/ Scripture / Mark Loughridge

The first step

Have you been there? A life-defining moment, and you know it. You know that if you do this it will change everything. There will be no going back. Once the ball starts rolling there will be no stopping until it reaches its final and inevitable conclusion.

Maybe someone who can no longer keep silent about wrongs they witnessed; maybe someone about to admit to wrongs they have committed—that moment of taking a deep breath and starting a chain of events. Dread, fear, anticipatory anguish. Thoughts of delay, procrastination, hesitation, repeated rehearsings of that first step. Wondering, will I do it today? That sense of taking a deep breath and ‘here goes’. Now there is no turning back. Now it has started.

We instinctively tend to think of Jesus as some sort of hybrid human, a cross between Superman and ordinary Joe. We have no category for ‘fully human, fully divine’ and the default position is often to see him as superman in ordinary clothes—impervious to fears, to temptation, to struggles—striding though life unaffected by it.

But then he wouldn’t be fully human. And it wouldn’t square with the careful gospel portrait—tired, weeping, anguished, tempted. We need a careful balance, holding both truths equally. Fully man, fully God—else we lose something in appreciating our Saviour and what he did for us.

Think of it. For 30 years he has been coming to an understanding of who he is and what he is here for. As he has sat in synagogue learning as the rabbis read the Old Testament scriptures he has come to see that they speak of him. His work. His sacrifice. His crushing. His piercing. His cup. His forsakenness. His hour. But there has to be a first step.

He hears of John preaching and baptising in the wilderness. I wonder if he paced around the workshop in Nazareth, wrestling with ‘Will I go today?’

For he knows that once he stands in line with sinners to be baptised, that’s the chain reaction started. The touch-paper is lit. It will end in his crushing, his piercing, drinking the cup, forsaken. He knows where it finishes. Yet he takes that first step. There can be and there will be no turning back.

If he wrestled in Gethsemane at the end of his ministry, should we not consider him wrestling in Nazareth at the start?

Maybe Cana was one of those days too. He has a wedding invite. A day of rejoicing and celebration. A day of a bridegroom pledging himself to his bride to love her with sacrificial love. But he is the Bridegroom that Solomon spoke of; he is the Husband that Hosea depicted. He is the true and better Bridegroom who will lay down his life to redeem his Bride, the church.

There has to be a first miracle. But the first miracle leads to the last miracle—via the cross. Via the hour of darkness.

When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”

And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”

As he considered the broken wedding feast, with what trepidation did he face stepping into the spotlight to perform his first miracle, knowing where it would lead?

It would be wrong to think of him moving from one scene to the next, humming a merry little tune, working miracles and making everything right. This is not Disney. The crowd applaud, but crushing, piercing and forsakenness crowd his horizon. Yet he took that first step.

When you next find yourself seeing a 'first step' moment, or having to take one, let it fill you with appreciation of him who took that first step with far greater apprehension to face far greater consequences.

Mark Loughridge

Mark Loughridge

Mark pastors 2 churches in the Republic of Ireland. He is married with three daughters. Before entering the ministry he studied architecture. He enjoys open water swimming, design, and watching rugby.

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