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Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Advent 7: Waiting for someone to stand in my place

“He was pierced for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
And by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray;
Each of us turned to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on him
The iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:5-6)

What does it mean that Jesus stood in our place?

In part it means that we needed Jesus to come. That is a sobering thought. It is easy to get tangled up in the tinsel of Christmas and forget that this tiny, little, beautiful baby would one day be nailed to a cross. Upon the shoulders of the man this baby would become would be placed the pain and wrongdoing and shame and brokenness of the whole world.

God’s story is that of a Father longing to be restored to his children. It is the story of a terrible rift that has been made become God and the people who have turned their back on him. The story of a perfect, good and holy God who is grieved by the way the world and the people in it hurt themselves and each other, who cannot ignore wrongdoing and yet loves those who do wrong.

Jesus came to stand in our place. I don’t know if I really believe that to be true. If I’m honest, I don’t think I deserve to die. I don’t want to believe that I really needed someone to stand in my place, to take away my sin for me because I couldn’t do it on my own. It was my sin that held Jesus to the cross. It was my rejection of God which caused Jesus to come down to help me to realise how beautiful the God was that I was rejecting. I needed him to become the perfect exchange. He became my perfect substitute. In the moment of crying out on the cross that His Father had forsaken him, Jesus took on my estrangement from God. He was rejected so that I could be brought close. He became Fatherless that I might know God as Father.

Reflection: Read the lyrics of the songs below and listen to them. Let us ask God to show us the beauty of the sacrifice Jesus made and the reason that he was willing to stand in our place: because he loved us.

You bled your heart out
Now I feel love beat in my chest
How wonderful
You gave your beauty
In exchange for my ugliness
How wonderful

You left your perfection
And embraced our rejection

How marvellous, how boundless
Is Your love, is Your love
How wonderful, sacrificial
Is Your love for me

You put on our chains
Sent us out through the open door
How wonderful
You took our sadness
Crowned us with joy and real peace
How wonderful

You left Your perfection
And fought for our redemption

Yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me
How wonderful
Yes Jesus loves me
This is love
You gave Yourself
How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

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