29 Feb Near to the Broken
“The LORD is near to the broken hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” -Psalm 34:18
Our God is not a God who watches pain idly. Nor is he a God who feels pity for us from afar. Rather, he’s a God who is near to the afflicted and the downcast, and who wants us to know his nearness. And so he drew as near to us as he possibly could. He came to us, and became like us.
Hebrews says, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (2:14-15).
Jesus partook of our nature. In the flesh, he experienced the full weight and sting of our suffering. As a man, he felt the lashes of his enemies, the reality of homelessness, the rejection of loved ones, the struggle against temptation. He was acquainted with grief, familiar with it as though it were his companion.
And yet Jesus did not come to merely taste our suffering. He came to free us from it.
Jesus was well aware of this purpose and mission, often announcing to his closest friends what was to come. After all, this partaking of flesh and blood was purposed. He came to die. Jesus, by dying, would conquer the prince of death, and deliver humans from the worst suffering – their lifelong captivity to the fear of death.
In the garden of Gethsemane, before his arrest, Jesus cried out to his Father. In agony, knowing full well what was to come at the cross, he asked his Father to remove the cup of his wrath. Oh, how he longed to be freed from the pain. At the cross, he would bear the burden of the world’s dark sin and shame. He would, in his pure innocence, be crucified as a criminal, and experience the rejection of his Father. The intimacy he once knew would be replaced with a deafening silence, wrath, darkness.
In pain, he asked for deliverance, yet in love, he yielded himself to his Father’s purpose. “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
He willingly took on the heaviest weight of suffering to spare us from ours. He was forsaken by his Father so that we never would be, crucified that we might have eternal life, chastised that we might have peace, wounded that we might be healed. Man of sorrows, what a name.
In our greatest moment of need and brokenness, Jesus did not abandon us, but met us there, offering his broken body and spilt blood. So as we suffer now, groaning and eagerly awaiting redemption, we can be assured that our God is with us. He is near to us and fighting for us. He tenderly takes us by the hand, assuring us that he is beautifully redeeming and rewriting our deepest pains for good.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate
And hath shed his own blood for my soul.
Readings for this Week:
Luke 22:39-54, Luke 24:25-26
Isaiah 25:7-9, Revelation 21:4
1 Peter 3:8-18, 4:19
Romans 5:1-5, James 1:2-4
This post is third in a series celebrating Lent, for the purpose of preparing our hearts to treasure Christ more as Easter approaches. Each post in the series is coupled with art from local artist Kathryn Schermbeck. Our hope is that these words, reading guides, and pieces of art would lead you to worship as you remember the radical and costly grace of God. Click here for the first post in the series and here for the second.