Why are we so passionate about Jesus? Long story – but worth hearing.
The obvious place to start is the beginning. The beginning of everything. Before there was… anything.
When all there was was God. God, who is good, kind, gracious, loving. God who is holy and just and righteous and compassionate. God.
Into that void, God spoke. And when he spoke, stuff happened. Light became. The heavens were made. Plants were created. Supernovas crackled into existance; suns and stars and planets were hung throughout the universe that God had created. And God was dead pleased with the whole caboodle.
Then he finished the whole thing off with a flourish. In a cosmos brimming with evidence of his spontaneity and ingenuity, he turned to an old design for his final creative act. He created humankind: using himself as the pattern.
There were now people, made in God’s own image, who could appreciate the greatness of creation and were capable of responding with appropriate awe and wonder at the greatness of it all. At the greatness of the creator.
God had actually made a special garden for his people to live in. And he’d drop in and see how they were doing. Chat with them. Hang out with them.
And he’d give them instructions on what they should and shouldn’t be doing.
It wasn’t long after that (after hanging out, listening to the devil and his lies) that they decided to ignore God. In fact – according to what the devil promised them – they thought they could do away with God altogether and rebel against his leadership.
They had been God’s friends – now they had declared themselves his enemies.
They had been innocent – now they were guilty.
They had been trusting – now they were suspicious.
They had been alive – now they were sentenced to death.
In short, they were screwed. And we are their children. We were born into their rebellion. And we have lived our lives ignoring and side-lining God exactly the way our first parents did. We have not loved him or obeyed him as we should.
The reason we’re so passionate about Jesus is that only he can fix the mess we’re in. He, though he is God, came as a man to live the perfect life we could not live. And he chose to die in our place, taking the punishment and the consequences of our rebellion, of our sin, in it’s entirety. He stood before God and said of the people attacking him: “Father, forgive them.” And he did so, knowing that his request could only be answered if all our sin and shame was loaded onto him; if he stood as our substitute and took our punishment, died our death, instead of us.
(And that’s exactly what went down that afternoon, on the day before the major religious festival of the year, in Jerusalem around AD 33).
Three days later, Jesus had had enough of being dead. He’d paid the penalty in full for us, so he rose back to life. He smashed the power of death, under whose curse the whole universe groans.
And in much the same way as he died in our place – and his death counts as if it were our death – we benefit from his new life. He is the source of our life and our hope.
But… it’s of no use to you unless you’re willing to trust God. All the time you want to keep rejecting and mistrusting him like our first parents did, this offer is useless to you. You need to turn your back on the old attitude towards God – the disobedience and the mistrust – and you need to trust him. Trust what he says is true. Trust that the stuff he asks us to do is good. But above all – trust that Jesus died in your place, for your sin – and that having paid the penalty for you, he rose again.
After all, is it really so hard to trust a God who’d rather die than see you punished?