June 5 – Trip to the Holy Land – Beneath Calvary in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

DAY 24 – BENEATH CALVARY IN THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHER

Theme: Mercy & Grace

Read Ephesians 2:1-10

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Of all the places we visit on a trip to the Holy Land, this is my favorite. It lies deep within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in a cave at bedrock and beneath the traditional location for Calvary.

Most tour groups don’t go anywhere near the spot.  But I like to bring groups here, or come here alone.  There’s nothing glamorous about it.

Many stand in long lines for small chapels within the Church just to see the traditional locations of the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord. Some people kiss the stones which mark those spots. Others fall on their faces & lie on the ground in an act of reverence.  These places evoke such deep emotions for those who visit.

I prefer to walk down a few dozen steps to what feels like the basement of the church. Instead of frightful memories about dark church basements I experienced as a boy, great words of an old song always flood my mind in that ancient cave.  “Mercy there was great and grace was free. Pardon there was multiplied to me. There my burdened soul found liberty – at Calvary.”  This place always brings me to tears.  All that is true because of the cross!

“Mercy is great!” God does not give us what we deserve. That’s mercy. We deserve His justice and condemnation. Instead – He gives us repeated opportunities to respond to His offer of forgiveness. Titus 3:5 declares: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy, He saved us ….” (Titus 3:5 – NIV).

“And grace was free!” As someone said, “It might be free, but it’s not cheap.” It cost Jesus His life! Because of the death of Jesus, God gives us what we don’t deserve – eternity in heaven with Him. Paul wrote to the Ephesians: “It is by grace through faith we have been saved” (Ephesians 2:8).

A different song comes to mind: “Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, freely bestowed on all who believe.  You who are longing to see his face, will you this moment his grace receive?”

Prayer of reflection:  Thank you, Lord, for your marvelous mercy and grace revealed in Christ Jesus.  Help me today to live in light of those great gifts you have provided through Him.

Bob Fetterhoff

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