I find a three hour service on Good Friday helpful to me in having the time and context in which to ask and get answers to questions that bother me. One Good Friday I was sitting in the back of a church listening to a series of meditations on the seven last words of Jesus, and decided that I would ask a perennial question that has bothered me a long time.
As I addressed the question to Jesus, it came out something like, "I stand forgiven, not justified by my own prejudicial reason, not because I have paid the price to restore the things which I have done amiss, but because you have said, 'I have known you, and I have loved you just as you are, warts and all. I love you just as you are, and too much to leave you just that way.'"
"I have tried to justify myself by reason. I have explained my condition. I understood why I was in my bondage. I understood, but I remained in my bondage. I could blame my condition on others who were dysfunctional, but then my own condition was beyond my reach in them. I could only suffer, and add to my condition, bondage to those whom I had blamed.
And He spoke to me, "Forgive as you have been forgiven. Release those to whom you have bound yourself , as I have released you. It is in granting them freedom that you will be set free. Free them that you may be free for me."
But why the CROSS if excusing's all that's done? Why not the spoken word that you forgive. Would that not be enough? What more is needed to set me free from Sin? Why not a word alone?
The answer that He gave me was as follows. I find it comforting to know that God did not just arbitrarily put His Son to death in my place. There was more at stake than what I often hear.
"I am pleased to know that you receive my love, and yet I am not satisfied, and will not be until you are transformed, and I am perfectly reflected in your flesh.
"Since I do no magic that issues not from love, I cannot impose the change you need. Were I to impose the change, you would be no longer a person, but a thing. I can only show my love for you and invite you to receive. Respond to me. Choose me. Choose to walk with me through death and into life - life that I extend to you in my Kingdom - a Kingdom seen where love responds to love.
"Only through my death can you know life. Only through your death can you enter in. I come back to you from the other side of death to take your hand and lead you through to life. For death no longer holds dominion. I have made of death's back side a Kingdom, not a prison; and thus the one who was an enemy is now a friend. The one who in and by the Law would bind through all eternity comes now to set you free to pass from bondage unto me.
"That is why the CROSS must stand, and I must hang until death's effort to contain by Law is broken into New Creation's life. That is why the CROSS. There must be more than simply, 'I excuse.' Indeed to just excuse would do no more than set aside the pain, while leaving cause in place to bring again that pain. There must be more.
"And so Creation starts anew. The Old, unfinished, comes to find the gate into the New; and so I made of death the end of Old - a gate into the New.
"Such death is not always the end of life on earth. It is the end of life that you control, and it brings us into love. It means release to walk the way of life today. When this body's laid aside, the work of love you've borne for me is over in one realm now to be embraced within the new.
"That is why I hung upon the CROSS to die for you. There may have been a million ways I could have trod; but this one was the BEST for man and God.
"I love you still, and still I call to you, 'Receive my love! Be Mine today! and through eternity, we will multiply that love by all who come to share with us.'"
And so many of the fragments that I held in my faith were brought together in this one response of Jesus to my question. The CROSS is more than a courtroom where God condemns His Son in my place. It is the Key to a New Creation that was opened on that day when love broke the bonds of Law and Sin and Death, and set us free to live in that New Creation wherein God's Kingdom lies.The material in this tract is not copywrited. It was a gift to me from the Lord to share with anyone who would like to receive it. If you have found it as helpful to you, as I have found it to me, feel free to share it as you will with whom you will.
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