But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that he, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
It’s been almost 18 months since I have posted anything here. It really is cool how God works. After 18 months of not doing this, I got an idea of something that I wanted to write about last week. During that same week, 3 different people, independent of one another, all said something to me about blogging. Nothing for 18 months, I’m given an idea, and I’m given motivation to act on that idea. I’m telling you, anyone who doesn’t believe God is alive and acting in their lives really just isn’t paying attention!
I started this whole thing two Octobers with my thoughts on John 3:16. If you go read that you will see a similar line of thought there as here, but I feel like I have more to say on the topic.
As with most of my ideas, there is a hint of too much honesty and probably a little dash of sacrilege in what I want to write about. I want to reiterate my statement from the home page…if what I have to say doesn’t speak to you, it’s OK! I didn’t grow up in church, and I am a child of the eighties, so I have been taught to question everything. Maybe my very weird path will help someone…
So here goes…very early in my Christian walk, the thought crossed my mind that the sacrifice Jesus made for us wasn’t really that big of a deal. I mean, He’s God. He lives forever. From his perspective of being alive from the beginning of time, all the way to the end of time, even if you consider the whole 33-or-so years he was here on earth, it is only a micro-millisecond in comparison to his whole life. Then, when you consider his passion, his suffering from Good Friday through Easter, I mean It’s awful, but at the end of the day it was just a bad weekend, then he spends eternity back in heaven with God. How much of a sacrifice is that really?
Give me one more paragraph of blasphemy before I try and redeem myself…For a long time, I felt the crucifixion of Christ was more of a symbolic thing than a real sacrifice. We are meant to understand God giving his only begotten son over to the Devil as a way of representing his love for us. Before I was a father I saw this as an example of the worst possible thing. Now that I am a father, I understand more deeply that losing your child is the most unnatural, the most unimaginable thing that can happen to you. So while I always believed that Christ is real, the whole sacrifice thing was tempered in my mind by the understanding that no matter how bad Friday and Saturday might have been, Sunday morning, God got Jesus back. AND…since he knows everything, he knew he would get to go back home while he was going through what he went though.
Now I’m going to brag for a minute (not really, I’m still showing you how stupid I was)…I followed Jesus anyways. I believed in the morality, I believed in the principals, I believed that God had saved me, chosen me, and I really had very few second thoughts about being born again, and buying into the whole plan. I might have even thought my faith was better than yours, since I had a better understanding than most people of how God works. I felt that once you had God acting in your life, once you made a decision to accept and follow Jesus, you didn’t really need the whole “Jesus died for my sins” thing. That was mostly a shock tactic to get your attention. Lord help me…I thought it was a marketing ploy…
Now that I am old…I have met a few people in my life who have lost children. We are made in God’s image remember, so it is planted in us that to lose a child is the worst thing that can happen to a human being. The people whom I know that have experienced this are different from the rest of us. No matter how long ago it was, no matter how happy or comfortable the rest of their lives have turned out, there is a piece missing from them. Everyone I know has learned to hide it. Only they really know the true pain, and to a person, they don’t want to share even a small part of that pain with a stranger. When somebody trusts me enough to share this pain with me, I almost can’t take it. I am literally crying right now as I think of the people I know who carry this burden with them through life. Time does not heal this wound.
And here is where my 21-year-old theology was soooo wrong: God is not bound by time like we are. See, from our perspective, 2000 years ago Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Except for that bad weekend, He’s been living it up in heaven since then, and if we just believe in him, we get to go there and be with him forever. But it’s not really that easy from God’s perspective.
God is omniscient. I need you to think outside the box here and recognize that omniscient doesn’t mean “really, really, smart”. Omniscient means God knows EVERYTHIING. He knew you before you were born, He numbers the hairs on your head, He is with you when you pray, He knows what you need before you do, He has the plan to bring you home when He’s done with you here…and He doesn’t just have this relationship with you, He has this relationship with every single one of us who were, are, and will be created in His image from the beginning of history through the sounding of the final trumpet. God doesn’t feel time, He is not bound by the limitations that we who aren’t omniscient are bound by. When God does something, He does it in the past, the present, and the future.
Yet, He sacrificed His Son for me. Not 2000 years ago, He sacrificed His Son for me this morning, and He’ll do it again tomorrow. Jesus took the beatings from the Roman guards for me today, His blood is still wet on the ground. He allowed Himself to be hung on a cross like a common criminal to prove His love for me this afternoon, and He is still there right now praying to His Father with His last breath to forgive me. He gave up His right to be God, not for a few days, but forever…just to show stupid-me what real love really looks like. When Jesus went to hell, He was separated from His Father not for two days, but He is still separated from Him, in a way that we cannot understand, and until evil is finally defeated He will willingly remain separated from His Father, so that we may be reunited with our’s. Time does not heal this wound.
In the verse at the top, the author is writing in the present tense. He understood that Jesus is a living sacrifice, not was a living sacrifice. God’s plan for us is alive, it is on-going, it is meaningful, it is not symbolic, it is not metaphorical. Just because we struggle to love like Jesus does, does not mean we can’t accept that his love for us is real.