I’ve been listening to Fernando Ortega’s version of “Jesus Paid it All” during Lent this year and it rings so true.
Jesus paid it ALL–not just part. ALL–the part of your life we’re too embarrassed to think He even knows about–the sin we think our friends, family and church would disown us for–the part that makes us say we’re not fit to be part of His kingdom. THAT part. ALL paid for. By Him. Not you. You can’t do anything to pay your debt. Nothing. You can spend your life trying to make up for your sinful ways, to help pay the price–but you can’t. “Can’t I do anything to make it better, to make it up to you, Lord?” Will anything you try to do make His death less painful or less real? No. It’s when we cry out “I can’t do this anymore! I can’t make it better, I can’t pay for the eternal consequences for my sin!” Then He says in His still small voice. “I didn’t ask you to pay or make it better. You can’t. I’ve always known you couldn’t, even if you tried your entire life. I paid for you. All you have to do is accept the gift of salvation. My righteousness and sanctification are now yours. Just take the gift I’m offering you. Your presence in heaven is worth the price on the cross.”
“Christianity begins not with a big do, but with a big done. We begin our Christian life by depending not upon our own doing but upon what Christ has done.” Watchman Nee
That’s what “It is finished” means. The price is paid in full. Nothing more for you to do. There is no balance left to pay. “Oh, but can’t I just help a little? Do just a little something to pay the price? Let me at least try to clean up my life first, make it more presentable. Let me at least try hard to stop this sin first…”
NO. NO. NO.
When we insist on trying to help pay the price, try to fix ourselves, take on part of the burden, it is pride, pure and simple. That’s what got Satan in trouble, remember? Wanting to be God? When we, in our pride, insist we can stop sinning/be whole/pay the price of our sin, we are trying to do the job Jesus–who is fully God–did. His job, not ours. And that is the great offense, the stumbling block, is it not? That we can do nothing to deserve the gift, or pay for it. Do nothing to be good enough–anything we try is legalism and pride.
Of course we’re not fit to be part of His kingdom! If we were, He wouldn’t have had to die–we could just be “good enough” to get in. Nothing in heaven is just “good enough.” It’s perfect. It has to be, to be in the presence of God. No speck of darkness can remain in the light. And since He is light, no speck of sinful darkness can remain in His presence.
There is one little thing, however. I can hear you now, “I told you! I told you I had to do something to earn it!” This isn’t something to earn salvation. It’s something to make room for His love and forgiveness and salvation. You have to give up. Give up trying in your own strength to get it right. Give them to Him. That’s not much of a gift to give the King of Kings, is it? Not exactly on par with the gold, silver, and frankincense the Magi brought. My nastiness? My pride? My short temper, sharp tongue, impatience, fear, my family tree of sinfulness? That’s what He wants from me? My sinful, awful, wretched life, Just-As-I-Am–that’s the alabaster jar of great price He wants from me?
Many years ago, some dear friends adopted two precious children, scarcely more than babies. They arrived, bedraggled and dirty, with only the much-too-small clothes and shoes they were wearing. They were lovingly bathed and given new haircuts, new names, new clothes and then it was time for shoes that fit. Off to the department store they went. When it was time to size the children and try on the new shoes, the older one burst into tears. Weeping and clutching the shoes that were tattered and too small, the child cried, “No! They’re mine! Don’t take them away!” The heartrending,
pitiful cries affected everyone present. This little one, so long used to having anything of any worth taken away, was nearly hysterical, thinking it was happening again.
The fear of losing the old trash he had almost kept him from gaining the joy of a new life.
Aren’t we the same way? So afraid of losing the familiar, what’s ours, no matter how little good it is to us, that we miss out on the joy of letting go our sinful rags. We’re afraid of letting God give us the new garments of righteousness–once again His righteousness, not ours–garments that fit, that were made just for us. Clothes fit for the child of the King.
It is finished! Rest today in the finished work of the cross.