REMEMBERING CALVARY

(April 01, 2022) Brian Bell challenges us to remember and really know that God loves us…

In the United Kingdom last week, we ‘put our clocks forward’ a reminder that for us we are moving into the spring season.

If you’re anything like me, your memory may have good recall in some things, not so good on others. God knows our human tendency to forget and takes steps to help us remember.

One example of this is found in Deuteronomy 15:15ESB: ‘You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you.’

As we approach this Easter season, I offer some very simple thoughts from this verse to help us remember.

1. A season to remember
In Ecclesiastes 3:1KJV the writer tells us that ‘To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.’

Taking this verse in context, I believe it’s a reference to the seasons of life. The seasons of childhood, youth, adulthood and perhaps for many of us, the seasons between childhood and adulthood may seem to have passed too quickly!

Of course there are those seasons of life which brought joy, or sorrow as the death of a loved one touched us… or sickness (my wife Eveline who has been getting cancer treatment for the last five years has recently been in hospital for surgery and is recuperating well, praise God).

Whoever we are, whatever our position in life, we can be certain of the changes and contrasts of life – one of the few aspects of life about which we can be really sure.

In Deuteronomy 15, I see a reminder of a season of bondage. This was a reminder of the time when God’s people were enslaved in Egypt. However this also describes the condition of every man and woman before we come to an experience of saving faith.

Romans 3:23 tells us that ‘All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.’ We are all born with a sinful nature. While sometimes it’s easy to see how this sinful nature holds people in bondage to sinful habits that can ruin lives.

But perhaps it’s not so easy to see people in bondage to self-righteousness – good living, morally upright, possibly church attenders, deceived by the sinful nature into thinking they are good enough; yet neglecting or rejecting the truth of God’s word (Isaiah 64:4) that ‘all our righteousnesses (that is the very best standard of which we are capable) are as filthy rags.’

As you read this article, where do you stand? Have you come to a place when before a Holy God you realised you were in bondage to sin?

2. A person to remember
During the course of life we encounter many people, including our family members (close or distant), schoolteachers, work colleagues, to give a few examples. In my experience, our circle of friends seldom remains constant, particularly if we move home and even our family relationships change as children are born and death separates us from those we know and love.

In the context of the Deuteronomy verse above, the person mentioned is a slave – not a highly regarded position: sometimes a person may have sold themselves into this position in order to work or pay off a debt they could not pay.

Do you know anyone who has not changed in some way over the years you have known them? No doubt you do… but God has not changed! His –

  • View of sin and the fallen condition of men has not changed.
  • Way of redemption has not changed.
  • Willingness to save all who come to Him in faith is still not changed!

God’s love for sinful humankind caused Him to send the Lord Jesus to earth as the songwriter put it – ‘He did not come to judge the world, He did not come to blame; He did not only come to seek, it was to save He came and when we call Him Saviour, we call Him by His Name.’

Almost every day we listen to the crisis of personal debt and national debt and the consequences of default on payment. God’s word reminds us in Romans 6:23a of another great debt – ‘…the wages of sin is death.’

Whoever you may have met in life, perhaps lost contact with or forgotten, don’t forget Jesus, don’t forget He is the Saviour and don’t forget Jesus is the person to remember!

3. A place to remember
Memory is a wonderful capacity but it has two main sides – the capacity to remember important information such as we might need for our jobs or daily lives – and the capacity to remember sad and painful memories, even for those of us who are believers.

I read about a party of schoolchildren and their teachers who had visited the Somme and other first world war European battlefields places, One of the teachers when interviewed said, ‘I used to wonder why we had a remembrance day, it was I thought time to move on, that is until we came here, now I believe we must never forget.’

The world in general wonders why we still meet together as believers, why we believe the Bible is God’s word, why we need Jesus as Saviour – surely they say it’s time to move on.

But no, Christians must never forget Calvary! As Jennie Evelyn Hussey’s 1921 hymn dramatically reminds us ‘Lest I forget Gethsemane, lest I forget thine agony, lest I forget Thy love for me, lead me to Calvary.’

I have never visited Israel, never seen what is regarded as the place called Calvary – but many years ago I saw it by faith. And when we have been there by faith we understand why it is a place we must never forget.

Our Deuteronomy scripture calls to remembrance a place called Egypt, however, more importantly it was the place of redemption.

God has placed redemption within the reach of everyone, to be received as a gift of His love. It is not complicated. In Luke 18 we read about a man called a publican, a Jew who worked for the Roman authorities. Going into the temple he prayed, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’

This prayer is only seven words and yet Jesus said this man went away ‘justified’ – that is put into a right relationship with God by faith. This man knew the following –

  • Why he had to come – he was a sinner.
  • Where to come – to God.
  • What to come for – mercy.

If you feel you have failed the Lord and wonder if He can forgive you – the place to come is Calvary. Don’t be deceived by thinking you are ‘good enough.’ Jesus went to Calvary for you, for me, for all of us… every last sinner!

As the song writer Frances Alexander put it in There is a Green Hill far Away
‘There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin, He only could unlock the gates of heaven and let us in.’

In closing I encourage you to think on the following words that I’ve known for many years but can’t identify the author –

C is for the man Christ Jesus
A is for the altar that’s the cross
L is for the life so freely He gives
V is for victory o’er the grave
A again He’s alive now
R for the resurrection day and last of all
Y don’t you accept His call – that’s the meaning of Calvary.

Lord bless you and may you too remember Calvary…  and may it have great meaning for you.

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Brian Bell is a diaconate member, Christ Church (Congregational) Abbots Cross, Northern Ireland, and a volunteer with Disabled Christians Fellowship Ireland. He describes himself as ‘grateful for the privilege and opportunity given me to serve my Lord.’ Link:
That Dark Friday’s Hours
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