Friday, April 11, 2014

Passion...

This Sunday is Palm Sunday, the day that kicks off "Passion week." Who's Passion? Jesus' Passion.
What Passion? The Passionate love He has for His Father, the Passionate hatred He has for sin, and the Passionate love He has for us.

I have many thoughts as this week approaches, all of them driving me to meditate and remember the incredible, unconditional, amazing grace and love that are so undeservedly poured out on all who believe.

Too often I think I fall short of grasping exactly what Jesus saved us from. Yes He loves us, but to understand that love we must understand something else. This week I have been struck again by what Jesus has saved us from. In short, He has saved us from His Father.

Here's what I mean...

God hates sin. I mean He really, really hates sin. So much so, in fact, that God's wrath and fury against all the sin and wickedness of mankind is somehow stored up. Jesus, in the garden, is in agony and torment, so much so that He is sweating drops of blood. Why is He in so much agony? Because Jesus, and only Jesus knows what He is about to do. He is about to drink the cup of the wrath of God...all of it. Every single sin that will ever be committed is like a drop, slowly filling that cup. And Jesus is about to drink it all.

Who but Jesus has been in the presence of God's wrath? Who but Jesus is qualified to drink this cup? It brings a whole new level of understanding to Jesus' words, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Truly, we have no clue.

You want to see Passion? Read this...

" 'Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.' An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." (Luke 22:42-44)

Here, at the cross, we see God on full display - His holiness, His hatred of sin, His wrath poured out on Jesus, His love for us. Here, at the cross, we see Passion. 

What does God's wrath look like? Not good.

"...they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever." (Revelation 14:9-10)

This should freak you out! Who is the "they?" It is Satan, all his demons, and anyone who has the mark of the beast - or put another way, anyone who rejects Jesus. Reject Christ and you too will drink the cup of God's wrath.

There is another way. On the cross Jesus drank every last drop of the cup of God's wrath for those who believe and follow Him. Every, last drop. In drinking this cup, Jesus took on a kind of physical, spiritual, and emotional suffering that we can never know. It was torment. Seem unfair? Yep, it is. Seem over the top? It is. The whole scene should appall us.

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Make no mistake...God loves His Son, Jesus. So much so, that as "reward" for His Son's obedience...

"...God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11)

It's like God says to Jesus, "Jesus, my Son, my heart broke as my wrath against the sin of this world was poured out on You. You did not deserve it, and yet it had to be done, and only You could do it. And now, it is finished. I now elevate you to the highest place that everyone and everything is now subject to you. Nobody will get to me, without going through You. You, Jesus, my Son, I exalt to the highest place."

Now I hope you're with me still because here is the real kicker...this is the thought that has overpowered me this week. This whole plan I've just written about, God's plan for our redemption, namely the death of Jesus, this was God's plan before the world was created.

"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world..." (1 Peter 1:18-20).

STOP for a minute, and let this single truth land on you hard. Before God created us, before Adam and Eve, before the Garden, before the world was created, He knew. He knew it all. He knew that Satan would bend all his powers to take us away from Him. He knew how weak we are. He knew that He would have to give up His one and only Son, Jesus. He knew that Jesus would have to take our punishment on Himself. He knew it all. And He still went forward with the plan...He created you, He created me, and provided the way for us to know Him and to love Him.

Passion.

You see, before you can understand the love of God, you first must come face to face with the justice of God, which leads you to the wrath of God. It is when you see the wrath of God that you meet Jesus, standing in your place. And then if it hits you just right, you'll say something like "it can't be. That's not possible. What's in it for Him?" Or maybe you'll just stop and say nothing. But then God lifts the veil and you begin to understand the depth of His love.

Passion.

This week, as Palm Sunday leads to Good Friday which leads to Easter, get a moment away with your Savior and remember it all. His sacrifice, His blood, His Passion.

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