The fact that I walked the city streets of Jerusalem, making my way to the Western Wall (Wailing Wall) for Shabbat (like the Christian Sabbath) still fills me with awe and gratitude. Just before sunset, the Jewish people (including many Christians) gather together at the wall, praying and crying out to God.
There is a male side and a female side of the wall, and men and women write their prayer requests on slips of paper and tuck them into the crevices of the ancient wall. Many people sing, dance, read their religious literature and lean on each other for relational support and encouragement. At the appearance of the first three stars in the sky, Shabbat is over and everyone goes home.
At the wall, rows of people wait their turn to get face to face with the layers of massive sandstone. Once their whispers of faith have been declared and their deepest confessions made, they slowly back away from the wall, bowing slightly, so the next earnest participants can take their turn.
I watched as hundreds of women–young and old–made their petitions to God, but I knew spiritually another sandstone wall stood in their way. We are a fallen creation and our sin has separated us from our perfect God (Romans 3.23). God dwells in a holy place (heaven) and even the best example of a human life would spoil it. One sin would be like scarlet paint dropped into a bucket of white, causing our promised eternity with the absence of sin to be tainted (Revelation 21.27).
But God loves us and He knew we would fall short of His perfect standard, so He sent Himself into this world, taking on flesh in the man of Jesus, and died for our sins (John 3.16). He swallowed up all of our darkness, supernaturally making us white as snow (Revelation 7.14).
Though we still sin, what Jesus did on the cross continually washes us clean (1 John 1.7). And in our righteous state through Christ, we are able to walk past the thick walls of separation into the very presence of God (Romans 5.11). Our prayers fall right at the foot of the throne in Jesus’ name (Hebrews 4.16).
Overwhelmed with thankfulness for a Savior that I had taken for granted, I began to praise His name. Though the voices around me cried out to God in their sinful state, I knew that I had been made right with God through Jesus (Romans 5.1). My prayers were reaching the ears of God, not because of my own greatness and perfection, but because Jesus took my lack and gave me His “righteousness, holiness and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1.30 NIV).
I am holy. I am righteous. I am perfected. I am sanctified. I stand in the glorious image of God without the ugliness of sin because of the cross, because of the empty tomb and because of the resurrected Savior. Thank You, Jesus, for rescuing me from the darkness and bringing me into Your light (Colossians 1.13). I won’t allow my mistakes and flaws to prevent me from taking hold of the righteousness that is mine by faith. I won’t underestimate the work You finished on the cross (John 19.30).
“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59.2 NIV).
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5.21 NIV).