This past Tuesday Morning, Carey Helmink led us in worship again as we pondered God’s holiness. Here’s what she had to say:
Exodus 15:11 says: “Who is like you among the gods, O Lord – glorious in holiness, awesome in splendor, performing great wonders?”
Of all of the characteristics of God, his holiness is quite possibly the characteristic that sets him apart from the human race most profoundly. Some of God’s qualities can even be seen in people who are un-redeemed. It is possible that someone might think that even I am loving or kind or faithful or patient – well, maybe not patient. But I’m pretty certain that no one has ever looked at me and said, “She is so holy.” And I’m pretty sure I’ve never said it about anyone else either. We understand that God’s holiness is what makes him God. His perfection, his ways, his righteousness, his judgments are always true, always right.
“Who is like you, O Lord?”
When we come face-to-face with His holiness, we are reminded of our desperate need for a Savior. And realize we could never enter his presence if He hadn’t made a way.
Hebrews 10:19-22 says, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.”
In Nichole Nordeman’s book Love Story she gives her interpretation of the story of Jesus and the thief on the cross.
“We have a very short account of Jesus’ time with the open-hearted thief, just a few recorded words between them, but we know they must have hung there beside each other, under the angry heaves, for hours and hours. What was said?
I wish we knew his name. Jesus was big on names. I think he would hate that we only know him as The Thief. Imagine if it was not our name that went down in history but the wickedness we were most known by. I don’t think Jesus would be happy with that. . . . I can imagine that God hears all this “thief” talk and wants to interrupt: ‘Hey, quit talking about my kid like that. His name is Steve.’
I wonder if Steve and Jesus might have been around the same age. Who knows? Maybe they had even crossed paths as children, playing games in the marketplace. . . .
Maybe his parents nagged, ‘Why can’t you be more like Joseph’s boy?’ Maybe Steve sneered and pushed his chair away from the table. . . .
Did the sinless Messiah squint through one swollen bloody eye until he could barely make out the profile of his neighbor in this nightmare? Did he wait until this man, racked with sobs and agony, took a small breath . . . just enough of a silence to whisper,
Hey, Steve . . . I’m with you.
I’m for you.
As unthinkable as it is to imagine death by crucifixion, I can’t escape what torture must have been in this man’s heart in that moment. The realization that he’d been led there by every choice, every consequence . . . only to be confronted with more beauty than any one person should ever be expected to gaze upon. Imagine . . .
You and I have the untold luxury of experiencing that beauty, the forgiveness, the acceptance, and then the U-turn moment. We get to go and live a new abundant life.
Steve had no time left to make his Lord proud. Or impress him parents. . . . He never shared his testimony. . . . He never tithed. He studied no Scripture. He wasn’t baptized. He was surely the worst performing and least-decorated Christian in history.
And the first one to enter heaven with Jesus.
Is it accidental that the first man to walk into paradise with Christ had zero possibility of imagining he might have earned it?”
What a precious story and proof positive that he is so far above us and yet so completely for us.