The Gift of Resurrection- A Matter of Personal Choice.
Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. The most phenomenal event since the world was created was the death of Jesus Christ. He had no sin to atone for but chose to pay the ultimate price for the sins of others - including me. The story seems like fiction. If Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Jerusalem were not known towns and cities in Israel, a popular nation in the Middle East, I would probably require additional faith, faith bigger than the mustard seed to believe this story. One of God’s wonders was to demonstrate His love for humanity despite our unlovable lifestyles. Someone may think that Jesus Christ is God and could not have felt the pain and sorrow of death. But nothing can be further from the truth. Jesus was consumed with the agony of death just like any sick man with a few days to live. When such a situation occurs, one would pray and would request for the prayers of family and friends. Death is an enemy to human life and if we had the power to kill death, we would. Paul of Tarsus gave us a revelation about death when trying to comfort those who had been separated from loved ones through death. He said that Jesus Christ must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet and the last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
It is incorrect to think that Jesus chose to die merely for the sake of dying. The disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden put the whole earth in the hands of Satan and subjected us all to death. Sin is the cause of death. The soul that sins shall die. Paul told the Romans of the consequences of sin: “For the wages of sin is death.” Everyone on earth was subject to death through the inherited debt of sin. Jesus told the Greeks and the Pharisees who had come to listen to Him just before He was killed: “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour?’ But for this purpose, I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” John had repeated in his gospel not less than five times “... For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil." The attack of the devil brought on humanity as a result of sin is death; humanity became subject to death because of disobedience to God in the Garden of Eden. And when the time was near when He (Jesus) was to be betrayed by Judas, one of His disciples, a conflicted Jesus Christ went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. “Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, ’Sit here while I go and pray over there.’” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Mathew 26:36-39) Luke actually stated how Jesus had agonized in prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane - “And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44)
So, our Lord Jesus was not insane to voluntarily submit Himself to the people to take Him to the cross to be killed. He did it so that the world would be saved from the agony of death and, in particular, eternal death. Paul thought of this unparalleled obedience of Jesus Christ to God, His Father and he encouraged us to follow – “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:5-11). Our joy is that Christ chose to die for our justification from the penalty of death and rose to save us through His life. It is known that through one man, Adam, sin entered the world, and death through sin, and death spread to all men, because all sinned. And by this offense of Adam, many died. But thanks be to God that the grace of God abounded to all much more through the one Man, Jesus Christ. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. By the one man’s (Adam) offense death reigned and through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the only One, Jesus Christ.
What lesson do we have from this event? There was a man who had an opportunity to change his eternity to the paradise of the Lord and blew it. He didn’t need to look for Him who is the only path to resurrection. But the condemned thief did not know that Jesus Christ was by his side as he slid into eternity in hell. He was one of those who had ears but did not hear. He had eyes but did not see. He did not have time to listen to the words of Jesus Christ to Marta when Lazarus died: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” He could have changed his eternity when it mattered but he was foolish, he blasphemed Jesus, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” The other thief was wise and grabbed the opportunity presented by the death of Christ to his life. First, he rebuked his partner, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation with Jesus? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” He took up these humiliations because of us. Then the wise condemned thief said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And rightly, Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Less than a second to his eternity in hell, he got eternity in heaven from the Creator of heaven and earth. Two people, same offense, same punishment of death; but one went free into eternity in heaven and the other stood condemned because he refused to acknowledge the God of resurrection.
Life will be what we want it to be for us. It is a matter of personal choice. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18). Happy Resurrection.