GodReflection: Is Grace Still Amazing?
The headline in a recent issue of The Brasilians, grabbed my attention. It read Christ the Redeemer Extends Open Arms to Humanity.
Below the headline was an aerial photograph of the famous landmark at the top of Corcovado Peak overlooking a mass of humanity in the city of Rio de Janeiro below. Plans for the religious monument date to 1859 with construction of a railroad aimed at the peak’s summit. The people celebrated completion of the rails on October 9, 1884.
By 1923, in the spirit of the times, France had built the Eiffel Tower and the USA the Statue of Liberty to celebrate the centennial of each nation’s freedom from foreign rule. It was time for Brazil to plan their own independence centennial celebration.
Backed by Cardinal Leme and the Brazilian church, funds began to flow from government and people to erect the Christ with extended arms. On October 12, 1931, the people celebrated the completion of their monument on Corcovado mountain to commemorate Brazil’s centennial of independence.
During my ‘work-life’ it was always a privilege to introduce South America to visitors. There were those unique sights with the self-explanatory view. One such location was the Christ Statue on the peak of Corcovado. The inspirational view never lost the sense of awe I felt the first time I looked out over the unending mass of urban dwellers in Rio de Janeiro.
As a missionary type, I could not help but share with visitors the call we have as Christ’s body to reach lost people in these huge cities. The mountain view of Rio de Janeiro brings two thoughts to mind. One comes from the self-descriptive words of Jesus. The other from a great song of the church based on those words.
In John 12, Jesus prepares his closes friends for his death and earthly departure. At the time it was more than their minds and their hearts could possibly grasp. Father God speaks to Son Jesus in an audible voice that stuns the crowd. Not sure what has just happened, some think they heard a thunder bolt. Jesus explains the voice of thunder was for them rather than for himself. It was no less than a prophetic backdrop for his words to follow: And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die (John 12: 32-33).
The view from the Christ Statue invokes a second picture. It too is a word photo, a canvas in song from the past, that merits praise in our present. Johnson Oatman, Jr., penned the following lyrics during the nineteenth century.
How to reach the masses, men of every birth? For an answer Jesus gave the key, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, Will draw all men unto Me.”
O the world is hungry for the Living Bread, Lift the Savior up for them to see, Trust Him, and do not doubt the words that He said, “I’ll draw all men unto Me.”
Lift Him up by living as a Christian ought, Let the world in you the Savior see, Then men will gladly follow Him who once taught, “I’ll draw all men unto Me.”
Lift Him up, (Lift the precious Savior up), Lift Him up, (Lift the precious Savior up), Still He speaks from eternity: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, Will draw all men unto Me.”
This Jesus Lord Christ stands with open arms above tribes, villages, towns, and cities each home to people in need of his grace. How they would be blessed if only they knew. Their walk on planet earth would change immediately toward (and under) the direction of the Holy. Spirit fruit would have new soil to grow and produce.
From his outstretched hands witnesses described the nail holes and the flow of blood. After the resurrection they began to understand the grace mixed with blood that flowed freely from those open hands that pulsated from extended arms of grace on a cross.
It difficult to imagine a more vivid grace portrait than the picture of Jesus’ who extends open grace filled arms, don’t you think?
Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection: Jesus Extends Grace Filled Open Arms.