A Cycle – Good Friday 23
One thing I do each year at this time is to watch the Mel Gibson movie, “the Passion of the Christ.” I do it because the horrific reality of Jesus’s passion is vividly visible and yet as brutal as it is portrayed, it is still not as brutal as it was. Why did God do it this way? Couldn’t God have devised another plan that allowed the penalty of our sins to be removed from us? Do we fail to understand what forgiveness means and what forgiveness does? You know the answer to those questions because forgiveness is easy to give. But does forgiveness change what we feel about the person who wounded us or about ourselves?
No, it does not and if God has just forgiven Adam and Eve they would have sinned again and again and again. Sin cannot exist in God’s kingdom. After the fall of Adam, the scriptures unveil for us the fact that blood would be sacrificed for the forgiveness of sin. The ritual slaughter of an unblemished lamb was the prescription given to Moses by God. But beyond the personal offering needed for forgiveness God set up the sacrifice of one lamb for the sins of everyone. Isaiah prophesied about something beyond the personal sin offering, when one sacrifice would be offered for all the people.
The scriptures tell us, one unblemished lamb would have laid upon him the sins of all people and that lamb would take away their sins (Lev.16:20 describes this sacrifice in detail). Isiah also tells us that our sins create a barrier between ourselves and God (Is.59:1-2). That is why we often do not feel the presence of God and wonder why he does not respond to us. We, by our sinfulness, have created a barrier between ourselves and God. Sin has other impacts on us because sin is addictive and has a power over us, we simply are unable to control our desires. As much as we would like to stop, we are drawn to sin. Sin pollutes us and impacts the good we do. James in his letter tells us “If we keep the whole of the law but fall short in one, we have become guilty of breaking the entirety of the law” (Jas. 10:10).
We think our small sins do not count but they have those same effects on us. In fact, they are even more deadly because we think they do not matter but they do matter. Jesus in Mark’s gospel tells us what comes out of us makes us unclean and then list what comes out of us (MK.7:20-23). He lists thirteen evils and in those thirteen there are three evils we would consider as “mortal sins.” The other ten would be venial sins in our minds, yet they are listed as the something that makes us unclean. This is understanding that all sin separates us from God is critical to us appropriating the grace of the cross in a way that changes how we approach God.
God did it this way so we would grasp the length he will go to have us understand how forgiveness of the penalty of our sin works. It removes all barriers between us and God, it makes it possible for us to understand there is no condemnation for sin. Instead, there is complete restoration of us from sinners to heirs of the promise. We are expected to be in His presence, desired in his presence and He rejoices in our being in His presence. It is the parable of the prodigal but more than a story it is a reality in our lives. He did it this way so we could see the impact of sin on us, “my God, My God why have you forsaken me.” That is what sin does to us it blocks out the grace of God in our lives.
God did it this way so we would quit trying to appease him because we failed to be who he created us to be and embrace what he made possible for us to become. That is why this is called Good Friday. All is good between us and God, but it does demand we embrace what has made possible for us. A life lived in the presence of God walking with him and feeling his presence every day.