Lessons from a Paper Cut
So I got a paper cut somehow. I don’t know the exact moment it happened, but I looked down to see a minuscule amount of blood on my finger and another tiny cut in the palm of my hand. After a Dora bandaid administered by my six-year-old, I was back to doing chores. As I was folding laundry, the burning started and became more intense the more I used my hands. Such pain from such a tiny scratch.
That got me to thinking about the physical scourging and suffering Jesus endured before the cross. I imagined the thousands of tiny, and not so tiny, cuts that burned His flesh. “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.” –Isaiah 50:6. And again in Isaiah 52:14, “As many were astonished at thee; his visage (assuming His face) was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.”
Because of Me
The horror of the suffering rushed over me as I pictured the pain and blood that must be multiplied a billion-fold as compared to my currently burning paper cut. And then I thought that Jesus endured that for me. He allowed that injustice and agony to happen to Him because of me.
My thoughts continued as stream-of-conscience into Jesus’ sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. Was the thought of all the imminent physical pain so overwhelming? Was He, like me, shuttering at idea of nails being driven into His hands and feet? Was the cause of His anguish imagining the torture of a crown of a myriad of paper cuts from thorns pushed into his skull? As horrific as physical suffering is, it is common to all of us. I don’t think that is what caused His stress.
I think His sweat came from the moral and spiritual agony of becoming our sin. The Bible tells us that He was made sin for each of us. He was going to suffer for my hot temper, for Hitler’s genocide, Judas’ betrayal, and your own white lies. We are told that Jesus tasted death for every man, and the second death is the Lake of Fire. So Jesus must have tasted the pain and agony of every person that ever lived, or ever will live, and their suffering in the Lake of Fire. He was made sin for us!
The very thing He hated, He became—sin itself. As the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness, Jesus was lifted up on the cross. Jesus was treated as the serpent (a picture of Satan) that bit us, hurt us, and killed us. He was considered the very sin of all the sinners of the world.
Again, the intensity of the agony overwhelmed me. What a horrible sacrifice. What a tremendous and profound atonement. Looking at my paper cut, I felt undone in my gratefulness for Jesus. How could I ever comprehend or process the depths of His loss and all that it accomplished? How often did my thoughts or actions reflect such thanks?
When Sorry isn’t Enough
I thought about an article I read in a doctor’s office. It was tragic tale of how an 18 year old party girl named Brandy Graff had inadvertently killed two people while driving drunk. After understanding the far-reaching consequences of her actions, she was spending her life speaking to high school students, trying to make amends for what she had done. “You say sorry to someone, but it seems so stupid coming out of your mouth, because sorry doesn’t even scratch the surface…I’ve ruined their lives,” the Brandy reported.
I identified with her dilemma. How do I live in light of Jesus’ atonement for my sin? I wrecked Him. I was the cause for the necessity of His death. My sin as much as anyone’s led Him to the cross.
The Bible is clear: Jesus is a perfect sacrifice for our sins. There is no way we can add to it. No amount of my own suffering, penance or good deeds and action can make it more complete than it is. Trying to add to it feels “stupid,” like it doesn’t even scratch the surface. And it can’t. It’s a relief to know that I am in no way responsible for my salvation, and yet I feel like Brandy. I want to demonstrate my sorrow for the cost. I want to enact my gratefulness for Jesus’ love toward me. But how?
Before His ascension, Jesus has a heart-to-heart with Peter (John 21). Asking him three times, “Do you love Me?” Each time, when Peter assures him that he does, Jesus calls him to action, saying “Feed My sheep.” We are to tend, care for, and provide spiritual food (God’s Word) to God’s people. Couple this with Jesus’ words in Matthew 25, when he tells his followers that whenever they have cared for the hungry, thirsty, naked, stranger, sick or imprisoned, they have cared for Him.
I love being involved in finding and feeding God’s sheep around the world through my involvement with Friends In Action.
- I am overjoyed to be part of bringing thirsty people clean water and The Living Water (West Africa well-drilling and Vanuatu water project).
- I rejoice in knowing that strangers are housed and clothed (Nicaragua Rama Cay and Miskito) and the sick are being healed (Bolivia El Misionero).
- I’m excited to take part in bringing freedom to those in spiritual darkness (Moldova UDG and Papua New Guinea missionary outreach).
- I am excited to be feeding God’s lambs through the teaching of His word (Indigenous Training Center Bolivia, Bible school and conferences Rama).
While I know my monetary giving and volunteering can never scratch the surface of demonstrating my gratefulness to Jesus, I know feeding His sheep means something significant to Him.
FIA gives me an outlet to enact my gratefulness for all that God has done for me. What started as a nuisance has turned into a beautiful reminder of Christ’s sacrifice and His call to love in my life.
These are my lessons from a paper cut.