Father, I pray for a spirit of obedience in what You say, not in what I see.
Recently, I was reading through the book of John, and one verse during the crucifixion of Jesus stood out to me. To give a little context, the crucifixion of Jesus was meant to be a public event to warn people of what would happen if they went against the law. Jesus was nailed to the cross with two criminals beside him, and a sign was hung on the cross to display their crimes for the whole city to read.
John 19:21 ESV says, “So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’”
At first, I didn’t know why I was so fixated on this verse, and it took me all day to figure out what it meant to me. Even here, I had to wait in order to understand. I was trying to figure out why the chief priests wanted Pontius Pilate to change the sign from, ‘the King of the Jews’ to ‘this man said, I am King of the Jews.’ Clearly, they wanted to mock Him and say that even though He claims to be a King, He’s still the one nailed to the cross, He’s still the one about to die, and He’s the one hanging in defeat. They’re thinking that Jesus can claim to be who He says He is, but all you can see is the image of defeat, the image of death. On either side of Jesus, were the two criminals with descriptions of their crimes, but for Jesus, his “crime” simply described who He was.
It’s ironic that the religious leaders are trying to use this image as a way to mock Jesus and diminish His power and ministry. I think this image shows God’s power working through the crucifixion even during this period of suffering and during this season of waiting when all hope seems lost. Even in the waiting, we are called into a posture of obedience, to place our faith in what God says, and not in what we see. He is good, even if our limited definition of good is not the same as His definition of good. I know that He is for us, so I can rest in the peace of who He says He is, who He says I am, and what He promises because what He says will ultimately come to fruition. We can only find rest in this by trusting Him and surrendering to Him with humility. Because of what He says, we can trust in the middle of the storm, even when there is no hope to be seen. Because of what He promises, this defeated image of what we visibly see is quickly swept under the rug when we see what is ahead: Jesus dying for our sins, Jesus rising from the dead, Jesus living in us, and Jesus giving us the chance to live in personal communion with the Father.
Obedience in the waiting is hard. Hope in the unseen is not easy, especially while living in a sinful and broken world. I couldn’t imagine what it was like that day seeing Jesus on the cross, living in that chaos, and still trusting in Him when He says He is the King of Kings without knowing He would rise from the dead in three days and without knowing the love He’s freely given us by dying for our sins. Seasons of waiting bring intensified desperation, and where you place that desperation determines if you’ll feel stuck in the waiting or if you’ll find growth in the waiting. In the waiting we are often desperate to get out of a situation, desperate for something to happen, for something to change. Often times, I’ll look to the things of this world to fulfill that desperation, to fulfill that longing for something more, and that only pushes me to rely on what I see, not on what the Lord promises in that season.
Regardless of the season we find ourselves in and regardless of what has happened in our past, God makes everything beautiful in its own time and has planted eternity in our hearts, but we still can’t see the full scope of His work in and around us. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Because we are blind in seasons of waiting and can’t see what lies ahead, we have to trust in what He’s planted in our hearts. God created our hearts perfect in the garden even though He knew of our eventual sin. He planted eternity in our hearts, even though we would live in this sinful world. He created that desperation in our hearts with the intent of us seeking Him alone because He is the only one that will satisfy that longing. Because we can’t see the full scope in the waiting, we have to trust in the One who knows the full scope. We have to trust in the one who says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 ESV)
If we trust in what we see, we only see the grave. If we’re fixated on the grave, we miss the garden that’s right next to it.
“Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid” (John 19:41 ESV)
The grave was by a garden. Our longing for the garden is held in the hope of His promises, not in the grave we see right now.
Lauren Baccari is a sophomore Finance major and Economics minor from Cumming, GA. She is a Gate Scholar and currently works at the Spires. She is involved with Campus Outreach and loves intentional time with friends, listening to music, and spontaneous cookout milkshake runs!