On this day in the church world we celebrate Jesus’ death on the cross to pay for our sins. He who had never sinned actually became sin for us so that we could become righteous (2 Cor. 5:21). It was the great exchange. Our deserved death penalty for His eternal life. Our sins for His righteousness. Our shame for His freedom. This is why we call it the understated: Good Friday.
But buried within this whole story lies a bit of a mystery. It’s the mystery of the gospel. But, as we’ll see, this mystery has some logic to it. Logic that God has actually placed throughout life’s experience which shows us quite the amazing and intricate story here!
Here it is: Death means life.
It was Jesus’ death on a cross that brought us eternal life. Likewise we are told that we should be dead to ourselves so that we can truly live (Matt. 16:24-25). It’s the backwards thinking of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He was known for this kind of radical, nonsensical thinking and teaching.
I mean really, if you want to live, you live! If you want to die, you die. So if you want the best life we naturally know that you need to invest heavily in your life. But then Jesus goes ahead and says that instead we must die. Die to ourselves. Die to our own desires. Die so that we may truly live.
It isn’t how we would naturally think, despite the fact that it actually is quite a natural thought. Nature and experience shows us that this actually is entirely true. A seed must fall off a tree and “die” in the ground and be buried for new life to begin. Or think of this. If I want my body to be healthy, relaxed, and in good shape I must beat my body and put stress on it and tire it out through exercise and working out. I put technical stress on my body to actually relieve emotional stress from it.
The same is true emotionally as you think of a good relationship. When you want to get the most out of a good friendship or romantic relationship you simply cannot think about and concentrate on what you’ll get out of it. That’s selfish. You’ll get nothing out of it. But think of the other person, and put your desires and wants on hold, and you’ll often find that you end up getting much out of it and your deeper desires for relationship are often met.
Die – live. End – so it can begin. Quit – so you can win. It’s written on so much of the human experience. And yet it still remains a mystery. A mystery that some find too hard to believe. Or perhaps they believe it with Jesus but struggle to live it themselves.
The truth is that what we are willing to die for says a lot about our very life. Jesus was willing to die for us because He and the Father loved us immensely – far beyond what we deserved. And what we are willing to sacrifice and die for says a lot about what we love. If we truly love something or someone we will be willing to let some dying happen on our part so that life can spring up out of the ground. It may feel a bit backwards, but it’s really quite natural.