Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
I’ve never really known the correct response to Easter.
I have spent a lot of time using the day to feel bad for Jesus. I don’t know if this was a response I was taught, or just my natural human instinct, but I just pitied Him. What other response could you have for someone who died a gruesome death? He was flogged nearly to the point of death, adorned with a crown of thorns dug into his head, forced to carry his own cross, and crucified- being mocked the entire time. So, I would spend Good Friday in reflection of this, and then move on to the celebration of Easter- the time I’d get to spend with my family and all the food I’d eat.
What if pity isn’t the right response to Jesus’ death on the cross?
If we view the cross with pity, we have no hope to understand Jesus’ love for us.
I titled this post “It Is Finished” a direct reference to Jesus’ last words found in John 19:30. But, what was finished?
Up until Jesus’ death on the cross, a complicated system of sacrifices had atoned for sin. Sin is what separates us from God. Every day, we fail God. We are born into a broken relationship with God because of our sin, and there’s no way for us to fix this on our own. Only with the payment of a sacrifice can we be forgiven and be made right with God. In the Old Testament, this sacrifice was an animal, and had was not a lasting thing. But, Jesus’ death changed that.
“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
With Jesus’ death, He became the perfect and final sacrifice for our sins. If we choose to trust in that, our relationship with God can be restored and we can live in perfect fellowship with Him.
Our response to the cross should be extreme thankfulness.
The cross is a symbol of God’s extreme love for us. We have a God who loves us so much that He died for us. Jesus wants to be close to you. The inner longings of our hearts scream for this kind of love. Deep down, we all want to be desired. We want to know that we are loved to a point that someone who do something drastic for us, for our good. Jesus shows this love on the cross. God knew we were separated from Him because of our Sin, and He chose to be the solution. What kind of love is this!!
I don’t think we will ever, until we meet our Maker, be able to understand this love. How could we? Our only exposure to love in this world is conditional. Parents are able to be less conditional in their love, but even then we have never seen perfect love. So we view the cross with shades smeared with our perspective of how we love. But, God doesn’t love like we do. He loves you perfectly. He loves you even though you hurt him every day. The Bible would even say that before you choose to follow Him, you hate Him in your heart. To be loved by God is not something that can ever be earned. It’s not something trite or trivial and it’s surely not something that can go ignored.
Jesus had every opportunity to turn back from the cross. He was fully man but also fully God and could have stopped it at any point. But He chose to endure the pain. He did it for you. He did it because He loves you.
When someone tells you they love you, you can’t ignore it. You have to choose if you love them too, or if you don’t. The cross is Jesus screaming out that He loves you.
What is YOUR response?
(Easter didn’t end with the cross-but with something even greater. Stay tuned.)