Let us think for a moment on Rio de Janeiro's magnificent monument, Christ of Corcovado. His arms outstretched seem to want to embrace the entire carioca immensity. Thirty feet high and forty feet from one hand to the other.
a) Outstretched arms anxious to insure peace on a city that has a high level of insecurity.
b) On October 12, 1931, Marconi, the scientist from Genoa, Italy, lit up the recently inaugurated monument. It was one of the most spectacular and impressive events of that era.
Arms that convey hope
1. More than 70 years have transpired since those arms were extended over the Corcovado.
a) Arms that should mean protection for the citizens of Rio de Janeiro. However, in the shadow of the arms of cement, an indication that they will lovingly embrace the city, much evil has been practiced. Murders, attacks, riots, immorality make up the scenario of a city similar to many others in the world that live oblivious to Christ's calling.
b) Oh, if men would turn their eyes heavenward, they would contemplate not only the concrete statue, but by faith contemplate the great Savior of humanity, the reality of our hope.
2. Our duty as Christians is to look toward the heavens in order to see the real Jesus; the majority looks and follows horizontally. We must travel in the ascendancy and not to become victims of a massive society.
Outstretched arms to save
1. Let's look at Jesus' hands pierced by the nails. "Christ died on the cross with one hand pointing to the East, and the other to the West. He died for every individual on Earth. His arm is long enough to reach even me. His arm is long enough to reach anybody, anywhere and at any time." Morning Watch, 1963, p. 228.
2. Jesus opened His blessed arms and said that His life was a river of peace; a river of love, a river of life, and His ears could hear the faintest breath, the word that has not been whispered from the heart. And His hands were always outstretched to save completely.
3. In Ex. 17:8-13 we find an account that well illustrates this thought.
a) Amalek's soldiers could not understand how the Hebrews could resist their fierce attacks. The Hebrew army was smaller and ill-trained.
b) What power and inspiration reflected from those outstretched arms on the top of the mountain? Ezek. 20:34 gives us the answer.
4. Do we trust in the Lord's arms?
a) Our many struggles sometimes make us feel that the arms are tired and we give up. We feel weak, without strength.
b) Many have experienced years of serving the Lord, with multiple trials.
c) God knows how to help those who have no strength. Read Job 26:2.
d) "Strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand." Read Ps. 89:13.
Arms that don't grow weary
1. There is a significant parallelism for the Christians.
a) More than 70 years ago the monument to Christ the Redeemer was erected on top of Corcovado, aiming to attract tourists and to be a representative figure of the blessings received by those who would live or pass through Rio de Janeiro. From the top one can contemplate the city, outlined by mountains, adorned by small woods, vegetation colored by the reflecting green waters of Copacabana and other beaches. But the arms continue paralyzed before all types of violence. They seem to be tired and frustrated since their objective to bless people has not been reached. They are dead, paralyzed and incapable arms.
b) Two thousand years ago, on top of Calvary, two arms are anxiously stretched out to bless humanity. Two nails uphold them. From those nails, nevertheless, a divine force shines upon the world. The world choked by ambition forgets what is taking place on top of Calvary. Jesus' arms continue to extend to bless a minority who turns to receive a blessing. Those are not lifeless arms. They interceded in our behalf two thousand years ago and will continue to do so until the end of time.
What will happen if I lose my health, become insane, and lose my dear ones, my property? What if we should have an economic depression, if I lose my employment? Or war is declared?
The arms are outstretched to protect us - why fear? Read Deut. 33:27.
Illustration: Pastor Kenneth Wood told us that in 1937 he climbed through one of the passageways of the San Francisco Bay Bridge, approximately 220 meters high. Listen to the story. "Fog revolved around me and a strong wind was blowing. I began to fear. 'How could someone work up here?' I thought. Later on I heard that fear had been a problem. The workers knew that it had been said that 35 workers might lose their lives. Each man had the obsession that he could be one of those 35. The construction was being undermined.
Then someone suggested that a gigantic net be extended the entire length of the bridge so that if a man should fall the net could save him. The men worked more efficiently."
We can be confident that the Lord's arms will protect us. Read Isa. 33:2. Let's humbly pray to God that He will be our strong arm, morning after morning and may we try to find refuge under the protecting arms of our dear Savior.
Alcides Cruz is a retired pastor living in Sao Jose do Rio Preto, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Translated by Antonio A. Rios.