Sabbath Saturday- April 3, 2021
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Jesus, Friend of sinners like me...
The story leading up to the cross breaks me more this year because of the themed betrayal woven throughout that I’ve never linked before. I wish I could read a story about a man who died for people who served Him, and served Him well, but the truth is that Jesus is a friend of sinners, and it hits differently as I grapple with my failings at reciprocating His friendship.
I may not be a ‘Judas’, per se, but what about the disciples who fell asleep when Jesus asked them to keep watch? Or what about Peter who denied him three times? Or the individuals in the crowd who chose to free the murderer instead? And then there’s Pontius Pilate who wanted to set Jesus free, but instead chose to please the crowd. Pilate’s intentions may have been decent, but his flesh needed the approval of people more, even to the point of the death of an innocent man. And it has me thinking of when I’ve pleased people instead of Christ.
Jesus, a human in the flesh, was about to experience unfathomable torment, and I imagine a crippling dread sweeping over his body at the thought of the physical pain to be inflicted. I wept while reading about his friends and disciples who were with him but failed Him when He was about to offer His own life for them.
Together they witnessed miracles. They saw Him mend brokenness and give people sight for the first time. They ate with him, drank with him, laughed, and cried with him. They did ‘life’ with Jesus in the flesh. He handpicked His disciples and best friends who would fail Him. Jesus asked His disciples to keep watch in Gethsemane so that He could pray peacefully before He died, but they fell asleep on him three times that night. Peter, who was convinced that he would never deny Jesus, did so three times just as Jesus foretold, and Jesus loved him still. Jesus never asked Judas not to be His disciple, even though Judas would hand him over to be crucified. What must have been in Jesus’ mind as He knowingly washed his betrayer’s feet the evening prior? And Peter’s? He has the kind of Love I can only strive for.
He loved me that much!
I am overwhelmed reading through these scriptures which have given me a deeper understanding of His death on the cross. When His disciples fail Him, the crowd still chooses a murderer, Barabbas, to be released instead of Jesus who loved the same crowd that never chose Him. He carried the cross beneath the hot sun for the people who wished to see Him crucified, for Barabbas, Peter, Judas, you, and me.
Once His hands and feet were pierced as He hung, He befriended the thief on the cross beside Him. With blood trickling down the side of His temples from the mockery of a crown made of thorns, His heart was still for the human beside him. He died for him, too.
I can’t help but to grieve for the ways in which I have betrayed Jesus, the friend of sinners like me. How much time do I spend ‘sleeping’ with entertainment, news, social media, movies, books, etc? How many times have I been embarrassed to call myself a Christian in front of co-workers talking negatively about church? How many times have I betrayed my friend who gave His life for me? I couldn’t count them if I tried, yet Jesus chooses not to count a single one. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound.
I grieve this week, but then on Sunday, I will rejoice, because even though I remain a sinner, He remains my friend. Though I will fail Him time and time again, He gave his life for ME. He gave His life for YOU.
If you have ever thought that your sin was too great, I challenge you to reconsider, because our sins are not too great for Him, and even our betrayal does not sway Him. Who are we to say that His death wasn’t enough? His death was more than enough to cover our greatest sin. His death defeated death. His death conquers all.
Embrace the Love of the Cross today.
Thank you, Jesus, for dying despite our betrayals.
Thank you, Jesus, friend of sinners like me.
End in Prayer
This weekend I remember what You did for me. I’m blown away. You are amazing and You love me more than I deserve. I am so grateful that You love me even when I am unfaithful, unlovable, and unreliable. Lord, help me to let Your love be the thing that makes me the person You always meant me to be. Let it permeate down deep and change me!