I’m still contemplating self-sacrifice over here. That and true greatness. It’s all seemed to hit at the same time – reading C.J. Mahaney’s book, “Humility: True Greatness,” a sermon on Matthew 18 and true greatness, and a wonderful example of Greater Love (Greater love hath no one than this: that a man lays down his life for his friends).
There’s a bit of pride whenever I think about Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and until watching the Retribution, I never realized it was there. I think “Yeah, Christ died for me, took my sins.” Then very quietly I inwardly add “But of course he did that for me!” I started writing a short story…
“Mr. Geoffrey Forbes is hereby convicted of high treason against His Royal Majesty the King of England and sentenced to hang.” The mallet struck the desk. “This Court-Martial is now adjourned.”
Mr. Forbes sat dumbstruck, his mind filled with jumbled thoughts.
How could they?
But I deserve it… it’s the just payment for what I did!
The word pounded in his mind.
The most shameful manner of death… hung – publically – for his crimes, like a criminal.
That’s what you are, you idiot, a criminal.
Mr. Forbes gulped as two army officers grabbed his upper arms and dragged him off to his cell again.
Sunlight streamed in through the small window, but Geoffrey saw only darkness. The darkness of the rope closing around his neck and his life fading away. He sat silently on the edge of his cot, elbows on his knees, staring at the floor.
It’s what I deserve.
High Treason. Our sin against our sovereign, God. Wanting to put ourselves in His place.
The sentence of death looms over our heads.
He lay down as if to sleep, but trepidation mingled with hatred and a feeling of wretchedness, and sleep did not come. Yet he lay still, eyes fixed on the stone ceiling, too shocked to move. Death has been so close before, but never this close. It’s terrifying… it closes in around you, consumes you.
But then, something amazing happens.
Someone else steps in.
And lets the punishment fall on him.
It’s so unfair – you’re the one that deserves to die, not him.
Yet he does anyway, does it for you.
You tell him not to, but he persists.
Says there’s something greater out there that you need to know about.
He takes it. He takes the criminal’s death on himself.
Him, the very Son of God, a criminal’s death,
in the place of the one who’s really the criminal.
So what do you do?
Why do we just sit there, jaws on the floor in awe. We hold the saddest, most precious, most wonderful story in the whole world… the most True story ever, and the least told.
I’m starting to understand just how much we can’t understand what Christ did for us… and that makes me all the more in awe of it. I hope I never do understand it, so I never stop thinking about it.
So I never stop sitting on the floor, Isaiah 53 or Philippians 2 open in my Bible, eyes closed, peace spread all over me.
I can’t find the words to express it. Hence two blog posts on it. And yet it’s just one of those feelings that words, even music, can’t explain. It’s like God – so infinite words can’t describe.
Do you feel it?
Do you feel Christ stepping in and being condemned in our place? Do you grasp it completely? Or is there still a faint “But I deserve it!” in your heart?
Bail O Dia ort
“Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.”