Imagine. You have this friend. Well, friend is maybe too loose a term. An acquaintance. You have always wanted more of a relationship… you have offered, called, invited. But this fair weather friend only finds time with you when it is convenient for him. You know the type, right?
This “friend” is constantly getting into trouble. Trouble follows him wherever he goes, actually. He makes bad choices, really lives in the moment. You offer advice out of love for him… but he never listens.
Imagine. This friend is in deep. He has lied and cheated his way into a hole and he is stuck. He calls on you for help, like he always does when he finds himself in a predicament. There is no way out for him this time. He is in it too deep. You can’t pay bail big enough, you can’t sweet talk fast enough. So, you do the only thing you know to do. You take the blame for him.
What?! You take the blame?! Yes, that’s what I said. You take the blame. You tell the authorities it was you who committed the crimes and you take the consequences in his place. There is a speedy trial, no one really listens to the facts. There is a hasty decision, no one is really invested in the outcome. You are sentenced to death for your “friend’s” bad judgment.
Crazy, right? I mean… who would do that?! Think really hard. Is there anyone you know that you would be willing to go through that for? Slander your good name. Lose your life. Is there anyone you know who you would be willing to go through so much for?
Sin. The devil is crafty and he coaxes even the best Christians into bad choices and wrong directions. From the Exodus out of Egypt we have watched God’s people complain, bicker, lie, cheat… and sin their way through life. God’s people, for thousands of years, have turned from His teachings and lived in the moment. They’ve lived lives of sin and scandal, only turning to God when the consequences got too hard to bear. And God was always there.
We’ve read it all… the Old Testament is full of scandals. Noah’s son bringing dishonor on his drunken father. Sarah doubting God and giving Hagar to Abraham. Lot’s daughters turning to incest to keep the family going. David and Bathsheba. Solomon and his thousand wives. Idol worship. Kings of Judah… pick one, any one. And for every sin, Jews were told specific sacrifices meant to cleanse them and make them right with God again.
The sins haven’t changed that much over the last few millenniums. Our idols look different, but we still worship them. Drugs, alcohol, money… there are many things that turn our hearts and heads from God. Our lives become so busy, so full of other things that God gets pushed to a few small hours once a week… until we need him. Then we bring him out, dust him off and asked him to fix our problems. And then… the cycle begins again.
There isn’t a sacrifice big enough for how often we stray from God. We are human in every since of the word. We are sin magnets. Like little kids, our judgment is poor and we fail God on a daily basis. Anyone have a small goat to burn? Or maybe you are in need of something on the larger size… an ox perhaps?
How about a lamb? Yes, THE lamb would be a sacrifice big enough to cover our sins. THE lamb’s blood will cover our sins for all time. Jesus. The final sacrifice. The conqueror of sin and death so that we may live with God eternally.
Back to that “friend” I was talking about. Let’s change the players a bit (I think you see where I am going)… YOU are the fair weather friend. You are constantly falling into sin. A lie here, broken commandment there. But it adds up. You will never be good enough to measure up to God with all the sin and temptations you fall into each and every day. JESUS took the blame. Jesus paid the price for you and me. The price was death. The final sacrifice. Jesus’s blood shed so that we may live. Jesus’s blood shed so that we may have a personal relationship with God. Jesus’s blood shed for you and for me, to cover our sins. He was sinless and yet he took the blame for us.
That is Easter. That is what makes this time so important for all Christians. Jesus died for us. Now, we must live for him.
New Century Version (NCV)
5 Christ died, and we have been joined with him by dying too. So we will also be joined with him by rising from the dead as he did. 6 We know that our old life died with Christ on the cross so that our sinful selves would have no power over us and we would not be slaves to sin. 7 Anyone who has died is made free from sin’s control.
8 If we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. 9 Christ was raised from the dead, and we know that he cannot die again. Death has no power over him now. 10 Yes, when Christ died, he died to defeat the power of sin one time—enough for all time. He now has a new life, and his new life is with God. 11 In the same way, you should see yourselves as being dead to the power of sin and alive with God through Christ Jesus.