Friday, April 3, 2015

I was thinking of you

The Garden of Gethsemane, Jerusalem (March 2013)
Two years ago, I was fortunate to take a trip to the Holy Land with my mom. We went in March, and it was an amazing time of learning more about Christ and his life. During that trip, the person of Christ came alive - stepping out of the story and into reality. One of my first encounters with him on my journey actually took place on the plane ride from Hong Kong to Tel Aviv. This morning, as I was reading through the accounts of those last days Jesus had with his disciples in each of the Gospels, I recalled this in-flight epiphany. 

I had just finished reading “Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes” (Kenneth E. Bailey) and “Desire of the Everlasting Hills” (Thomas Cahill). From both those books, I felt I had a much richer understanding of what it meant to be a first century Jew living in Israel. I could picture Jesus encountering his culture in a whole new way (and how radical his ministry really was). I remember staring out the window of the plane, lost in thought about all the sites I would soon be seeing, the Sea of Galilee, Nazareth, the Garden of Gethsemane, and a conversation took place between me and Jesus.

I was picturing Christ in the Garden, kneeling, praying, sweating, wrestling. I asked him, “Jesus, I know you prayed, but after that, when the moment finally came…what were you thinking?” The Spirit moved within me as I heard him answer, “I was thinking of you.” 

I’m not sure how much of that conversation was actually divine revelation versus my interpretation of what I know to be true of Christ’s love for me. Regardless, it was one of the deeper moments of my walk with Christ. The thought felt scandalous, and caught me off guard. Me? He was thinking of me? It was intimate and revealing. It reminded me of another time when I was given a revelation of Christ shouting my name. It made his death deeply personal. It made his relationship with me deeply personal. He was thinking of me? My only response was humble adoration. Gratitude for a loving Savior who thinks of me during his darkest hour. He was about to complete a task that would deplete him emotionally, physically, and spiritually, and he was thinking of me? I cannot adequately reciprocate that kind of love. I am not worthy. Thankfully, in his abundant grace, I do not have to be. His love is my love. I am worthy because he is worthy, and he chose me. We love because he first loved us. And, my, how deep that love is. 

Depiction of Christ, rock carving in the Garden
of Gethsemane, Jerusalem (March 2013)
So many times we go through the motions. Many holidays are like this. We know the story, heard it a million times, and so, we check out spiritually. Of course, we pray, meditate, but we’ve done it all before. "It’s the same message”, we rationalize as our minds drift off to plans for the week, who we are meeting up with after church or the last text message we received. But even if the message is the same, the beauty of following Christ is that he is living, and living beings move, initiate, and inspire. 

This morning as I read through the account of Christ’s final moments with his disciples, I was reminded of his humanity. He was an actual person. A dear friend and teacher. He was flesh and bone and they heard and saw and experienced him. In our small group we are studying 1 John. Last week, we camped out on the first four verses. It is obvious from the text that John was stressing to his audience that Christ was a real person: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands…” John wanted them to know that Jesus wasn’t just a story, but he was real. He lived and breathed; and he’s still living and breathing! 

I hope each of you encounter Christ this weekend. May the Spirit move within you during this season of Easter, that you may experience his deep, personal, real love for you. May you know that when he picked up the cross he was thinking of you; when he fell in the street, got back up, and continued walking he was thinking of you; when he let soldiers drive nails through his wrists and feet he was thinking of you, when he struggled for breath and when he choose to give up his spirit and die, the whole time, he was thinking of you. And when he triumphantly defeated death, rose from the grave and took his seat at the right hand of the Father, he was thinking of you. He was thinking of me. His final thoughts were for us, his children. That is real love. That is Godly love. 

Happy Easter. He is risen! He is alive. And he’s thinking of you. 

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