Luke 15:20 "...But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion..."
"Upon the cross of Jesus mine eyes at times can see
The very dying form of one who suffered there for me:
And from my stricken heart with tears, two wonders I confess--
The wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness." ~Elizabeth C. Clephane
"Beneath the Cross of Jesus" has always been a favorite hymn of mine; it bores deeply to the very core of my being. As I sing the second verse my throat lumps up, my heart skips a beat and I am transported to that God-forsaken hill, standing in the shadow of my tormented Savior. Trembling, mumbling and praying, hurting and crying, I kneel before the King of kings and Lord of lords. His blood-drained perishing form beckons me look up and I see... the wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness.
Imagine having a "father" who loves us despite our deliberate disobedience, our numerous jaunts in the dirty gutters of shame, repetitively relishing in the pits of selfishness, consistently pointing our fingers at others' mistakes, and those moments or years of rejection when we forsook Him for Satan's lies. How could a holy God hear our pleas for forgiveness, much less pardon our iniquities? Sins come wrapped in a package that can only be bought by a sinless person. What a dilemma for mankind! No person has ever lived a sin-free life.
But wait. The priceless wonders of God's redeeming love are mind-boggling. You see, His love covers our sins and remembers them no more. "Why? How?" you ask.
Well... a long time ago God came down from heaven in the form of His Son Jesus and paid the ransom for our sins; the cost was death to the Redeemer. Jesus was savagely whipped, flayed and mocked til His body was almost bled out, with crucifixion the final indignity. Hanging by three stout nails pounded through His hands and feet into a rugged chunk of wood, He saw us afar off atop that hill called Calvary. He died a slow, horribly agonizing death, for you, me, and all who believe in His redemption and saving grace. What a Redeemer; what a Savior!
His death and suffering would not have saved us from the fires of hell if not for what happened three days later. Rising from His grave, He set the captives free, loosing the bonds of death over us. He lives forever, and so shall we! He rose up into heaven to reign with His Father and is preparing our new eternal home. The Holy Spirit was sent to enlighten our way through Bible study, as Jesus unceasingly prays for our souls. Oh, believers, the wonder of it all!
The next vision that we see is a stark contrast to the sinless form of a holy Son: our utterly depraved unworthiness. We are all undeserving of His love and grace. No matter how hard we try, we can't make ourselves good enough to draw near to a Holy God. Looking upon our soiled "garments", our spirits can only cry out earnestly with the prophet Isaiah, "Woe is me! I am undone!" as we meditate upon the amazing grace of God.
As Helen H. Lemmel so eloquently penned:
"Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace."