I always struggle this time of year to come up with a more effective way to explain the sacrifice of Jesus dying on the cross. We have all read the biblical accounts of Jesus' last days and the brutal treatment he experienced on the way to his execution. My struggle is not in accepting and believing the story, but in my sharing the gospel message with those I may encounter.
Let me emphatically declare my belief in the life, death, burial and resurrection of my Lord, Jesus Christ. Those books in the New Testament which we call the gospel narratives continue to draw us even closer to the truth that God's son actually went to the cross and carried with him every sin. It's a story that will allow us to personally identify with Jesus' death as payment for the sins of every human. That includes your sins and mine.
We who deserve immediate and eternal condemnation because we are sinners, can claim eternal salvation and it's all because God loves us. Every violation of the will of God must be punished. Nothing has escaped God's notice. God cannot be God if he doesn't hold us accountable for the sins we have committed. Yet his love for us is the very reason he gave his Son to pay the price which we could never pay ourselves. When Jesus suffered and bled and died, he was paying a debt which we could not pay.
It's difficult for us to see the story of Jesus' death as a love story, but in reality it's the greatest love story ever written. We blame the Roman soldiers for his execution and often hide behind our own self-righteousness, but your sins put Jesus on the cross just as if you were the one driving the nails.
This week we will take several looks into the story of the cross so there are some things I encourage to watch for. First of all, be aware of your sin. This is not the time for us to blame our sin on something or someone else. "We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Second, recognize your inability to save yourself. We are on dangerous ground if we think we are going to accomplish eternal life based on our own ability, popularity, strength or goodness. Regardless of who we are, we need Jesus.
Third, learn to understand how the plan of God to save us, is based on the greatest demonstration of love our world has ever known. It's God's love for you and me that caused him to give his only Son. We are called upon to believe it and accept it and become obedient followers. From the heart of God comes the eternal love of the Father, just for you. From the death of Jesus comes his blood which washes us clean and makes us new.
Spend some time in prayer as we seek to become the person Jesus gave his life for us to become.