Saturday, April 7, 2012

Death and Dying, Sin and Suffering

But they all cried out together, "Give us Barabbas" - a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, "Crucify, crucify him!" A third time he said to them, "Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him. But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilated decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.
Luke 23: 18-25, ESV

It's funny to me how after all these years, each Easter brings to light a new facet of my faith. From understanding Christ's sacrifice to feeling more like a traitor than a disciple to rejoicing in the resurrection to replaying his final days. Each Easter, God has allowed me to experience it differently. My prayer for this year (to become more aware of my sinfulness) has shaped the lens in which I see Easter 2012. It has shaped the lens in which I see Jesus, and I think this lens is one worth sharing.

Last night, Blake and I (along with 50,000 other people around the world - so I'm sure I'm not the only person with this topic on their brain today) went to Secret Church. I like to call it not-so-Secret Church. :)  The idea is that there are people all over the world who meet in underground churches, risking their lives to know and honor the Word of the Lord. And they risk their lives to live the Word. I listened to David Platt while drinking Starbucks in a temperature-controlled room and brought one of my twenty-or-so Bibles... not to mention I tweeted during the simulcast on my iPhone 4. Needless to say, our experience is not much like the experience of our brothers and sisters who truly meet in secret. But, it was an experience to gather with tens of thousands of people to be equipped to share what we have - freedom in Christ. 

But this post isn't about the difference in first-world and third-world Christians. This is a post about the one thing we all have in common. 


And the consequence of sin is death. (Rom. 6:23)

What we deserve is death. Spiritual and physical death. We deserve everlasting agony - pain on earth and pain in eternity. David Platt included this quote from D.A. Carson in his teaching last night, "Do you really want nothing but totally effective, instantaneous justice? Then go to hell." That, my friends, is the justice we deserve.

So this year, as I have reflected on Christ's death, I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt. For the first time as a Christian, I feel guilty that Jesus took my place. It's an elementary principle - Jesus died for our sins. They teach that to preschoolers. But for me this year, it's personal. It was hard for me to "enjoy" Good Friday knowing that it was because of my own betrayal, because of my own rebellion, because of my own selfishness that He suffered and died on the cross. 

I am Barabbas, standing in the crowd, rejoicing because I am free! I got away with it! And these people all agree that I'm worth it! I'm worth saving. 

But I am not. And neither are you. 

I am not what was worth saving. I was not on Jesus' mind while He hung on the cross and neither were you (thank you David Platt for confirming that). Jesus didn't die just for me. He didn't die just for you. 

He died for the glory of God. He suffered and bled and ached on behalf of all humanity for the sake of God's glory. That God's glory would be revealed to all people. 

And as a result, that you and I would be grafted in to the family of God and would be covered by the blood of an innocent Lamb (Rom. 11:17). That we would no longer be slaves to sin but that we would be free in Christ  (Rom. 6:5). That we would come to know, love, trust, and obey the Risen Savior who will lead us into a life we don't deserve. 

The guilt I have felt is washed away by overwhelming gratitude. 

For the first time, I am feeling the real weight of my sin. It is so heavy, but He took the load. He bore the shame and suffering that I deserved - that we deserve - and He did so willingly. 

I am amazed. 

I hope this Easter is a revelation for you in whatever way God is communicating with you in this moment. Maybe you have already experienced Easter the way I am experiencing it. There are a million facets to the wonderful God we serve and I am always astonished when people get tired of the message of the Gospel. There is so much more to the story than a 3-step plan to salvation. May you find a fresh perspective on the Cross this year and may you be challenged to accept the weight of sin and therefore accept the grace of God. He loves you and cares deeply for you. He pulled you out of the reigns of Pilate and said "Crucify Him." Because He knew that only by the death of His precious Son could we ever truly experience life and life abundant. 

What a sacrifice. What a Savior. What an amazing God He truly is. 

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