratitude as I remembered Christ’s brutal death on the cross, there was often an inexpressible, haunting emptiness within me as I confronted my sin. I understood what Jesus did on the cross for my sins, but I didn’t know who Jesus really was — His love was not as real to me as I thought.
I only truly encountered Jesus during a five-month stint in a 24/7 Prayer Room in Kansas City, Missouri. As I spent six to eight hours a day with my Bible and journal, reading 50 to 60 chapters of the Bible per week, the Bible started to read me instead of me reading the Bible. It spoke to me in ways I had never heard Him before.
In the process of chronologically reading the accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion in the gospels, I realised the story of the cross no longer gripped my heart as it should. By the time I got to reading John’s account, a fresh revelation of Jesus’ love broke my heart, and I awoke to the very fact that the cross was meant to be my reality, yet was fully borne by the man Jesus Christ. As I meditated on the scriptures, it felt like fresh blood flowing from the worn pages and I was reminded of two truths about Him:
1. At the cross, Jesus became the permanent Atonement Cover for our sins
In Exodus 25-28 and 30, God commanded Moses to build The Tabernacle. Among many elements, the most important was the Ark of the Covenant, without which the Tabernacle would have just been a tent. The Ark — comprising the Ark of the Covenant and the Atonement Cover (also known as the Mercy Seat) — was a symbol of God’s presence and power with the Israelites, as well as a symbol of God’s judgment and wrath.
This was because the Ark of the Covenant comprised three items (Hebrews 9:4) that represented some of the most disgraceful events in the history of the Israelites:
i) The golden pot of Manna (Exodus 16) was a stirring reminder that despite God faithfully looking out for them in the wilderness, the Israelites still rejected God’s provision.
ii) Aaron’s Rod (Numbers 17) reminded the Israelites that they had rejected God’s authority when they rebelled against Aaron as their high priest.
iii) Tablets of the Covenant [or The Ten Commandments] (Exodus 19:5-6) served as a reminder that the Israelites had rejected God’s right standard of living, which resulted in consequential plagues, natural hazards, and foreign army attacks.
While the Ark of the Covenant was filled with shame, the Atonement Cover was the sacred lid for the Ark where God said, “There I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the Mercy Seat, from between the two cherubim” (Exodus 25:22 NKJV).
On the Day of Atonement, the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies and sprinkle blood from a bull onto the Atonement Cover for his and his household’s sins, and sprinkle blood from a goat for all the sins of Israel.
God promised that when He saw the blood, it would cover man’s sins. This meant that God no longer saw the sin, but saw the provision of blood sacrifice instead, appeasing His wrath. This ritual found in the Old Testament foretold Jesus’ death on the cross.
Romans 3:23-25 (NKJV) says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.”
The Greek word for ‘propitiation’ is hilastērion, which literally translates to the lid of the Ark or the Mercy Seat! Jesus became our permanent Atonement Cover by His blood that was shed for us. When God looks at us, He doesn’t see our sin, but the perfect sacrifice: His very own Son.
Surely our lives reflect the sin and shame that was kept in the Ark, but the cross — where Jesus was our atoning sacrifice — becomes a place of encounter where Christ is revealed. This revelation left me pondering on how I could possibly (or adequately) show Him that I love Him too; I learnt that the only right response was to bring an obedient heart and surrendered will to Christ.
The revelation of the width and length and depth and height of His love (Ephesians 3:18) birthed a deep desire within me to give Jesus what He came for — myself. I recognised that Jesus didn’t want a loyal, rule-abiding Christian but rather, a daughter, a disciple, and a laid-down lover who is willing to sit at His feet and simply gaze upon His beauty.
2. Jesus knows our sin, yet He still desires us
Jesus revealed a deep desire in John 17:24 (NKJV), “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”
How does Jesus, who is part of the Trinity and has everything and needs nothing, desire for anything? What more, He desired for the very men who would later pin Him to the cross.
Jesus — the perfect and spotless man — wants you to be with Him where He is and paid a hefty price to get you there. I believe it was this desire that led Jesus to the cross and kept Him there unto death. He chose to be obedient and displayed the very essence of who He is — Love.
When I remember the cross, something grips my heart and I acknowledge this truth that Ricardo Sanchez beautifully articulates: “The devil knows my name and calls out my sin, but God knows my sin and calls me by name.”
Friends, I hear the Lord tenderly whisper, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart (Jeremiah 1:5 NIV); for I created your inmost being; I knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13 NIV).” Can you hear His heartbeat of love for you today?
The cross was yours and mine to bear, but out of sheer love, it became His. This Easter, I recognise that I owe Him my obedience, my devotion, my life. I choose to look upon the cross and be humbled by this love and, withholding nothing, declare, “Jesus, now I’m Yours and You are mine.” Would you do so too?