This past Sunday we had the joy of returning home to worship with New Life in College Station. It was awesome to see so many faces that we love and join in the worship of our amazing God. One of the deacons, Kyle, delivered a teaching on Psalm 78, in which he encouraged us to faithfully pass on the truths about God to the generations that follow, and to understand that at no time are we immune to the derailing force of sin in our walk with the Lord.
Kyle’s message convicted me about the seriousness of my sin, and it reminds me of a story that haunts me. It is about a young man in a tribe in Papua New Guinea that was hearing the gospel message for the first time. As he sat watching the Bible teachers and some helpers as they acted out Jesus’ trial before Pontius Pilot, he muttered to himself, “Kill him. He has to die.” The young man had attended the teachings since the beginning. He had learned the Old Testament stories about God and His interaction with the patriarchs. He had learned how God hated sin and had provided Israel with the sacrificial system so that they could be restored to him, but also that the system was inadequate and a greater provision was promised that would once and for all provide forgiveness for sin.
He and his people had fallen in love with Jesus as they heard the stories about Him. They believed He was the greatest man who had ever lived. But this young man sitting on the bench came to a painful realization. Jesus was the greater provision. The sacrifice for sin requires blood (Lev. 11:17).
He had to die. For this young man, the only hope of salvation was for Jesus to die as the lamb of God. He didn’t want it, but he knew he needed it.
And I wonder if I am aware of my great need as well. I have lived much of my life in appreciation of the sacrifice of God’s son on the cross, and aware of the tremendous benefit I have received from it, but am I content to pretend that I am no more than a fringe beneficiary? After all, my sins aren’t as bad as most, right? Christ had to die for others, or if I must be included, then for the collective. But I deny the weight of my own sin.
Like the young man from a tribe in Papua New Guinea sitting on a bench watching the trial of Jesus, I realize that the cross, the terrible, painful death of a sinless man, is not merely beneficial. I need it. My life depends on it. For Jesus to be God’s final provision for my own life, he had to die.
And I am appalled. And I am grateful all the more.