A Day of Ultimates

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The most intense twenty-four hour period in history.  To many in the Roman empire at that time, it was just an ordinary Thursday and Friday.  To the Jews that day it was one of many celebrations of the Passover.  To the world and history, it was the day of ultimate salvation.

A man, ultimately humble, yet ultimately powerful.  A simple carpenter from Nazareth who was the Son of God.  Fully God and fully man.  Tempted, yet without sin.  This was Jesus, the Christ.  “No form or majesty that we should look at him,” yet his name shall be called, “Wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, Everlasting Father,” “Emmanuel,” meaning “God with us.”

Jesus’ disciples did not know what was going to happen after that Passover meal, though they had been told by Jesus himself many times.  Their teacher, whom they respected above all men, got up from their feast and served them by washing their feet.  It was a day that they would never forget.

Then Jesus took them to the Mount of Olives to pray.  This was leading up to the moment of destiny, told about since the beginning of time, “he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”  However, Jesus still prayed that the cup be taken from him.  When the mob came to arrest him, Jesus could have called down a legion of angels to slay them, but he did not.  This was the moment where the ultimate predestined event met the ultimate act of freewill.

With Jesus’ crucifixion, the cross, which was the ultimate symbol of torture, punishment, and death, became the ultimate symbol of grace, freedom, and life.  The perfect man, completely without sin, bore the punishment for the sins of the world.

In that moment, irreconcilable paradoxes were reconciled.  The greatest measure of God’s wrath, and the greatest measure of God’s love were poured out.  Wrath and grace were poured out on those undeserving of it.  No moment was more terrible, and no moment was more beautiful.

In that hour, the Trinity was broken, the Son cut off from the father, and man was restored to his Creator.  On that Passover day, a day on which the Jews remembered that they were set apart by God, the door of salvation swung open wide to the whole of humanity.  The curtain was torn.

Jesus cry, “It is finished,” was the ultimate cry of surrender, and the ultimate cry of victory.  He died, and in his physical death, man was saved from eternal death.  The world mourned and the sky grew dark, and all was still.  The earth held it’s breath as its savior, for the glory set before him, endured the cross, despising its shame, and died.

But the story wasn’t over….Sunday was coming.

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It’s Not About Who You Are

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After reading part of Max Lucado’s No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, I was bothered by this phrase which I hear so often in the world around me, “God loves you for who you are.”  While I understand why people say this, I disagree with the wording of this phrase.  If God truly loved us for who we are, He wouldn’t love us at all, since we betrayed and rebelled against Him.  Furthermore, if God loved us for who we are, then sin would be no big deal.  By saying that God loves someone for who that person is, one is saying that God’s love is conditional.  All three of these things are false, therefore, God does not love us for who we are.

God created man in His image, and He created man perfectly.  God loves His creation, and man is included in that love.  God loves man because He created man.  At that point in time, man, Adam and Eve, had a perfect, whole relationship with God.  Nothing came between the first two people and God, they completely loved, trusted, and shared with one another.

Sadly, this perfect world ended with the entrance of sin.  When God created man, He gave man the ability to choose to love Him.  Adam and Eve chose to sin.  Sin is rebellion against God.  God hates sin because it is everything that He is not, evil, twisted, and deadly.  When Adam and Eve sinned, they were no longer able to experience God’s perfect love.  God had to force Adam and Eve out of the garden, because a holy and perfect God cannot be near sin.

Every human being since Adam and Eve has sinned, we are all sinners.  People are defined by their actions.  All one has to do to look into another man’s heart is to observe his actions.  Thus, anyone who sins can be defined as a sinner.  Because God is holy and we are sinners, He could have and should have destroyed us.  However, God is a loving, and merciful God.

God did not want the story of the world to end with the destruction of man, so He provided a way of restoration in the sacrifice of Christ.  Romans 5:8 says, “but God shows his love for us in that we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  God loves us, not for who we are, but because of who He is.  He is love, as 1 John 4:8 points out, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  God loves man unconditionally because it is a part of His very nature.

Finally, if God loved us for who we are, i.e. what we do, then there would be no reason for anyone to repent of his sin.  God, because he is holy, hates sin.  God judges sin, because sin is fundamentally evil.  Over and over in history, individuals and nations have fallen because of their sin.  Sin is a problem.  Thankfully, God has provided us a way to turn from our sin and back to Him.

In conclusion, we should praise God that He does not love us for who we are, that He does not treat us as we deserve.  Thus, I think that we should amend, “God loves you for who you are,” to a much more beautiful statement, “God loves you because of who He is.”