In my personal study this morning, I finished the Gospel of Mark. Not too long ago, I wrapped up Matthew. Today it hit me hard that on each of my readings through the Word (usually within a year, or so), I have to watch Jesus die 4 times in rapid succession, as each Gospel takes a week or two to read through. It hurts. I get to watch Jesus, abandoned, beaten, betrayed nailed to a tree again, and again, and again, and again. Why does it hurt so much? Because I'm the one who put Him there (and so are you, and so are we all). My betrayal, my failure, my guilt and shame put Jesus on that tree, and His love for me held Him there. How often have I taken advantage of this freedom? How often have I sat back and reaped the benefits of grace, without ever stopping to pause in wonder and awe at the price that was paid so I could have it? Coming to Jesus isn't merely about having my sin washed clean. It's about being reconciled to God after my rebellion, the death penalty paid by an innocent man for all of my faults. When I sin, when I rebel against God's purpose and plans, when I choose my wants, wishes and desires over God's will, in my mind, I watch Jesus die again, not because He dies for each sin, but because I remind myself of the cost of my failure. God takes sin personally. He sent His Son as a once and for all payment for our shortcomings. What is more serious than that? So I remind myself of the cost of my failure and rebellion. I seek to walk in the steps of the One who paid for my debts, and I make sure to deny myself, pick up my cross, and follow in the Master's footsteps. 1 Peter 3:13-22
Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.