The passion of Jesus the Messiah - finding nearness

August 12, 2010

In the last post in this short series, I spoke about knowing the details of the story of the cross of Jesus, and how the first barrier in growing in intimacy with Him related to the cross is simply our ignorance. Most Christians know the details of their favorite movie more than they know the details of Christ’s most precious memories as He walked the earth. This very fact is provoking if we truly believe that Christ is our life, our all, and our exceedingly great reward.

Beyond knowledge, however, stands a greater obstacle in our pursuit of intimacy with the Lord around the subject of the cross. Distance plagues us daily. Even when we know the details, the story still can feel two thousand years and six thousand miles away. We probably have often come to the cross in study or in prayer with the gnawing sense that we should be feeling so much within our hearts, yet finding very little movement on the inside.

The solution, I believe, is prayerful, Christ-centered meditation. I’m not talking about some mystic, new age practice. I’m simply talking about conversing with Jesus in prayerful dialog through the narrative of His story. I’ve personally found that as I do this, I move from feeling like a detached observer to feeling like a participant in the story.

To the ones who walked with Jesus during those days - the ones that looked upon His marred and bloody frame as He was ruthlessly beaten and whipped by the Romans, the ones who saw the great Teacher in hanging on the Tree in agony and excruciating pain, and the ones who mourned in Jerusalem after His death – those days were unforgettable and perhaps some of the most vivid memories in their minds. Though these ones stand distant from us, the testimony of scripture and the ministry of the Holy Spirit is more than enough to actually escort us into the same feeling as those who walked with Him during those days.

I’m slowly beginning to find that apathy, indifference, and boredom when beholding Christ on the cross is not possible if we actually engage with Him through meditation. Imagine nearness to John and Mary at the foot of the cross, looking up at Jesus. It’s impossible to be indifferent joining John in looking upon the bloody, marred chest you leaned upon the night before. Apathy and lack of feeling is out of the question when joining Mary in looking up at the One who entered your womb by the Holy Spirit, the One who grew up and slept under the roof of your home every night, and the One promised to sit upon the throne of David but now reviled and barely clinging to life. It’s absolutely ridiculous to be uninterested and disconnected when we see the one hanging on that Tree as YHWH, the Creator and sovereign Ruler of all things, God in the flesh!

So practically, how do we allow the Holy Spirit to draw us into the story and make it real to us? Just like knowing the details takes time and effort, so meditation takes time and effort. Schedule a specific time each day or each week to ask Him questions about the story, and journal your thoughts. As we walk in this simple practice consistently, our hearts will be hurled into a deluge of emotion and we will truly grow in intimacy with Him.

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About the author

Joshua Hawkins is a pastor, Bible teacher, and content creator for disciples of Jesus from College Station, Texas. He co-hosts The Apocalyptic Gospel Podcast, a weekly audio show exploring how a first century Jew would have understood the Gospel. He's also an all-around tech nerd and enjoys road cycling.

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