What a Gift!
By Shadia Hrichi
Have you ever forgiven a loved one who wronged you and said they were sorry? It’s difficult, but to save the relationship, often we find it in our heart to forgive – especially if the other person is sincerely sorry. But how about the person who wrongs you and is not sorry? Would they be dead to you? Should that relationship be pursued? Should they be shown forgiveness? Actually, it happened to each of us...about 2,000 years ago.
All of us, at one time or another, chooses wrong over right: to lie, steal, curse, or to be resentful, bitter, or jealous of another person. Because we are made in God’s image and created to be in relationship with Him, when we violate His character, we separate ourselves from Him and sever the relationship. Still, as a loving Father, God wants to restore this relationship and is willing to forgive even when we’re not sorry. Romans 5:8 says:
“God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
God did not wait for us to come to Him; for God knew that left to ourselves, it would never happen:
“God looks down from Heaven to see if there are any who seek after God…[but] no one seeks for God…they have all turned aside.” (Psalm 14:2-3; Romans 3:11)
And so, before the beginning of time, God arranged a rescue mission to extend forgiveness to those who didn’t know to ask.
Easter is the celebration of this amazing gift. 2,000 years ago, the Son of God willingly left the glory of Heaven and came to earth, wrapped in human flesh, to become the complete sacrifice for sin. Yet, when we look at the Cross, we often forget that Jesus suffered something far greater than physical death: He suffered spiritual separation from God the Father so we wouldn’t have to. Jesus laid bare His greatest agony when He cried out,
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
The eternal God-head was torn apart for us. The penalty for sin is not the Cross; that’s the symbol. The penalty for sin is eternal separation from God, and only the eternal God could pay that price.
The greatest gift ever given is not God’s forgiveness that is now available to us, but rather God’s Son through whom forgiveness was made possible.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
The person who looks upon God’s Son who, as He was being nailed to the Cross, said,
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)
...and turns away, will not spend an eternity regretting his sin – that’s done and paid for. Rather, he will be left to agonize over all the ways God tried to reach out to him, reveal Himself to him, and demonstrate His love in an endless pursuit to have a relationship with him—that God even decided he was worth dying for—but he turned away . . . however:
"...to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." (John 1:12)
On that first glorious Easter morning, the dark tomb was empty. God the Father raised Jesus from the dead, restoring Him to His rightful throne in Heaven, demonstrating God’s complete satisfaction that the penalty for all sin, for all people, for all time, has been paid in full. Easter is resurrection day! The day Christians all over the world celebrate that their relationship to God the Father, once dead, has been restored to life—and not just life, eternal life!
God wants to restore a relationship with you and He is only a prayer away. If you want to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior – God’s greatest gift - you can pray a simple prayer something like this:
Father, thank you for loving me and sending your beloved Son to pay the penalty for my sin. Jesus, thank you for dying for me on the Cross. I am sorry for living my life apart from You and choose today to follow You. Please come into my heart and make me the person You created me to be. Amen.
And one day, when you enter your heavenly Home, you will run to your Father who will scoop you up into His arms saying, “Welcome home, my child!”
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)
What love! What a gift! What an amazing God!
© 2011 Shadia Hrichi. Used with permission.
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Shadia Hrichi is an author and speaker passionate for seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. She is the author of Worthy of Love: A Journey of Hope and Healing After Abortion, and holds an MA in Biblical and Theological Studies, as well as an MA in Criminal Justice and BA in Psychology. She serves on the Board of Directors for RealOptions Pregnancy Centers, and is often invited to speak at events and on radio programs. Visit http://www.shadiahrichi.com
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