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FIRST-PERSON: To the cross

LEBANON, Tenn. (BP)–A couple of weeks ago, I drove my daughter to a doctor’s appointment that she was dreading. On the way there, she talked about how difficult it is to make yourself do something that you know must be done but that you also know will cause you pain. It may be something that results in our own good, but at the moment, all we can think of is our immediate desire to avoid pain.

I could relate to her dilemma and silently recalled situations that had caused similar emotions in my life. We all know the feeling — it has to happen, this painful thing, but fear or self-preservation makes the journey there a very difficult one. It would be so easy to run the other way and ignore our situation.

But some things just can’t be ignored.

Jesus knows how we feel. Even as He rode into Jerusalem, even as the people cried, “Hosanna,” and blessed His name, even though He knew it was the right thing to do, Jesus felt the burden of His impending suffering and said, “Now my soul is troubled” (John 12:27). Can you imagine? Who would, who could choose to suffer in such a terrible way?

It’s rare that someone will choose to die for someone else. And then it’s usually because of the goodness of that person. But Jesus chose to die for those who would revile Him — for the very ones who would cause His suffering (Romans 5:8). While we were in revolt against Him, He chose to die for us.

It must have been the longest journey of His life, a slow, clip-clopping ride on the back of donkey’s colt, each rocking step taking Him closer to pain. Oh, He would face one more such journey with a heavy plank across His bleeding back, but this one was the first step to death. And He was willing to take it, because He knew that some things, things like God’s justice and the wages of our sin, simply can’t be ignored. It was why He had come to this hour. It was His purpose to reconcile us to the Father, to pay a debt many of us don’t even recognize that we owe, and to die so that we may live. “Father, glorify your name,” He cried. How? By crushing your Son.

Do we yet understand the cost of sin — that Jesus Christ who knew no sin during His life on earth actually became sin so that the justice of a Holy God would be satisfied? From Adam to us, the curse has been passed down. Each one born in sin, then choosing to sin and desperately trying to ignore the truth of our situation. Thinking that God understands our weakness. He knows that we are trying to do better. Surely God won’t judge us for acting like everyone else. And isn’t sin just an old-fashioned term that the world has long outgrown? After all, God is patient, God is loving, and God will forgive.

But God also is holy. He hates sin and has declared that the wages of sin is death. Try as we may, we can’t ignore this truth. Painful though it may be, we can’t serve two gods at the same time. We have to make a choice. Will it be God or will it be self? As Jesus said to Philip and Andrew on the day of His arrival in Jerusalem, “The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me. Where I am, there My servant also will be” John 12:25-26).

Where was Jesus when He spoke these words? On the road to the cross.

Where will we be when we choose to follow Him? If we truly value the price He paid, if we comprehend His sacrifice and recognize our guilt, then we will join Him at the cross. Yes, everything in us revolts against the pain of the cross. Yes, we will do almost anything to keep from dying to ourselves. Yet, that is where our Master leads. If we love Him, we will follow him — even to the cross.
Lisa is a writer who lives with her husband Chuck, their three kids, two dogs and two cats on a farm in middle Tennessee.

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  • Lisa Huddleston