It was a hot, sticky summer in Texas when I first felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit. I experienced a tugging at my heart that the Jesus I knew so much about was the Jesus I needed to know as the Lord and Savior of my life. It wasn’t business — it was personal.
I waited until the very last service of camp that summer before I finally let go of my hesitation and walked down the church aisle. I asked Christ to forgive me of my sin — and I accepted God’s gift of salvation. I was saved by grace.
However, even though forgiveness is offered freely — there is a price to be paid. Salvation comes from sacrifice, and that sacrifice is heartbreakingly personal.
The Old Testament says that God saved the Israelites from the oppression of Pharaoh by sending 10 plagues. The final plague was the death of every household’s oldest son. The only salvation from this plague was by the blood of a lamb.
The Passover lamb was required to be one year old, male, and unblemished. Each household offered one sacrifice, using the lamb’s blood to paint their doorposts. The Angel of Death passed over those homes, sparing the firstborn sons. The blood of the lamb literally saved these families from death. It protected them from judgment.
It’s easy for me to read about Passover, ponder Good Friday, and ultimately celebrate Easter Sunday without feeling too convicted. After all, we will go to church, dressed in our Easter Sunday best, and enjoy time with family and friends before heading back to work on Monday. As a Christian, I thankfully live under grace. I’m forgiven by God through faith in Christ. Sometimes that’s a little too comfortable, in fact. I can take forgiveness for granted.
But what if I lived in the days of Moses, held in slavery and crying out to God for deliverance? What if I witnessed terrible plagues by God’s own hand? What if my sacrifice were more personal?
The truth is, the consequence of sin is ugly. The blood of a lamb, raised by a family, a prized possession of innocence and perfection, had to be killed to atone for sins. The hand of the patriarch was laid on the lamb as its lifeblood spilled out. The lamb that was loved, cared for, possibly even named, died on another’s behalf. Sin is serious. Sin is personal.
At Easter, it’s easy to look forward to Sunday and the celebration of Jesus’ triumphant resurrection. But there would be no resurrection without the crucifixion. And there would be no crucifixion without the sin I personally committed. I am separated from God because of my rebellion against Him.
I am convinced that Jesus would have died for just me. Not because of my worth — but because of His great love. But just as Christ would have died for just me, my sin was enough to nail Him to the cross. Redemption comes with the price of life.
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When I think about placing my hand on the fuzzy wool of a perfect lamb, I imagine its innocent eyes looking up to me. It did nothing to deserve death — but I picture taking its life to save my own. How much more did Jesus suffer on my behalf? How much greater was His sacrifice as the Son of God?
When we realize that we laid our hands on Jesus as our sacrifice, put our sin on Him, and nailed Him to the cross to pay the price for our sin, it becomes intimately personal.
Just as Easter is more than a story, Jesus is more than a man. Jesus is our sacrificial lamb. His blood was shed for our protection, our salvation. His death covers our sin so that eternal death passes over us. In the prophecy of Isaiah 53:7, Jesus is described as a lamb led to the slaughter. In John 1:29, John the Baptist publicly identifies Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” In Revelation 5, the lamb is praised as the only one worthy, triumphant, and worshipped.
When faith becomes personal, God makes miracles happen. Death has no sting. Life is lived with hope.
Jesus didn’t give His life as a ransom so that we live in fear or captivity. He says in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
Salvation is an inexplicably personal experience of faith — and God gave His one and only Son to save each of us personally.