Good Friday – The Deepest Love for the Deepest Loss

His depth of love…I know how far from it I am, how remote my understanding of love and sacrifice is. I take the easy way out. I limit myself to what I can feel comfortable with. What kind of comfort zone was the cross!?

I am the worst of sinners.

I look upon the agony of Jesus, nailed to a cross, blinded by sweat and swollen tissue, pain shooting through every nerve of his back as he felt the rough wood contact the open festering wounds. There was no Band-Aid for this moment, only raw pain. What pain hurt him most?

Perhaps it was His depth of love for a creation lost. Taunts, jeers, tears and torment filled his day, but He stayed there because He was one in nature with the Father. He chose to go on, to do this hard thing. I can only wonder at such love, and crave to have it. Yet when I do, I know how far from it I am, how remote my understanding of love and sacrifice is. I take the easy way out. I limit myself to what I can feel comfortable with. What kind of comfort zone was the cross!?

Oh how wretched, poor, blind and naked I am in the midst of my gracious surroundings. I see His eyes looking at me with longing and I realize the depth of my sin. Love like this is not normal, yet He asks me to love like Him.

On my knees, on my face, I feel the conviction, the painful knowledge of how far short I will fall of this example. I see the kindness of a Savior who disregarded my cold heart to reach out to me, to break the barriers of what love toward me could look like. I struggle to understand, but know how short I fall. I am supposed to look like Him? …Oh Lord, I am dust compared to royalty. What do I do with this scandalous grace, this heart of love that is mine to inherit. I let myself further absorb the moment of conviction and find transforming humility cloaking me like a garment.

There is so much more love to extend. Miles more grace to walk in. People to embrace that I have passed by and hope to release where no one has noticed. Hanging there, bloody and oxygen-starved, writing in pain from the exposure of raw nerve endings rubbing spikes in his hands and feet, Jesus noticed me.

As I kneel before him in my spirit, I hear, “Forgive them. They know not what they do.”

Forgiving Yourself

I’m always amazed that God choose to love me. I was, and still sometimes am, hard hearted, stubborn, selfish, and unaware of how big His heart is for me and those around me. Then, I think of Jesus on the cross. If God can forgive those who laughed as he hung there, he can forgive me. The harder question I had to answer was, “Can I forgive me? Can I forgive myself for what I’ve done? I was cruel. I denied knowing him. I broke a vow. I treated others who loved me with unkindness. I stole. I hurt. I failed to act in some way I thought I should. I’ve loved myself more than others. I should pay for those things, I thought.”

Jesus didn’t see things that way. He went through hell so we could be free of hell. People he loved abandoned him. His neighbors and fellow Jews, the people he came to rescue, spit on him. His church leaders asked the Romans to crucify him. As his friends all ran out of fear for themselves, all he could say was “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.”

Why didn’t they know? They didn’t see things like God sees them. Often we don’t see ourselves as God, the Father, sees us. We see through lenses of shame, condemnation, guilt, and pride. All those come from the same enemy that deceived Adam and Eve. The goal of our enemy, Satan, is that he keeps us from knowing who we are created to be! He wants us separated from the Father who loves us enough to sacrifice himself. That enemy wants us to feel defeated every day, just like HE has been defeated at the cross. His only power is to get us to look at him. If we know who we become at the cross, free and forgiven, we cancel his authority in our lives.

One day, God woke me up out of my self-punishment phase and said, “Didn’t Jesus pay for that? Wasn’t what he did enough? Do you think you can add to what My Son paid at the cross by your self-pity? Do you know what “redeemed” means? No… I really didn’t. I knew God loved my but I didn’t forgive myself.

Redeemed:

  1. To compensate for past poor performance (He paid the price of my poor performance. I’m not guilty of it anymore. My debt is cancelled.)
  2.  To regain possession of (God wanted me as a possession!)
  3. To exchange. ( He exchanged my old heart and mind for a new one that could understand his love for me and live without shame, fear and condemnation.)

 

God defeated death to end the curse on the world. He was saying to me, “I want to know you. I want you to come home to me, as a child comes home to their Father. My arms are open.”

 

I cried tears of joy! I had been deceived. I didn’t think I could forgive myself. Others were lovable, but not me.I hadn’t given myself permission to receive the healing love of God. I felt like I was an exception.  It’s easy to think that God is continually reminding us that we have sinned, but it was the enemy who wanted me to feel guilt, shame and condemnation. He told me it was humility, but true humility  is knowing that Jesus is our righteousness, all our works are like filthy rags, no matter what they are, so Jesus paid the price to cover them all. Truth said, “If God says I am redeemed, then who am I to think I am more right than God to keep counting myself under judgement? Until then, I didn’t get that Jesus hung there so my mindset could be changed and I could be free to step out of that identity of my old ways. He died so I could die to that old nature.

 
His perfect love on the cross casts out fear and condemnation. I could no longer hold myself accountable for something God had forgiven.
God’s love was big enough for even me.

 

Today, no matter what we have done. God declares, “You are worth it! I want you to receive the gift of forgiveness and begin fresh today.” His goal is always to help us find freedom, just like our goal for our children is always that things turn around for the good for them.