Let’s be real, there’s no need for religious mumbo-jumbo. Life can be tough. Things happen that we can’t predict. We try our hardest for something and other things we cannot control mess it up. We get frustrated, we get discouraged, we want to throw in the towel. At least, if you’re me, that is. The people who tell you that if you make Jesus your Lord, everything will be hunky dory misrepresent Christianity. It is a constant, wearing struggle, sometimes feeling like it’s always uphill, one step forward, three steps back. Heck, every single person who were Jesus’ closest disciples, other than John who died alone in exile on a deserted island, were all killed with torturous deaths.
We have to fight against societies who don’t understand the spiritual pursuit. We have to fight our own bodies and minds to live lives that are pleasing to God. We have to lay down dreams and desires, we struggle through persecution, misrepresentation, discouragement, and seeming defeat constantly. We have to encourage people even when we’re feeling low ourselves. We have to walk in faith when we want to cower in fear. We have to persist, endure, fight, pray, cry, fast, rejoice, worship… whether we “feel” like it or not. Christianity, when truly lived for the glory of God, is NOT a crutch for the weak… it’s the hardest thing we can possibly do, sustained day after drudging day.
Why is it worth it?
TO 90% of people, that answer doesn’t mean anything. Who would possibly go through all that crud for one guy?
But when you stop long enough to seriously think about what His life meant and accomplished, it takes on a whole new dimension. The God who spoke words and all creation was made, established, and has run without flaw or error since it was established allowed Himself the humiliation of being born as one of the creatures He created. He lived a life pointing the way to a right relationship with God, offered us hope and purpose, yet almost all ignored Him, reviled Him, hated Him. Even living a sinless live while being tempted in every possible way that we are, He was still despised. He was misunderstood even by those closest, dearest friends of His. When every power in the demonic realm rose up against Him, His most trusted friends deserted Him. They ran, leaving Him alone, no one to turn to, no one to talk to who cared, no one to share His deepest hurt and pain. This man, the one who healed people who were sick, who spoke life into hurting people, who made the outcast feel loved and welcomed and wanted, who made the blind see, and who made the crippled walk. Who lived His life for everyone else, ignoring His own needs. When HIS time of hurt came, not a single person stood with Him. The people He touched turned on Him. The people He loved abandoned Him. The night He was arrested was a dark, seemingly hopeless night.
And in the midst of that, He was STILL the same God of absolute power who spoke and universes were made. He could have said “the heck with it, I’m calling it quits. These ingrates aren’t worth it.”, and left in His own supernatural power to return to His Father in heaven. But there were two things more important to Him: He loved His Father completely, and was willing to obey at any cost, and He loved us, you and me, more than He feared a torturous death.
Now think about it. Not only did He humiliate Himself by being born into a weak, pathetically powerless creature bound by time, age, sin and death, but He continued to allow Himself to be humiliated. The people that He created by His own power, to love and have relationship with, were the very people who stripped Him naked, who beat him with sticks, who whipped him with leather braids with metal flanges. They spit in His face, they tortured His body until it was unrecognizable, bloody, torn. He still had the power to stop it, but He stayed the course. Imagine being able to see into the spiritual realm at the same time, and see every demonic force attacking at the same time with all of the evil of Hell itself. And He was alone. And He didn’t HAVE to endure it. And this man, God in the flesh, broken, bleeding, naked, hair and beard pulled out, not even a man anymore, just breathing, bloody meat had 8″ nailed driven into His skin, was lifted up on a rough wooden cross, splinters and all, and left to die in suffocating agony. Alone. It wasn’t until He was lifted onto the tree that He was literally impaled upon that anyone He loved showed up. Then, in agony we cannot understand, humiliated, naked, dying, His beloved Father put on His record every sin, every horrible, dark evil deed, from every person who ever lived and in that moment, God’s son Jesus knew every sin, every pain, every vile detestable atrocity ever committed, and His Father made Him responsible for it all. The Father, who loved His son more than we could ever comprehend, in that moment, had to turn His back even on His beautiful, perfect Son because of the weight of all of that sin. At that point, the only point for all of Eternity, Jesus was completely and totally alone.
