I remember the first time I understood the exchange that happened on the cross. I was maybe 10 years old. It was one of those Sundays my mom had us skip church for a Bible study at home. My brothers and I paid maximum attention at the intense session of learning about the suffering and torture Jesus went through. The betrayal from Judas, to the whipping He endured until the flesh on His back ripped and all the inhuman treatment He went through. All this happening to our dear Jesus.
Our mouths hung open as we stared at our mom explaining the story. Our eyes filled up with tears as she built up to the cross. By the time she got to “it is finished” our cheeks were wet. Our heart sank. The level of injustice that this perfect human-being endured broke our hearts. The wickedness of man ashamed us.
“It doesn’t end there,” she went on. My thoughts that had begun to wander recollected. “Death couldn’t keep Jesus, and so He rose on the third day,” she explained, “The wages of sin is death. But since Jesus was Holy and blameless, death couldn’t keep Him down.”
Wow! I thought to myself. It made sense. “But why did He have to die in the first place? Why did He spend three whole days dead?” we asked her. Her response changed my life.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us…” ( 2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV)
You see, that was God’s plan the whole time. When Jesus took on all that pain and suffering, it was because all of our sins were transferred onto Him. Everything that He endured, He did so in our place. All the rejection, pain, shame, humiliation and suffering He went through was ours. When He died, He took the death we deserved for our sins. He died once and for all so we wouldn’t have to.
When Jesus died, He took all of our sin and shame to the grave with Him. He fulfilled the law that condemned the sinners to death, and by doing so, He set us free from the bondage of death. This meant that, through our faith in Christ, we receive what He has done for us on that cross. We don’t have to pay the price for our sins – He’s already done that! But Jesus couldn’t stay dead. He is holy and righteous! When He rose on the third day having won the keys to hell, He conquered death. He defeated it. Through our faith in Christ, not only do we partake in His death, but His resurrection as well. When He died, we died with Him. When He rose, so did we.
My mom gave us a few quiet moments before she continued so we could process what she had just said. I could see all of it clearly laid out in my head. This was the coolest superhero story I ever heard, only it was true and involved me! It was your classic good defeated evil – for good. When it sank in that this meant that I lived in the victory of the risen Jesus Christ, I was changed. The way I saw myself changed. Not only did God think I was worth dying for, but He actually died and defeated my enemy.
Understanding the exchange that happened on the cross laid the foundation for a strong identity in Christ. In high school, the comments my friends made to tease me about my faith wouldn’t get to me. If Jesus was able to endure all that shame and humiliation for a sinner like me, it would be an honor to be persecuted for His name – even when it wasn’t as easy as just being called names.
This is what Easter signifies for me – the foundation of my identity. No one can stay the same after realizing what has been done for them on that cross. That is the transformational power of the Gospel. If you have never experienced this power or want to know more about it, please contact us right below.
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