this time, it’s personal.
It was as the old hymn and the scriptures say – for us…. for our benefit, in our place, Jesus went there to the cross to save us. It means me and you.
We needed saving so badly, there was no other way. Nobody else could save us, and we couldn’t save ourselves.
If you were in a house fire, you’d need saving. When I was in the police you had to qualify as a life guard and they told us ‘You can’t save someone who’s trying to save themselves. If you were over your head in debt, you’d need saving. If you were drowning out at sea, you’d need saving. That’s the kind of picture the Bible uses over and over to describe what was happening when Jesus died on the cross. He came to save us from drowning in the bottomless depths of our distance from God. He rescued us from the burning house of our selfishness and self righteousness, he ransomed us from the enormous debt of our sins which we’ve piled up, one day at a time, for the whole of our lives- by paying the price for them that we could never afford. Not paying a ransom with money (though he was sold for a slave’s price). He stepped in. Paid the ransom price with his life.
You don’t know why the cross happened? Why tomorrow is ‘Good’ Friday? One verse of the Bible sums it up – 1 Peter 3:18 Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.
That’s why. All the agony. To bring us to God. What was in the way? Our sins. Our hate, unforgiveness, hypocrisy, lust, anger, greed, idolatry, meanness and pride. Forming this great wall between us and God.
We couldn’t see the other side of that stinking pile of sin. We didn’t even know whether there was another side. We might have put a little religious ladder up to try to peer over it to see God, but the wall’s much too high. Was there anyone really there?
Then God stepped in. He crossed the line. From eternity, into time. And was killed on the rubbish pile to form a bridge over from him to us, and back again.
Jesus – God with skin on. He lives, he loves, he teaches, he does miracles.He bleeds, he suffers, crucified on a rubbish dump, to clear our rubbish away, and make a way back to God. He let the wall and weight of sin fall on him – ‘the just for the unjust,’ that was it.
I am unjust. I want wrong to be punished when it’s done to me, but I want my wrongs to be excused. He hung on the cross carrying all our wrong things – wrong attitudes, thoughts, habits, words. All our guilt. He paid OUR debts. He took OUR punishment. He carried our load. He served our sentence…
He became just like me at my worst. So I could become like him, the Best.
He said, ‘Father forgive them’ – so I don’t have to fear he won’t forgive ME. So we could be completely forgiven by God – without for one moment denying his justice. Because sin was judged and punished. It was all fair, done ONCE on the cross. He died Once and for all, never to be repeated. To bring you to God. So, will you come?
What’s so special about Jesus?
Well I’ve not given any human analogies to compare with it, because none can. The best of human forgiveness is imperfectly given and received. A love in battle which sacrifices for its friends is wonderful- but this one is God dying not for friends but for his sworn enemies. A traitor race. You’ll not find a love like that in any other religion. It’s unique. Can you look him in the eye as he stretches out a nail-pierced hand and say to the Son of God, “What’s so special about you?”
Or will you come to him and say, “My Lord and my God.”
It takes my breath away. Once you see it – everything changes. Could God love me? Does he?
YES!! Calvaryproves it!
What about the lies, the pride, the selfishness in my heart?
‘Father God – forgive him…’
‘Father God – forgive her!’
The apostle Paul never got tired of revelling in this life-changing fact; ‘The Son of God loved me – and gave his life for me!” He said, ‘now, I live by faith in Him.’
He could not stop wondering at the glory of it. I can’t blame him. What a value that puts on me – to be loved that much. And I can know I am loved – I can know I am forgiven forever of my sins past, present and future – because the cross, the cruel but glorious cross – has settled it all. And now he lives, and I live for him.
What’s the next step?
It’s simple – but difficult.
Simple because a child can do it – difficult because it takes the humility of a child to admit you need to do it. Jesus is alive forever and still speaks and he says, ‘Repent, turn from your sins – and believe the good news.’
Do you believe it already? For some people, it’s ‘not yet.’ That’s honest No problem, let’s keep talking. Why not find a church near you to do the Alpha Course to find out more.’ You owe it to yourself to investigate this!
But some of you – you know you’ve been getting ready for this. Life has brought you to this point. To this blog. To this moment. It’s decision time – time to turn to from sin and turn to God and believe the good news.
Wait a minute – first of all, for the good news to be good you have to see how bad the bad news is – that without Jesus, we are totally and hopelessly lost. You can’t save yourself from sin, or its consequences (death and judgement).
Do you admit that? Do you see that your good deeds don’t compare in the light of God’s holiness – that you need a Saviour. You enter the kingdom through a narrow door, next to a cross. He has taken your place there.
Remember, this is for keeps. It’s serious. You have to admit your need to receive the pardon.
Will you admit you needed that cross? Nobody has ever entered the kingdom any other way. No exceptions. You can start really well if you start praying on your knees. Wherever you are now.
You come asking forgiveness. You come and say, “I will follow Jesus Christ as my Lord – leader – what he says goes – and I will believe and trust him as my Saviour, my forgiver. He laid down his life for me. Now I’ll live to serve him.’
oh, and please let me know, it’d be a great encouragement, and everyone needs encouragement.