Friday, June 26, 2009

when i survey the wondrous cross

A woman stumbles on well-worn sandals, tripping through streets so crowded she feels the warm breath of the man behind her, the jab of a woman’s elbow cutting into her ribs. She shoves her body through the small openings between groups of people, nearly crushed as throngs of people push to be near the man in the center of the chaos. For twelve years she had been subject to bleeding. Only hours before, she heard news of this man, a man with powers so great, they say it takes only a physical connection to him to be healed. Doctor after doctor after doctor; four thousand, three hundred and eighty days. Just one touch. Her desperation to be close to this man nearly suffocates her, this time it is different. This man is different. Just one touch. Heart racing, she sees the man’s disciples in the corner of her eye, but their image blurs. Just one touch. The fabric of the man’s cloak swirls in front of her, its texture just within her grasp. She reaches out her fingers and grasps the hem. Just one touch. The cloth is soft against her skin, as it slides and is released. Her bleeding stops. The man stiffens. Who touched me? The people who hear him crane their necks to see what he is referring to. The woman feels her heart rate quicken, she turns one shoulder against the flow of people to find an escape. One of the man’s disciples looks at him, Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you. The man shakes his head immediately, Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me. The woman feels nauseous as his speech reaches her ears. She will not be able to go unnoticed. Her legs buckle, and she collapses at his feet. Her lips tremble violently as her mouth moves to form words. She stares at him, memorizing the angles of his face and the kindness of his expression. Dirt and sand sting her eyes as the crowd rustles anxiously around her, but even as tears pour down her face, she can’t take her eyes off of him. She explains why she had touched him, and how she had been instantly healed. The disciples watch her, watch him. The crowd waits. Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.

The cameo of the unnamed woman in Luke 8 leaves a lot to be desired, the details of this story are left for our imagination. But that one day, a woman threw her body through multitudes, hoping on a miracle. With the touch of one man’s hem, her hopes were fulfilled.

This life is rough. Thinking back on all that my family has gone through in the last year alone brings tears to my eyes; yet, what we have suffered does not even begin to compare with what thousands and thousands have gone through and are still experiencing. Many have battled cancer, have watched helplessly as their child suffers inconceivable physical pain, have lost loved ones and have known heartache so severe every inhale seems to stop the pulse for a second, sometimes two. Just one touch of his hem, one touch to take it all away is what we pray for.

In a land far from modern America, darkness comes over the land as a man hangs on a cross, dripping in blood, so disfigured even those closest to him would have difficulty identifying his body. With his last breath, the man lifts his head toward the sky and cries out, “IT IS FINISHED.”

Death has been swallowed up in victory.

One day we will not have to crawl through a wall of people to touch a piece of his hem. We won’t be limited by the hope of one touch, but we will know the constant presence of our Lord and Savior. “He will wipe every tear from [our] eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” You guys, I can’t even begin to imagine. The battles we face on earth have been fought for us and won. This life is temporary, and we have hope of a beautiful, beautiful eternity because of what Christ has overcome. Death has been swallowed up in victory. Thank you, Jesus. THANK YOU.

“Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people.” Hebrews 2:14-17


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