I spent this week reading, studying and teaching a class at my church on Easter Sunday about the passion and the suffering. As Henri Nouwen put it, “How can I rejoice fully in your Resurrection when I have avoided participating in your death?” I even watched the finale of “The Bible” on the History Channel. What I saw mirrored what I had felt through the week: how could any person endure such agony?
The temptation here is to get all “preachy” and philosophical. But I won’t. I would like to get personal. We know because we have heard it said all our lives that “Jesus did it all for me,” etc. But seriously, he did! I began to wonder if I could endure the beatings, the whipping, the flogging, the trudging up to Calvary carrying my death-causing lumber. No, I couldn’t.Yet, what if only one of my sins put me there? Like us all, there are many to choose from. But think for a moment of only one (it doesn’t have to be one of the “big ones”) and realize crucifixion is what we deserve. Yet, Christ chose to take my place!
We sang “He Chose to Die” during our Maundy Thursday service. Christ, being fully God, could have “called ten thousand angels” and zapped ‘em all. That would have proved a point. But love prevailed and he chose the suffering servant role.Fast forward back to today in the twenty-first century and after this high holy week we Christians will return to our disciple-type of arguing over who is the best in His Kingdom and who will get the choice seats in Heaven. I am pretty sure that I don’t get it all right, yet neither do you. Still we voice our opinions as “gospel truth” and demean another follower of Christ as a lesser Christian because he or she sees an issue (usually a social one) differently. Unfortunately, I have lived that kind of discipleship—one in which I was sure my interpretation was Biblical and anyone who saw it differently was wrong and really couldn’t be a real Christian. When I sense that now from others, I wonder what happened to the “love one another” command Jesus gave to us. I am pretty sure he meant it.
I describe myself now as a Romans 8 Christian. To summarize, this passage says that nothing can separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus my Lord. That’s it! Nothing! Nada! Zip! You can’t name one thing that can negate my relationship with Jesus Christ—and that is a very good thing.