We are the reason that Jesus had to die.
- Jim Shempert
You have no problem finding enthusiasm among Christians during Christmas. Most seem to be reverential of Christ’s birth. We go out of our way to say Merry Christmas to all we know, sometimes with the love of Christ in our hearts, and sometimes with fire and brimstone. Yet during Easter, there seems to be a lack of excitement among the brethren. We all strive to buy that new tie or a new suit, but do we seek to tell others of the monumental moment in our lives as believers? Do we seek to reach others and bring them in, so that they can experience the victory of Easter? Or do we look down our noses at those who only darken the doors at Easter?
I am a very introspective person. I like to challenge myself, and especially my relationship with Christ on a continual basis. A relationship is similar to a muscle, it can atrophy without activity. The same is true of ongoing renewal in Christ. None of us are ever completely sanctified.
“Whoa fella, you need to calm down a little. I’m a good Christian,” I can almost hear someone say. It is never my intention to question anyone’s Christianity. My point is simply that even though we sing about “the Old Rugged Cross” and “Up from the grave He arose,” are we honest enough to admit the cause? Are we willing to look at ourselves in the mirror, strip ourselves of the title “good Christian” and throw ourselves at the foot of the Cross to see that it was our (my) sins that necessitated the death of the Son of God?
My late teens and early twenties are years that I wish I could have back. I lived for no one but myself during that time. I cared little for what others thought about me or my decisions. In my mind, I was the only one that mattered. I worshiped only the god of self. When I accepted Christ as my Savior, everything changed.
It is one thing to have “head knowledge” of Christ’s sacrifice. It is quite a different thing to have “heart knowledge.” In the “I’m a good Christian” camp there is always someone who touts their knowledge of Scripture as evidence of their relationship with Jesus. In Matthew 4, even Satan used scripture to tempt Jesus. Knowledge of the Scriptures is paramount in the life of a Christian. The Word of God should be the guiding force of our lives, and we should hide it in our hearts for the moment when we most need it. However, knowing Scriptures does not make you righteous. Christ does.
In my new life with Christ, many verses have hit me hard. One of the hardest is Romans 3:10. “As it is written: There is no one who is righteous, not even one.” That is a hard reality for a new Christian to wrap his mind around. I mean, here I was, new to the faith, a dirty sinner who was just adopted into the family of Christ, and you are telling me that I am equal to all these people? The world may say no, but Jesus says yes.
From His birth in Bethlehem until His death at Calvary, Jesus’ purpose on this earth was to draw all who would come to Him. On Calvary, He took the sin of all the world onto Himself. That “all the world” part included me. I was one of the ones who shouted to Pilate “Crucify, Crucify.” I was the Roman soldier that beat Him. I was one of the crowds that mocked Him as he bloodily stumbled up that hill. I was the soldier that nailed Him to that cross. I gambled for His clothes. I mockingly commanded Him to call His angels down to rescue Him. And, when He says in Luke 23:34, “"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” I was one of them.
We all are one of “them.” We are the reason that Jesus had to die. At any point, Jesus could have stopped His crucifixion, His trial, or His arrest. Yet, because of His great love for us, He chose to move forward with it. He chose to accept all that man could throw at Him to prove that the love of God will win out over death.
He chose it because He was the only sacrifice that was worthy. He chose it, because “the love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell” (Frederick Lehman). He chose it so that we could come back to Him.
In celebrating this year, don’t skip right to Sunday. Sure, “joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). We are Easter people and should celebrate such a day. Take the time to realize the personal implications of this season. Take the time to return to the foot of the cross and see your Savior dying and yet praying for you.
The best three words in the English language are “I love you.” I love you can be stated many ways, but the best may be in John 19:30:
When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up His spirit.