“The book has been closed”
In Japan there is a mountainous area that for centuries has been called something that translates into “The place where you leave your mother”. It was named so because of an ancient custom of taking the very old and feeble up to the top of a mountain and leaving them there. A thick forest grows far up these mountain sides, and had we been one day a few centuries ago, you would have seen a strong young man carrying an aged wisp of a woman on his back through the dense forest. As they moved upward, the young man noticed that his mother was reaching out and breaking small branches. “Why are you doing that mother?” he asked. She looked at him with eyes that were dimmed by everything except love, and said: “So you will not become lost on the way back, my son.”
Life and death, the two go hand in hand.
No doubt you would of or heard of a busy and stressed person who had a heart attack and survives. Is given a second chance and in that alters there lifestyle. To share more time with loved ones and enjoy more of the small things of life.
It has been shown that a person who has been advised by the doctor that they only have a certain amount of time to live, seem to receive heightened senses. The remarkable beauty and smell of a flower can seem wondrous.
The first time I faced death was when I was young and at my Grandfathers funeral. As is with funerals, half those attending were either not Christians or if they were, not regular worshippers. The minister opened with if Walter could talk to me today, he would say “They are here by default, so give it to them.”
Our tears subsided because we knew that’s exactly what Grandpa would have said. A voice from the grave that gave us peace, both in wit and in the sureness of where he knew he was going. Life and death, in Christ the two go hand in hand.
Today, standing at the foot of the cross-we see the horror of death, yet receive the joy of life.
But why did Jesus have to die?
In 1st Corinthians Chapter 15 Paul tells us “For as by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall be made alive.”
In the Garden of Eden, the human race fell to sin-and the consequence, death was brought into our world. (and) God’s response, looks like I’ll have to fix up this mess.
If it was me, I might have gone for the old “let’s try two out of three scenario”. But God doesn’t take sin lightly, and that can be a horrifying thought. Because my reckoning is this, if Adam and Eve sinned-the first two at the top of the family tree, who I would assume in my feeble human mind, would have been made with a lot less imperfections than me-what chance have I got.
(and) that’s the point, on our own-not a cracker. So God gives us an out, AGAIN.
I say again thinking of the great flood. The world was full of sin, so God acts and warns he will flood the earth. God does not take sin lightly. Now everyone at the time was welcome to come aboard the ark, but all declined except for Noah and his clan. Noah told the people, when building the Ark, essentially in the middle of nowhere and in a barren land of what would take place-imagine the ridicule he and his family would have received.
God promised all a way out-an ark to safety, but was repaid by unbelief and ridicule.
But sin remained, because humans sin.
2,000 years ago God sent another Ark to offer the human race life. Not of wood and nails, but of flesh and blood. (and) 2,000 years ago, as now-God is repaid by unbelief and ridicule.
Nothing has changed, because sin hasn’t changed. Society may guild the Lilly so to speak by changing the human side of things where we “now don’t tell a lie, “but instead, now “tell an untruth”. Seriously.
I’m starting to think the question is not why did Christ have to die, but why does God put up with our world’s rubbish.
Why, because our God is a God of life, not death.
He brought life to this world through His creation, and on Good Friday, our deserved punishment was put on Christ to bring us life.
When I was very young I remember one of my mum’s favourite songs had the chorus verse “Before you criticise and abuse, take a walk in my shoes”. Mum used to refer to this when people made judgment calls about others behaviour.
Howard Hughes, the man who was portrayed in the movie the aviator. Wealthy, the person that put in place plane travel and a successful movie director left his place of riches and honour and took on the life of a homeless wanderer. In this journey, in the back blocks, dirty hungry and with nothing seemingly to offer-a person stopped and gave him a lift. Upon Howard’s death, he left the man that picked him up a fortune. This man did not know it until that moment.
In Christ there are no surprises.
Our Lord and Saviour on the cross asked forgiveness for those persecuting him saying, “Forgive them Father they don’t know what they do”. Because he has walked in our shoes.
Our moment is now-you have received your inheritance-now.
Jesus suffered temptation, fear, hunger and felt physical pain just like me and you. (and) he felt the bite of death-for us. He winced at the piercing of the nails. He endured the taunting of the crowd and the unjust accusations. Jesus was not a spectator viewing our situation from a distance. He joined himself to us and absorbed the pain that should have been ours. In his death he carried our sorrows. He came to the scene of our guilt and stretched out his hands to receive our sin.
He looked death in the eye and left nothing undone. All was completed and the book was closed on our failure.
Good Friday, a harrowing day when we see the part we have played. But we have a God of love and life. A god that allows us to look towards Jesus resurrection, and rejoice that just as our sins died in Jesus, we are raised to life in Jesus.
Romans Chapter 8 “If God is for us, who can be against us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger or sword. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Jesus our Lord”.
Why does God put up with us? why did Jesus have to die? Love.
Revelations chapter 7: “I looked, and behold a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out in a loud voice, Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the lamb. And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, saying, Amen. Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God forever and ever Amen. Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come? I said to him, Sir you know. And he said to me, these are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the lamb”.
Yes, today we see the death of the only one who did not deserve it, but today we see life.
Today we live in that promise and after our last day that promise is fulfilled.
Live today, every moment in the surety of that promise. Amen.