One day many years ago, I was reading Leviticus 26, verse 13, “…I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with head held high.” While I was meditating on that verse, I saw myself yoked to sin and Satan in an old-fashioned oxen yoke. I was helpless to free myself from the yoke. Then Christ came along and broke the yoke off my neck and released my head and helped me to stand upright with my head held high. Jesus didn’t say anything during this process. He just did these things.
The next day was Good Friday. As we were going through the events of crucifixion in the worship service, I was reminded that I belonged on that cross, not Jesus. He was there because He took my place. When the crowd mocked him and said, “He saved others but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him,”1 I remember having a strong reaction and wanting to shout at those mockers, “He couldn’t save himself AND save you and me! He could only save us by staying there and dying in our place.” Oh, what love Jesus had to be willing to die for ones such as we are!
Subsequently, two well-known hymns came to my mind. The first was “At the Cross” by Isaac Watts. Verse five states:
But drops of grief can ne'er repay The debt of love I owe: Here, Lord, I give myself away - 'Tis all that I can do! Another famous hymn by Isaac Watts came to mind. Verse four of “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” states why I have given my whole life to God in service to Him.
Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were an offering far too small; love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.
Both of these hymns state so well, the response that every person who has been born again should have to such great love. His sacrifice should evoke an equal commitment of his or her life to Him. There would be no real life for any believer if it were not for the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The writer of Romans states it this way: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”2 The King James version states that last line this way, “… which is your reasonable service.” [emphasis mine] It is only reasonable for us to present our bodies/lives to God in service for what He has done for us in saving us from the bondage and penalty of sin. God also called me to be a missionary overseas for all of my adult life. He doesn’t call every Christian to that life’s work but He does call all of us to commit our whole lives to Him in service daily. It is the least we can do in response to His great act of redemption.
This is the Christmas season. Christmas is the beginning of what Easter completes. A friend of mine captured the essence of it all in a poem titled “Christmas.”
Christmas is a time to share,
Christmas is a time to care,
It’s a time to be happy, filled with joy;
Not just with gifts and a new toy;
But with the love of Christ who came that day
Then died to take our sins away.
Let’s worship and love Him all of our days
With hearts that are filled with joyous praise.
_______ 1Matthew 27:42 (NIV) 2Romans 12:1 (NIV) 3Used by permission