Friday, March 29, 2013

His Choice


             This morning, as I was praying and pondering on the fact that today is Good Friday, a thought came to me, Jesus CHOSE the cross as a means of death. He could have chosen to be born at a different time in history, He could have chosen any other means of death but He didn't  He could have chosen not to die at all. He could have wiped us all out again and started fresh, but He didn't  Why? Why would He have chosen to die upon a cross, the most gruesome form of punishment known to mankind?
                “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 to 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.” Philippians 2:5-8
                Christ is God, the Creator, the Father, the Almighty, the One and Only True God. He was in heaven, and is in heaven still. But He chose to leave His place on His throne and take upon Himself the sinful flesh we all live in. He chose to take off His heavenly robes and to be born…to die…for me. He chose to leave His place in heaven, to leave the place where the heavenly angels saw Him, and worshiped Him as God, their God, and chose to become a simple, humble, poor man. But why death on a cross? He could have chosen to be born at a time when men who were condemned to die were hung instead of crucified. He could have chosen to be born during the middle ages when they chose the guillotine as a form of death. But He didn’t. He chose to be beaten, bruised, and nailed to a cross so that we could have salvation from our sins, and eternal life in Him.

                As I thought about these verses of scripture, and I pondered on all that He chose to give up so that I could be saved, I was awed by the choice that He made for me. The cross was the cruelest punishment that man had ever seen, or ever will see. It was only used as a form of punishment for the guiltiest criminals, the most horrible and evil men, it was used to punish robbers and anyone who fought against the ruling government of Rome. Romans used crucifixion to show their dominion and power over the lowest of the low, over the worst of the worst, and yet, Jesus chose to be crucified. But why, why would God leave His heavenly place and choose to take upon Himself such a horrible, shameful death? The Jews, His own people, believed that anyone who was “hanged on a tree” (Duet. 21:23) was cursed. They saw crucifixion as the most shameful form of execution. It was so shameful and cruel that the Romans who used it would not allow any Roman citizen to be crucified. The very people He came to save saw the cross as the most shameful of ways to die. So why did He chose such a death?
                “looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down on the right hand of God.” Hebrews 12:2.
                He chose the cross; He chose to be crucified for you. He knew that there were other options, there would be other moments in history where He could die, but He chose to be crucified. The joy that was set before Him was the joy that He would receive when you looked upon Him, hanging from the cross for you, and say the simple words, “I believe”. There was nothing that was going to stand in His way, not even death, to get to see you and to have the joy of knowing you as His child. He was so full of hope and joy as He was being nailed to the cross, that I believe, in His spirit, He was rejoicing as each spike was pounded into His flesh. He chose the cross so that YOU would have an eternal picture of His love for you. He saw the finish line and nothing was going to stand in His way. He was willing to do it all so that YOU could be His forever.
                The joy that was set before Him was you and I believing in Him. He endured the cross for each one of us, whether we believe in Him or not. The word endures means “to remain in a place instead of leaving it”; it means to endure “unto the end”. He endured; He remained on that cross because He knew there was no other way. The only way that He could show His love for you was to be nailed to a cross, to take upon Himself the cruelest of punishments ever known to man so that YOU could be His, forever. He wanted and still today desires for us to look unto Him, to see Him willingly die for each one of us. There was no other form of punishment that would show us the depth of His love. He saw the cross, the pain and the suffering, the beatings and the whippings and He chose to step down out of heaven and endure it all, just for YOU.

                If you were the only person in all of history to ever believe in Him, He still would have willingly chosen to die the death He did, for YOU. Jesus endured the suffering because He saw you, your life and your sins, and He chose to suffer such a death as no one has ever suffered before, for the joy of having you as His child. Jesus chose to suffer so that you could see and believe that He loves you, no matter who you are, where you are, or what you do. There is nothing that could have stopped Him and nothing that can hold back His love for you. Whether you choose to believe this truth is up to you. But He chose to be born at a time when the death He must suffer was the cruelest of them all. He chose to die, because He chose you.
                I am overwhelmed when I think about the sacrifice He made on our behalf. He chose to leave His throne, His seat in heaven where the hosts of heaven worshiped Him, to come and take upon His own flesh our sins, my sins. He chose to be born at a time when He knew they would crucify Him, and in spite of the shame, He chose to be crucified. My mind cannot even fathom the depths of His love for me; no man on the face of this earth would choose to be crucified for you, except Christ Jesus. He chose the worst form of death just so that He could have the joy of knowing you.
                As Easter approaches and we begin to rejoice and celebrate the victory He gave us, let us also reflect and remember the depths of His love for us. If we do not believe in Jesus, if we do not know why we are celebrating, my prayer, my plea before the Lord today is that you would look to the cross of Jesus Christ and know that He chose to die, He chose the most painful death ever known to man because He desires to know you and for you to know Him. The depths of His love are seen in the punishment He bore for us. The depths of His love are seen in each and every lash of the whip, in each and every swing of the hammer as they drove the spikes into His flesh. He chose to endure all that, just for YOU.
                Father God, I pray that whoever reads these words today, if they do not know you as Jesus, their personal Lord and Savior, that they would see You now, choosing to die for each one of us. Father, open their hearts to receive You, open their hearts to cry out, “Jesus, come into my heart. I believe in You, and I believe You died for my sins.” Father, bless these words I have written, and I pray that Your word will not return void. In Jesus name, the One Who Chose to Die for me. Amen and Amen.