Celebrate the joyous word 'empty'

Built on a Rock

Boxes, boxes, and more boxes. I swear they are multiplying! Some are stuffed full and unopened, some are in the process of being cleaned out and disassembled, and thankfully some are empty, flattened and ready for recycling.

My family recently moved to a different home and after the initial unpacking of all the essentials, the flurry of cardboard removal has slowed to a trickle. I have been slowly sifting through the rest of our boxed-up belongings, trying to decide what to keep, what to donate, and what to dump. The task seems to be taking forever, but there is a great sense of joy and accomplishment at the sight of an empty box.

So in the midst of this season of our lives, it didn’t surprise me that the word which captured my attention during our Easter worship service last week was “empty.” “The empty cross, the empty grave, life eternal, You have won the day. Shout it out, Jesus is alive” filled the Worship Center with praise, and I was filled with an overwhelming sense of joy. Jesus himself was emptied and poured out as the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

The Jewish people were familiar with emptying and pouring out. They knew the story of their patriarch Jacob who set up a pillar and poured out a drink offering on it to commemorate the place where he had encountered God. They celebrated the Passover which observed the night when the blood of a lamb was poured out and painted on the doorposts of their homes to avoid the angel of death. And following their exodus from Egypt, the Israelites were given instructions regarding sacrifices and drink offerings that were to be poured out to God. So when Jesus spoke to his disciples the night before his death and instituted a new covenant marked by his blood being poured out for them, the symbolism was significant. Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice and fulfilled the need of a drink offering for the forgiveness of sins.

This is good news for us! Our sin debt has been paid and we are free to come before our holy God. A drink offering is no longer a requirement for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus paid it all. In Him we have been redeemed. Grace abounds. But we are required to take up our cross and follow Him. Jesus doesn’t simply ask us to believe that he existed and that he paid the price for our sins, he calls us to commit our lives to Him, to pour out everything that we have before Him. Like John the Baptist stated in John 3:30, “He [Jesus] must increase; I must decrease.”

When we reach the end of our earthly life, may we say with the apostle Paul, “My life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” (2 Timothy 4:6-7)

Lord, empty me of all that is me and fill me with all that is You.

 

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