I shared this in the sermon yesterday. (https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/grace-community-church/id573563553?mt=2) It bears repeating. As I read this I remember John Newton’s apt words: “Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”
Bible scholar and pastor N.T. Wright retells the following story about an archbishop who was hearing confessions of sin from three hardened teenagers in the church. All three boys were trying to make a joke out of it so they met with the archbishop and confessed to a long list of ridiculous and grievous sins that they had not committed. It was all a joke. The archbishop, seeing through their bad practical joke, played along with the first two who ran out of the church laughing.
But then he listened carefully to the third prankster, and before he got away told the young man, “Okay, you have confessed these sins. Now I want you to do something to show your repentance. I want you to walk up to the far end of the church and I want you to look at the picture of Jesus hanging on the cross, and I want you to look at his face and say, ‘You did all that for me and I don’t care that much.’ And I want you to do that three times.”
And so the boy went up to the front, looked at the picture of Jesus and said, “You did all that for me and I don’t care that much.” And then he said it again, but then he couldn’t say it the third time because he broke down in tears. And the archbishop telling the story said, the reason I know that story is that I was that young man.
There is something about the cross. Something about Jesus dying there for us which leaps over all the theoretical discussions, all the possibilities of how we explain it this way or that way and it grasps us. And when we are grasped by it, somehow we have a sense that what is grasping us is the love of God.