And I did not see a temple in her, for the Lord God Almighty is her temple, and also the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon in order that they might give it light, for the glory of God has illuminated it and its lamp is the Lamb. Rev 21:22-23.
What will it be like when we meet Jesus (the Lamb) in the Holy City? What thoughts will run through our minds? What will we feel? I suspect, if we have a true picture of what He went through for us, that we will feel a deep well of gratitude that will swell more and more throughout eternity. We can only begin to feel it now, but we can at least make a start.
Imagine a hot July day. You are required to work in the fields all day long, 14 hours of hard labor.1 I know that you cannot withstand a day like that, so at the last minute, I step forward and take your place. You stay home and think all day about my experience: the hot sun, the flies, the back-breaking work, the sore muscles, the aches and pains and the desire to just sit and rest in the shade. When I return I tell you how the day went and you say “I see, thank you friend for what you did.” But do you really see? Do you really know what it was like, how every moment was agonizingly slow, how every step was torture to my feet?
Now just suppose that, instead of staying behind, you had come along with me that day. Suppose you had actually watched me labor those 14 hours, you had seen me stooped, barely able to walk, my hands blistered by the hoe, my face blistered by the hot sun. You would watch me stumble and sweat and look for relief, watching the hands on my watch move ever so imperceptibly. Had you done that, you would truly have begun to understand. You would not have felt the physical pain, but you would have better understood just what I endured for you, and the gift I gave of myself that day would stay with you forever.
So it is with the crucifixion. When we think about it, we maybe picture Christ being whipped. What? Once? Twice? With what? Do you picture his flesh torn? Do you have any clue what that looks like? Does that crown of thorns rest nicely on his head like a laurel wreath, or is it pressed deep into his flesh, causing rivulets of blood to run down his face and body? What about the other beatings he took? We are told that he was virtually unrecognizable (Isa 52:14).
And all of this was after he was betrayed and abandoned by his only friends. The song goes, “His eyes were on the crowd that day, but he looked ahead in time. When he was on the cross, I was on his mind.” When Jesus died that day He died for me. When you and I truly understand this, it will be the basis for eternal gratitude.