George Bowers Sr.: Consider the amazing little ant
The writer of Proverbs counsels the sluggard to consider the ant and become wise. The ant, after all, is a diligent worker that stores up food at harvest in order to have something to eat when groceries are less plentiful. This minute creature can instruct all of us regarding industrious labor and careful planning.
This week, however, I’d like us to consider another quality of this amazing little insect. Ounce for ounce, ants are some of the strongest creatures in all of God’s creation. Certain species of these tiny powerlifters can carry over 5,000 times their own weight. For the average adult human, that means we could hoist 425 tons or so with relative ease – the equivalent of three fully loaded train cars. The thought of bearing such a burden upon our backs is crushing to even consider, much less endure. God gave us brains to invent cranes to move objects of this heft and I’m thankful he did.
This comparison, however, may help us begin to comprehend the weight of Jesus’ cross. Although the wooden post and crossbeam didn’t weigh nearly that much in physical pounds, the weight of the sin he carried that day is impossible to estimate. Imagine the sum total of all of your sins alone and how crushing that burden would be. Then when you add mine, it would sink the most buoyant ship and demolish the strongest foundation. Then add those of every human being ever born and we begin to realize just how unfathomable the spiritual weight of Jesus’ cross was.
How much does one lie weigh? Or one foul word? How far does one hateful attitude tip the scales? Once you know, then multiply the weight of each sin by the number of times you’ve committed them. How many pounds of pride have we amassed over our lifetimes? How many kilos of selfishness have we generated just this month? How many tons of lust have accumulated over the centuries and how many hundredweights of greed?
After the sin bin is full of all these, add those of murder, rape, and theft. Throw in all the wars of history along with all the racism, prostitution, drunkenness and gluttony. And don’t forget to include the sum total of all the willful ignorance of God and his ways. Even if each sin weighed a fraction of a Troy ounce, when all of them are added together for the billions of people who have ever lived, the total tonnage is staggering.
Looking ahead to that darkest of days when Jesus would carry the cross up Golgotha’s steep incline, Isaiah said, “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows…He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed… The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4-6) All of our sins were loaded onto Jesus. All of them. Imagine the sheer crushing force that one soul endured.
When we ponder the overwhelming weight of the sin of all humanity that Jesus willfully carried, we can well understand his exhaustion and fatigue. No wonder he sweat great drops of blood as he shouldered that burden in Gethsemane. No wonder he prayed for this cup to pass from him. No wonder he needed intense prayer beforehand. Nevertheless, not his will, but the Father’s he did. The burden that was impossible for us was taken up by the hne who added nothing to its weight. He had committed not one offense nor contributed even a hair’s heaviness to the total load, yet he bore the burden we could not bear and was crucified for it in our place.
As we contemplate the wondrous love demonstrated on Good Friday, let us be ever mindful of how much of his load we are guilty of. Let us appropriate his sacrifice for ourselves, if we never have. Let us, with the Spirit’s help, endeavor never to add another ounce to his heavy affliction. And as we consider the ants scurrying about with their heavy burdens, let us thank and worship Jesus for bearing the infinitely heavy weight of our sin on Calvary’s cross. Blessings, George
George Bowers Sr. is the senior pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of seven books, including his latest book of poetry, “Holy Verses.” He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org.