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FIRST-PERSON: Much too high a price

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BP)–“Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” Truly, all of us were there, because our sins nailed Him to the cross. But during the Easter season of 2004, many of us who have seen the movie, “The Passion of The Christ,” have visual images to reinforce the “old, old story of Jesus and His love.” We feel we stepped back into history and saw the whole thing.

As believers, many of us grew up knowing the story. We have contemplated the cross and our suffering Savior many times. Yet Mel Gibson’s graphic portrayal of Christ’s passion has brought a visual element that carried us, our emotions nakedly exposed, to the cross.

Reactions to the movie vary. One of my sons, Brad, said he kept reflecting on the fact that Jesus had the power to stop the whole thing at any time. Our Lord could have called an angelic army to protect Him in the garden. He could have stopped the series of examinations and unjust trials. He could have escaped the scourging or even healed His own wounds. He could have avoided the cross or come down from it alive and restored. He had that kind of power.

But He didn’t.

“He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth. Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7, NAS).

He willingly walked the Via Dolorosa, the way to the cross, for me. He suffered and died for you. He paid the penalty for my sins and yours.

In about 1982, in Brentwood Baptist Church of Brentwood, Tenn., a revival broke out. A scheduled “church revival” turned into a Holy Spirit-led movement of God. People were confessing sins and seeking forgiveness from people they had wronged. Evening services extended past 11 p.m. almost every night. It is the closest event I have ever witnessed to real spiritual awakening.

One evening, a church member began to testify of how he felt so unworthy of what Christ had done for him. He confessed that he lived his daily life with little thought of the sacrifice Jesus made for him and offered little to God in return.

Greg Nelson, a Christian songwriter/arranger/producer who was a member of the church, stood as the man concluded his testimony. Greg said he had been working on a song that expressed that same thought. The song was still in the developmental stages, but Greg went to the piano, and with great emotion began to sing, “You paid much too high a price for me: Your tears, Your blood, the pain, to have my soul just stirred at times, yet never truly changed. You deserve a fiery love that won’t ignore Your sacrifice, because You paid much too high a price.” Greg didn’t sing the song to those of us listening. He clearly sang it as a prayer to His Lord.

This Easter, who among us cannot join him in the heart-felt expression of gratitude to Christ?
Charlie Warren is editor of the Arkansas Baptist News, newsjournal of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

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