Welcome to Dripping: A 21-Day Encounter with the Anointed One!
The purpose of this devotional series is to help you encounter Jesus Christ face-to-face by invoking your holy imagination. Each day of this series, we will walk through three short exercises–see, read, and pray–that will help us draw closer to the Man, Jesus Christ Himself.
Here’s Day 5:
Today, we will read Hebrews 2:9:
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9 NKJV).
The sun is warm on your sandals as you trudge toward Jerusalem. You lean forward slightly, balancing the weight of your heavy pack across your back. You’ve walked many miles, but you’re almost there. The mere thought of the Temple quickens your steps.
As you walk, you muse over your last trip to the Temple.
Once a year you come, always on a holy day–and always seeking cleansing. Last year, you felt like you had made some real progress with the Holy One. As soon as you handed the priest your sacrifice and watched him slaughter it for the altar, you felt peace. You felt relieved and cleansed.
But the clean feeling only lasted until you left the city.
As soon as you left the city last year, you ran into an old enemy of yours–a bully from your hometown; someone you knew in your younger days. You remember passing him by last year, not wanting to speak; trying desperately to avoid a confrontation.
It didn’t work, though. The man sidled up to you, laughed in your face, and began to openly mock you. All the travelers around you had heard him. Your face reddens at the memory. How embarrassed you were!
Anger flashes through you as you remember the encounter, but the anger doesn’t last long.
Anger quickly gives way to shame as you remember how you responded to your old nemesis. Instead of acting kindly as the new Rabbi from Galilee has been teaching everywhere, you reacted in anger. You forgot the strength of your fists and the fierceness of the hatred inside you …
… and you cringe at the memory of what you did to the old bully.
Ever since that day, all you have wanted has been to be clean again.
You long for the clean, safe feeling that overwhelmed you when you made your last sacrifice. You long to feel pure again, to feel that connection to the Holy One.
Every day that you have carried these memories has made you feel dirtier and dirtier. All the sins you committed each day in other areas only added to your burden. Now, the weight of the burden on your back is only a fraction of the weight of the burden on your soul.
This year, all you can hope that you will finally receive peace that lasts.
As you near Jerusalem, a spectacle on the hill catches your eye.
A crowd is standing there, ringed with religious leaders in their long robes. You wonder what could be so important as to take them away from the Temple complex on this day of all days.
Then, however, you look up to see what they are looking at. The weight of the pack on your back makes it difficult to keep looking up the hill, but you don’t want to keep looking anyway. One glimpse makes you shudder …
… for on top of the hill stand three crosses, and the three men upon them are being executed in the most heinous of all ways: crucifixion.
Suddenly, though, something you hear makes you pause.
One of the Pharisees says, “He claimed to be the Son of God. He claimed to be the King of the Jews. If He were the Son of God, He would get down from that cross and save Himself.”
Your eyebrow lifts. Wait a moment; you know who they are talking about.
That new Rabbi from Galilee is the only person you know of who would say He is the Son of God! You may live far away, but word has reached even your town about this. It’s sensational indeed for anyone to claim that they are that close to God, for the local rabbis have explained that it’s blasphemy for any man to claim to be God.
You look at the men on the cross. Something about the middle one looks familiar. Could it be? Could this be the Galilean Rabbi?
You feel an urgency in your spirit, and you grasp the arm of the nearest bystander–someone who appears to be skulking at the back of the crowd, hiding in plain sight. “Who is that man in the middle?” you ask him.
The stranger jerks his arm away quickly, but then looks at you and looks again. He seems inclined not to speak, but then in a choked-up voice blurts out, “He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
Your neck swivels back up to the middle cross on the top of the hill.
There’s something different about that one, all right. You don’t know what it is, but your heart begins to burn within you. As macabre as it appears, you know you must get closer.
You edge your way through the crowd, winding your way uphill toward the cross. You pass the Pharisees and religious leaders, then the women who stand with their children, some even covering their babies’ eyes.
You get closer and can see the soldiers. You understand why the women and children are staying back; there is blood and gore everywhere, reminiscent of a battlefield. You know you shouldn’t be here, but you can’t help yourself. Something pressing compels you forward.
Suddenly, you hear gasping breath from the Rabbi, Jesus.
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” He pants out. You shake your head in wonder; forgive them? When you feel so dirty yourself, never having killed anyone, how could people such as these ever be forgiven?
After a moment, the man on the cross next to Jesus begins mocking him. But the other criminal, hanging on the other side, looks up at him with a look you recognize.
That second criminal–a thief, the sign over his head announces to the world–can barely move his head. However, somehow he manages to lift his eyes–and in those eyes you see the same look you carry every day. It is, above all things, a desperate desire to be clean.
The man fills his lungs with just enough air to whisper, “Lord, remember Me when you come into Your Kingdom.”
