Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as a thing to be grasped,
but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant,
being found in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death –
even death on a cross.
We come now to Holy Week and the reverent recounting of Jesus’ final hours leading to the Cross - the most profound act of Love in human history. In the following readings related to God’s full and complete work of salvation in Christ Jesus, it is my privilege to share with you writings from remarkable Christian theologians who have deepened my faith beyond measure.
Rev. William Willimon: There is much we do not know about Jesus Christ, yet there is one thing we know for sure, on which all the Gospels agree – Jesus saves. John Wesley, founder of Methodism, believed that by the grace of God, we have been awakened to the fact of our redemption in Jesus Christ, and we are empowered to live different lives through the work of the Holy Spirit in us. On the cross Christ did not just work for us, but in our daily walk with Christ we are delighted to find that Christ works in us. We are changed.
Rev. N. T. Wright: The story of Barabbas invites us to see Jesus’s crucifixion in terms of a stark personal exchange. Barabbas deserves to die; Jesus dies instead, and Barabbas goes free. God’s astounding grace, God’s sovereign and saving presence, is exactly what we are witnessing in this story. When we learn to read the story of Jesus and see it as the story of the love of God, doing for us what we could not do for ourselves – that insight produces, again and again, a sense of astonished gratitude which is near the very heart of authentic Christian experience.
Love Beyond Our Understanding
O sacred Head, now wounded,
with grief and shame weighed down,
now scornfully surrounded
with thorns thine only crown;
how pale thou art with anguish,
with sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish
which once was bright as morn!
What thou, my Lord, has suffered
was all for sinners’ gain;
mine, mine was the transgression,
but thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior!
‘Tis I deserve thy place;
look on me with thy favor,
vouchsafe to me thy grace.
What language shall I borrow
to thank thee, dearest friend,
for this thy dying sorrow,
thy pity without end?
O make me thine forever;
and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
outlive my love for thee.
(trans. by Paul Gerhardt)
God demonstrates his great love for us in this:
while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us.
Because of his great love for us, God,
who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ
even when we were dead in transgressions –
it is by grace you have been saved.
For God so loved the world
that he gave his only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish,
but shall have eternal life.
Indeed, God did not send his Son
into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be
saved through him.