The Toughest Mile

I listened with great interest as our Children’s Pastor’s wife shared their family’s experience with returning home last week on snow-covered roads.  Jennifer spoke of following her husband and watching with great care as he manoeuvred through traffic.  She said, “My hands were gripping my steering wheel so tight.  Finally when we got through it I was able to release the tight grip I had on the wheel.”

Certainly each of us have those moments when circumstances cause us to take a tight grip on where we are not knowing what lies ahead.  As I approached John 18 I wrote across the top of the chapter, “A tough mile.”  For Jesus is was a tough mile because the cross loomed ahead.  But along with Jesus was His disciples and oh what a tough mile it was for them.

Consider the mile Peter traveled on this night.  It began with His willingness to die in the fight for Jesus, “Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his ear,” 18:10. In this moment Jesus reminds Peter that the cross was God’s plan.

As the narrative continues we find Peter taking the next step on this journey as he moves from willingness to die to a reluctance to stand up.  He denies even knowing the Lord, “I am not,” 18:17. Ultimately this disciples moves from denial to total defeat as He denies the Lord three times.

Brothers and sisters it is a tough mile when we come to the place where we have denied by our actions or the lack thereof that we are followers of Christ.  In these moments we must do two things:  First we must cry out for mercy. In these moments we realize we are on slippery roads and we have slid off the road as we have failed to take up our cross and follow Christ. Secondly we must come back to the cross. You must remind yourself of who died for you and what His death accomplished in your life.  Jesus died for us so that we could be redeemed before God.  In Christ we have been brought back to a proper relationship with Christ.

The news gets even better as we realize on the cross Jesus paid our ransom debt to God.  The word ransom is such a wonderful picture of our stand before God.  To ransom means you no longer have a record with God.  For example, “when God looks at your life, He no longer sees the record that used to be there. It has been ransomed.  It is as if it never occurred.”

Here is how the Psalmist described this, “As far away as the east is from the west, so far has he removed of sins from us,” Psalm 103:12. Praise God, Jesus walked the toughest mile to the cross so that when you and I are walking the toughest mile we can be forgiven.  Rejoice in His name today.

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