I just saw a photo that was taken this morning from a hotel room overlooking the Sea of Galilee. It was captioned, "These waters have been walked on at least twice."
There have been a few times in my life where I enjoyed the privilege of walking somewhere with some serious historical significance. Most of these experiences are when visiting a National Historic Site. I remember visiting Bunker Hill in Boston and Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro.
But sometimes I have visited places of particular, personal interest to me. One of my favorite places that I have ever visited was the piece of land where my dear grandmother grew up. Then it was an 81-acre pig farm that her German immigrant parents managed. Her father was in charge of the workers and her mother fed them all two meals each day at the large table in their home on the farm. Today it is a wildlife refuge and event center in a very upscale New Jersey neighborhood. A small historic marker mentioning the previous use of the property is all that remains to remind us of what life was like in that tiny portion of the world during that minuscule sliver of time. Much has changed over the decades. All of the original buildings have been demolished. A 2.5-acre pond was excavated and new buildings were erected. But when I stand there and look around, I can see my grandmother climbing onto the roof of the long-gone barn and sliding down into the giant mounds of fluffy white snow just like she did in the childhood stories she used to share with me.
To look around now in our modern day it is hard to imagine what these places would have looked like through time. Sometimes I try to dream up what it would be like to press the rewind button and travel backward through history, watching everything work back to the beginning - back to the Garden. To watch the landscape change as we move further away from here and now. To see the changing styles of the clothing worn by the people living throughout time. Observe technology diminishing. It gives me goosebumps, chills, and an exciting, fluttery feeling in my chest.
But to contemplate what it would be like to stand before such a place as the Sea of Galilee and consider that Jesus, the God-man, walked there before me is too much for this simple mind to behold. The Christ. The One who created all things. The only begotten Son of the Father. He who humbled Himself to death, even death on a cross. He who bore MY sins in HIS body on the tree so that I might be forgiven, loved, and called a daughter of God. He once walked here, on this planet, in the body of a mortal man. He once felt the physical pains of hunger, thirst, and the cruelest invention of humanity.
It is too much. The injustice of it. The only One who never sinned punished for all of the sins ever committed in the past and ever to be committed in the future. And yet, through this, justice was served in the only way to make it possible for any person to escape the much-deserved torment of eternal damnation. And if it were not enough to escape this torturous sentence, we are given the unthinkable privilege of being made brothers and sisters with Christ Himself, and heirs to the throne of God!
And so, tonight, I am very keenly aware of how disparaging the difference is between how much love and allegiance I owe Him and how much love and allegiance I show Him.
Earlier today I was meditating on John 14.
"Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." (v. 21)
"If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me." (v. 23, 24)
"but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father." (v. 31)
I am moved tremendously as I look at this picture and think of how close Jesus feels. To look at a place where I know he lived His earthly life in a human body. Where he ate and drank. Where he slept and worked. Where he laughed and cried. Where he went away quietly to commune with His Father and where he hung out with the sinners and publicans. So close I can almost see Him walking there now.
But what now? How will I choose to allow that to impact me? Lord, have mercy on me! Too often I am like the man who beholds his face in a mirror and then turns and forgets what he looks like. Search me and know my heart, Lord. Forgive me where I am erring and grant me true repentance. Help me to see my desperate need for your constant intervention in my life and in my soul. My heart is deceitfully wicked, above all things. Who can know it? But You can and do. And You are in the business of changing hearts. O God of Jacob, would You do Your work in me! Grant me clean hands and a pure heart, that in that day I may look upon Your face and finally find peace and joy and rest untold!