Wednesday, January 17, 2007

His Victory is the Important Thing

I recently had a great opportunity to visit the Holy Land and over the next few weeks, I want to share some of my observations. The first thing that hit on my visit there is that almost every holy site has been changed by human intervention and no longer in its natural state. Some might say that these sites have become unnatural due to the human ornamentation of most of the sacred places. One could choose the example of Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The Church was built around the Sepulchre or Tomb of Christ, and the place of crucifixion. Outside and inside of the tomb just about every inch of it is covered with some type of painting, carving, lamp, picture, or what every else you can think of. In fact, when I entered the tomb I felt more as if I was in my Grandmother’s parlor, complete with candles and pictures of old saints, than in the place our Lord was buried and resurrected and where His great Victory for us was accomplished.

This is just one example but the effects of human intervention are evident just about everywhere in the Holy Land. I don’t want to be critical but it to me anyway feels that it is the veneration of the things themselves are more important than the victory of our Lord that took place there. Many of the pilgrims kiss everything. To be fair maybe it might just be me, I am uncomfortable kissing my Mother let alone some rocks. However, it is easy to get the impression, especially for those not understanding Christ’s Victory on the Cross, that the “things” are more important then the Victory accomplished there. Perhaps some people need a physical identification with our Lord forgetting that it was His Victory that gave salvation to all of us who believe. I want to remember that His great power comes from above and not from the inanimate sticks and stones of this world.

Now, I don’t wish to dissuade anyone from visiting the Holy Land, or sound like I did not enjoy my visit there, because being there is an experience that can not described. It’s a place of great history and a witness to Christ’s great accomplishments. It is also a moving experience to know that our Lord and Savior once walked, and prayed on the hillsides, valleys, and sea of this Holy land. Even though many of the sacred places are ornamented beyond recognition, some places are untouched by human hands, un-humanized if you will, still in their original state just as our Lord knew them. There are still places to go where there is solitude to pray and reflect. “After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.” (Mat 14:23 NASB)

One place, reflected in the previous verse, is the Sea of Galilee area where our Lord spent much of His ministry teaching, preaching and praying. Now of course the cities and towns around the lake are bigger and modern and therefore unlike what our Lord knew but the people in these towns are not any different than they were in His day. You can still look out from the sea and see the lost, the broken hearted, the hypocrites, the idol worshipers, the sinners, and the lost lambs just as Jesus once did. I had the opportunity to actually go on the lake and reflect on what Jesus saw from the lake itself. From the lake, you will get the impression that it is untouched by man but forever shaped by God himself through His ministry and life.

If you do every get the chance to go to the Holy Land I strongly suggest you do. However, you don’t have to do a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to reflect on Christ’s Victory on the Cross for us. His Victory allows us to be with Him anywhere and in all places absent any special ornamentation or sacred rite. Have you made Christ the Lord of you life or are the “things” around you your lord?

posted by LR

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