I want to take you on an imaginary journey. If you will, in your mind I want you to picture an extraordinarily beautiful land. As far as your mindís eye can see, there is not a blemish in the healthy green, gently rolling hills. The trees are so full and tall that they bring to mind the ancient trees that are in our own protected forests in California, only more awe-inspiring than even the grandest of those. There is nothing that seems to tarnish the land. There are no interstates, no skyscrapers, no shanty towns, no pollution in the air, and no throbbing sounds of people and cars. In fact, it must be somewhat like the first time Adam looked around Eden. Gardens that grew the most succulent vegetables. Groves that grew fruits so sweet and juicy that to just smell them was to be satisfied. Pastures of flowers that never lost their beauty or their fragrance. Water so clean that you canít tell if the riverbed is five feet or five inches below the top of the water. The air itself is so pure that it seems to have a life and energy of its own. Can you imagine all of this? This journey of our imagination is only beginning.
Letís take a step farther into our imagination. I want you to picture yourself now. You are the Crown Prince of this land. You are the Only Son of the High King, and beloved of Him and all of the servants in your house. But there is something that pierces your heart. You see your chosen people are held prisoner in a foreign land. You have sent servants to show them the way of freedom. And they listen for a time. They start on the journey toward their homeland, but soon they decide the way is too difficult and return to their enslavement. Rather than journey to freedom, your people have decided to take the easier road to destruction.
Finally, the High King tells you of His final plan for their salvation. You must go to them as they are. Not as Crown Prince, but as Humble Servant. You must lower yourself to them so that you can see first hand what their lives are like. Only in this way will some heed His voice and turn from their destruction. You must leave this land of unsurpassed beauty, where you are most beloved, and go where you will be mostly rejected, and if possible, captured and killed. Again, this isnít the end, only the beginning of our journey.
You come to this land, born as a man, to teach and to show your people the path to their salvation. You give them signs that will let them know that you are the Crown Prince. You tell them of the great kingdom of the High King. And you invite all to come to live in peace there. But these people that you love, reject you. It is as your Father said they try to take your life on many occasions, but you do not let them. This is heartbreaking for you, but the will of the Father is your mission. The Father had told you that you would have to give them an example of His Love. He prepared you for what would come to pass. You must take the crimes of your people and make them your own. You must then take the punishment for these crimes, so that all would be set free. You must die for them. But, you have more heartbreak as the people you are saving cry out for your death. You see, they donít want you in this land, because you show them that they are criminals, worthy of death.
When they bring you before the courts, the local authorities are unable to find any fault in you. But in order to appease the people, they allow you to be put to death. The guards are not kind to you. They beat you, cutting ribbons of flesh off of you with a bone laced whip. They mock you, calling you King but spitting in your face. They dress you in clothes that are meant to shame you, hammering a thorny crown onto your head, giving you a reed as a scepter. After all this beating and humiliation, you are forced to carry your own device of death. But this is still not the end.
You see, the cat-o-nine-tails that the guards used to beat you, isnít as painful as the knowledge that your own chosen people have rejected you. The thorns in the crown, arenít as piercing as the words that they used to condemn you. The rough wood of the cross you are carrying, that is grinding into the open cuts on your back, is still not as harsh as knowing the punishment that your people will receive if they do not repent. Through all of this, one thought has remained. This must be done if your people are to be set free. You still love them so much that you are willing that all of these things should happen so that your people can be set free. As you suffer and die hanging on the cross, you ask your Father to forgive them, so that even though they have put His Son to death, they will not suffer death for it.
Can you imagine all of this? I hope that you can, because this is only some of what our Savior endured. He placed our salvation before His Supreme Life. He chose to submit to the Fatherís will, so that we would have the chance to accept salvation. Jesusí final thoughts on the cross were of you and I. When we are in the hands of those who persecute us where is our minds, our hearts, and our love? Our love should be anchored in the One who defines true love.
Would you or I have been able to do what Jesus did? Even if we were free of sin, I donít think we could have. The amount of love that Jesus showed in the face of such persecution is overwhelming. That love is ours today, all we need to do is accept it. When we accept that love and repent of our sins, then we are able to live for Him. If we reject His love, then we are like the ones who cried out, ďCrucify Him.Ē I pray that you would seek the love of Our Lord. His love has the healing power, not only of our bodies, but also our souls.
I want you to know that I love each of you, but that love is nothing in comparison to His love. If you feel that His love is what you need to heal your heart, then all you need is to get in prayer and ask His forgiveness, repent of your sins. Go to a church in your area, whichever one you feel led to attend, go before God and His people and confess with your mouth what the Lord has done for you. May God bless you all and keep you.