What cost? (19-07-2022)
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17)
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)
One of the many things that Rob and I enjoy about living where we do, is sitting in our garden watching kites fly over the house. When we go out walking, we often see buzzards and kestrels too. It does not matter just how many times we see these wonderful birds it still stops us in our tracks and we watch them. When I stay with my mum in Lincoln it is a different bird that will sometimes appear in her garden. For mum does not get the kites, buzzards and kestrels that we get, but she does get sparrow hawks.
A couple of weeks ago I saw a young sparrow hawk in mum’s garden, it didn’t stay very long and was quite a distance away from where I was. Mum has previously seen them much closer to her when she has been sitting in her summer house at the end of the garden. I have always hoped that I would be able to see one, and preferably a full-grown adult one up close.
Last week mum and I were sitting watching the television and we heard the sound of birds making an absolute racket in the garden. It was not the usual sounds we hear from the birds; it was louder and sounded as if they were in distress in some way. I paused the programme that we were watching and went to investigate. I went into the conservatory and there in front of me, no more than about a metre away was the cause of all the noise. An adult sparrow hawk was in the garden and around it was a flock of starlings making as much noise as they could. The sparrow hawk was beautiful, I could see it clearly and when it saw me it rose up off the ground and flew majestically out of the garden. As it took off, I was able to see why the starlings were so distressed as firmly clasped in the claws of the sparrow hawk was another starling.
In that moment, I had got what I had hoped for, the desire to see an adult sparrow hawk up close, but it had come at a cost. To the distressed starlings the cost had been great, and to the one caught by the sparrow hawk the cost had been total. It is easy to simply say that that is how nature works, the sparrow hawk needs food to survive and the starling provided the food. But it did remind me that often things that we desire have a cost associated with them. Maybe the biggest thing that we wish for is to have our sins forgiven and to inherit eternal life. That wish has been granted to us, but it came at such an enormous cost. I was reminded of the words of an old hymn ‘It is a thing most wonderful, almost too wonderful to be, that God’s own Son should come from Heaven, and die to save a child like me.’
The cost to Jesus was total, he gave up his place in heaven, came to earth and died for each one of us and he did it because of how much he loved us. It is possible that we will never fully understand how that could happen until the day we too will be in heaven. And so we sing with the hymn writer ‘And yet I want to love thee, Lord; O light the flame within my heart, and I will love thee more and more, until I see thee as thou art.’ (William Walsham How (1823-1897))
Jesus Christ, thank you for the free gift of eternal life that you have given us. May we never take for granted the cost that you paid to set us free.
Song: When I survey the wondrous cross