The Death that Brings Hope

– Geoff Milton

What an unusual Good Friday and Easter !

On a recent exercise walk, Ann and I saw some beautiful examples of God’s creation and some bad examples of human nature being displayed. 

On the narrow path, coughing joggers passed close by, making no attempt to shield their mouths from others.

It was hard for me to believe, but we saw one man apparently trying to impress his young children by throwing a basketball at native birds in a tree. I asked him to stop it and he did. Why was he doing it? 

Several cyclists came tearing down the path going at least 30 km per hour. They could easily have smashed into a family with a child in a pusher or into an older person. I couldn’t believe this dangerous behaviour.

To me this healthy walk was like an experience of hell –  people pleasing only themselves and putting others at risk, endangering vulnerable people and even our wildlife.

 The current coron-avirus crisis has brought out the best and worst in people. And we only have to look in the mirror to see a sinful person.

Mark 15  shows us that Jesus died to take God’s righteous punishment for our sin. God is not only a God of love and grace, he is a God of justice. God’s perfect righteousness demands that our rebellion be punished and that is what Jesus’ death on the first Good Friday is about.

From Adam and Eve onwards, human inclination has been to reject God’s authority, which is the essence of sin. In his righteous judgement on that sin, God expelled the man and woman from the garden, cursed the ground and brought pain in childbirth (Gen 3). In Genesis 6 – 9 we see a growing avalanche of human sin which results in God’s judgement of the flood. God will not tolerate our rebellion forever and will judge our sin in his own time. If we have any spiritual insight into ourselves and others we will be able to see our rejection of God. 

God’s judgement on our sin is seen in Jesus’ desperate cry from the Cross “My God my God, why have you forsaken me?”  (Mark 15: 34). What was happening?

Through his suffering and death, Jesus took our sin on to himself and died in our place, causing himself to be separated from God his loving Father, hence his cry of abandonment. This was not just a symbolic separation, it was real and horrific, just as our sin really separates us from God. At that moment Jesus was paying the ransom for our sins (Mark 10:45), giving his body as a sacrifice for us (14:22-24) and drinking the cup of God’s wrath against our sin (14:36) . 

He was experiencing hell – so that we don’t have to. Hallelujah! What a saviour!

Yet in all this there is also a theme of real and certain hope and reassurance.  

For Jesus has paid our unpayable ransom for our sins.  

He has given his body as the sacrifice for our sin. 

He has drunk the cup of God’s wrath against our sin, so that we do not need to drink it.

Through trusting in Jesus alone, we are saved from the consequences of our rebellion against God.  Hallelujah!  Undeserved rescue from a hopeless fate!

As a result of Jesus’ death for us, we can now be a people of grateful hope, looking forward to the future, no matter what the difficulties of the present, looking forward to resurrection life with God and his people in the perfect new creation (Rev 21:1-4) .

Jesus has defeated death for himself and us as we see in Mark 16, and he invites us to take part in that wonderful life together, a life lived in praise and thanksgiving to God, starting now. 

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