Then, as His physical body died, unable to breathe, He took one last gasp of excruciating pain, looked at the people who did this to Him, and cried out to His Father to spare them and to forgive them. And then, alone, He died. Just to make sure He was fully dead, a Roman soldier drove a spear up into His chest cavity, breaking through His ribcage, piercing His heart and His lungs just to insure there was no chance of His survival.
Who can fathom the horror of that moment? I’m sitting here crying as I write this, the movie in my head playing the scene in far too much detail.
The moment that His body died, Jesus won. Forever. For all humanity. The moment His body died, He was again fully God, fully restored, fully alive and in charge.
Today is Easter. The day we have chosen to celebrate not just that sacrifice, but to celebrate the power He showed in raising HIMSELF from the dead. Alive, materially tangible. He was alive, just as He had promised. He met with His disciples, ate with them, drank with them. He appeared to over 100 people in the next couple of days following that event. There were plenty of eye witnesses to it, it wasn’t done in secret. Even secular history records the even. The Jewish historian Josephus, under commission from Rome, mentions it. It caused a huge scene. The guards who were tasked with guarding His tomb against His disciples out of fear that they would steal the body, Roman Legionaries who valued faithfulness more than death, were executed for it when they couldn’t explain how the body went missing. Every single one of His disciples from that day forward spoke with unwavering confidence in His resurrection and His ascension back to heaven. These people were so utterly convinced of the literal reality of His physical resurrection that not only did they spend the rest of their lives being beaten, whipped, and mocked for their testimony, with none of them receiving ANYTHING materially for doing so, but they all chose to die horrifically painful deaths rather than recant.
Jesus, Son of the living God, beat death itself. He was and is alive. He has proven for all eternity that He is God, alive, powerful, eternal, beautiful.
He endured all of that so that we could experience eternal, spiritual renewal with God. Think about that. When I look at myself, when I think about how my life, just my life, was not worth that sacrifice… when I think of how pathetically unfaithful I’ve been, how sinful, black and evil, and yet realize that even knowing every sin I would ever commit for the entirety of my life, He STILL died in my place, His physical death for my spiritual life… and not just me, but you too, and everyone, EVERYONE who ever lived and ever will live, well, maybe you understand a bit better why it’s worth doing everything we can to honor Him by not just enduring life, but by celebrating all of it in honor and in tribute of His great name.
We can never repay Him. He doesn’t even ask us to. All He wants is relationship with us. To see Him with spiritual eyes, and to love Him. To see His beautiful, loving heart that wants to make our lives eternally significant, and to allow Him to lead us, change us, and make us fit to enjoy eternity with Him.
Salvation cost us nothing. It cost God everything. Who can ignore so great a love? Who could reject so great a sacrifice?
It is worth everything we have, every fiber of our efforts, every pain and every struggle, to honor His great name, to live for Jesus, the Christ, the One who saved our soul from the justice we deserve.
It’s why I do what I do. It’s why I can’t shut my mouth about it. It’s why I continually say that God is faithful, He is worth our trust even when we don’t understand. He is worth the pain of being rejected by society, He is worth the constant fight against my own desires, lusts, dreams and all of the selfishness that is still in me. He is worth not just laying my own life down for, but is worth living my life for every monotonous, exhausting day.
One day we WILL see Him, face to face. We WILL know Him in all of His power as an unfathomably powerful, just, holy God. To those who reject Him, it will be a terrifying experience, but no one need be terrified. He came out of love, He still calls us out of love. He still wants to rescue us, save us from ourselves, heal us where we are broken, restore us where we are empty. To our very last breath in this life, He calls out to us softly, not angrily, in love. His entire heart’s desire is to save us, to rescue us, to give us hope and a future.
Today, take time to celebrate Jesus. Take time to personally shout His worth. Make Him great, make yourself take a back seat. Pay Him the respect and honor He is due. Join me, beloved, in celebrating the greatest day in all of history, not just with your lips, but with your heart, your soul, your very essence. Jesus is alive, He is in power, He is worth every sacrifice, every praise, every honor.
For His glory,