‘On Christ the solid rock’

Published 8:17 am Thursday, April 4, 2019

We are entering the latter days of Lent. This season of spring-growth and spiritual preparation in discipleship is a profound opportunity for freshness and wonder. We soon turn in through the gates of Jerusalem and into the streets and alleys of Holy Week. The stories ahead are at the center of the Christian witness and identity. God, present among us as Emmanuel (“God with us”), came to show us and define for us what love really is. He met such rejection from us that we sought to silence him, even by brutally murdering him. In gestures of grace and mercy, he expressed forgiveness and hope, even declaring that death would not defeat his love for us.

What do I do when someone loves me, in spite of myself? I may have taken them for granted. I may have abused their friendship or care for me. I may have been hurtful or mean, callous or calculated. What do I do when someone’s love for me overruns the parts of me I don’t like to even acknowledge?

There is a provocative image that is presented as Jesus and his disciples are around the table sharing their last supper together. At one point, Jesus takes the elements of bread and cup and declares they will be an ongoing reminder of him to all his followers. In John’s gospel we see a different facet of this gesture. In John 13:21-24, having washed his disciples’ feet, Jesus tells them that one of them will betray him. When asked who it will be, he dips bread into the dish and gives it to Judas Iscariot. The imagery is stunning and compelling. One who has shared table with Jesus, has been served and humbly cleaned by him, will yet still go out and betray him.

The grace of Jesus is the foundation of our hope. It is not that we believe rightly (orthodoxy) or live rightly (orthopraxy). Such foundations are reliant on ourselves. They are a house of cards. Our hope is in Christ’s grace alone. Nothing else endures. As you have sung to me more times than I can count: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” – Edward Mote, 1834.

REV. MICHAEL P. KENDALL can be reached at mkendall@ farmvilleumc.org.