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Hebrews 12:1

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

What an inspiring piece of truth we get from Paul's letter to the Hebrews. How is it possible that we could strip off every weight that slows us down, especially sin? I mean, sin! That thing we all carry around in our back pocket. That thing that we think is so much a part of who we are that we could never let it go, but are constantly trying to hide. How could we possibly ever strip that away from who we are and leave it behind, even if we wanted to?

This past Sunday, Blake wrapped up our Stories series with the greatest story - a story about building a bridge.

John 12:12-16

The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted,

“Praise God!

Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

Hail to the King of Israel!”

Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said:

“Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem.

Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt.”

His disciples didn't understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him.

One week before his death, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, like other triumphant kings before him.

He makes a statement.

The religious leaders were not amused, and if they weren't thinking about ways to kill Jesus before, they were certainly doing so after that stunt.

As hard as it is to know what it was like to be Jesus, you have to imagine that as a human, Jesus was freaking out a bit. He knew what was coming. He knew he was going to have to be tortured and die. He knew he had a week left with his disciples. Maybe it was a bit like how Neo felt in the 3rd installment of The Matrix when he knew he was going into the Matrix for the last time to face Agent Smith.

Maybe it was totally different.

On the other hand, Jesus also knew what was at stake. Of course he could have stopped it all. Of course he could have called down angels to carry him away to safety. There are an infinite number of things Jesus could have done, but he chose to do the one thing that meant death for him. He knew the pain and suffering he was about to endure was worse than anything any human would ever endure - ever.

I'm not just talking about the pain of the torture and crucifixion. I'm talking about the weight of taking the fall for all of mankind's sins.

As we walk through this week leading up to the crucifixion, we will no doubt take time to mourn the death of a friend. While we do that, let us also remember why our friend died. It was not because he was pretending to be something he's not. It was not because the Roman, or Jewish leaders wanted Jesus dead.

Jesus died to bridge the gap between man and God. Jesus died to reconnect us to our creator. Jesus died so that we could live a life free of every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.

Jesus died.

But then something amazing happened.

The greatest story didn't end when Jesus died. The greatest story was just getting started.

I invite you to join us this Sunday and 9 am or 11 am to find out what that was.