But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. –Isaiah 53:5 (NIV)
Mono Lake, located within 20 miles of Yosemite National Park in California, is one of the oldest lakes in North America. The most notable features of the lake are the towers of Tufa (pronounced too-fuh). These formations result when mineral deposits get washed into the lake from the streams of the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains and are subsequently left behind as the freshwater evaporates. Every year the salt concentration of the lake rises as evaporation continues. Currently, Mono Lake is more than twice as salty as ocean water.
That is a fact I cannot easily forget.
A few years ago I was in Mono County participating in three week course for my major as an environmental scientist. One of the projects involved a day trip to Mono Lake where my classmates and I were to conduct a series of scientific observations. As I climbed out of our small boat and set foot on the creaking dock at the end of the day, I heard a small gasp behind me followed by an unmistakable “plunk!” Sharon had been attempting to dry her hands on her pant legs when her ring slipped off her finger, slid between the cracks in the dock and sank unceremoniously into the saline waters.
I knew how upset I would be if I had lost such a beautiful piece of jewelry, so I immediately began rolling up my pants as I waded into the lake.
"YEOW!!!!" I yelped, splashing vigorously around as I tried to find the ring as quickly as possible. Getting back onto dry land was swiftly becoming my main goal.
If I had known how much pain my skinny legs were going to endure, I would have proceeded far differently. I would have either forgone shaving that morning or refrained from jumping into the water so quickly. Although more than 8 hours had passed since I shaved my legs that morning, the amount of salt in the water was enough to irritate my skin, inducing the worst case of razor burn I had ever had.
Fortunately for my pride and painfully stinging limbs, the water was shallow and the ring was within easy reach. Sharon was grateful for my efforts, but I have to admit that I responded to her gratitude begrudgingly as I muttered "you're welcome" through my tightly clenched teeth.
When Jesus was up on the cross, he was not there wishing he had done anything differently. He chose to endure the wretched, merciless punishment of death for each of us. He "rolled up his pant legs" so to speak, knowing exactly how painful the sting of our sins would feel against his human flesh. Still, he did not flinch. He did not complain about it; he did not curse us for our carelessness and our part in his death. The wounds inflicted on him at the cross bring us peace.
For me, the most incredible realization about the work of the cross is in recognizing that that Jesus did it so willingly. In both the physical and spiritual sense, he jumped into a truly inhospitable, painful environment to keep our souls from being eternally corroded because of our sins. I may have thought twice about my decision to help my friend recover her precious jewelry involved, but Jesus never hesitated to recover God's precious children.
I'll never forget how salty Mono Lake is. More importantly, I'll never forget to be thankful for what Jesus endured in my stead and the eternity of peace I have because of his sacrifice for me.
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I enjoyed reading this article! The comparison to the sting of sin and what Christ endured was right on! As I read this paragraph, Fortunately for my pride and painfully stinging limbs, the water was shallow and the ring was within easy reach. Sharon was grateful for my efforts, but I have to admit that I responded to her gratitude begrudgingly as I muttered "you're welcome" through my tightly clenched teeth, I was reminded of how we so often sacrifice and yet it is not done with such a pure heart because perhaps we did have to endure a bit of pain! This was an ouch for me, because it is something the Lord has been dealing with me on for a couple days! Still, even though so many refuse His ultimate gift, He doesn't mutter, 'you're welcome,' through clenched teeth!
Great article, fabulous message! God bless, Jounda