Friday, April 4, 2014

Amazing Love

Amazing Love

By Sarah P.

“Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was:


Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.

Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, “The King of the Jews,” but, ‘He said, “I am the King of the Jews.”’

Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
~John 19:19-22, NLT

Pilate, the one who allowed Jesus to be crucified, wrote the truth. "King of the Jews," was the inscription he chose. That is exactly what Jesus was, and is! He is the Savior, the Redeemer, God's own Son. Pilate seemed to recognize, at least, that Jesus was no ordinary person. It was written just as Jesus Himself had said it, "You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world." (John 18:37a, NKJV) Even when Jesus was nailed to the cross, suffering the most horrible death possible, this was above His head. It was the truth, and this truth was the exact reason why He was being crucified.

Yet the same people who falsely accused Jesus of evil and blasphemy were angry. They couldn't stand for Jesus to be justly called the King, even as He died. They wanted the inscription to be changed. These people wanted it to be "He said, 'I am the king of the Jews.'" Not wanting to even think about how they had murdered God's Son, these Jewish priests wanted everyone who saw this to assume that Jesus deserved death.

I was thinking about how evil that was, and I know the truth: Jesus died anyway. He died for us even as He was mocked and beaten and lied about. He endured these people's scorn and pride as they tried to take away even the last bit of truth about who He was. One thing my dad likes to say is that it wasn't nails that held Jesus to the cross; it was His love for us. Can you imagine letting people hurt and mock you just because you loved someone that much? What’s even harder to understand is that Jesus not only died for the people who accept Him, He died for everyone: even the people who wouldn't- and won't- accept Him as Savior. Jesus died for everyone; He paid for everyone’s sins, everyone’s pride, and everyone’s failures, even though He was innocent. That's definitely the strongest and most powerful love ever.

As I was thinking about Jesus’s love, I’ve been reading Romans chapter eight. It talks about many things that encourage a Christian: new life in Christ, living like Christ, looking forward to heaven, and the fact that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Verse eleven says this,

“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” (NLT)

Although Christ died for us, and the fact of His death should not be ignored, He didn’t stay there. In fact, what happened after He died can be summed up in three simple words:


Jesus is not dead. He’s very much alive, even today! And this verse says that the Spirit of God, the One who raised Jesus from the dead, lives inside of Christians! What are you afraid of? Being unpopular? Public speaking? Death itself? It doesn’t matter: Christ defeated it. And He still does, every day. We can have the same Spirit living in us that defeated death. That’s kind of empowering, isn’t it?

“And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.” –Romans 8:17-18, NLT

If you feel invincible now, just remember that Jesus said it wouldn’t be easy. In fact, He tells us directly, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b, NLT) If we have the Holy Spirit inside of us, we still have to go through trials. Jesus isn’t giving us a free pass on life; He’s just telling us that no matter what troubles we go through, He will give us the strength to bear them.

So, what about Pilate? What did he think about Jesus? Pilate told the Jews many times, "I find no fault in Him at all." (See John chapters 18 and 19). Pilate knew Jesus was innocent, but he let Him be crucified anyway. Why? Well, He thought the opinion of the majority mattered more than an innocent person's life. Pilate might have lost his job if he refused to let Jesus be crucified. He was afraid; too afraid to do the right thing. You could probably compare anybody who is a Christian (or an unbeliever, for that matter) to Pilate. We all get scared to do the right thing. That holds some of us back. Sometimes I wait too long to do the right thing because I'm scared. I get scared of what people will think of me, and I don't want to make a fool of myself. That shouldn't stop me from doing the right thing. I need to trust that God knows best and do the right thing, no matter what others think. If Jesus had been concerned about what other, more popular people thought, He wouldn’t have died. There would be no grace, no forgiveness, and no demonstration of true love. Aren’t you glad that Jesus loved us enough to die for us, even though it was hard? He followed God and obeyed Him in everything because of His love for the Father and for us.

I guess the closing question is, "What are you going to do?" Are you going to hold back, like Pilate, or give it all, like Jesus? Though Pilate wrote the truth, he was afraid to act on it. Will you choose to live your life fully for Jesus? Or will you let your fears and other people's opinion hold you back? Will you sit on your Christianity and pretend it’s not important, or will you do what you should? Jesus has promised to give us the strength we need to get through our troubles if we depend on Him. The same love that held Him to the cross and raised Him from the dead is living inside of us! This Easter, as you think about Jesus’s death and resurrection, think about His amazing love. He died and rose again: for everyone!


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