Bringing our messy hands to the cross
- an Easter message
Yes, that is food on her forehead.
On this particular evening, I decided to get a head start on the nightly to-do list, so I got all the baths done while supper was in the oven. Woohoo! Way to go me, being productive and efficient.
And then we ate.
This little girl knows how to use a fork and can do it quite well, but I guess you might call her a “sensory” eater, meaning she prefers feeling her food in her hands and all over her face. Not only did she use her little fingers to pick apart and devour more than one helping of the Mexican casserole, she also used them to form the perfect scoop for salsa. Who needs chips?
As I turned from my own plate to answer her begging, she held out those slimy hands and her big, brown eyes beckoned from her food-plastered face.
While she’s not this much of a mess after every meal, she does require a thorough wipe down if food has been set in front of her. I sit right next to her high chair every meal (though, I’m seriously considering a musical chairs approach to meals in order to give daddy a turn). Inevitably, she reaches toward me with who-knows-what on her fingers and attempts to grab, touch, or sometimes hug me. It’s as if she’s enjoyed the feeling of food all over her so much that she wants to share the experience. I find myself slinking back and saying, “Don’t touch me. When you’re cleaned up, you can give mommy a hug.”
As I look at this picture, I see myself sitting in front of my Heavenly Father. My fingers covered in slimy sin and my face splattered with shame. I reach out to him. I wait for his response, expecting, “Don’t touch me. When you’re cleaned up, you can give your Father a hug.” But, I lift my eyes, and I see his arms open, waiting for me to come closer.
You see, God doesn’t care how dirty we are. He doesn’t mind the mess we’re in. He loves us in the middle of it and wants us to reach for him. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). While we were covered in sin, God sent his Son to the cross for us. Jesus didn’t just die on that cross. First, He invited us to rub our slimy hands all over him, to hide our shame-splattered face in his chest. Then He took our sins and our shame to that cross and suffered the wrath of God. For us. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin…” (1 Peter 2:24a). Because of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s grace, we can die to sin. This doesn’t mean we are sinless, but that sin no longer has power over us.
When we look to the cross of Good Friday, we see Jesus: the piercing nails, blood dripping from the crown of thorns, skin ripped from cracks of the whip, and a human body dying. Let us also see our sin: every single sin, those in our past and those to come. Our sin died with Jesus on that cross, so that we might live.
If you’ve accepted that free gift of salvation, when God looks at you, He doesn’t see the sin and the shame. Christ’s death has already cleaned you up in God’s eyes so that you can reach out to him right where you are “...and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24b). By his wounds, you have been cleaned.
This weekend as we remember his death and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, let us also be reminded to reach out our arms, lift our eyes, and be embraced by God “[who] so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).