“having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us: and he hath taken it out that way, nailing it to the cross;” -Colossians 2:14
I’ll never forget my wedding day. It was a beautiful day, one that had, in fact, been three years in the making. Jennifer and I decided we would like to get married on the beach in her hometown of Jacksonville, Florida, so we found the perfect spot to hold the ceremony. The location was great; we had direct access to the beachfront where we put up chairs for the guests, an arch for the two of us and the preacher to stand under, and a backdrop of the ocean so beautiful, it wasn’t possible to mistake it as anything else but a backdrop given by God.
However, there is another reason why I’ll never forget our wedding day. Of course Jennifer looked more beautiful than I had ever seen her look before, and the music was carefully selected to give our own touch on the entire occasion, but there’s another reason I will never forget that day.
It’s also the day I lit my hand on fire.
Allow me to explain…
Apparently, it was my job, as the groom, to set up the tiki torches that lined the walkway through the sand that extended from the parking lot to the beach front. Somehow in the process of filling the torches with fuel I had managed to spill some on my hand. I was in such a hurry, racing against the clock before the ceremony began, that I hadn’t even noticed. It was only until I went back to the first torch and lit the lighter that I had realized the ‘error of my ways’. The small flame from the lighter had very quickly become a large flame engulfing my hand. Had I not been a trained professional (and by that I mean I served as a volunteer firefighter in college for the local city, which meant I had hardly any training at all), this incident could have ruined my wedding day.
I quickly became two people at once; the panicked patient, as well as the cool professional.
Luckily, when you’re on the beach, there is an abundance of one thing- Sand. Lots and lots of sand. So I did what any other highly trained professional would do; I buried my hand in the sand and smothered the flame. After burying my hand, I wanted to bury my head. Luckily, aside from some singed arm hair and pride, I managed to escape completely unharmed.
However, I am not the only bridegroom to sacrifice a hand for his bride. There’s no doubt that Christ was a powerful man, both physically and spiritually. He gained his physical strength doing the demanding work of a carpenter. He made a living gripping heavy pieces of wood and using brute strength to manipulate them into place.Yet he refused to use that tremendous strength to simply close his hand and form a fist and save himself.
Rather than feel a nail pierce his flesh, he could have felt the hand of an angel lift him gently off that cross. But he didn’t. And do you know why? He allowed himself to suffer because of his love for his bride (Ephesians 5:25-27). Christ was not focused on his immediate well-being, but on the long-term well-being of his bride (Rev. 21:1,2).
In my mind, he didn’t so much as flinch when he saw the nail but rather said, “Bring it on.”
When they cast lots for his clothes in John 19:23, he thought, “You can have them. I’m trading them in for robes that are white as snow soon.”
When they put a crown made of thorns upon his head, he accepted it because he knew he would soon trade it for a ‘Crown of Righteousness’ (2 Tim. 4:8).
When they sealed his tomb, he thought, “Don’t worry, my Father will open it again in three days. He’s got a key to every door.”
Christ did all this because of a love for his bride, which is the church. And you know what the best part of all of this is? It’s not the fact that he didn’t call on the angels. It’s not the fact that he rose again on the third day and left his tomb. Rather, it’s the fact that he did it for you.
In the scheme of things, lighting my hand on fire on my wedding day doesn’t even compare to the sacrifice Christ made for his bride. As a matter of fact, we didn’t even use the tiki torches because I confused the directions and had lined the wrong walkway, thereby making my ‘sacrifice’ pointless.
Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t pointless. He held his hand open for you.