Hello, everyone! It's been more than a week since my last post and I'm sorry for that. It's been extremely busy around here, but busy in a good way! Lots of Bible studies and church events, family days when we can grab them and spending time with my mom now that she's here.
I wanted to get caught up before my next Bible study, but I ended up not being able to and now I'm even more behind. But, that's no big deal..I'll just be a little behind. Still no excuse not to share!
Today, I want to go over The Crucifixion. Really, the reason for it all. Why shouldn't we want to give to God after seeing all he has given and sacrificed for us?
First, we need to think about really what the Crucifixion meant for the Lord..not just for us. We have to imagine this scenario..Jesus has always been with God. He's always been part of God. They are one in the same and yet have a Father/Son relationship. Before coming to Earth, Jesus was in Heaven with God..but at one point, God had to say "Look, I'm sending you, a part of me, to Earth to live as a human."
Let's stop there and think..what a gift to us. Jesus was sent here not only to die, but to live. To live as a human so that we can have someone to relate to. Jesus isn't some far-off deity that we don't know. He was one of us. He went through the same life experiences as we do, and yet he was perfect. It gives us something to relate to and something to strive for.
God had to tell Jesus that he was coming here to live as a human..and after some time, he would be killed, in order to pay the punishment for ALL of our sins. God didn't have to do this. He didn't have to give us someone to relate to. And, Jesus didn't have to die for us. But He did.
Matthew 26:36-39 says "Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane and he said to them 'Sit here while I go over there and pray.' He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with him and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he told them 'My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.' Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, 'My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet, not as I will, but as you will.'"
This is so powerful. And it really sunk into my soul for more than one reason. First of all, this is Jesus at his most vulnerable. He knows what is about to happen and he is dreading it. He says his soul is overwhelmed to the point of death. It's not as if he were facing going to sleep & not waking up. He knew that in order to pay the cost for our sins, his death would be torturous and awful. His body would suffer until suffering was no longer physically possible. He asks God, his Father, to please take this away from him if possible. Yet, notice that he says "not as I will, but as you will." This is another thing that truly cut me deeply. Jesus is overwhelmed with sorrow. He knows what the near future holds for him--a tragic and inexplicably painful death. Yet, he acknowledges that it is God's choice. He leaves it up to God. Just think of all the things we're not willing to turn over to God..of how many times we try to take matters in our own hands or fight His will bc it doesn't make sense to us or "work" for us. That one last statement in that scripture was extremely humbling for me.
Jesus had the power to choose not to die for us. He didn't want to go through that hurt..but he chose to exercise God's will, and he sacrificed his human life for US.
Matthew 27:45-50 explains Jesus' last moments on Earth as follows: "From noon until three in the afternoon, darkness came over the land. About three in the afternoon, Jesus cried out, 'Eli, Eli, lema sabachthanti?' (Which means, 'My God, my God, why hath thou forsaken me?') When some of those standing there heard this, they said 'He's calling Elijah." Immediately one of then ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus. The rest said 'Let's see if Elijah comes to save him." And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, his spirit left him."
[A detailed description of the crucifixion as a whole can be found in John 19. And a medical description of the crucifixion here. Please take the time to read these. I would add them, but that is a lot of typing. ;) ]
Now, I had always heard the "My God, my God, why hath thou forsaken me?" part of the story and it never quite made sense until I studied the cross and dug deeper into my Bible.
Isaiah 59:1-2 says this about God's relationship to sin: "Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your inequities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear."
So, think about this: At that moment, Jesus was dying for our sins. Jesus was taking on every sin that had ever and will ever be committed. God cannot look at sin, He hides his face from it. At that moment, the only moment, God was not with Jesus. He couldn't be. And Jesus, for the first time and only time, was alone.
Can you imagine the pain that caused for both of them? If you're a parent, you know how much your heart hurts when your child comes to you crying because they are hurting. Can you imagine knowing that the pain they are going through was your choice, and that when they cry out for help, you have to turn away and cannot help them? It breaks my heart just thinking about it.
When I was going over this study, one of the girls I was studying with shared this story with me:
A father and his son were waiting at the train station for their train. While the father was busy checking the time on the tickets, his son wandered down onto the train tracks. When the father looked up, he saw his son down on one of the empty tracks, while two trains, full of people raced down the same track toward each other. The father knew that if the boy stayed put and the trains on course, his son would be safe. But both trains were full of passengers. There was no time to stop the trains, and the father had to make a decision in seconds flat. Let the trains collide, killing all those people, but saving his son..or direct one train onto the track his son was on, saving the people but having to watch his son perish right in front of him. God made the sacrifice..he let his only son be killed in order to save many others. Could you?
Tears rolled down my eyes when I was listening to this story because it became so real to me. I couldn't imagine a scenario like that actually playing out, but I let my mind go there. I have a toddler..an explorer..a little boy that sometimes lets his curiosity win out over listening to Mommy. I pictured Xander down there, in danger. Could I watch as hundreds (in God's case, many many more) were killed in order to save my baby? Or, could I sacrifice my beautiful, perfect (to me) son in order to save others? I don't think I could make that sacrifice for innocent people. God made that sacrifice for sinners--for murderers, for liars, for adulterous people, for rapists, for selfishness, for pride, for greed, for lust. I know I don't have it in me to sacrifice either of my wonderful babies for that.
Romans 5:6-8 says "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Jesus died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
One thing that really convicted me during this study was thinking about the fact that Jesus died for MY sins. We tend to say for "our" sins, which is true. But we have to realize that whether it was for everyone's sins or just one person's sins, it would have had to be done. Think about the things you've done, and do daily, that put Jesus on the cross. My study partners encouraged me to make a sin list, beginning when I was 15 and leading up until now. Of course, we can't remember every sin we've committed in that time frame, but we certainly should be able to remember some that stand-out. And, we should be able to examine the sins we commit in our daily lives--the ones we discussed in the first study--the heart sins. I know I struggled with seeing how selfish I was and how deceitful I was and knowing that each time I realized I was doing those things, that was what put Jesus on the cross. He went to the cross and suffered for every time I lie, every time I choose myself over others, every time I snap at my kids or become spiteful with my husband. It's hard to realize that. He didn't just die for everyone else's sins..He died for MY sin. He died for YOUR sin. We have to own that in order to realize the sacrifice.
So what now? What is the response?
Acts 2:36-39 says this "Therefore, let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah. When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?' Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, everyone one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and all those who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call."
Peter challenged us to repent. To change because of the cross & the sacrifice God made. He said we should be baptized--to make a commitment to God because of the cross and in order to receive the Holy Spirit.
(I'll talk more about the Holy Spirit later..but wanted to add here that the Holy Spirit is actually a living thing in Christians..a being, just like Jesus and God. The Holy Spirit is the gift that we have been given after Christ's resurrection; because Jesus is not walking on this Earth, we have the Holy Spirit walking with us and living with us at all times.)
So, having seen the sacrifice that was made in order to give us forgiveness..an everlasting amount of forgiveness for all the things we have done and will do, we are called to have a response. And that response is to change our lives, to be baptized, and to persevere through life trying to leave our sinful ways and make ourselves more like Jesus.
When you read this, think of what your response has been so far..is that the correct response? If not, are you willing to respond the way God asks us to?
The next thing I'll be posting about is Repentance and Baptism. And on that note, I'm extremely excited to announce that after studying the Bible for a few months now and seeing that I've been called to respond by God..I am getting baptized tomorrow!! I am so stoked..so ready! I will definitely post about it and about my feelings in more depth afterward, but for now, I'm wrapping up.
Goodnight, and be blessed!