Our church is almost done with our annual VBS (see some great pictures here, here, and here). As always, it has been excellent. Our children’s team and our massive crew of volunteers are exemplary; faithful, hard-working, and overflowing with love for the little ones.
Each year, at said VBS, I get the privilege and opportunity to play Jesus for the various skits or object lessons. I like to think they ask me because I’m so mature and holy and stuff. But I think it’s only because I can sometimes pass for a man of Mediterranean descent and I can grow a beard in about 32 seconds.
This year, one of the rooms I participated in had me hide behind a black sheet through which my silhouette alone would be visible to the kids. There was a cross with me behind the sheet and, as the narrator explained the unfolding drama, the lights would turn on and I would walk to the cross where I was then “crucified.” It was replete with hammer sounds and everything. Watch out Hollywood.
I did that about four or five times in a row as different groups made their way through the so-called “Bible Room.” As I stood there and listened to the narration again and again, I noticed my heart swelling with both a mixture of sorrow and joy.
Jesus had never sinned. But he was willing to take the punishment for my sins. And your sins. It was our sins that nailed Jesus to that cross.
When we betray or desert a friend, we nail Jesus to the cross.
When we hit or hurt someone, we nail Jesus to the cross.
When we mock or make fun of someone, we nail Jesus to the cross.
Jesus hung on that cross for hours. In agonizing pain. Then, at about noon, Jesus finally died. It was over. It was the end. The Light of the world was dead.
Think about what Jesus went through. All of the pain he felt. Think of how he could have stopped it, but he didn’t. He knew he had to die. For you. And for me. (Taken from Group’s Cave Quest VBS Curriculum).
As I stood there and heard these words again and again, the old truth hit me with fresh power. My sins caused his suffering. My sorrows became his. I killed Jesus. I hurt him. I tortured him. I made him bleed, suffer, and die.
The whole thing reminded me of what John Stott once wrote:
Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us (leading u to faith and worship), we have to see it as something done by us (leading us to repentance). Indeed, “only the man who is prepared to own his share in the guilt of the cross,” wrote Canon Peter Green, “may claim his share in its grace.” (Taken from The Cross of Christ, p. 59-50).
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.
What great sin I have that would cause such suffering. What great love does He have to willingly endure it. That I would mourn about the sin that made Him suffer so. May I, even more so, rejoice in the love that would choose to suffer.