I recently found this picture on Google Images, and used it to illustrate a point in a Message I was preaching. That’s normally all I would have to do with any picture I find, but I kept being drawn back to this one – simply put, it spoke to me. It spoke to me about the love, warmth, acceptance, forgiveness and grace I have received, and go on receiving, from Jesus. The picture is now on the wall of my office to the right of my desk where I can see it all day.
I know it’s only a picture – actually, a still from a film – but there is something about the face of the actor playing Jesus that speaks to my soul, encourages me and reassures me that whatever I’m going through, not only is Jesus there with me but that everything will work out OK in the end. And of course the picture speaks powerfully to me about what is at the heart of Christianity – not religious expectation or rules that exclude some and include others, but a relationship made possible by the love of God demonstrated in Jesus coming to this earth, living amongst us, dying for us and rising again.
Today, can I encourage you to look carefully at this picture and realise that you are the one being embraced; that you are the one being loved, comforted and welcomed? That you are the one being invited to cast off the chains of religion and enter the freedom of a relationship with Jesus instead? He even says, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away…my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6v37-40). That promise is for you. The embrace tells you it is for you. Jesus tells you God is for you and with you. The relationship is for you. For ever. All you have to do is say yes to Jesus, step into the embrace, and know you are loved.