And Jesus, shockingly enough, whispers back, “Surely I say to you, today you shall be with me in Paradise.”
You stagger a bit under the weight of the pack on your back, but you are reluctant to move. What you have just seen startles you, for you just saw the Rabbi who teaches with authority and power–the Rabbi who does miracles, the news of which has traveled all over Israel–extend mercy to a thief.
You saw a thief ask Him for mercy, and you saw this Rabbi, this Jesus, grant it–for nothing more than a repentant heart.
Slowly, you let your pack slide from your back to the ground.
As the weight of it rolls off your back, you straighten up and move your neck up, up, up. You want to see this Rabbi, Jesus; you want to look Him in the eyes.
Slowly, hesitatingly, you look up until you are looking right into His face. You are shocked, however, to see Him looking right back at you.
Your gazes connect and you feel it to the bottom of your toes.
More accurately, you feel His gaze in the pit of your stomach. It feels like a lifeline, because you know instinctively that this man sees you–and knows you.
But He doesn’t recoil. He doesn’t jerk away. He doesn’t dismiss you with a churlish laugh.
All He does is look at you, and in His eyes you see pure, liquid love.
You can’t look away, for you are starved for this. Your brain knows it doesn’t make sense to be receiving love from a man on a cross, but none of that matters in this moment. You return His gaze, tears soon filling your eyes and running down your cheeks.
Only three words come to your mind, and without breaking your gaze you blurt them out with the only breath you have:
“I’m sorry, Lord.”
As soon as you say those words, the corners of Jesus’ mouth turn up.
He’s smiling, and He’s smiling at you. You can barely believe it; a man on a cross has no reason to smile. But smile He does, and His head slowly dips as He nods His head at you.
Unspoken communication flows into your spirit, and somehow you know He just accepted you.
A strange sensation runs across your back.
You reach behind you to check the location of your pack. You feel it sliding off, but when you put your hand on your back, you remember you already set your pack on the ground.
You look down to see; and sure enough, your pack is there, lying in the dirt. But you distinctly feel it sliding off your back at the same time! What is going on?
You pat the other side of your back with your other arm, reaching behind yourself to see if someone put their bag on you or perhaps threw their robe on you. No, nothing is there–but the sliding feeling remains.
Actually, you notice now, the sliding feeling gets stronger and stronger–and your back feels different.
Your spine straightens and your neck feels free, no longer bowed down by burdens. Your eyes can look upward with no problems, and you look again into the gaze of Jesus.
His smile is broader. Clearly His pain has not diminished, but He is looking directly at you and smiling still as you feel lighter and lighter.
Suddenly, you understand.
It is Jesus who is doing this for you. Just like the thief on the cross, you believed in Him in the moment you told Him you were sorry–and He accepted you.
As soon as you realize that HE is the one removing your burdens from you, the corners of your mouth begin to turn up also. You look at Jesus and smile back, and He winks at you.
His eyes close then as His agony continues, but you feel totally different.
You know and believe that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and flesh and blood did not reveal this to you. It was His love that showed you who He is.
As you turn to go, you realize that His forgiveness has enabled you to walk upright after all this time. The weight is gone; your pack feels light as a feather; and you feel finally, inexplicably, stunningly clean.
You turn your feet toward home.
You feel complete and free. Somehow, you know that you no longer need to attend the rituals at the Temple this year. You have already and most unexpectedly found what you came to Jerusalem for: forgiveness.
You found it not in the sacrifice of a newborn lamb, but in the Father’s own sacrifice of the Lamb of God.
“Heavenly Father, I come to You in Jesus’ name.
Abba Father, Your Word says that Jesus experienced death for all. Your Word says that His blood washes away my sins and even goes on cleansing. Thank You, Lord God. Thank You for sending Your Son Jesus to die for me.
And Jesus, thank You for taking my punishment. I deserved to die. I deserved to be on that cross. It was my sins that put You there; my sins that You took upon Yourself, even though You never did anything wrong.
Heavenly Father, please forgive my sins.
Any sins I have not yet confessed and received forgiveness for, please convict me. If I have sinned in any way, please forgive me. Cover me with the blood of Jesus. Wash me clean; make me new; and fill me with Your Holy Spirit.
Lord Jesus, I name You today as Lord of my life.
Even if I have made You my Lord before, I openly say today that YOU are Lord. You are Maker of Heaven and earth, and You are my Savior. Thank You for dying for me, and I pray that You would get glory in my life.
Lord Jesus, let me never forget this revelation of Your cross, and of what You did for me; help me always remember the blood that You shed for me, and help me to honor You for it.
Thank You, Father. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.”
Did you enter into this scene with me using your own holy imagination? What did you see? How is Holy Spirit speaking into your heart right now? Leave a comment below!