(Reuters photo by Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
When I found this picture above – and the caption below – in Monday’s Jordan Times, it caught my attention. . .and captured my heart.
“A pilgrim cries as he prays at sunrise on a rocky hill called the Mountain of Mercy, as part of the Hajj, or pilgrimage, near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on Monday. The day spent on Mount Arafat is an emotional moment for pilgrims because it is here, on this rocky desert hill, where they believe that the gates of heaven are open for prayers to be answered and all past sins to be forgiven. Many can be heard repeating the phrase ‘Labaik Allahum Labaik’ (‘I am responding to your call, God’).”
We all want – we all desperately need – forgiveness of our sins. We will go to great lengths to get it. For some that means taking an expensive and strenuous journey to Mecca.
As I think about this dear pilgrim – this man on the mountain – seeking God, I remember this beautiful promise of God through the prophet Jeremiah:
And I recall these words from Peter, a first century follower of Jesus who was martyred for him:
“. . .how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” (Peter in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 10, verses 34-35)
Peter goes on to say that – while fearing God and doing what is right is so important to God – we need something more:
“. . .the good news of peace through Jesus Christ” (Acts 10, verse 36).
He proclaims with real confidence that, “. . .God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. . .he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. . .He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:38, 42-43).
I praise God for this precious pilgrim crying out to God in Mecca this week. He is seeking God. He is seeking forgiveness. He wants to serve God by answering His call.
As a fellow seeker, I respect this man on the mountain. I feel a great love for him. I believe God does too.
If I could be with him for just a few minutes, I would share with him from the Injeel how Jesus personified and exemplified this love of God for him.
I would share with the man on the mountain the amazingly Good News that “everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
May God bless each of the 1.3 million people on the Hajj this week who are seeking Him, especially. . .the man on the mountain.