40 Days of Prayer: Reawakening to the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ
Have you been to Niagara Falls?
It’s an awesome display of God’s handiwork.
The mighty Niagara River plummets 180 feet at the American and Horseshoe Falls. Before the falls, there are violent, turbulent rapids.
Farther upstream, however, where the river’s current flows more gently, boats are able to navigate. Just before the Welland River empties into the Niagara, a pedestrian walkway spans the river.
Posted on this bridge’s pylons is a warning sign for all boaters: “Do you have an anchor?” followed by, “Do you know how to use it?”
My question for you as you read this is, do you have an anchor?
When life’s river rages and storms pound you, do you have an anchor and do you know how to use it – or are you left to the mercy of the wind and waves?
A ship without an anchor and a crew trained to use it will be tossed to and fro in the midst of a storm, and it might end up going over the falls. Only when anchored well will a ship endure.
As Christians, we must learn to anchor ourselves to Jesus in order to weather the storms of life. To anchor ourselves in Jesus, we must better understand how his life, death, and resurrection make him an anchor for our souls in troubled times.
Think with me about how Jesus’ life is an anchor for our souls. Hebrews 2:10-18.
My friends, do you realize that Jesus’ earthly life connected him with our own suffering and weakness? By taking on flesh and blood, he shared in our humanity.
Other than our sin, he was like us in every way.
The author’s main point here is how in his earthly life Jesus shared in our suffering (10, 18). He suffered like we do.
And here’s the thing. Because he suffered in his earthly life, he understands the pain and weakness associated with our suffering.
He’s not like a detached doctor or a professional caregiver, as empathetic as some are.
Because he suffered in his earthly life like we do, he viscerally feels what we feel when we experience suffering. Jesus earthly life actually connected him to us relationally, it makes us family.
He’s family (11b)! He calls us brothers (11c, 12), children of God (13).
Do you realize what all of this means?
Jesus lived with us so that he could relate to us in our weakness.
What an anchor for our souls!
When facing uncertainty, trouble, or fear, we can be assured that Jesus is sympathetic to our weakness.
Because he experienced headwinds, he understands how we feel when we are blasted by life’s storms.
When the waves are crashing over us, he understands our fear. As a result, he is perfectly comfortable walking alongside us in our trials and troubles.
He’s not watching from afar. He’s right here with us, walking with us through the deepest, darkest valleys.
The Bible says, The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).
When COVID comes calling, when confusion overwhelms you, when fear paralyzes you, when you are being battered and blown all around, know the Lord is with you, close by.
Anchor your hope in Jesus. He is closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24) and he knows your every weakness.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Now let’s consider how Jesus’ death is an anchor for our souls. Open your Bible to Hebrews 9:11-15.
Unlike Old Testament priests who entered the earthly tabernacle with the blood of animals, Jesus went through the true temple in heaven with his own blood (12) as a perfect sacrifice. He died as a ransom to set us free from our sin (15). Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant of redemption (15), freeing us from the penalty of our sins, washing not just our external sinful acts, but cleansing our consciences from acts that lead to death (14).
We often think of Christ’s death in terms of freedom from our past sins, but there is more to it than that. His death also holds significance for the future.
Look again at verse 15. For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that he has died to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
Note how Jesus’ death anchors our souls in times of trouble.
Jesus sacrificed himself for us in order to secure our heavenly future.
The fact of the matter is, because of Jesus’ death, our future is more certain than our past.
Because of his finished work on the cross, we now have an eternal inheritance, kept in heaven for us that can never perish, spoil, or fade (1 Peter 1:4).
As children of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus, believers have the privilege of letting our future give us hope in the present, even when facing uncertainty, fear, or trouble.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning it’s shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).
We’ve seen how we can anchor our souls to Jesus’ life and death.
Finally, let’s look at how Jesus’ resurrection can be a strong anchor in the storms of life. Look at Hebrews 10:12-14, 19-25.
Jesus’ sacrifice was superior to the sacrifices repeated endlessly, year after year (1) by Old Testament priests because his sacrifice was singular.
Their sacrifices could never make perfect those who came near to worship (1). They could not take away sins (11). Jesus, however, offered for all time one sacrifice for sins (12). The result is that we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (10). By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy (14).
Hallelujah! Jesus’ sacrifice satisfied the requirements for our sanctification.
What happened to Jesus following his singular sacrifice on the cross? He was buried. But three days later he rose from the dead and sat down at the right hand of God (12b).
My friends, Jesus is alive!
What does he do at the right hand of God?
Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us (Romans 8:34).
Did you realize that Jesus is interceding for you – right now? He knows your discouragement. He sees your temptation. He understands your fear. And he is pulling for you! He’s a secure anchor.
Jesus arose in order that he might support us in our uncertainties today.
When you feel alone in your troubles, remember that Jesus is not only our Coming King, he is an ever present help in the time of trouble (Psalm 46:1).
He strengthens and guides us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13).
As our Coming King, Jesus reminds us that he will make right all the wrongs that occur in our lives and throughout the world (1 Peter 2:18-20).
We may not be able to see a higher purpose in our suffering right now, but Jesus’ resurrection assures us that God will one day restore all things.
If you ever have a chance to visit the catacombs in Rome where many of the early Christians were buried, you can see the symbols of their faith on their tombs. Three common symbols appear: the dove, the fish, and the anchor.
The dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit.
The letters of the Greek word for fish (ichthus), stand for the words Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior.
The anchor came from the idea that as Christians were going through difficult, insecure times, their trust in Christ anchored their souls.
Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection make him an anchor for our souls in troubled times.
He endured much suffering on our behalf.
He loves you enough to endure the storms of life with you and to help you through them.
He is an anchor that never fails.
We have to decide whether we will lay hold of this anchor or not. It all comes down to trust. The choice before us is whether or not we will trust Jesus. We trust Jesus when we lean into him in the midst of difficulty.
Are you trusting Jesus right now? When challenges arise in your life, do you lean into or pull away from Jesus?
Leaning into him looks like an increase of prayer and community in the midst of difficulty. Pulling away from him looks like an increase in anger and isolation in the midst of difficulty.
What area of your life do you feel is currently out of control? Invite Jesus to help you in that area.
What fears are keeping you from trusting Jesus right now? Name the fear and ask Jesus to help you overcome it through his presence and power.
In these turbulent times anchor your life in Jesus Christ.
Blog post adapted from the message by the same name delivered on Sunday, January 9, 2022.