Sometimes when I preach, I will write a sermon and never use it. God will change what I preach about at, what seems like, the last minute. This article is very much in that category. I had an article about Pontius Pilate and his role in the crucifixion. I thought it was a good article, a nice follow up to the Easter message. Apparently, it wasn’t what I needed to write about. Maybe you will read it in the future, maybe you won’t. I just want you to know where this is coming from. I want you know that I need to hear what I am about to say as much as anyone else.
Were you and your family excited about Easter Sunday? We buy new clothes, Easter baskets, and lots of chocolate. We hear the message that Jesus suffered a humiliating death on the cross that he did not deserve. He died our death, the death we deserve. He took my place on the cross and he took your place as well. He saved us from sin and death.
We forget that Jesus left heaven to become a man and die for us. The crazy thing is that this was God’s plan.
God knew we were going to mess things up so bad that our relationship with him would be broken. He knew that the only way this relationship could be fixed was with the sacrifice of a perfect and blameless lamb. He has been telling us this since the first Passover. That perfect, spotless, blameless lamb is Jesus Christ.
We all know what John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” This tells us about that sacrifice and the gift of salvation that is available. Most people stop there. If you read John 3:17, you learn that he had this planned all along. John 3:17 tells us this, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
Jesus came not to damn us to Hell. Jesus came to save us from Hell, a hell we deserve.
God knew when he created us that we were going to botch things so bad that He would have to save us. He knew that he would have to sacrifice his son so that we could have a relationship with him. He knew all of this and He created us anyways. How much love is that? We cannot imagine love like that.
If you knew someone was going to mess things up as bad as we did, you would never associate with that person. You would probably avoid them like the plague.
God did the complete opposite. He loved us even though we don’t deserve it. Let’s mirror the love that God shows us and love everyone we come into contact with. Let’s love those that have hurt us, talked bad about us, wronged us, took advantage of us. Let’s love those that we think don’t deserve to be loved.
Because God loves us no matter how broken, how messed up we think we are.
He loves you where you are, wherever you are.
You may be saying, “But Andy, you don’t know how bad this person hurt me!” Guess what? You are absolutely right. I don’t know how bad they hurt you. God does. He loves you and he loves those that hurt you. He also loves those that you have hurt.
We have to stop holding on to our hurt and pride. We need to run to the cross. We need to embrace the cross. We must stop letting our hurt define us. We need to be defined by the cross. Meaning, our lives must reflect the love that Jesus showed us. We need to love others expecting nothing in return, nothing but hurt. This is a hard lesson. I don’t want to hear this and I know you probably don’t either. We need to hear it though.
With the gift of Easter still fresh in our minds and with the evidence of rebirth all around us this spring, remember the love that was shown to us, not only on the cross, but through creation.
The poet Albert Laighton wrote, “Where man sees but withered leaves, God sees sweet flowers growing.” God sees the beautiful flower we are. So, let us stop looking at everyone that hurt us as weeds.
Andy Butts was born and raised in Newton County. He is the youth pastor at Journey Church in Oxford, GA. He loves God, his wife, his children, food, Ethiopia, and Star Wars.