Jesus Paid It All
Everyone loves a winner. We are raised on stories of heroes and victors, on rags-to-riches success stories, and those who reap the rewards of their own hard work. I’ve yet to meet a parent who would intentionally encourage their child to grow up to be weak and dependent.
And yet, like is so often true of Him, God takes human convention and turns it on its ear. For, just as in this anthem, God stresses the importance of our weakness, our dependence, our absolute need for Him. Yes, we are told to be strong, but we are to “be strong in the Lord, and in His mighty power.” Jesus tells us, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” His strength is displayed in our weakness and our trust in His supply.
Even though Jesus was Himself fully God, He set the example of this weakness and dependence in His own life. He constantly proclaimed His dependence on the Father, and His unwillingness to act in His own power. Even His refusal to turn the stones into bread after having fasted for forty days was a demonstration of His insistence on waiting on God to provide rather than use His own legitimate power. He also demonstrated this principle by embracing weakness on the cross, defeating sin and death, not by a burst of power, but by a display of willing weakness.
Our anthem begins, “I hear the Savior say, ‘Thy strength indeed is small.’” When you hear these words, do you receive them in the context of a rebuke, such as when Jesus chided the disciples with, “Oh, you of little faith”? If we look at the context of the entire lyric, the tone is better interpreted as merely an acknowledgment of our reality. We are children of weakness by nature. Jesus told the disciples to watch and pray “because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” They didn’t see their own weakness, and thus did not pray, resulting in a failure under trial. We are prone to trust in our own strength, as well, too slow to express our dependence on Him, and to cast ourselves on Him in prayer and watchfulness.
This anthem is a call to acknowledge this truth that we are weak in ourselves and need desperately to follow Jesus’ command to watch and pray so we will have His strength—so we will find in Him our all in all for everything. It is not our power that saves us, nor is it our power that keeps us, nor can we take any credit for the sanctification process that transforms us into the image of our Savior. In everything we are dependent upon Him.
In our prayer life we need to acknowledge and cultivate this reality of dependence on God. John Calvin referred to prayer as, “The discipline of your weakness.” Bill Thrasher wrote, “No one ever just decides to be a man or woman of prayer. God awakens people through their sense of need.” Think of the most powerful prayers of the Bible. They spring from hearts which sense their profound need—a need no man can resolve, only a powerful, loving God. God stirs a need in our lives, helps us to see our deep inadequacy to do anything about it, moves on us to call out to Him, and if we humbly and obediently respond to that call, He acts on our behalf out of His sovereign, loving power.
“And when before the throne [we] stand in Him complete,” we will see with clearer eyes just how much we owe Him. The veil from this Shadow Land that has dimmed our vision will be taken away and we will see clearly that Jesus paid it all, and He did it all. This rejection of self-sufficiency does not imply passivity on our part, for we are responsible to obey His promptings at each movement of the Spirit on our hearts, drawing from Him our power to do so.
Why is it that in heaven everyone will cast their crowns at His feet? It is not merely out of gratitude for our salvation, but in acknowledgment that all that we have done of eternal consequence was done through Him alone. Truly all glory is His and His alone—All to Him we owe!
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries
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