Today is Good Friday, the day when Christians remember that great moment of victory on the cross and the suffering Christ endured to bring us freedom. As we pray forAmericaover Easter weekend, let us remember that true freedom comes only through Christ. May we be reminded that our freedom, in bothAmericaand eternity, came at a price someone else paid.
Ask any Sunday School kid, “What sacrifice did Jesus make?” and they’ll quickly reply, “He died on the cross for our sins.” Come to think of it, that’s what most people would say. While that’s true, that answer doesn’t really cover the depth of His sacrifice does it? Was His sacrifice really just a physical one? His death on the cross certainly fulfilled the requirements of the Law for redemption, but Christ’s sacrifice went even deeper than what He endured on the cross.
Christ’s physical death is a fulfillment of the Law and His resurrection the guarantee of eternal life. It marked the moment when death was defeated and the eventual destruction of evil revealed. I do not mean to downplay the importance of Christ’s physical sacrifice or suggest that His pain was not more than I can imagine. It was, but Christ suffered an even greater sacrifice on that cross—a pain greater than what any man was capable of inflicting on Him. There are hundreds of songs and scriptures describing how Christ took our place—how He took the punishment for our sin. We think of that sacrifice as the pain he endured on the cross. We think of that sacrifice as the nails in His hands, but there was an even bigger price to be paid. As Christ, the creator of the world, hung from that cross bleeding and beaten to fulfill His Word, He took our sins and placed them on His own shoulders. In that moment, he took on the real sacrifice for our sin: the Son, who had lived His existence to please the Father from the beginning of time, now found Himself completely alone. For the first time in an eternal history, Christ found He could not call Him “Father.” In pain, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God! Why have you abandoned me?!” (Matthew 27:46, NLT). The Father could not look at the sin that had been placed on Jesus; He turned away from His son. Jesus was completely separated from God. He was alone.
My dad is one of my heroes and even with all my imperfections, I can not imagine the pain of seeing him turn away from me in disgust—I can not imagine the inconsolable pain and darkness I would feel. I can’t imagine him saying we were no longer family.
Jesus took our place, but it wasn’t the cross He saved us from. The cost of sin is not a physical death but an eternal one. The cost of unrighteousness is being forever separated from God with the knowledge of His glory. The price is being completely alone and without hope for ever. That’s what Christ was willing to take on for us—that’s the price that needed to be paid.
We’re called to tell the Good News by the way we live our lives. Do we live our lives like we’ve been delivered from this darkness or do we get mired down by the annoyances of every day obstacles? Do we see the emptiness we’ve been spared? I am so thankful, and to be honest, ashamed of the way I sometimes present myself. Do non-believers see a freedom in our lives—even in times of trouble? Do they see us, as Christian Patriots, as grateful stewards of our freedom? They should, because we have been freed from more than the cross, more than slavery and oppression: we’ve been freed from hopelessness and fear.
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© Joshua J. Masters and American Psalms, 2012.