“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.” Deuteronomy 30:11-14 ESV
For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” Romans 10:5-11 ESV
King Arthur’s knights once went on a quest for the holy grail. The legend was that the same cup that Jesus and his disciples had used at the last supper before Jesus died on the cross, the cup Jesus had used to give his followers the first communion, was now somewhere in England. King Arthur’s knights went out to find it. They rode over the countryside and through forests, and had many adventures and faced a lot of danger. In the end, only the most perfect and best knights were allowed to see the holy grail. Many knights died on their quest, and most of them never found what they were looking for.
The story of the holy grail is a kind of picture of working hard and facing danger to find something wonderful and precious in life. It often does take a lot of effort and trouble to accomplish something good. However, in God’s way of doing things it’s different. God’s holy law was a gift to his people. It was given to them so that they could hear it and learn it and teach each other and hold it in their hearts. They didn’t have to work hard to get God’s law; it was a gift. It was near them, just as God himself was.
God’s law is good and right, but no one can ever keep it perfectly. We all sin and disobey God’s law. Because of that, God sometimes seems very far away from us. We need help, and there’s nothing we can do to help ourselves. That’s why God sent Jesus to be our Savior. No one had to try to climb up to heaven to bring Jesus down to help us. No one had to go deep down into death to bring Jesus out of the grave that first Easter morning. Jesus came to us when we were helpless, and died and rose again so our sins could be forgiven. Jesus is very near us, and always ready to help us. His Holy Spirit gives us faith to trust him to save us and keep us close to him.
Dear Jesus, thank you for coming to us to save us and help us. Amen.