Ever climbed up Snowdon? I have. It was very tiring. I was thirteen when my father took my two brothers, my step-brother and me camping to a place called Cwm Nantcol in North Wales. One of the things on our holiday bucket-list was to walk up Snowdon. The day was sunny and clear, not a cloud to be seen. We were pumped and ready to conquer Britain’s second highest mountain and Wales’ highest.
We were probably half-way up when my father decided he could see a better and quicker way up than what the public footpath offered. So, he made the decision to take us up a rockier path which seemed to be taking a more direct way to the peak. It was steeper, but Dad rationalised it by saying: “A shorter route is always steeper, which means it’s quicker.” Every one-hundred yards or so, we’d reach a point which we thought would be the top because it looked like a peak from far-off. It was one peak after another though- it seemed to take forever.
We were probably three-quarters of the way up Snowdon when suddenly, we came to a stop. In front of us was a rather large and steep rock-wall – there was no way up it without the aid of climbing ropes, and there was no way around. The path we took was probably meant for rock climbers, not Bear Grylls ‘wannabe’ tourists. It suddenly dawned on us that we would have to go all the way back to the path and walk up the way everyone else was going—so that’s what we did.
By the time we reached the path again, the thought of climbing another half of this mountain was overwhelming. Every so often I would beg my Dad to stop so I could rest and have a sip of water, but our bottles were empty and we were filling them up from the stream flowing down to the left of us. My backpack felt so heavy, and I had blisters developing on the back of my heels whilst sweat was dripping down my forehead and into my eyes. To make it worse, I developed a stitch in my side and my legs were stricken with lactic acid.
I felt burdened with pain and frustration, and I was regretful for not objecting to walking up that dead end. Until, all of a sudden, my father had compassion upon me (probably thinking I was a wimp) and took my backpack off of my back and put it on his front so that he carried both his and mine. Oh how grateful I was! Although it got rid of my stitch and lessened the aches in my shoulders, it added to my father’s burden. But he willingly endured the rest of the climb so that I could finish it, free of any burden.
The Love of the Father
In a very small way, the selfless act of my Dad by removing the extra weight off of my back echoes the love of God and what he has done for us. The Lord Jesus Christ has removed the weighty burden of ours sins by being punished in our place. God calls us his children; he is our Father, and he sent his only Son to walk with and among us. Jesus actually became one of us. He suffered as we suffer. He endured the things we endure. He can absolutely identify with us; our trials, afflictions, challenges and limitations. More than that, he has taken our burdens and bore them on the cross—the weighty burden of sin. He lovingly and willingly removed our sins and was punished in our place so that we could be forgiven and walk in freedom from sin, guilt and shame.
Just like my Dad heard my moaning and groaning because I was exhausted, our heavenly Father has heard our cries of help and pleadings for mercy. By his grace and loving compassion, he answers our prayers as we repent of sin and trust in him by faith. Faith is the gift of God. He opens our eyes to see our need of a Saviour. He has revealed himself to us through the word (the Bible) and through the Word (the person and work of Christ).
Although we are free from condemnation and will not bear the wrath of God which we deserve, we still have to ‘run the race’, as Paul wrote (1 Cor. 9:24-25; 2 Tim. 4:7). The author of the Hebrews writes this in Hebrews 12:1b-3:
“let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Here we have a similar metaphor; that sin is like a weight, weighing us down and preventing us from running the race and achieving the rewards of Heaven. So, Jesus comes to the world, takes upon himself human flesh and lives the life we cannot live and dies a death in our place being punished for our sins, thereby achieving salvation for us. He endured the cross so that we may never have to. Our burden has been removed and sin no longer weighs the Christian down. Our goal now is to set our eyes on the Lord and push on in perseverance by the power of the Holy Spirit to the end. Our salvation is the Lord—he has removed the burden, and our strength is the Lord—in his strength do we run the race of faith.
It is one thing to have our sin removed, and quite another thing to finish the race. The Christian life does not promise luxury, nor freedom from pain and suffering. In fact, it does the opposite; we are told not to be surprised at our “fiery trials” and the persecution (1 Pet. 4:12; John 15:19; 1 John 3:13). But our sufferings have a purpose (Rom. 8:28), and whatever obstacles get in the way, we have an assurance that one day, we shall be glorified with our God in the heavenly places (Rom. 8:30; Col. 3:4; 1 Pet. 5:4; Rev. 3:21; 7:16). Who would continue living with the burden of sin when there is one who can remove it from us? Christ said: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28).
Written by: Pastor Gwydion