Monday, July 30, 2007

The Glorious Exchange

My mom reminds me of Jesus. Not because she always acts likes Jesus. In fact, she would be the first to admit that, in her attempts to behave the way Jesus behaved, she fails more often than she succeeds. She reminds me of Jesus because she birthed me. Let me explain.

The very process of giving birth is a beautiful picture of what Jesus Christ has accomplished for sinners like me. In his remarkable book Jesus Ascended, author Gerrit Scott Dawson puts it this way: “A child is conceived through the loving communion of husband and wife. The child grows inside the sheltering womb of the mother. But the child cannot live there forever. He is made for another world, a world of daylight and air, starlight and sky. So in the hours of her labor, the mother offers a new and living way. The way to life as a human being into the world passes through the curtain of her flesh. The curtain must be torn that the child might live and reach the daylight world. The mother is the new and living way. By her pain, the child is born.”

This is precisely the way the Bible speaks of Christ’s work on the cross. In Isaiah 53, the prophet foretold of a “suffering servant” who would one day bear the sin of many. He tells of a “man of sorrows” who would take on himself the punishment we sinners deserve. He would carry our sickness and swallow our disease. He says in v.6, “All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the guilt and sins of us all.” He goes on to say in v.5, “He was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed.” Approximately 750 years later, the apostle Peter assures his readers that Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (1 Peter 2:22-25). It was Christ who accomplished a glorious exchange: his death brings us life. In the same way that we were brought into this world through the pain and suffering of another, we are brought into fellowship with God through the pain and suffering of Christ.

The way to true everlasting life passes through the curtain of Christ’s flesh. Because of my sin, he had to die so that I might live. He is the one who passed through the “valley of the shadow of death” so that I might enjoy the “still waters” and “green pastures” that friendship with God brings.

So when I think about my mother, I can’t help but think about the suffering she endured to give me life. I was born because, in love, my mom spent herself in pain and agony. Her blood, literally, brought me into this world. Similarly, Christ’s blood brings sinners into fellowship with God. Jesus is the new and living way (Heb. 10:20). He not only provides passage to God, he is the passage to God. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). A glorious exchange indeed.