I had the distinct privilege of traveling to Israel for a New Testament study tour during my sophomore year of college. It was life changing to say the least. When I read of the storms Jesus calmed I can picture the Sea of Galilee where that took place. I floated in the Dead Sea. I went deep into the Church of the Nativity and saw the spot that commemorates Jesus' birth. The sights and experiences of that trip have brought the Scriptures to life but it's never more vivid in my mind than during this time of year.
It was a quiet and somber walk down the Via Dolorosa. It literally means "sorrowful way" and that was certainly the mood of our tour group. Now lined with symbols to mark the way Jesus took all the way to Calvary. The streets were narrow at points, crowds pressed in around vendors. We felt violated. Almost like they should have known the observance we were trying to pay. Much like the crowds who gathered to mock and spit and criticize. It was a road marked with suffering and our hearts were heavy as we took each step. I imagine the group was feeling like I was - trying to picture the weight of a cross upon a beaten bleeding back. No one discussed it. No one said anything.
"They came to a place called Golgotha (which means "the place of the skull"). Matthew 27:33
We walked all the way there. I could see it plain as day. A skull naturally carved into the side of the mountain. It was menacing and hateful. It looked like a place of death and was appropriately named. It was part of the journey. Part of the process. He couldn't conquer death without first succumbing to it. In Elijah's devotional we've been reading about the events leading up to Jesus' death and resurrection and it describes the moment of silence when Christ called out from the cross but God did not answer. The sorrowful way was filled with the culmination of Jesus taking on the sin of the world, bearing the weight of the cross and experiencing the one and only separation of Him and His Father. For me. For you. For all. For the salvation of our souls for all of eternity.
It all leads to the resurrection and the empty tomb but I can't help but pause and reflect on the journey that first lead there. Today is the day I gave my heart to Christ more than 30 years ago. I didn't fully understand the sacrifice when I was only 5 years old but I knew I wanted and needed His salvation. What's more is I now bear the awesome realization of knowing He knew of this day, March 31, 1984, when I would call upon Him to save me. He thought of me when He was on the cross. He chose death to give me life. The sobering reminder helps shape my thinking and causes me to see the Scriptures in a personal way. The way He chose for me. The way He meant for us all. He chose the way that would give us life. Now it's up to you to choose His salvation.