Rachel and I have accepted the fact that in order to get out from underneath this mountain of debt, we’re going to have to sacrifice some things. We can’t eat out as much as we used to. We’ve had to sell quite a few things that we didn’t necessarily want to part with, but couldn’t justify keeping. Our date nights are pretty simple most times. You know, the kind of stuff that’s common sense when you’re gazelle intense (hooray, rhyme time!). But none of this kind of sacrifice even holds a candle to the best example of sacrifice this world has ever seen: Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. On this Good Friday, let’s look back at what this act almost 2,000 years ago means today, and what we can learn from His most perfect act of love.
Sacrifice Is Necessary
Did Jesus have to die on a cross? Yes. God cannot tolerate sin in His presence, and man cannot be sin-free. No man could have paid for the sin of anyone but his own, because as it says in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Have you ever lied, even though the bible says that God is truth? Been mean to someone, despite being commanded to love your neighbor as yourself? Rolled your eyes at your parents, disobeying the order to honor them? Me too. We’ve all disqualified ourselves from God’s perfect Heaven, because we’ve all sought our own desires above His. There was no other way to reconcile man’s sin with God’s holiness other than to have God Himself bear the weight of that sin as man’s perfect representative. God’s love for us is so great that even though we all deserve Hell, He created a way for us to live in Heaven.
Sacrifice Is Painful
Obviously. But practically, sacrifice that doesn’t produce some kind of pain isn’t really sacrifice at all. Jesus’ sacrifice was exceptionally painful in the physical sense, because he was dying in one of the most torturous, cruelest forms of execution ever devised. But even beyond the physical execution, Jesus also suffered separation from God the Father for the first time in all of history, as recorded in Matthew 27:46 – And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?“ God, who is infinitely loving and infinitely merciful, turned His back on His own Son in His most critical hour of need. That’s how much He hates sin, and that’s what it took to pay for our sin.
Sacrifice Is Purposeful
Again, if there were any other way to pay the penalty for our sin, Jesus would have done it (Matthew 26:39 – And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”) But through this horrible death, we have all gained a tremendous blessing, as shown in John 3:16-17 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. There was a purpose to it. Something that God wanted so badly, He decided to continue with this immense pain all the way through to its end: His bride, the church. Because of His payment for our sin, we’re now able to enjoy eternity with Him in heaven, something we could never do on our own.
So, this crucifixion was pretty intense, but does it still hold meaning today? Absolutely. Ephesians 1:4-5 says, “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” This was written to a church in a city that’s been long abandoned, but it was also written to you and me! Even before the world was created, we were in God’s mind. It was our sin He died for, because it’s us He wants to spend eternity with in Heaven. All we have to do is surrender the throne of our hearts to Him and follow Him as Savior, and we can benefit from His sacrifice forever.
Will you join Rachel and me in reflecting this weekend on what Jesus’ sacrifice means today, in 2017? If you’ve never considered this before, or maybe you’ve heard it before but don’t really know what the bible says about your life in particular, I’d love to talk you through it, pray with you, or whatever else you need. Just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what’s on your mind!
Have a great Easter weekend, everyone!