The Cage and The Door (The Cage Series – Part 1 of 4)
Imagine for a moment that you are locked away in a dark cage with no door or gate and no hope of escape. Through small windows you can see how beautiful life is outside. You try to make your cage homey and tell yourself that living in a cage is “Just fine.” But you deep down you know that it is not fine. That living in a cage is miserable. And while you try to ignore it, you know there is a hopelessness that lives inside you.
Now imagine that I have come to your window. “I know the way out.” I whisper. “He is called ‘The Door’.” Would you listen to what I have to say? I would tell you of The Door, and why I love Him so… His name is Jesus Christ.
I love Jesus Christ because He can sympathize with us. He was born as a man, lived within a family, honored his parents and loved his siblings. And because He was human, he was tempted , just as I am tempted. When Jesus was weak from fasting for 40 days, Satan came to tempt Jesus. Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread, to throw Himself off the pinnacle of the temple and to worship Satan in order to gain kingdoms in this world. (Matthew 4:1-11) Now this is not the same way we are tempted…at least, I have never been taken to Jerusalem to stand on the roof of the temple and then asked to throw myself off without a parachute or a bungee cord. But the essence is the same…I am tempted. I am tempted to concentrate on worldly things rather than spiritual things; such as tending to my own housework rather than helping a friend in need. And I have been tempted to put material things in a higher priority than serving God, such as buying new gadgets for myself or my family rather than giving sacrificially to the Lord’s church.
Even more important than the temptation though, is that Jesus did not “give in”. Jesus resisted Satan saying “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of GOD.” …“You shall not put the LORD your GOD to the Test.” … and, “You shall worship the LORD your GOD, and serve Him only.” (Matthew 4:1-11) Jesus overcame. Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses because He was tempted and He gives us the example of how to overcome temptation without sin. (Hebrews 4:15) Even though we are tempted in different ways, I can follow the example Jesus set when He was tempted in this world. And just as Jesus overcame, I am thankful that we too can overcome any temptation with God’s help.
I love Jesus Christ because he was a passionate, purposeful teacher. Jesus knew how important it was that we understand God’s love and His will for us. He taught while walking along the road, while sitting in someone’s house, while eating dinner, when he went to the synagogue, when people were gathered on the hillside, everywhere.
Not only that, but Jesus was a teacher with authority. Mark 1:22 says “They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” Jesus wasn’t some random religious guy, he had authority to speak on God’s behalf. John 3:2 says “This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus was a purposeful, authoritative teacher sent from God.
I love that Jesus not only taught us how to live but He showed us how to live, making Himself the perfect example. His compassion teaches me to be compassionate. His need to pray teaches me to take time to pray. Devoting all His time to honor our Heavenly Father, teaches me to devote all my time and energy to the Father. Whether I am serving my family by doing the laundry, taking the time to encourage a friend, or building up the family by attending worship, Jesus’ teachings and example guide my way, leading me to a better life here on earth and to a wonderful life in heaven.
Most of all, I love Jesus Christ because God and Christ first loved me. God knew me before I was born (Psalm 139:13) and He wants me to be near him. But God knew I would be sinful. Romans 3:23 tells us that we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. And if we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves (1 John 1:8).
Sin separates us from God. It traps each of us in a dark cage with no way of escape. Unless someone provides a way out, we are forever trapped and separated from God. Often we try to make our cages home and tell ourselves that we like living this way. But ultimately we know the truth; that we are trapped and that we are missing out on the beauty of living outside in the light. Furthermore, if we don’t get out of our cage of sinful living we will be forever separated from God. Living a life trapped in sin only leads to an eternity trapped in hell. God knew that we needed a way out of our cage of sin so He provided us with a door. He sent his son Jesus to be that way out. “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved,” (John 10:9).
Before Jesus came, people would sacrifice animals (bulls, lambs or goats) that had no blemishes or spots to God. The death and the blood of the animal would atone for their sins. Atone is defined as “to make amends for an offense.” But these sacrifices were not good enough to completely atone for sin. God, however, loves people so deeply that He sent His Son be our perfect sacrifice. (John 3:16) Jesus had no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21) or “blemish”, thus making him a perfect lamb. God put our sins onto Jesus Christ and Jesus’ death and blood make atonement for our sins. (1 John 1: 17; Hebrews 2:17)
I am humbled by that fact that Jesus loves His Father and loves us so much that He submitted Himself to become our sacrifice. Jesus subjected Himself to a cruel, painful death on the cross to be my spotless lamb, to be my atonement. He could have fought back, beaten those who beat him, taken Himself off the cross, even prevented the whole thing from happening – but He didn’t. He was motivated by love. Love for the Father and for you and me. “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us.” (1John 3:16) Because He loves us, He endured the beatings, the mocking, and the pain. By enduring He became my sacrificial lamb. And when Jesus became my sacrificial lamb, He became the door to my cage of sin.
Thankfully, Jesus’ life doesn’t end upon the cross. I love Jesus Christ because he was victorious. He defeated death, and defeated sin, by rising up from the dead. “Knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.” Romans 6:9 That is amazingly powerful. Sometimes we hear about someone’s heart restarting or lungs that start to breathe again. But I have never attended someone’s funeral, watched that person be buried and three days later looked at their uncovered grave and then been able to touch, hug, and talk with them. But Jesus Christ did just that.
Jesus ascended back to God in heaven and I look forward to the day I can go to the home that Jesus is preparing for me. (John 14:3) I look forward to being united with my Heavenly Father. I am deeply grateful and humble for being freed from my dark cage, and even more grateful that this freedom allows me to escape the wrath and misery of hell.
The Door, Jesus, allows us the freedom to leave our cage of sin and be near our Heavenly Father. Having a door means we have a choice to make. We can choose to stay in our cage or we can walk through the door that Jesus provides and live in the light. I have made my choice – what choice will you make? Will you stay in your cage or walk through the door?
By Amy Ellis
Originally printed in the Winter 2011 Issue V4N1
Part 2 -Walking through the Door
Part 3 – Living in the Light
Part 4 – Attached to the Body