In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.Have you ever wondered what the pre-incarnate Christ was up to before the incarnation? I have never really thought about it before. He was in the beginning. He is the word of God. The word was with God in the beginning. I never thought of the pre-incarnate Christ standing next to the father in the beginning. All things were made for him and through him. He participated in creation. God the father made creation out of love for the son. He made us for Christ and both have loved us like they love each other. Imagine how they felt when Adam and Eve fell to temptation and forever separated themselves from the love of God. Imagine how devastated they were when the effects of that fall passed through the generations and their beautiful creations chose to die rather than be with God. Imagine how desperate they were to find a way to save us from ourselves. They came to our level. They came to us. Christ took upon our humanity to bring us the message of God’s love. And then he paid the price for our sin. He showed us God’s unending and overwhelming love for us by dying an innocent and horrible death so that we may have a way back to God.
Christ’s death on the cross is such a mystery to me. I am a very logical thinker and logic is not very clear in this act by Christ. My finite brain has a hard time wrapping itself around this event which is frustrating because this is the major event for Christianity. This is the defining moment for us. This event restored our relationship with God and allowed him to touch us with his love in a whole new way.
Dying for someone is the ultimate act of love. But Christ didn’t just die for us. It’s not like he pushed us out of harm’s way from a speeding train and ended up getting killed. No, Christ’s death was a lot more complicated. Our punishment for original sin is separation from God- a spiritual death. We were not going to be spending our eternity with God because of our sinful nature. Our sin got us the death sentence. That is our punishment. So, imagine your children get into trouble and end up on death row. What would you do? Not only can you not share in the wonderful life you dreamed for them, but you know that they are going to die there and you will never see them again. That is what God felt for us. So he went to work. You can see him working all over the Old Testament making covenants and making more covenants when covenants were broken. He molded a nation so that at least some of his earthly children would be somewhat prepared to recognize him when he did come to earth to bargain for our lives. And then he did come and walk among his children- he came to the jail. He taught about life outside of the jail. And then he talked the jailer into taking his life instead of ours. He volunteered to serve our death sentence- our horrible death sentence. And when the hour came, he was killed. And at that moment, we were set free. We were free to leave the jail.
I think that is where we are. We are all sitting in the jail and God is inviting us out. He is inviting us to take his son’s hand and walk out. He wants us to feel the sun on our face and the fresh air in our lungs. He wants us to see the vivid colors he painted in the sky as the sun takes upon a new day. He wants us to feel the warm sand between our toes and hear the beautiful songs he gave the birds. He wants us to experience life the way he created it for us. All we have to do is take Christ by the hand and walk out.
Sounds inviting doesn’t it? It sounds like a dream come true for us criminals. But, I think that it is harder to walk out of that jail then we realize. We are taken care of in that jail. They give us meals, a roof over our head and provide books and TV and the like to help us pass the time. We are comfortable. We have been in the jail so long that we have forgotten about what the outside world is like. The experience of God’s perfect world has become a myth- a story of long ago meant for dreamers or crazy people. The world we know is the jail and the world outside the jail is the unknown. Leaving that jail takes faith.
God knows how hard it is for us to leave. Although it breaks his heart that the children he died for are so reluctant to claim their lives with him, he understands that leaving the jail is a struggle. That is why he gives us so much to help- scripture, the sacraments, the church, angels, graces, and most of all, the Holy Spirit. He is hoping that we will leave and not go back. That we will take Christ by the hand and follow him to the life God wants us to experience. That we will accept the love poured out to us in the cross and live in it. He is waiting for us with open and loving arms. So, will you do it? Will you step into the unknown and leave the jail? I can only imagine the joy on Christ’s face when you reach for his hand.