If You Were the Only One · 18 August 2018

Christ Carrying the Cross
by El Greco

This work is in the public domain.

“Even if you were the only person on earth, Jesus would still have died for you.” I had a chilling and rather revolting revelation after I heard that from the pulpit one Sunday.

The point is well taken. God loves each one of us so much that He sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to die for our sins. It was the only sacrifice that would need to be made from then on. No more burnt offerings for all those naughty things we do. Just one sacrifice for all people for all our sins for the rest of time. All we need to do is accept the forgiveness. (Then, the real work begins as God changes our hearts and minds.) The thought that Jesus would have come for just me is great news! God loves me that much.

But if you stop to think about the whole story, things get a lot more chilling. And revolting.

I am not sure exactly why my thought process went there, but I actually imagined that I was the only person on earth and that God sent Jesus anyway. That would mean I would be judge, jury, and executioner for Jesus. I would be the one who said that He was guilty of death after living a perfect life. I would be the one who mocked Him and struck Him. I would be the one who plaited a crown of thorns and pounded it on His head to mock His kingship. I would be the one who used a flail on His body and ripped the flesh off his bones, possibly exposing internal organs because of the way lead balls and bone chips were placed at the ends of the leather strips. I would be the one who nailed His hands and feet to the cross. I would be the one who dropped the cross into the hole and jarred His whole body as the pole hit the bottom. I would be the one who gave Him the vinegar and gall mixture, probably with a derisive sneer and nasty comment. I would be the one who watched Him breathe His last breath, and then I would be the one who pierced His side with a spear. Just for good measure. I would even be the one to lay His body in a tomb and guard it until the third day. I would then be the one to see Him raised from the dead and to hear Him speak words of forgiveness to me, the one who inflicted Him with all that pain and suffering just days before. If I was the only person on earth, I would still have the opportunity to receive God’s grace through His Son, Jesus. Even though it was I who had just tortured and murdered God in the flesh.

The thought is chilling. It is even revolting. But it is true too. In essence, each of our sins drove the nails into Jesus’ hands and feet. Each of the sinful, prideful, or careless words that we say mock the Savior and press the crown deeper into His head. Each and every person throughout time and space mocked Jesus, tortured Jesus, put Jesus on the cross. And yet each of us can still receive God’s grace for those grievous sins. For putting Jesus through His ordeal. For killing God.

That is good news. Good news indeed.

For regardless how personal we make Jesus’ death on the cross, the amazing thing is that He rose again that we might be saved. Each and every one of us. As if we were the only one. It is that personal. And that is amazing. So regardless of how chilling and revolting it is to think that I personally made Jesus suffer and die, it is that much more comforting to know that He still loves me and offers me His forgiveness.

The chilling part of the whole thing is that now I understand why some people have such a hard time accepting Jesus. They know how deeply they have hurt God. They feel worthless. They feel unworthy. But God has told us and shown us how we are worth so much. And when it comes right down to it, we are all unworthy of that kind of love and forgiveness. But the good news is that regardless of how worthless and unworthy we feel, God still reaches out to us. As if each one of us was the only one.

The thought is chilling. But it is the good chills. Jesus died and rose again for each of us. Individually. Regardless of what we have done. How can we not love Him back. How can we not follow Him.

[I wrote this months ago as a response to the words from the pulpit. It was never meant to be a blog post. Just a personal reflection. But then I heard the words again (twice in two days), and decided that I needed to add my own thoughts to others who have surely had similar thoughts before.]

© 2018 Michael T. Miyoshi

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