By Pastor Kevin Barnhart
Spring Grove Evangelical Free
Words usually pour from my heart; thoughts, feelings, insights, and ideas often come naturally. But Sunday as the palm branches waved, as children shouted Hosanna, my heart began to sink. Holy week is here. This is the week we all have been preparing for, we have been longing for and yet as Jesus sets His face towards His death, I find all my words are lost within the clenching sorrow of my soul.
The writer Isaac Watts in his song ‘The Wonderous Cross” paints the picture of Jesus’ love with these words- “See from his head his hands his feet where sorrow and love mingle down, did ere such love and sorrow meet…” I could not agree more. My heart deflates with the brutality, the betrayal, the kiss, the cross, the ultimate sacrificial blood of Christ AND simultaneously my whole soul drinks deeply from His love, His promises, His forgiveness, His Resurrection – His triumph over sin, the devil, and His VICTORY over death itself. No one else could cause such an emotional upheaval in the very sinew of my soul. I have been walking in the desert for these near 40 days and I am so thirsty for HIM no other could ever do.
This is not always so. I do not always thirst, I do not always kneel, I do not always long for God more than all else… why? Why are there times when my words are there but my heart is far from Him? The heart is desperately wicked and who could understand it (Jeremiah 17:9) This is true. We have so many things that seek to distract us from the Savior. We have families, husbands, wives, and children, work, money, status, accolades and accomplishments, medals, and media, in truth we have a million and one things that we can seek to serve or put before Jesus. Not to mention we have grudges. Yes, grudges with the Almighty! Prayers we wanted answered, hopes we felt lost, injustice, war, famine, destruction, defeat, weariness, exhaustion, fear, diagnosis, diseases, disparities, the list is endless – as we live in the gap of what is promised and what we have.
In essence the hard truth is that Jesus the SON OF GOD, the Almighty, Our Savior and King looked upon our sin sick state and He set His face to the cross. He made a choice to come, to live and to die so that sinners (we) might be saved. There was no other way. Soak this in if you can: we offer him fragments of our lives, scant prayers, and bartered time, brief accolades, quick accusations, brutal betrayal, nails, and a cross… we offer him sin and He – Our God and Messiah… well, our Savior and our King offers us EVERYTHING.
So it is that my heart thunders from the desert palm branches I held in my own hands unable to utter Hosanna as I gazed stoically towards His cross – knowing full well it was my own.
Where is your heart? As we walk into the start of Holy Week, as we hear our own shouts of Hosanna, knowing that we soon will cry crucify him – is it well with your soul? Can you begin to comprehend the incomprehensible? I cannot. I cannot not begin to understand this reckless, incredible, inconceivable LOVE… and so it is not with words but with every fiber of my being that I RUN TO Jesus knowing that despite my sin sick state, despite my grudges, despite my failures and weakness, that despite it all Jesus has set His face to the Cross for me… and my friend, he has set his face towards the cross for you! Though the week has just begun though the story still awaits to be remembered… the bread, the wine, the body, the blood, the garden, the kiss, the crown, the cross… though it is not yet said… it’s coming, He came, He lived, He suffered, He died, HE ROSE, AND He will come again! In the presence of such love, in the gravity of such sorrow perhaps you too will understand that words will never do when it is the heart that HE is after!
“Love so amazing so divine demands my soul my life my ALL.”