He chose to Die

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Many, many, many years ago Jesus walked the earth.  He was born (in a stable), he played in the dirt, he walked with men and gleaned from them their knowledge as He, himself grew into a man.

After that He fed 5,000 with 5 loaves of bread and two fish, He drew the little children close and faced off against the temptation of the devil.

He ate his last supper, faced the betrayal of His best friend, was rejected by the very people He’d come to love and then He died.

They mocked Him, judged Him and put a crown of thorns on His head, whipped Him until he bled, made Him bear the weight of the cross and drove nails into His hands,  His feet.

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” He cried out and then took His last breath.

The only man who’s ever walked this earth whole and completely blameless died on the cross, bearing the weight of a million sins.   Sins He didn’t commit, but Sins He chose to pay the price for.

Then they buried Him, leaving those who loved Him to mourn and those who’d begged for His death to feel…victorious?

3 days later, the stone was rolled away, the tomb was empty, Jesus was raised from the dead and the sins?  The ones He’d bore for you and for me where abolished – forgiven, securing our place in Heaven, in an eternity that we will never deserve, and yet one we’re promised to have if we choose to believe.

When we listen to, read or watch the story of the death & resurrection of Christ, so often we think of Jesus being forced to die on the cross.  I mean He was arrested, right?  They threw Him in jail, they beat Him, what choice did He have – He had to die…didn’t He?

No – He didn’t.

We were talking about God, you know the creator of the UNIVERSE?  Don’t you think, that if He’d wanted to get away He would have?  Don’t you think the One who gave those guards, Pontius Pilot breath, who crafted the treat that cross was made from, formed the bushes that grew those thorns, could have chosen to walk away? To vanish? 

He could have, but He didn’t.

Instead, Jesus chose to allow all of those things to happen and He chose to lay down His life.   With His death He made paid the highest price and made the ultimate sacrifice – paid with the drops of His blood and the last of His breath.

With His resurrection the price was paid and now, in His hand He holds out to you, to me the greatest gift ever given – the gift of forgiveness and eternal life.   All you have to do is accept it.

And I’m overwhelmed.  Humbled and grateful in a measure that words can’t ever express.  No matter how hard I try, I won’t ever deserve the gift He’s giving and yet it’s still there.  It’s free, no strings attached, I don’t have to sacrifice a lamb or make payments in 18 months, it’s free.  All we have to do is accept it, invite Him in and believe.

I know many of you are believers, those who’ve accepted the gift of eternal life and to you I say – “Happy Easter brothers & sisters, we love you!”  I’m so glad you did!

I also know there are many of you who aren’t.  For reasons that are completely your own (and valid if they’re important to you), you’ve chosen not to believe, maybe not to trust, to leave the beautifully wrapped “present” sitting on the table – and to you I say, “Happy Easter Friends! I love you!”  This isn’t about passing judgement, but about sharing my heart, my soul, my faith.  But let me ask you this…

What will you lose if you choose to believe?  The gift is free – you don’t even need your debit card.  The reward is eternal (and much less painful that its alternative) and the love is abundant.  If  what I believe is right, is true and I know in my heart it is – you have everything to gain in believing.

If I am wrong, and again I don’t believe that I am, but if I were – you have nothing to lose, I have nothing to lose.  You didn’t pay any price, you aren’t being asked to walk away from those you love or to do something horrific.  Your life won’t have changed and you’ll carry on past death into whatever else is meant to be.

The way I see it, in believing in Jesus Christ we have everything to gain, and nothing to lose, but in not believing we have everything to lose and nothing to gain.

Sending each and every one of you, regardless of the choice you make or the relationship we have – the warmest wishes for an Easter filled with unmistakable love and joy!  He is RISEN!

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