Saturday, April 23, 2011

of him who knew no sin

Jesus.  Jesus!  That you would die for me.  
For me.  
You, who were perfect in every way, who never raised your voice in annoyance or anger, never spoke unkindly, never got impatient with the crowds pressing in on you, or with the stupidity of your disciples {with my stupidity}.  You who loved completely, served without complaint, poured out your life down to the last, sweet, sacrificial drop of your blood.
That you would die.  
For me.  
Me, who just this morning stamped my feet and screamed in anger at my son.  Me, who grew impatient when toddler minds couldn’t focus on your precious story and wanted trikes and fresh air instead.  Me, all full of pride, secretly petting my own righteousness for fasting from lunch today when who could really be called righteous for skipping a meal?  Millions do, every day.  I am not so righteous, after all.  
But you… you are, Jesus.  Oh, you are, you are.  Utterly special, utterly unique.  You had your own fingerprint, your own timbre and pitch of voice, your own number of hairs on your head, your own color of eyes.  Unlike any eyes that had opened on this earth, or ever will open again.  
Only one there was, is, of you-- only one.  
And you died.  For me.
For this screaming, impatient, tunnel-visioned woman who can’t let go of her agenda long enough to enter into the grace of the morning.  This self-satisfied, smugly important woman who’s convinced she has her act together, has all the answers.  This self-absorbed woman convinced of her own wisdom, pressing it heavily on all and sundry… 
This woman.  Me.  You died for me.  

You died for me, Jesus.  Really, truly, horribly died.  You were without breath.  Without thought.  Without warmth.  A cold, stiff, dead corpse.  Where were you then, Jesus, while your body was wrapped and put in a cave?  
You were in utter, cold, dark blackness.  Total abandonment.  Complete separation.  Desperate loneliness.  
You were in hell.  
In some mysterious, paradoxical, mind-bending, universe-altering way, you  were somehow separated from your Father, from your own being.  You, who had remained wholly connected to your Father, mind, heart and soul at all times, never breaking communion for even an instant with sin of any kind… You, now to experience stark, desolate abandonment by that same Father whose Being you share and whose precious Son you are….  
He abandoned you because of me.  Because of my sin.  Because you were my sin.  
You were my pride, my impatience, my harsh tones, my unkindness.  You were my smug self-righteousness, my self-absorption, my conceit.  You became it for me.  Like a pure white cloth in dirt-black water soaking up all the dirt into itself, leaving the water clean and clear, you soaked up all my black sin into your very pores.  Like a vinegar-rag laid on sunburn absorbing all the heat into itself, leaving the sunburn soothed and cool, you absorbed all the hot shame of my sin into your very soul.  
Sin that I {that we} had not yet even committed!  Oh, the terrible roiling weight of our millions of billions of lives’ worth of sin pressing into your flesh, into your heart!  And worse, knowing this oozing, boiling blackness would cause your Father to hate you, even as you must have hated yourself in those moments, hours, eternity (so it must have seemed) on the cross.

You became my sinNot just carried it on your shoulders while remaining pure in yourself: you became sin-- took it into your very body, heart and soul.  It was you, you were it, and as it, you were crucified.  In those moments, in your Father’s eyes, you did do all this heinousness, and he was forced to turn his back on you in disgust.  
You became sin…. I could be clean.  That pure clean water?  That’s me.  Now.  After your wretched, hideous death.  That cooled sunburn with no sting of shame left?  That’s me.  And you are all the stain, all the vinegar, all the burn.  You drank my shame to the very last drop, so you could hand me a cup brimful of the sweet wine of forgiveness, blood-red, and say,

“Drink.  Drink forgiveness, drink grace.  
“And so is my Father glorified, and I am satisfied in my deep joy, if you drink and eat my sacrifice!  I saw you, down through the ages, all of you, and willingly gave my last drop of life so your cup of Life could be brimful, pressed down, shaken together, running over.
“Drink!  Eat!  Feed on me in your heart.  Do this in remembrance of me, whose death bought Life for you, forever.”

Oh Jesus, how can I thank you?  How can anything ever be enough to thank you?  A thousand lifetimes poured out could never repay this Gift, that cleanses completely and lasts in joy forever.
For from you and through you and to you are all things. (Rom. 11:36)
To you be the glory forever and ever.  Amen.  

For our sake
he made him to be sin 
who knew no sin
so that in him 
we might become 
the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21

(photos of a white stone cross faithfully maintained on a hillside near Sonoma, CA, USA)


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