When I discovered that God was real, and Jesus was actually His son, I believed that I loved Jesus. But I wasn’t sure about my beliefs or my love for Him. I wondered if I had just intellectually accepted the gospel as truth, and because Jesus was so loving, yet so heroic, I believed that I loved him. I wondered if my words were just empty, well-meaning words or if Jesus was really in my heart. I wondered if I really and truly loved him.
Then I went with my wife to see The Passion of The Christ movie. I had read the reviews and knew that, in order to be truthful and realistic, there were some violent parts in the movie. I accepted it and believed that I would be able keep it in focus. And I did pretty good until Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. The soldiers came to arrest Jesus, just as I knew they would, and things were proceeding accordingly. Suddenly, without warning, a soldier hit Jesus in the face with his fist. I muttered a foul name for the soldier, and was getting up from my seat to make him pay for hitting my Savior. But before I could get up, my wife put her hand on my arm, and at the same time, I realized that this was just a movie. It was a projector, projecting an image on the screen. It wasn’t real, and I remained seated. I heard the Holy Spirit say to me, “Peter didn’t understand the whole story and he acted to defend Christ, but you know that he had to suffer these things.”
I realized that my reaction to Jesus being struck, was the same as Peter’s reaction. It was then that I understood why Peter had cut the centurion’s ear off. He loved Jesus, and he would fight and die for him. I, also, finally understood that I truly loved Jesus. It was not simply an intellectual decision. My reaction was automatic and unplanned and came straight from my heart. I now knew that my love for him was real
When I realized these things, and knew that I could not intervene in the punishment that Jesus had to endure, I settled back into my seat. and resigned myself to simply being a witness. And then the tears began to roll down my cheeks. I didn’t sob, but simply sat there as the tears continued to flow. I still remember how hot those tears felt upon my face. I reasoned that it was because the theater was air conditioned. And still I sat, unable to stem the flow. But I still remember those hot, impassioned tears for him.
Jesus had to take the suffering of the world upon himself. Peter could not stop it, nor could I. Jesus had to take our sins upon himself, in order to forgive us and give us eternal life. He suffered because of my sins, and for yours. Not only could I not stop it, I was guilty of causing his suffering. It was for you and me, that his crucifixion had to happen. And it is because of our love for him, that we feel the guilt and repent of our sins; and that gives his death meaning.
His death was bitter-sweet for him. He loved us, yet he suffered unspeakable pain to take away our sin. It is our love for him that causes us to accept him and repent of our sins. Together with Jesus, we have found victory in the cross. For us, he has defeated the frailties of his body, he has defeated sin, he has defeated Satan, and he has defeated death. Those who accept him, share that victory with him. In his death and resurrection, we are born again, into ever-lasting life. Only God can change death into life, and turn defeat into eternal triumph. And it all begins with His love for us, and is completed with our love for him. Give Him your heart, and complete the circle. Give him your life, and find ever-lasting life.