Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Great Exchange

This is the Easter weekend, the weekend Christians remember the great demonstration of God's love and sacrifice for us mankind through his Son Jesus Christ.

Many know the story. I know the story too.

In the beginning of time, sin came into the world when Adam and Eve first disobeyed God. Because of sin, mankind was no longer righteous in God's eye and was destined for Hell, where sins would be punished for. Heaven was meant to be the eternal dwelling place of God and His people, but God is Holy, and sin cannot live with Him. Because we are already sinners, we cannot live with Him in His dwelling place. It is the price to pay for the countless sins we can't help but commit in our lifetime.

But God loves us very much, so much so that He wants to save us and have us be able to dwell with Him in Heaven again for eternity. That is why He sent His Son Jesus Christ to earth to live among men and to die on the cross for us. He allowed Christ to die and suffer in Hell for three days so that we can be forgiven of our sins. Then, Christ is risen.

All this I have known for a very long time. Brought up in a Christian family, being taught the story of Christ in Sunday school and reading about it in the Bible so many times already, I grew up never for once doubting God or the Gospel. In fact, I have believed it with all my heart for as long as I can remember; it is almost second nature.

However, no matter how sure I was of the fact that Jesus has really saved me when he shed his blood for me even before I was born, I never really quite understood how the life of just one could be exchanged for the lives of all humanity, that anyone and everyone can be saved from the fiery pit as long as he or she genuinely believes that Christ is the Saviour.

I mean, how can Jesus alone be the reason that billions of people can be forgiven for their gazillion sins? The ratio just seemed too big to be possible.

But from reading one of Steve Cioccolanti's books--From Buddha to Jesus--it finally makes more sense to me. Steve used some really good examples to answer the question he knew many people would ask, which is, "How can one man die for the sins of the whole world?" It's the same question I've always had in my mind. He used two examples to put things into perspective.

One of the examples is of Burmese terrorists holding some Thais as hostages in the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok. Now if one of the hostages were to feel really courageous and wants to save everyone, he would come forward and ask that all hostages be released except for him alone. But that would be a really silly move, because obviously for the terrorists, there is no benefit in diminishing their hostage number to just one. To them, the brave guy is no more valuable than the other hostages and would not account for their freedom. Besides, the more hostages there are, the better it is for the terrorists to get what they want.

But imagine the Prime Minister of Thailand going to the Embassy to offer himself as hostage in exchange for the other hostages' freedom; the terrorists would most probably gladly accept the offer. Because of the Prime Minister's high rank in the country, he is more valuable to the terrorists than a group of normal civilians as hostages.

A hostage can't be saved by someone who is equally held hostage. Someone of higher value and status needs to save both hostages. Likewise, a sinner can't expect himself to be saved by another sinner because both are bound by sins. But when Jesus--God's Son and the only sinless man who has ever lived on earth--came to die in our place, the devils happily took Christ hostage in exchange for all humanity's freedom because Christ is more valuable than all the sins of the world. After all, God is the Maker of the Universe and everything that's in it. Jesus is God's Son, so he is the Prince of the Universe. Wouldn't he obviously be worth more than the whole earth which is only a tiny part of God's creation?


When Jesus died on the cross, the devils rejoiced because Christ, carrying the burden of whole world's sins, had to suffer in Hell. They thought that victory was theirs. Too bad for them--and awesome for us all--Jesus resurrected from the dead after three days. The great exchange is already done. The veil has been torn down more than two thousand years ago. We are already set free. Jesus is alive again today in Heaven. And we too can all be there with him one day, as long as we accept him into our heart.

God could have chosen to abandon us after seeing the ways humans screwed up the life given by Him, and moved on to create another world that is perfect. But He didn't. He chose to sacrifice His own Son to save us, because we are all too valuable to Him for Him to give up on us. Isn't it just astounding, to know that we are so precious in the eyes of the One who created the infinite Universe?

And why would a Prime Minister risk his own life for several of his people's? That would require great love and sacrifice on his part for him to be able to do that. Just like God making the great sacrifice, the great exchange, to save mankind.

Happy Resurrection Sunday!
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,"
1 Peter 1:3

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