We all have our own unique cross to bear. We each have burdens, sufferings, and painful situations. Most of the time we don’t have a choice. We can’t avoid it. We just shoulder it and go on.
But if you were to give me a choice? Would I choose to suffer? To go through pain? No thank you. I would never choose to do so. I want to avoid it if I can.
But what about carrying someone else’s cross? Shouldering someone else’s burdens and pain? Well, I can help a little. But no matter how much I love them, and want to help, I’m only human. I can only do so much.
But if I could do it, would I do it willingly? That’s a tough question. I don’t know if I would, to be honest. Sometimes with the ones I love the best, I may feel like I would. I don’t like to see them suffer. Or anyone for that matter. But what about someone who deserves punishment?
Would I take someone else’s punishment for a crime I didn’t commit? I may feel like a noble, good person, but deep down...I just don’t know if I would do that. After all, sometimes they just plain deserve it.
Well.....I deserved punishment. I am guilty of sin. I was Simon Peter who fell at Jesus feet and cried, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” Luke 5:8 I was Judas who betrayed Him for coin. I was much worse.
I was born into sin. Nobody had to teach me how to sin, I just did it. It was my nature. It rose up within me, like a underground spring. You can’t cap this. So what’s the answer?
Do all the good works I can to gain God’s favor? Follow all the rules to a T? Go to church every time the door opens? Give all my money to charity? Or just turn a cold shoulder to God and pretend I don’t care?
I so love Paul’s vulnerability when he shares the his struggle with the sin problem; But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help!
I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. Romans 6:17-25 The Message Bible
Yes, thank God, Jesus Christ can and does! Paul goes on to share this gospel, (good news) in the next few verses:
With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.
God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that. Romans 8:1-4 The Message Bible
Dear friend, let this soak in your spirit. Drink it in. It stirs my spirit. Jesus entered my hot mess of a life and took my punishment. He dove deep in my pain and suffering; Felt. it. all. He set me free. I now have a spring of life, bubbling up within me. Wholeness, joy and peace.
It’s a gift, a free gift. Yet bought with a price by a willing, suffering Savior.