“Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us,
we have to see it as something done by us.”
– John R.W. Stott –
At times, I get along pretty well with my sin nature. Don't you? I'm sure I'm not alone.
It's often way too easy for me to walk comfortably through my day and not even think about my very large predisposition to sin, and when I say large, I mean it's huge...really, really big. You know...just like yours. I fight it frequently, but I don't fight it constantly. I guess it's just a sad fact that my focus isn't always on what's been done for me; instead, my focus may just be fixated on the beauty contained in the "results" of what's been done for me. However, we shouldn't just live in the "results." The results (in this case, forgiveness, redemption, and grace) aren't fully appreciated unless the effort put forth to enable them has been identified and thoroughly examined.
What's been done for us is both sad, violent, shameful, and yet, still beyond precious...all rolled into one. What's been done for us was the passing of our guilty punishment onto the life of an innocent – an innocent who willingly took our place. Our spot on the cross was assumed by another. The price for our sinful rebellion was paid in full by the blood of a Savior. It was our cost to pay, but He took our blame. Ultimately, we hold the responsibility for the activities that took place on Calvary that day. We did it.
In his quote above, John Stott had it correct, "Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us." That's a hard truth, but the dark reality of our guilt stands in stark juxtaposition to the beautiful, redeemed innocence we enjoy through the blood of Jesus. The two stand side-by-side as further proof of Christ's great love for us...both His guilty executioners and His forgiven children.
Our lives are far from perfect, and they are often imperfect because we choose to embrace that sinful imperfection over God's will. Christ was sentenced, shamed, beaten, and ultimately killed for the same imperfections that we gravitate to in our unchecked, and often shamefully ignored, sin nature. Let's not make a claim to the "results" of what He has done on our behalf without first taking complete ownership as the cause. We may find it helps our focus to remain on the One who took such punishment for transgressions He could lay no claim to...but claimed all the same.
Jesus didn't really choose the cross. What Jesus did was to definitively choose us, while accepting the cross as part of the process. When He made that choice, the cross was inevitable, but He made the choice anyway. What a wonderful Savior!
This Easter, as you will most likely be sitting in front of a screen watching your church, take ownership of the events that happened to Jesus. It's only then that we can begin to fully understand and appreciate the depth of what was really done for us.
Calvary, the pivot-point where justice met grace. I thank God for the cross of Calvary, and I thank Jesus for draping His innocence upon that cross to stand in my place.
It's Friday on the hill of Golgotha, and Jesus is dead, but the tomb won't hold Him very long. Resurrection and redemption is on the way. But what was necessary has been accomplished. It is finished...well, almost. Sunday is coming...
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!