Those words posted on Facebook were the response of someone who had seen the passion play during this last Easter season.  Now in fairness it should be noted that the response came from a person who to my knowledge does not claim to be a Christian and I doubt she had a church upbringing.  But I wonder if her exclamation after seeing the play would not also be echoed by many within the Evangelical church.  I doubt it would be put that boldly but perhaps you have heard something along the following: You were so valuable to God that if you had been the only person on earth, God would have sent Jesus to die for you.”

Now that type of statement is made with the hope of convincing the listeners that they are  significant, important, and loved by God, indeed so valuable to God that he was compelled to send his Son into the world to seek and save us.  Of course that may give the listener a warm feeling and it is sure to boost their self-esteem which it seems everyone is seeking to do these days, but is that what the cross is all about - affirming my self-worth?

Now I certainly do not want to denigrate God’s love, most certainly not the love that he expresses for his children.  Paul in writing to the Ephesians puts great emphasis on God’s love as the motivating factor for choosing us for salvation.

 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.           

                                                                                                          Ephesians 1:3-6

Reformed Bible scholars have always (rightly) pointed out that in these verses where Paul speaks of God choosing us before the foundation of the world this election  by God is unconditional, meaning it is not based on some foreseen quality in the person chosen.  God did not look down the corridors of time and see that this person or that had the right stuff to make up a nice Christian.  Nor did he choose based on some foreseen faith that person might have.  Indeed the faith that we exercised in coming to Christ is itself a gift from God.  (Ephesians 2:8-10)

I recall a Dennis the Menace cartoon where he and his friend Joey are eating cookies.  Joey says to Dennis: “We must have been really good for Mrs. Wilson to give us all these cookies. To which Dennis responds, Joey, Mrs. Wilson didn’t give us cookies to show us how good we are. Mrs. Wilson gives us cookies to us how good she is.”   

It is the same with God: all the gifts and blessings God bestows on his children through Christ are not designed to show us how valuable we are rather they reveal how good and gracious He is.

As to the cross itself and what it reveals, it certainly is not an affirmation of our worth, rather it is an indictment of our sin.  Our sin and rebellion against God where we so woefully undervalue Him - They did not honor God as God neither did they give him thanks - is what makes fallen human beings so reprehensible to Him, in fact it makes us his enemies.  So infinitely valuable is God that any sin against him is infinitely offensive.  This is why those who do not repent will spend eternity in hell for their sins; no matter how long they are punished they can never fully pay for their crimes against God.  Only at the cross is the justice of God fully satisfied because there the infinite offense was propitiated by a sacrifice of infinite value - God’s own Son.

Paul speaks of this amazing grace of God in Romans 5:6-11 when he writes:

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified [e]by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

We marvel at a soldier who sacrifices his life for his buddies. We laud a mother who despite health risks carries her baby to term rather than abort.  But what grace is this? God sacrifices his Son to purchase our souls when we were yet his enemies.  This is the wonder of the cross; this is the love of God; this is why we sing about amazing grace.  And this is the confidence of the believer, that if God reconciled us to himself through his Son while we were still his enemies, how much more now that we are his children is He committed to our well-being?  As Paul says later in Romans 8:32, He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

When we watch a passion play and truly understand the meaning of Christ’s death we do not respond by saying, I am so worthy dying for!” Rather we respond by saying,

                           When I survey the wondrous cross

                            on which the prince of glory died;

                            My greatest gain I count but loss

                            and pour contempt on all my pride.

                                                                                          Pastor Doug