Come Unto Me!
This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many
The Apostle Paul has written, “If death began its reign through one man (Adam) because of his offense, much more shall those who receive the overflowing Grace and gift of justice live and reign through the one Man, Jesus Christ … just as a single offense brought condemnation to all men, a single righteous act brought all men acquittal and life. Just as through one man’s disobedience all became sinners, so through One Man’s obedience all shall become just” (Rom. 5:18-19). Acquittal! Not guilty! We are saved! By the Cross of Jesus Christ we are saved! By the blood of Jesus Christ we are saved!”
“This is My blood … which is poured out for many,” Jesus said to His disciples on the eve of His execution. And because we have been privileged to enter into and partake of this awesome Mystery, we have been given the awesome responsibility to carry the verdict of the Cross into every corner of our life: not guilty! Saved! We are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. And that is the Gospel Truth!
Within hours of today’s Gospel episode in which Jesus shares the Passover meal with the Apostles, the Savior stands accused before Pontius Pilate. “Are You the King of the Jews?” Pilate asks. Jesus answers, “My Kingdom is not of this world …” Pilate says to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus replies, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. every one who is of the truth hears My voice.” Whereupon, Pilate asks, “What is truth?” (Jn. 18:33, 36-38).
If we are people “of the truth,” a people who hear the voice of Jesus, what does truth mean to us?
It means standing at the foot of the Cross and acknowledging our total dependence on God’s Word to guide us through life’s pilgrimage. It means standing at the foot of the Cross and peeling off the layers of self-centeredness, egoism and pride that encrust our souls. It means standing at the foot of the Cross and embracing the Christ-Spirit of humility, other-centeredness and brotherhood. It means standing at the foot of the Cross and replacing the ingrained spirit of human exploitation with the spirit of loving service. It means standing at the foot of the Cross and stripping our souls bare, in order to see ourselves as we really are and as we really ought to be.
A tennis professional was giving a lesson to a new student of the game. After watching the student take several swings at the tennis ball, he began to suggest ways in which the strokes might be improved. .But each time a suggestion was made, the student would interrupt with his own version of what was wrong and how to correct it. After several such interruptions, the “Pro” began to nod his head in agreement. When the lesson ended, a woman who had been watching said to the Pro: “Why did you go along with that arrogant man’s stupid suggestions?” The old “Pro” smilingly replied, “I learned a long time ago that it is a sheer waste of time to try to sell answers to a person who just wants to buy echoes.”
“Every one who is of the truth hears My voice,” Christ Jesus says to us. Therefore, we ask ourselves, “Do we want to hear answers from Jesus about who we are and what we ought to do, or do we want just to hear our own echoes?” Christ Jesus is telling us that something new is now at work in human history; that death itself has been conquered; that no terror on earth can intimidate or defeat those who live in the Lord by faith; that the same God who brought Jesus from death into new life will also resurrect from the defeats of history every word and work and thought offered in obedience to Him who taught that to love is to live.
Jesus did not identify merely with a single day of passion or with a “last mile” to execution. Rather, He identified with every moment of every person’s passion and death. Jesus identified with every person’s life and death struggle for fulfillment.
Jesus poured out His blood in order to reveal the depth of the Father’s love and concern for us. He poured out His blood because He trusted in His Father’s promise that the power of His Love would prevail over death itself.
Jesus came not to get women and men into heaven, but to get heaven into women and men. Jesus came not to get women and men out of hell, but to get hell out of women and men. There is more than a grain of Gospel truth in that ancient adage. Jesus poured out His blood in order to demonstrate God’s incredible love for each one of us. Faith in God’s love is not meant to be blind. Through our own experience of love in our human relationships here on earth, our Gracious God has given us a glimpse of the blessed fulfillment to come in His heavenly Kingdom of Love.
There is an ancient legend in which a young man accused of murder is brought before the king. The accused man protests his innocence but, after hearing the testimony of witnesses, the king pronounces the death sentence. After the sentence is carried out, it is discovered that the witnesses were mistaken. Indeed, the young man was innocent. This disturbs the king’s conscience very much. He summons his most trusted wise man before the throne. “How could I have known?” he asks. The wise man replied, “If just once you had come down from your throne, drawn close to the accused and looked deep into his eyes, you would have known!”
The Great Lord God Almighty calls upon us regularly to put down our hymnals, to come out from the pews, to get off our knees, to get on our feet, to look deep into the eyes of our brothers and sisters in need, and to minister to them in the Spirit of Christ Crucified. Then we will call and the Lord will answer. Then we will know the answer to Pilate’s question: “Truth! What does that mean?”
One of Denmark’s leading sculptors had a burning ambition to create the greatest statue of Jesus every made. He began by shaping a clay model of a triumphant, regal figure. The head was thrown back and the arms were upraise din a gesture of great majesty. It was his conception of Christ the King: strong, dominant. “This will be my masterpiece,” he said, on the day the model was completed. But, during the night a heavy fog rolled into the area and sea-spray seeped through a partially opened window of the artist’s ocean side studio. The moisture affected the shape of the model so that when the artist returned to the studio in the morning, he was shocked to find a wounded figure. The droplets of moisture that had formed on the statue created the illusion of bleeding. The head had drooped. The facial expression had been transformed from severity to compassion. And the arms had dropped into an attitude of welcome. The artist stared at the figure, agonizing over the time wasted and the need to begin all over again. But something came over him to change his mood. He began to see that this image of Christ was the truer one. Then he wrote at the base of the newly-shaped figure: “Come unto Me!”
There is a nineteenth century painting which depicts a long row of beggars waiting in a soup line. They are all ragged and sleazy looking. But around the head of one, barely perceptible, is a halo, indicating that Christ is in that beggars’ line. Man y years later, a student artist was instructed to a pain a copy of that masterpiece. The student did such a remarkable job that to the uneducated eye it was difficult to tell the copy from the original. Except for one detail! Instead of painting a halo in order to indicate Christ, the artist painted a bloody crown of thorns.
“This is My blood … which is poured out for many … Every one who is of the Truth hears My voice … Come to Me,” says the Lord. “The strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal.”