John 3:16 KJV For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.Those simple words both explain it all, and they explain nothing, because our human pea-brains can't begin to understand them ... not without faith. And where do we get that rare commodity? Only God can give it, to whomever he wants. So, all this is about God's doing, because he wanted to. All we can do is believe if we can. And you know what? If you want to, you can. Because that "want to" comes from God.
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
It's About The Doing
What is death? To us humans, it is at least an end. Those who disbelieve in some sort of afterlife are gambling that it is the end. Those of us who believe in a spiritual component to life share the hope that it is also a beginning. But, those of us who believe what the Bible says about death share the firm confidence that it is the beginning; all experiences leading up to death are nothing more than preparation for the life that follows. Though Easter is behind us for another year, we can still consider its meaning, both to us and to God. It begins with the Passion Week, and most everyone knows what that means; we get all sad about Good Friday and Jesus' death. Then on Easter Sunday, the devout among us get up really early, don our fanciest finery, and go to church for the Sunrise Service, usually followed by the Breakfast Bash. And we're secretly thankful that Daylight-Savings-Time has yet to spring us forward one hour. When we consider Christ's death, burial and resurrection, we find it easiest to figure, "Yeah, Jesus died, but not really, 'cause he resurrected himself after only three days. If I haven't consciously thought that, I've behaved as though I did. Let's consider what God's eternal Son had at stake back then. We know from John's gospel that Jesus wasn't too hot on the idea of Good Friday, if his "sweating blood" is any indication. He knew his death wouldn't last, so why was he so upset about it? Was it the same sort of dread we have before going to the dentist? "This is gonna really hurt!" The physical agony he endured to take away our penalty for sin is mind boggling, but that was just his humanity. As God's eternal, divine Son, he endured infinitely more than that. First, the One who shared the Father's divine glory and attributes humbled himself to be incarnated in flesh and blood as a human being. That in itself was the come-down of all come-downs. Think of Undercover Boss to the gazillionth degree. Next, the Judge of the universe, the King of kings and Lord of lords, endured the religious establishment's petty mind games, insults and outright persecution. He could have called down millions of angels to shut them up but good(the insubordinate peons). Third, the infamous passion of Christ was completely voluntary. At any point he could have summoned the heavenly host to carry him away from all that humiliation, blasphemy and torture--even from the cross itself. But he didn't. Not because he had to fulfill his destiny. Not because he followed orders as the Good Son. But because he loved every man jack among us enough to suffer more than we could ever imagine. In fact, some Christian zealots submit to actual crucifixion on Good Friday, trying to experience Jesus' suffering as penance for their own sins. But they have it all wrong; no mere human being could experience the kind of torment that Jesus did, because humans can only suffer physical pain and death. Jesus suffered infinitely more loss than that. The one Bible verse nearly everyone has heard at some point in their lives explains God's motivation in the simplest terms.