Observations on Life, Faith, Media & Technology

He Did That For Me

Theologians have a fancy phrase for it… they call it “Substitutionary Atonement.”  What it means in plain English is that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for sin.  From the beginning of the church, there has been a clear understanding of what Christ’s death on the cross meant.  It was not simply the unjust murder of an influential if somewhat unorthodox Jewish teacher on a Passover weekend.  It was the only begotten Son of God willingly giving up His life to pay the price for sin. Your sin.  My sin.

But for any truth to be a life-changing one, we must come to the place where it moves from being simple fact to being a truth that we embrace with our entire being.  It is one thing to know that Jesus died for you, but another thing altogether for the full weight of that truth to become painfully clear to you.  Someone once said this process involves making the 18-inch journey from your head to your heart.

I remember when I was 17 years old and a brand new Christian, so excited about my new-found faith. It was the Easter season, so the old movie “King of Kings” was on TV.  When the movie showed the crucifixion, I was deeply moved as I saw Him beaten and mocked.  As Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do,” tears began to roll down my face.  How could they have done this to Jesus?  Why would they want to crucify Him?  Why didn’t He call down angels to destroy them all and save Him?

It was then for the first time in my walk with the Lord I clearly sensed the Holy Spirit speak to my heart, as clearly as if I had heard it audibly.  Just five simple words that pieced my heart like a knife: “I did this for you.”

For the first time the full weight of that truth hit me like a ton of bricks.  It was my sin that put Him there.  He suffered and He died in my place.  He did that for me.

Many years later I was reminded of that experience again, as I saw someone else experience the same thing. We went with a group from church to see the film “The Passion of the Christ.”  I wept along with most everyone in the theatre as I watched a much more true to life depiction of Jesus’ suffering and death.  As we were leaving the theatre, I noticed a member of our church – a 92 year-old retired physician who walked with two canes – make his way to a seat in the lobby and begin sobbing loudly.  Several of us walked over to him. No one said anything for a few moments.  The doctor struggled to regain enough composure to speak. When he finally did, he cried out through his tears, “That was for me!”

How long has it been since the reality of God’s grace and forgiveness reduced you to tears?  When was the last time you wept over your sin and what it cost the Lord Jesus?  For most of us it has been way too long.

I encourage you to get caught up – again, as if for the first time – in the awe and wonder of the fact that the only begotten Son of God would give His life for you.

Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life… my all.

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