Sin is in the news. It always has been, since there was news. This is discouraging.
Sin is also in the mirror. It was there before there was such a thing as a mirror. This is depressing.
Ever since Adam, the public and personal record is clear: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We hate, we kill, we steal, we lust, we disobey, we covet, and we cheat. We do all of this evil, and much more, because we want our way instead of God’s way. The guilt, the shame, the defeat, and the fear of judgment weigh heavily on the human condition. No one is exempt or excepted.
John Bunyan wrote about this universal conviction of sin in his famous allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress. The main character, Christian, knew this awful moral weight and it was “a great burden upon his back.” Taking Mr. Legality’s advice, Christian tried to find relief through the Law, but instead found that “his burden seemed heavier” when he approached the hill Mt. Sinai. He was so terrified that he “did quake for fear.”
In contrast to Sinai, Christian made his way to another hill, Mt. Calvary. What happened there is magic, supernatural:
He ran thus till he came to a place somewhat ascending; and upon that place stood a cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up with the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it not more.
Then was Christian glad and lightsome, and said with a merry heart, "He hath given me rest by His sorrow, and life by His death." Then he stood still awhile to look and wonder; for it was very surprising to him that the sight of the cross should thus ease him of his burden.
As we reflect this week upon the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, stand awhile and look at the cross and the empty tomb. If you have never known the forgiveness of sin, like Christian, fix your eyes on the crucified and risen Savior to experience deliverance from sin’s guilt, shame, and judgment. If you already know Jesus, look back again and wonder at the marvel of his death and resurrection, which accomplished atonement and victory over sin.
Like Christian, be “glad and lightsome” this Easter because of the good news! With Paul, we claim and proclaim a 2,000-year-old message: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
By Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, NRB President & CEO
Published: March 29, 2018