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Look and Live

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The following is extracted from Chapter 4 of Matt Papa’s book: ‘Look and Live – Behold the Soul-thrilling, Sin-destroying Glory of Christ’. This series of poems illuminates the beauty of Jesus’ birth, life and death.

 

Bethlehem. A humble town. A nobody’s town. Perfect.
The mountains would have bowed down. The seas would have roared in praise. The trees clapped their hands. But not for this Ancient of Days. All He needed were a few shepherds and angels. And in this was His glory, not the towering greatness He laid aside, not His pomp or power or praise or pride, but His humility. His frailty. A little seven-pound, eight-ounce eternal weight of glory.
“Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb.”
Now He had come, full of grace and truth. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given” (Isaiah 9:6 KJV). A child or Lord? This false division… a question rising throughout the ages, as moral beings squint at greatness. Dawn of the ages. Incarnation.
And we beheld His glory. Veiled with infant body.
Selah.

 

The years pass by, and now we see the Ancient One has grown.
He treads the ground that He spoke out those centuries before.
Authority.
This carpenter’s son, He speaks not as one who wants power, but who has it.
Blind seeing, lame jumping, dead rising… all these things obeying the voice that made them.
In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.
But the darkness couldn’t get it, comprehend it.
Religious elite, all blind to His brilliance. Masters of divinity, slaves to their ego. Trying to master Divinity, to tame Him, because they know – He’s God.
He attracts and repels. With His band of twelve. Polarising as hell.
“Eat my flesh, drink my blood.”
Some bow. Some yell.
His signs and wonders, they’re not for sale.
He’s God.
But we all rebel.

 

Well, Glory knew His time had come.
A solemn dawn. A colder sun.
With holy furrowed brow, He knew somehow that this day was the moment.
Up on His feet, a face of flint, the race thus far was perfect.
But He must finish.
This weary God… weary from Almighty strain.
The miracles, the labor pains of passing on to mortal men eternal truth, they doubt again.
Patience.
The sleepless nights of fighting sin.
Face of flint.
But then, a smile begins. As He remembers.
Remembering as we remember. The joys of life.
The joys of friendship… of laughing with Peter… of cheering him on as he conquered water.
There was John the Baptist, who leapt in the womb – that untamed prophet: “Behold the Lamb!”
The dearest Marys and Lazarus, the smiling face of Zacchaeus.
So many tears and joys to split, upon this world his fingerprints.
The joy was done
And now the sprint.
For this He was meant.
Sent.
Lionhearted.
Face of flint.

 

A dinner planned. The Twelve convene.
The servant King knew the one who would betray Him, and yet he knelt and washed his reeking feet.
Royal and meek.
Bread broken, Wine passed. “Remember me.”
Remember me. With not a hint of vain concert. The mountains would have found their knees.
Remember me. With passion and humility.
With solemnness, but underneath a joy that would have set a kingdom laughing.
Will set a kingdom laughing.
A man with a dream.
Remember me.

 

Grief suddenly surging upon His frame, “We should depart.”
A place to pray.
“Watch and wait.”
He steps away.
To the place where men are broken and men are made. The Crucible.
Gethsemane.
Heart beating. Faster breathing. Panic seizing. Falling, weeping. Sweating, heaving. Terror, bleeding. Desperate, screeching. Begging, pleading.
“My Father!”
Behold.
What are we seeing?!?
A God weeping?
A King pleading?
Listen.
A Lamb is bleating.
Love exceeding.
We beheld His glory before, but now what is this glory we are seeing?
This brightness shining?
Can what is pure be refined? He was glorious before, but now what is this sight?
The veil pulled back.
Unapproachable light.
See Him.
The One who uttered the world now speechless.
The One who showed all His wonders in Egypt, who conquered their armies now curled up like a fetus.
See Him.
The One who slept through a storm now sleepless.
The One who walked in the garden of Eden now crippled and broken in sorrow and weakness.
See Him.
The One who was there in the furnace of fire, who came down on Carmel, shut the mouths of lions now whimpering, crying.
The One who burned in the bush with such glory.
The One who parted the waters now drowning.
Trinity’s second member, abandoned.
For you.
See His glory shining.
Now rising.
The torches approaching. The torture ensuing.
A poison kiss.
Face of flint.

 

Thrown to the ground like a piece of meat.
“I lay it down of my own accord.”
Pushed and mocked. “Hail to the King.”
He uttered not a word.
Punched repeated. Kicked mistreated. Wounded flogged and torn and beaten. Innocent see Him. Called no legions to his side.
That whip was mine. My sin, my pride.
Mutilating the magnificent Christ.
And His glory shined.
As the beatings ensued. He was chewed.
A crown with thorns the size of daggers pressed down toward the eyes of Yeshua.
A thirty-three-year-old grown man, and He could not stand as the pain of the cracking whips kept coming.
Blood sprays all over the place now running
into puddles of mercy
His muscles were dirty
And He lay and cried.
See Him.
As the torturers blind took Him away to the place of the skull.
And there for a moment time stood still
As the one who denied Him three times caught a glimpse of the Unrecognizable Face
of flint
and He squints
and we squint
As Glory prepares for the final sprint.

 

A beam laid on His freshly plowed back and shoulder.
He carried our shame. Our idolatry boulder.
Three hundred yards up a hill.
“Not my will.”
The joy set before Him.
But work left still.
Nails were driven.
“Father, forgive them.”
Lifted to heaven completely abandoned.
“My God, my God, why?!?”
His voice was pathetic.
And they jeered and they laughed and they called him a heretic.
A phony.
But there was true Glory. Terrible and blinding.
A glory so bright and shining no torture could scribble it out.
Look now.
This is Calvary. Where humanity’s prayer of longing for glory was answered once and for all
in one fell swoop as God said
“I will make all my goodness pass before you.”
Lift your face. Do not look away.
As He suffers to raise His tattered frame
He arches His back
takes a difficult breath
and says,
“It is finished.”
And He bowed His head.
And darkness covered all the land.
And against the backdrop of grossest evil
Glory shone like the sun, with no impedance.
Salvation had come, and sweet forgiveness.
It is finished.
It is finished.
Behold the Lamb
God’s only Son.
The race is run.
The work is done.
It is finished.

 

Get Matt Papa’s book here.

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