‘Wasn’t there any other way?’

This past weekend, just like millions of other Christians around the globe, my family observed Good Friday and celebrated Easter Sunday. In addition to attending services on both days, we managed to pack in the seemingly-ubiquitous consumption of way too much candy, feasting on some amazing food, taking a nap or two on the couch and enjoying a Family Movie Night. (There was some new Lego thrown in for good measure so, with that, it’s now safe to say, “A good time was had by all.”)

Garden of GethsemaneIn between these all-American traditions, however, there were scattered several references to appalling violence, specifically the agonizing torture and death of Jesus.

Growing up in a small Baptist church, I have to confess that I always felt a huge disconnect between the celebration of Easter and the actual, historical reality of Easter. It never really made sense to me that we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus by looking for eggs out on the front lawn. (?) But as a young child highly motivated to lay hands on as much chocolate as possible, I kept quiet and tried as best I could to keep pace with my older sisters.

Flash-forward 45-ish years, or thereabouts, and it’s remarkable how my heart continues to try to put as much distance between me and my bloody, dying Savior as possible. The theology in my head tells me that Jesus died specifically for my sins, i.e. The Sins of Warren Mayer, but my heart wants to look elsewhere whenever the topic of evil comes up. “Sure, I’ve done some bad things,” we say to ourselves, “but surely my personal sins are not so serious that God Himself had to be beaten, mocked, tortured and crucified. If it were not for all the truly evil people that have appeared on the stage of human history, God’s response to sins like mine could probably have been different.”

We may not use those exact words, but the attitude of the heart often falls somewhere along those lines: “That guy’s a waaaaaaaaaaay bigger sinner than I am,” we think. “Jesus might have gotten off with ‘a slap on the wrist’ if all He had to atone for was my sins.”

What’s been most useful in my life, however, is to rather take full responsibility for absolutely everything that happened to Jesus.

Crucifixion of JesusHoly SaturdayThe Bible is clear; all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). No one is righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10-12). Had I been the only person ever born on planet Earth, the price for the redemption of my soul would have been nothing less than exactly what happened in Jerusalem and then later on Golgotha. Whenever my thoughts are allowed to drift into a worldly assessment of my own sins, where I invariably end up is with a heart that has thoroughly cheapened the holiness of God, “brought Him down to my level,” so to speak. The flip side of My sins aren’t that bad is God’s grace can be bought somewhere else on the cheap.

Momentary discomforts aside, I’m grateful to attend a Bible-believing church that does not shrink back from the horror of a Man being whipped with a cat-of-nine-tails that contains small shards of bone and rock to better tear at the flesh. As gruesome as it is to consider what it must have felt like to have had steel spikes driven through the bones and tissue of the wrists, I am nonetheless thankful whenever other Christians point us to the cross of Christ rather than choose to downplay the bloodthirsty awfulness of Good Friday.

The Empty TombLike many, I always recoil to that place that wonders softly, “Isn’t this a little too much?” What a blessing to know for certain that had there been any other way to rescue me from the sting of death, our loving and steadfast God would have chosen another path.

No, the grisly death of Jesus was the minimum price that could be paid to welcome back a sinner like me. Or you, for that matter.

Leave a Reply