Sunday, March 14, 2010

No Greater Love

"And this is the Good News, our God became one of us. And this is the Good News, the God of the Universe became a man to stand in the gap for us."

This past weekend I had the great opportunity to go to a youth conference called Planet Wisdom with Dutton, Mark Matlock, and Dawson McAllister. I have never before been shown the reality and gruesome details of Jesus' death like I have this weekend. It really changes everything.

We paint these pretty pictures of Jesus on the Cross, with a few drops of blood on His face from the crown of thorns. We create these beautiful stain glass windows with Jesus painted on them, His body whole on the Cross. We create these mindsets of Jesus not really having that much of a painful death. "Jesus died for you" ~ Yeah, I know. I have heard it all of my life. "Jesus loves you" ~ Yeah, I know. I have been told that more times than I can count.

The truth is, Jesus died for me ~ a painful and gruesome death. Crucifixions were not taken lightly. Jesus was not even recognizable as a human at that point. They - no, I took the whip with its pieces of sharpened bone that pulled at Jesus' flesh and ripped it out. It was my sin that He was dying for, my sin that caused Jesus to have to go to the Cross. It was as if I stood by and watched the scene in mockery. My sin is what drove the nails into Jesus' wrists and feet. It is as if I spit on Him and I mocked Him as He hung on that cross. It is as if I stood by as He was breathing shallowly and quickly, trying to get any breath that He could.

It as if I was right there and I heard Him say, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)

There is a detail about this story that captures my heart:
"Arriving at Golgotha, the place they call 'Skull Hill,' they offered Him a mild painkiller (a mixture of wine and myrrh), but when He tasted it He would not drink it." (Matthew 27:33-34, the Message)

"But when He tasted it He would not drink it"... But He was in so much pain... so much agony. Why would He not want to take a small painkiller? It is believed by some that Jesus did not want to take it because He had to experience the full extent of our sin.

He was put to so much shame. He was mocked and spit on and laughed at and whipped. He made Himself of no reputation among men. He was humble.

"He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not." (Isaiah 53:3)

No one knows sorrow the way that Jesus Christ knew sorrows. And "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). He understands. And He did it all for us.

There may be skeptics. I was skeptical of Jesus Christ's love for me at one time. But nothing - nothing - can take away the depth of Christ's love for me and for you (Romans 8:38-39). Nothing can take away what He went through on the Cross for each and every one of us that proves His love to us in such an incredible way.

As Dawson McAllister said, it is as if He looked at the pain of the cross, looked at us, looked back at the pain, and then back at us and said, "There is no way that I am turning back. No way." He made His decision while on the Cross. The question is, Have we made ours?

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." -Hebrews 12:2

All for us. All for you. All for me. There is no greater love.

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