Since a couple of dear friends totally messed with my theology and basically set the whole thing ablaze a couple of years back, I found myself pondering the most elementary questions of my faith. Now approaching Easter, I was struggling with the answer to this question, posed by my almost-seven-year-old. “Why did Jesus die for me?”
After discussing the matter at length with my best friend, I felt Papa shed a little light on the subject.
Picture a starting point. The Garden of Eden. Paradise lost. We are communing with God. We are given free choice. We choose independence.
From that point, we begin to part our ways. God continues on His perfect path, and we set off on our . . . well, imperfect path. The place we were never meant to go. “Trespassing” where our feet were not created to tread.
Now picture these paths looking something like the letter “V” ~ our path growing gradually further and further away from His. Now, for anyone who wants to go back to Him and walk with Him on His path, they will need a Bridge. They cannot cross the chasm on their own.
God has the answer. And the cross is the only way.
Rather than think of the cross of Jesus as being the picture of God’s wrath being unleashed on His son to appease His anger, what if we looked at it like this: The cross is the picture of God Himself crossing over to our independent path and taking upon Himself every consequence of every sin (independent act) that had been committed or ever would be committed (remember the path only gets further and further away from Him.) What if this was about Jesus, Almighty God, rising from His throne, taking off His magnificent robe, setting His eyes like flint, and entering wholeheartedly and unreservedly into the most gruesome and horrible fate imaginable, taking upon Himself all of the consequences that would ever lie ahead of us on our own independent journey away from God.
In that instant as He cries out, “IT IS FINISHED,” a fiery path is cut from one path to the other and a bridge is made for whosoever will accept His gift. He cries out, “you do not have to see how this story ends. You do not have to suffer under the unavoidable consequences of your choice to live independently from Me. You do not have to suffer that pain. Accept that I have suffered it in your stead. Lift your foot. Walk across my bloodied back. I have lain myself out as a bridge for you. Re-join Us on the path that you were always meant to walk.”
Never again can we raise our fist to God and say, “you don’t know! You don’t understand!” For He did not ask us to suffer the consequences of our choice for independence alone. Instead, He came here and suffered right along with us. In fact, He took every consequence of every bad choice upon Himself. We can look at His face and see His passion and know that we are never alone and that we have seen the face of a love that has conquered death for all time.
So I looked at my almost-seven-year-old and said, “Jesus died on the cross so that we wouldn’t have to pay for our choice to be separate from Him. He paid so we could come back home.” And this time I knew a little bit more about what that meant.
*painting above by Judy Ross*