Friday, 22 April 2011

Easter Makes Christmas - Good Friday edition

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE Christmas. I love celebrating Christmas. But Easter makes Christmas. Technically, you can't really have one without the other. But Easter completes Christmas. The truth is that both Christmas and Easter have become so secularized that it takes deliberate thought to celebrate their true meanings.

I already wrote a post this past December in a similar vein - I said (yes, I'm about to quote myself - hey, it's my blog!)...
Christmas is about the reason Jesus was born. It's about the reason He left the glory of heaven and exchanged it for 33 years on a planet full of people who had and still do reject Him. It's the reason He endured an agonizing death on the cross to pay the price that was mine to pay. What was the reason? You. Me. Love for you and me. He was the Rescuer sent by God to pay the penalty for my sin. He took on the full wrath of God in my place. In your place. Because He loves you that much! Someone needed to make a way back to God, and He was the only One who could do it. I can't do it, you can't do it. Only He can.

And so He came - born to die. But the story, thankfully, did not end there. Death did not defeat Him. God raised Him from the dead. And in the end, death will not defeat us either.

I want to expand on this a bit.

Christmas is fantastic. The very idea of the incarnation is incredible to me.

Jesus Christ has always existed and always will exist. To our finite minds, this is tough stuff to understand. But, quite frankly, if we could understand everything about God, He wouldn't be worthy of our worship, would He? Jesus Christ didn't start to exist on the date of His birth here on earth like we did.

He has always existed. And prior to that Christmas over 2000 years ago, He lived in the splendor of heaven with angels worshiping Him as He enjoyed perfect fellowship with God the Father and The Holy Spirit. The majesty that He enjoyed is unimaginable to us. And He left that all, to come to this dingy ball orbiting the sun, as a human being.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss says...
  • The infinite became finite.
  • The immortal became mortal.
  • The Creator became as one of His creatures.
  • The One who never sleeps, became tired—as a man.
  • The Creator of the oceans of water—all the bodies of water on the earth—became thirsty.
  • The one who fed His people with manna in the wilderness became hungry.
  • The one who flung the stars into space slept under the stars.
  • The one who inhabited heaven’s ivory palaces was born in a borrowed cattle shed.
  • The omniscient God had to learn how to talk and walk as a child, as a baby, as an infant, as a human.
  • The eternal Word of God had to learn how to read.
  • The Helper of His people became helpless and dependent.
  • The beloved Son of God became the rejected Son of Man.
  • The one who created angels had angels come to His aid during His temptation in the wilderness, and again in Gethsemane.
Isn't that incredible?

But it's not just the fact that He did it that was so important. It was why He did it.

He did it to save us. He did it because He loved us.

Our sin has separated us from our Holy God. He cannot abide any sin in His presence - not even the smallest of sins. There is no way we can be good enough to get to heaven because it requires absolute perfection. And I don't know about you, but I don't even come close. Some people are "better" than others. But it doesn't matter because they're not perfect.

Let's say (for arguments sake), that the requirement for getting to heaven was being able to jump from the earth to the moon. It's impossible. No one could do it. Now, Michael Jordan would certainly be able to jump a lot higher than I could. But it wouldn't matter. His amazing vertical still doesn't get him anywhere near the moon.

The real requirement for getting into heaven is even more impossible than that. Absolute perfection. It's impossible.

So we've got a pretty huge problem.

God is just, so He can't just forgive us. Somebody has to be able to pay the price for our sin. The price is death. And I deserve it.

But God is also love.

So, how did God balance His absolute justness with His absolute love?

He did it with it with Christmas and Easter.

Jesus Christ voluntarily gave up His godness and entered into humanity in order to bring us to God. He took on flesh, He veiled His glory, He crossed the infinite gap between heaven and earth - in order to restore our relationship with Him. And that's why Christmas is so incredible.

But the thing is, if He just came here and then went back to heaven - well, that wouldn't help us anything.

He had to die. For me. For you. He willingly became the substitute for my sin. He took my punishment upon Himself because He loves me that much. He took your punishment upon Himself because he loves you that much.

And why was this sacrifice acceptable? Because He lived an absolutely perfect life. Only an absolutely perfect life would be an acceptable sacrifice to our Holy God.

And so, on that dark Friday, so many years ago, Jesus Christ volunteered to take the whole wrath of God upon Himself, so that we might be saved. Yes, He endured unspeakable physical pain during the crucifixion, but the spiritually suffering was worse by far.

From Nancy Leigh de Moss...

It was the separation from His Father from whom he had never since all eternity past ever experienced a single second of separation.

Until this moment, when others had misunderstood or forsaken Him, He had always depended on the closeness and fellowship with His Father. That’s where He would run. That’s where He found a refuge. But now that refuge was no longer available to Him. Others could claim in their times of suffering the promise of Psalm 27, verse 10, “My father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in,” but Jesus was denied that provision that was available to everyone else. At this moment He is utterly alone and forsaken.

God is a Holy God. And on the cross, Jesus was bearing our sin - He had become sin for us, and that is what caused Him to be separated from a Holy God as He drank the full cup of God's wrath on our behalf.

Jesus did not just feel forsaken—He was forsaken by His Father. He had to be forsaken in order to redeem us from our sins. He had to have fellowship and intimacy with God broken because God was judging Him and rejecting Him as we deserved to be judged and rejected for our sin....

The picture we have in the Scripture is that of the Father actively, intentionally, directly, attentively involved in imputing our sin to His Son and executing our judgment upon His Son....
It wasn’t ultimately the Romans or the Jews who put Jesus to death. Ultimately, it was God who put His own Son to death. And that forsakenness He cried out about ... was not just a turning from the Son—just the opposite. It was a turning to the Son and against the Son in a hostile outpouring of condemnation upon our sin in His Son.

And yet, at the same time, ironically, the Father would never have been so pleased with His Son as He was in this moment of His forsakenness... The Son had fulfilled exactly what the Father sent Him to do. So the forsakenness Jesus felt must also have been accompanied with a deep sense of satisfaction that He knew He was doing the Father's will, and that the Father would be pleased with the sacrifice . . . “who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross.”

Jesus chose to be the substitute for my sin. He endured the punishment that I deserved. And He did it because it was the only way to reconcile His holiness and justice with His mercy and love. He alone was worthy to be the perfect sacrifice for my sins.

And when God's wrath was emptied out onto His Son, Jesus cried out victoriously "It is finished!"

This is my all time favourite Easter song. I don't think I've ever been able to sing it without crying.

How Deep the Father's Love For Us
How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
And make a wretch His treausre

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
And wounds which mar the chosen one
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the man upon the cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished!

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer.
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom.

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer.
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom.

Thank you, precious Jesus.

It's Friday, but Sunday's coming!!


Pamela said...

Great post. So full of truth.

Andrea said...

I love that song too!! Lots of emotion, for sure.

CMS Websites said...

Thanks for great posting


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