When the children of Israel fled from Egypt they had two paths to take. They could have gone through the land of the Philistines and arrived more rapidly to the promised land.
But God was clear that they were not to take this path. They were to take the more difficult path–through the Red Sea. In fact even after the miraculous deliverance in the Red Sea, they were set on another path–the Divine path–through the wilderness. It was a 40 year detour of suffering, confusion, and adversity. The Scripture is clear that this was the path God wanted them to take.
Pilate asked Jesus, ‘what is Truth?’ Well, Jesus had already answered the question just 5 chapters earlier in John’s gospel. ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.’
As Christians we often think doctrinally when it comes to Truth–and in part we should. The doctrines of the faith must be true or this weekend has absolutely no meaning whatsoever. However, as much as Jesus is the Truth–he is also the way and he is also the life.
If we are to accept that Jesus is the Truth, then we must accept the way that he desires us to walk and the life that he expects us to emulate.
Our way to the promised land is to find the Truth of forgiveness and salvation in Jesus, yes! A thousand times yes!
But a servant is not greater than his master. If he is the Truth, then he is also the way and the life. His way of the cross is our way. The life that he lived in obedience and humility must be our life as well.
If he is the Truth, then his way is our way. His life is to be our life. His cross is our way to salvation, but he requires that we take it up ourselves as well.
Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimthea understood the risk their taking Jesus’ body was. They still were quiet about their devotion. But they could not keep away. They overlooked the purity laws of coming into contact with a dead body. They overlooked the fact that if caught, they could be next.
Significantly, Nicodemus’ gift of a hundred pounds of spices was an incredibly extravagant gift. Gratitude drove him–to risk his own life in love for Christ. Nicodemus risked his own life because his heart was full of love and gratitude.
As we venerate the cross tonight, kiss it in gratitude. Touch it in thanksgiving. Like Nicodemus, bring a heart full of love and thanksgiving. The fragrant offering you bring for him is none other than your soul, your life, your all.