5th Sunday of Lent
Imagine you have committed a crime so bad, or so many little crimes that justice demands you be locked up for ever, both as a punishment and to protect others. Imagine at the same time you are being pursued by a powerful evil gangster who will never stop till you are in his power. Finally imagine you have so upset the one person in the world who truly loves you and that there is nothing you can do to restore that love between you.
Then along comes someone who says to you, I’ll sort it. I’ll save you. I will go to prison for you, I will take the punishment and you can go free and forgiven. Don’t worry about the gangster I will fight him and defeat him, he will have no more power over you, and finally I know what to do to bring you back together with your lover.
This is a poor analogy for what Jesus does for us. He takes on himself all the consequences and effects of all the sins you, me, everyone in the whole world has committed and suffers the ultimate penalty of being separated from God “ my god my god why have you forsaken me?”. In doing this he confronts that gangster, the devil, whose ultimate power is eternal death and destroys his power by the resurrection and finally Jesus wins back our lover, he offers to God the Father perfect obedience, perfect love, he gives the gift of himself in love and finally to seal this wonderful act reveals that he is our lover. I who am doing this for you, I am he, I am God.
And we realise that in the mystery of the cross and resurrection the inner life of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is revealed, a life of love, of gift, of receiving, and entering into it we experience that divine life as forgiveness, salvation, happiness.
This is the work of God, revealed to us in Jesus, it is what the prophet Jeremiah looks forward to “ I will be their God and they will be my people”. It means Jesus is, as the letter to the Hebrews says, “the source of eternal salvation”. It is as Jesus says “the very reason I have come” and referring to his crucifixion “When I am lifted up from the world I will draw all men to myself”.
If we are truly Christian then Jesus, and love of him, and gratitude towards him, and knowing him to be our personal saviour will be at the centre of our lives and families and everything we do. Because without him, without his cross and resurrection we and our families and friends, are doomed to imprisonment, we are in the devil’s power and we have fallen out of love of God.