Believe it or not, I'm home alone. That doesn't often happen to a mom of 6. So I took full advantage of my time. I ignored dinner and laundry and the floors to play the piano and sing at the top of my lungs. Truly that's a noise only Jesus could appreciate, and even He might plug His ears on some notes. I wouldn't blame Him.
Anyway, being that Easter is coming, and I am trying to focus my heart and mind on Christ's sufferings and death to usher in appropriate and sincere worship on Resurrection Sunday, I sat down to play a few hymns.
A line in Blessed Redeemer struck me like a slap upside my head:
Father, forgive them
Thus He did pray
Even while His life-blood
Flowed fast away
Praying for sinners while in such woe
No one but Jesus ever loved so
The idea that while He was suffering He was praying for someone else just sent my head spinning.
I workout. You know, sit ups, pushups, running... I exercise. When you do a squat, so I've been told, it's proper form to look straight ahead or a little upward. When you do a plank or pushups, I believe you are supposed to look straight down. But a while back, I noticed something about my form. I could look ahead for the first few squats, but when my legs started hurting, and I started questioning if I was doing them correctly, I would look down. Same with pushups. As soon as I felt pain or the pulling of muscles, I immediately dropped my head and looked at myself. It really frustrated me, and so I asked God about it one day while I was working out. He said, point blank, "When it hurts, you quit trusting, and you get self focused." Say what? I thought about it a bit, and I realized it was true. I couldn't see the squats I was doing looking up at the trees. I couldn't tell if I was doing them correctly. I had to just assume that since my back was straight and my eyes were up, that I was doing well. When my legs started aching, I started doubting, so I needed to see with my eyes if my form was right. But then, by looking down, I bent my back and started using incorrect form.
Can you see where I am going? We walk by faith. We keep our eyes focused on Christ. But when it hurts, when we get offended or tired, or when we aren't sure we're doing right, we take our eyes off Christ and look at ourselves. We get absorbed in our pain and forget where we're going. Not only that, we stop trusting that Jesus is going to see us through the pain. We try to become self reliant. We want to decide what our walk should look like and where we should go and how it should feel.
The interesting thing about proper form is it's injury prevention. If I stay with my head tucked to my belly while I do pushups, I will end up with knots in my shoulders and neck that keep me stiff for days. You know what a stiff neck means, don't you? According to 2 Chronicles 30:8 ("Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were; submit to the LORD,"), stiff necks are a result of rebellion and lack of submission. Stiff necks mean we lack proper form. We aren't bending the way God is asking us to go.
What does all this have to do with Jesus? Well, the way I see it is He was able to pray for sinners while on the cross because He had proper form. He kept His eyes on the Father.
1 Peter 2:23 says, "When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly." Jesus trusted the Father to take care of Him. He didn't decide He hurt too much and was just going to come up with another way. He didn't for a moment lose sight of the mission He was on. His thoughts were beyond Himself and on to bringing glory to His Father and salvation to you and me. His pain was real and intense, yet He kept His focus on the task at hand. He finished the job.
What could prove His love for you more than this? He is a Blessed Redeemer!
P.S. If any of you that read this have a verse from Scripture or a line from a song that is helping you preprare spiritually for your Easter celebration, please share it by commenting on this blog. I'd love to see us encourage each other and together consider all that Jesus did for us at the cross.