Sometimes you can hear something so many times you forget what it means. “I just made $100 dollars” looses some of the glimmer after the first few months getting paid for a job. Sometimes it is even more subtle. “We went to the moon again,” still contains the shocking news of how men traveled past the confines of the earth to an airless, lifeless place and lived to return. Jesus’ story is like this. John speaks of this idea in his first chapter,
“10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.”
Herbert’s poem, “The Sacrifice” capitalizes on the idea of Christ’s unique position and His unique grief. “Was ever grief like mine?” is the final line to every stanza. It is a long, elaborate poem capitalizing on the details of the gospel accounts. It opened my eyes to the shock of Creator allowing His creations to mistreat Him. And He used that to save them.
These are some of my favorite stanzas:
Arise, arise, they come. Look how they runne!/ Alas! what haste they make to be undone!/ How with their lanterns do they seek the sunne!/ Was ever grief like mine?
Some said, that I the Temple to the floore/ In three dayes raz’d, and raised as before./ Why, he that built the world can do much more:/ Was ever grief like mine?
Behold, they spit on me in scornfull wise,/Who by my spittle gave the blinde man eies,/ Leaving his blindnesse to my enemies:/ Was ever grief like mine?
This poem ties Christ’s story all the way back to Eden, weaving in times of Israel’s Exodus, Jesus’ ministry on earth, and His final days on earth. It is interesting that in Herbert’s book The Temple, Christ is the “Sacrifice” that follows the “Altar” poem that is made of our hearts. We ourselves cannot provide a sacrifice, but only accept Christ’s. In some ways it is a terrifying love that gave so much and demands all from us. God truly means ALL!
It reminds me of CS Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe:
“Ooh,” said Susan, “I thought he was a man. Is he—quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and make no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king I tell you.”
God, thank You that You are not safe, predictable, or in other words, human. We are unable to control our lives, and unable to control this world. It takes something quite different to actually be able to do something about all that is messed up around and inside of us. And You acted already, coming as a Man. But when we truly catch sight of Your power and love – it sets us in our place. I want to go along with Your plan rather than trying to change it for my own ideas which would be like tossing my pebbles into the river to change its course. So please help me to truly see You and see how to live under Your guidance. To You be the glory! I love You, Amen.