Read this post by elder David Hunt on how Jesus’ death on the cross became more personal to him:
I’m pretty sure that everyone in the Western world (and probably a lot who aren’t) knows that this coming Sunday is Easter, the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection to life. However, what gets lost sometimes is that the days leading up to Sunday are about death – Christ’s death. And we all know what he died for, right? Jesus died for our sins, of course. I thank him in prayer for that often, but also quite often, I have difficulty really grasping this. It can be an abstraction to me. Jesus died for our sins. What does that mean? I don’t always feel a personal connection to this concept. I do sin. I am a sinner. I get that. But Jesus dying for sins feels a little…well…impersonal nevertheless.
What helps me grasp the weightiness of Christ’s work on the cross is to remember my friend Randy. I worked with Randy several years ago for some time. Randy was one of the nicest people you could meet. Friendly, engaging, always inquiring about your life, your family, how things are going. Nothing really seemed to tick him off or get him down. One Sunday, a few years ago, Randy was working in the front yard of his house here in Athens. He noticed a lady with a stroller walking down his street. Randy didn’t know this lady. But, of course, that didn’t matter. As she approached, he walked out to the curb to say hello, to meet her, to get to know one of his neighbors. Before long, they were surprised by a car swerving at a high speed down their otherwise quiet suburban street. The car approached their spot quickly. There was but a split second to react. In that instant, Randy managed to simultaneously grab the neighbor by her arm and the stroller and fling them into his front yard. Just as the car hit Randy. He died of his injuries the next day. Randy didn’t know this lady and her baby. He had just met them. And yet, Randy gave up his life to save the lives of these two strangers.
I don’t know what Randy’s legacy has been for his widow and his own two boys. His death was an unimaginable loss to them, I’m sure. I hope they have seen their own good somehow worked out by God in this tragedy. I know that, for me, Randy’s sacrifice for those two strangers continues to leave a legacy of God’s work in my own life. By knowing Randy and knowing how he died to save two people, I am reminded of why Jesus died. Yes, he died for my sins. What really blows me away, though, is that he died for me. For me. He took the hit so I can live.
Randy didn’t know what was coming. His was an act of spontaneity and reaction. He didn’t know he would die, and my guess is that, if he knew he would die, these two people were probably not at the top of his list of people to sacrifice his life for. Jesus, though, knew what was coming. He knew those for whom he died. He knew that we shouldn’t make the list of those deserving his sacrifice. He did it anyway. He died for us because he loves us. He wants us to live. Even if he had to die.
Easter marks a joyous celebration of a wonderful event. Jesus proved once and for all that he is God by overcoming death itself. It is a reason to be glad. But don’t forget his death this week. Put yourself in shoes of the lady and her baby who live today because someone else accepted death on their behalf. Better yet, put yourself in your own shoes as one who has been loved so much and so much more than you deserve that Jesus himself would accept death on your behalf. Jesus died for our sins. We know that. But don’t ever, ever forget: Jesus died for you.
Because he loves you.