Wednesday, March 27, 2013

He Understands

It is easy to write off Jesus's death as just a story. Sure, it happened. But do we really understand its significance?

If you have grown up in Christianity, or even if you haven not, you probably know the story of Jesus's crucifixion. Christ's death and resurrection are the summits of the Christian faith. It's great that many people know of His sacrifice, but have we heard it so often that it loses meaning?

I fall victim to it often. I distance myself from Jesus's death because I've heard it so much. The phrase, "Jesus was crucified," is a fact to me. But what does this actually mean? I rarely stop and reflect about. I rarely stp and see that there is so much more to three simple words than meets the eye.

Jesus was crucified. Think about it for just a second. Really think about it. Imagine being there. Imagine the pain and the suffering Jesus felt. He was a human being. He was tortured, abused, spat upon, and nailed to a cross. If you want more vivid details, watch the The Passion of Christ. The people who had only recently packed houses and climbed roofs to hear Jesus's words now shouted "Crucify Him."

So often we focus on Jesus only as the Savior, risen from the dead. He is our Savior. He is risen...But He is also the Son of Man. The whole reason He became human was for us. He allowed us to have eternal life. And--something I find of great significance--He suffered so that we might know that HE UNDERSTANDS.

Jesus humbled Himself to enter into a human life. And He did not enter into humanity as a wealthy King. He denied the power He deserved. He instead entered into humanity as a baby in a manger.

He learned to walk, talk, and pray. He felt emotions. He thought thoughts. He was exactly like us in every single aspect except sin. He felt the same joys and pains that we feel today. He has laughed. He has wept. And He has died. He faced a vicious and cruel death for us.

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done (Luke 22:42).

It is through this verse that we catch a glimpse of His humanity when He asks His Father--our Father--to remove this cup from His hands. Jesus knew what lay ahead of Him and He knew it would not be easy. Though He petitioned for the cup to be removed from His hands, He was willing to carry through with His Father's will when the time came for His crucifixion. Even in the face of an excruciatingly painful death, He was able to stay true to His Father's commandments. He was able to forgive and pray and love.

It is through Jesus's life and death that we know He understands us. From birth to death, Jesus has been subject to every single aspect of humanity we are subject to, except sin. For this reason, He is both the perfect comforter in times of distress and the perfect role model in our quest toward union with Christ.

As Lent draws to a close and we approach Easter, now is the time to remind yourself that no matter where you are in your life, Jesus understands. He has felt the same joy, the same laughter, the same pain. He knows when we suffer and He knows what it is like to suffer. He knows what is like to feel temptation, and though Jesus Himself did not act on it, sin is not foreign to Him.

It would have been so easy for Jesus to crush His enemies, step down of the Cross, and return to His normal life of preaching and peacefulness. But He didn't do that. He didn't give into this temptation. He did what we should always do: obeyed God's will despite the presence of tempting alternatives.

His death is so much more than an ancient story. It is not just Church history. It is our history. After all, Christ endured such pain for each and every one of us. Our names were in His heart as He paid the ultimate price for our sins.

Jesus struggled and suffered just like us. He faced temptations....but He turned away. He turned the other cheek. He obeyed His Father's will. We are called to do the same. We are called to, in times of trial, turn to the only person in this universe who understands our struggles and offers a way out. His way is the truth and the light. His way alone can ignite the light inside of us. His way alone can turn chaos into life.

Related Song:
Lead Me to the Cross by Chris and Conrad

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