My soul was troubled as I entered the sanctuary last Sunday. My country has turned its back on Israel. Our president is working on a deal that will leave Iran just two weeks from having the deadliest weapon the world has ever known. Meanwhile, that pariah nation is carving up the Middle East, along with other Islamic extremists while we do virtually nothing. A regional war seems inevitable, a war that could turn into WWIII.
It was if our pastor had read my mind. His sermon was on war, more specifically, the most important battle ever fought. It help me get things back into their proper perspective.
This battle was not between soldiers of opposing armies. It occurred in a garden outside of Jerusalem. It was a battle from within.
As Jesus, who was fully God and fully man, prayed beneath the olive trees in Gethsemane, he prayed, not as Lord, but as a man. He came to earth and lived a sinless life in order to offer himself as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. However, as the hour approached when Jesus would suffer the most humiliating and painful death on a cross, in his humanity, he struggled to find a way out.
“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26: 39)
Luke describes his mood at that moment:
“And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44)
No doubt, his struggle was intensified because he could have used his power as God to escape. At any moment he could have called upon his godly powers to rain down fire from heaven to destroy his enemies. His many miracles attest to that, but no.
Jesus chose to suffer as a man in order to fully identify with those for whom he provided redemption. In doing so, he overcame the world and won the battle for our souls. Without his sacrifice, we would be eternally separated from our holy God. Jesus, who knew no sin, died for us so that when our life is over we can stand before God spotless, white as snow.
It is an indescribable gift from God, “not as a result of works so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
This is what Easter is all about.
Although this gift is available to each and everyone, it is not bestowed automatically. This is a gift that must be claimed. All that is necessary to claim this gift is to recognize your need for a savior.
“(I)f you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Roman 10:9-10)
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
This means that those who claim this gift must sincerely recognize what Christ has done and be willing to seek his will, reject sin and follow him.
Unfortunately, there are many who leave this gift unclaimed to their peril. Therefore, they will never know the peace that only come through knowing Christ. We were created with a God-shaped vacuum that can be filled in no other way.
There is a battle within for our soul that must be won. Why do we fight so hard to resist this precious gift of eternal life? I can only speak for myself. It was about control. I had big plans for my life and I didn’t want anyone, even the God who created me, to interfere with those plans. Also, I was afraid he would ask too much.
We all face this choice: Will it be God or my own limited personality?
My internal battle went on for sometime. I wanted Christ to save me, but I wasn’t willing to relinquish control. In reading the Bible, there were a few things I’d missed.
“For my yoke is easy. My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30)
“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
My God is real. If you don’t believe me, just ask him to reveal himself to you and begin reading his word.
This battle within will continue until you surrender. Why not do it now? Then you can truly experience the abundant life for which you were created.