2 Corinthians 5:11-21 For Our Sake
Paul implores his audience to listen to Jesus’ call. Everything He did He did it for each one of us. And He did it for His Father.
When thinking about our reading today I got a picture of a burning building. I am trapped in the top of this building with no way out. The fire is raging around me. I can’t go down the stairs to freedom. I can’t climb out the window because there is no ledge to hold me. I can’t jump because the fall would kill me. I’m dead, unless…
We are going to suspend time in my rescue to allow for the saving work I’m in need of. The first thing that has to happen is for my rescuer to notice my plight. Someone has to notify the Fire Department of my need. In my case the building has an alarm that was triggered at the first sign of smoke. Help is on the way.
Spiritually our fire began when Eve disobeyed God. From that moment on we were trapped. We had no escape. We needed our “Fire Department” to save us. Adam didn’t really need to tell God that Eve had sinned. He knew from the moment it happened but He let them confess to their actions. Truthfully God knew they were going to fail even before He spoke the first words of creation, but we aren’t going into that today.
The first line of defense has arrived at my burning building. They have brought hoses to try and fight the fire and a net to catch me, should I be forced to jump. This fire is so out of control that no amount of water can extinguish it. My “would be” rescuers fight back the blaze to keep the path clear for me to jump. I am so far above the ground though that even if I do jump their net will not fully protect me. It is not sufficient. It is all they have at present. My rescuers have been calling out to me with encouragement and promises of better help, if I can just hang in there a little longer.
The Law was God’s safety net that He gave to His people for a time. It was for their protection until better help was available. It wouldn’t save them but it provided some protection during the long wait. It kept His people’s hearts sensitive to Him and kept them looking for the final promise. It showed He cared and was working towards a final solution. It wasn’t the final solution though.
A ladder truck rounds the corner a few blocks away. I can see it from my vantage point and am SO relieved. I don’t have to jump and hope the net holds. As the truck parks it begins to extend its ladder towards me. It feels like hours are passing as the tip slowly extends in my direction. Every inch it comes nearer to me is one less inch I don’t have to traverse. The fire is raging around me and I am tempted to jump to the ladder but I know that is a hopeless move. I still can do nothing to save myself. I am totally dependent on another to do this work.
The ladder reaches my height but is a few feet away from me. Even with it extended to its fullest I can’t save myself. At that moment I see a Fireman scaling the ladder. He climbs to the end and reaches out for me. He has done all the work He can. It is up to me now. What it is He wants from me is for me to step out into His hands. He WILL catch me but I have to choose to trust Him.
God sent His best “Fireman” for us. He did all the work. He fulfilled every requirement. But He left one thing for us to do. We have to accept His help. We have to believe that He is who He says He is. We have to have faith that He WILL catch us. Only then can we receive His salvation.
I choose to step from my burning room into the arms of my Savior. He carries me away from the flames and smoke. I have a new life because of His work. I am forever changed because He was willing to do whatever it took to reach me.
Interesting thing is, He did it because it was His job. Yes, He did it out of love but that was not the only reason He came. He came because neither I NOR God the Father could reach the other. God the Father could not associate with sin. He could not just decide to look the other way and overlook our sins. We could not make our sins disappear. We were permanently stained and He was constrained. So Someone had to bridge that gap.
God had the plan all worked out but it took Jesus being willing to put that plan in action. Jesus did His work, not only for our sake but also for His Father’s. He took on the job neither side could do. He did it out of love for both the Father and us. If there had only been one side in need He wouldn’t have been tasked with such a demanding job.
Lord Jesus, thank You for saving me. I never stopped to think about the fact that Your Father needed Your help too. To turn Him down was not something You were willing to do. I benefited from that commitment to Your Father. I know that You did it out of love for me too. I’m MORE than grateful for that love. When I fail You do You fall back on the love and commitment You have for Your Father to soothe that hurt?
That question reminds me of something my mother told me about her childhood. When her father would spank her in error he wouldn’t apologize. Instead he would say it was for something he didn’t catch her doing. She would think back in her mind to find the act to assign that punishment to. When I sin do You think back in Your heart to find the love needed to carry You through that pain? Is it the love You felt for Your Father that night in Gethsemane?
It took You to bridge the Great Divide between us. The cross is that bridge. Thank You for Your love and commitment to the job Your Father asked of You. You didn’t have to. You chose to instead.