Saturday, May 14, 2016

sizzle, and fragrance, and steam

The Word for today:
Philippians 2:19-30
One of the truly beautiful images in all of scripture is found here in Philippians 2:
But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering... (Philippians 2:17)
The drink offering is mentioned in Exodus and Leviticus.
Wine was poured over the sacrificial lamb while it was being roasted on the grates of the altar. You can, in your imagination, hear the sizzle and see the drink offering go up in steam. It would just evaporate and disappear.
Philippians was written during Paul's first Roman imprisonment. About five years later, 2 Timothy was written during Paul's second Roman imprisonment. With the threat of death constantly hanging over his head, his long race of faith nearing its end, he uses the image of the drink offering in both letters:
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
 (2 Timothy 4:6-7)
Paul wanted his life to be poured out and consumed in the service of Christ, so that when it was over there'd be no trace of Paul left behind. He wanted his life to stand for nothing but Jesus.
Jesus poured out his soul unto death (1) for Paul, and you, and me. No love was ever as poetic, or as creative, or as revolutionary, or as desperate, or as ardent as the love poured out on the cross.
Now may we, like Paul, offer our transitory lives in reckless self-abnegation;
in sizzle, and fragrance, and steam;
nothing left behind
but Jesus.
(1) Isaiah 53:12

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