Devotion for March 10, 2023

“And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.’” (Matthew 26:39, ESV)

Sometimes I catch myself watching from afar.

I am not a news junkie. However, when I watch the news on television or online, pictures and images of tragedies around the world fill the screen. The devastation of war, the destruction from violent weather, and the anger of the disenfranchised in society. Reporters mold these images to tell stories about what is wrong with our world.

I distance myself from these pictures, subconsciously telling myself this is not happening in my world. In doing this, I harden myself against the suffering portrayed in front of my eyes, trying to numb and protect myself from the misery of those enduring it. Rather than sympathize with people experiencing these disasters, I thank God it is not me who has these problems.

Too often, I find myself doing the same thing with the stories in the Bible, especially with the passion of Jesus. I want to think my sins were not bad enough to require Him being nailed to that cross. Or I rationalize that, since He was the Son of God, He may not have experienced the same depth of suffering as other crucified people. So, my repentance is half-hearted again, mitigated by smugness that my good deeds will somehow earn me favor with God.

Pausing to reflect on the agony of Jesus the night before His death gives a window into His experience. I need to hear the words of pain Jesus expressed as well as His forgiveness extended to those around Him. The blood dripping from His forehead in Gethsemane. The stench of the Roman soldiers as they flogged Him and drove nails into His hands and feet. The curses screamed by those who hated Him, demanding His life simply out of jealousy. And the raw flesh and massive blood loss from all His wounds. It all reminds me His suffering for me was real. His heavenward cry, aware of His Father turning His face away, reminds me of Jesus’ anguish.

Rather than watch from afar and tell myself this all happened on another day in another place two thousand years ago, I need to zero in on what happened to my suffering Savior as if it were today. By doing so, I am drawn more to Him and am willing to repent of my sins without reservation.

How can you prevent Jesus’ sacrifice from becoming a far-off event for you?

Prayer

Lord, I want to be closer to You each day in everything I do. Be gracious to me and grant me the strength to see everything around me through the lens of Your mercy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Stay encouraged!

Pastor Mike

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