LENT: Day 40 - I Tell You, Now Is The Day of Salvation
Saturday, March 31 2018
Today is the Saturday between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday - the last day of our Lenten journey. To all those that are still walking with me in this adventure: we made it! Counting today, we have walked together for 40 days: yesterday we made it to the hill of Calvary, remembering the death of Jesus on the cross – and tomorrow we will see Christ resurrected and alive forevermore!
Two years ago on this day, when I wrote this reflection, I was at home sick with a chest cold and a migraine headache. I should have been preparing for our church’s Easter Sunday services. Instead, I was … well …
Well honestly, I am feeling somewhat sorry for myself as I lie in my bed, alone, thinking where I could or should be were I feeling well …
But just now the Holy Spirit has reminded me what happened in these past few days more than 2000 years ago – where Jesus of Nazareth was, what He was doing, what was happening to Him. He was celebrating His last supper with His disciples, knowing full well all that lay before Him. He spent a time of agonizing prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. He endured a betrayal and His arrest. Without a word He bore His trials before the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, then before King Herod and Pontius Pilate. He suffered mocking and spitting, beating and flogging, false accusations, a blindfold, insults, a crown of thorns, a purple robe, false charges … Those who only 5 days before had shouted “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” were now shouting “Crucify Him!” Then there was the carrying of His own cross through the city streets up to Calvary’s hill, the nails, the dripping blood, the physical pain, the shame, the thirst, the heart-wrenching feeling of being abandoned by almost everyone, even His Father in heaven – the seeming injustice of it all!!!
And yet, the perfectly innocent Jesus was precisely fulfilling all justice by being willing to die a sinner’s death on a cross on behalf of all the sinners of the world. Sin had to be paid for, in blood, by a death – as Leviticus 17:11 states: “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” And as Hebrews 9:22b states: “… without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” A holy and just God needed to fulfill the laws of holiness and justice – and the same loving and merciful God chose His own Son to do that fulfilling, so that the rest of the world would not have to. We, you and I, deserve to die for the sin in our hearts and in our lives – but Jesus, God’s one and only perfect Son, chose to die on our behalf. So yes! That Jesus would have agonized and suffered all that He did 2000+ years ago was a complete injustice towards Him. But He chose to do so, so that His and our heavenly Father’s anger and wrath would not fall on us, but on Him – so that the Father’s judgment and condemnation would not fall on us, but on Him – so that all justice, on heaven and on earth, might be perfectly fulfilled and those of us who believe in Jesus’ sacrificial and propitiatory death on Calvary’s cross might be forgiven and enjoy eternal life.
So, yes, I am sick in bed today, with a chest cold and a migraine headache. But: is that anything at all compared to what Jesus went through for me? How can I possibly feel sorry for myself, when I remember all that Jesus bore and endured for me? How can I not forget about myself altogether, and simply fall prostrate before Him who suffered so much on my behalf? And why? Because He had to? No! Because He chose to! Because He loves me!
And because He loves YOU, my friend!
As Romans 5:6-8 declares: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ 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.”
And Romans 6:23 states: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Think on this today, my friend: what you and I justly deserve for our sins, the perfect and innocent Jesus paid in full – what you and I could only long for, a pure and matchless life in an ideal heaven, Jesus offers to us if only we believe in Him as our Savior and Lord.
“… I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2b)
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