Hey all! As we head into the Easter weekend, I am wishing all of you a very happy one! Below are the excerpts of a talk I had given this last month!
“If you are a Christian or it’s just that you have hung around a few Christian friends, you would’ve noticed that they have two main festivals they celebrate right through the year. One of course is Christmas, which is the day that Jesus was born and the other is this one Easter. Now this might be a little difficult to believe but this is the day that Jesus who was crucified and buried on a Friday rose from the dead! It’s sometimes referred to as Resurrection Sunday because they believe that Jesus was resurrected from the dead.
Now before we get into what I want to talk about today, I want to ask a question:
What would you do if you had to take punishment for something you didn’t do?
I remember this incident that happened when I was in my first standard. This one day the teacher had asked us to get new pencils to start writing in our books. We four friends were seated together and all of us had brand new pencils with the eraser on the top end! We took it out in class and one of my friends (he was the leader of our gang!) looked at me and simply bit the eraser off the pencil. I stared in disbelief because I had no idea that one could do that. He got excited and started talking to all of us about what he did. I asked my friend the pencil to see it closely and was looking at it when before I knew, my teacher came up to me and asked to stand up. I stood up with the pencil which had no rubber at the end. She said, “Why are you talking in class?” Then she saw the pencil in my hand and said, “Look at what you’ve done! You chewed off the rubber off this new pencil!” I replied to it saying, “No, madam! I didn’t talk, I was just asking him to show his pencil and this is not my pencil this is his!” And I looked around at my friend who by now had taken my new pencil and was pretending that it was his. The teacher looked at him then back at me and said, “He’s got his own. Now you have started to lie also!” I stared in utter disbelief again with nothing to say and then she said, “You stand up on the table as a punishment. You are distracting others.” I said almost immediately in response, “I didn’t do anything wrong!” To which she replied, “You are talking in class, distracting the others also and say that you didn’t do anything wrong.” I looked at my gang of friends and all of them were seemingly doing their work! I felt like I had taken punishment for something I had not done!
Why would I want to take punishment for something I had not done!
Fast forward a few years, I think I was in the sixth or seventh standard. There was this guy in my class who wanted to be my friend. I didn’t like him all that much but he was always around trying to seek my attention and I would try and keep him at a distance. I’ll never forget he would get me a lot of free stuff- small toys and chocolates etc. Despite me telling him not to, he just wouldn’t stop. There was this one time when I got really late to class. The teacher was already in and I was at the door waiting to get in. She scolds me saying, “You can stand outside the class since you are late.” Both of us were facing each other and that’s when this friend of mine stood up and said, “Teacher, he’s late because of me.” Both of us looked at him and I was wondering in my mind as to what was he doing? The teacher also surprised looked at him and asked why. To be honest with you, I don’t remember the story he made up but all I remember is that as soon as he said it I kept thinking there’s no way the teacher was going to accept that. But she looked at me and then back at him and said, “Well, someone has to take the punishment and since you say you are responsible then you take it.” He looked like he was fine and then she asked him to get his diary. I was shocked when the teacher asked for the diary because you see back then if the teacher wrote a red letter note in your diary then you would have to take it back to your parents and get it signed. That was the worst punishment that anyone could get because then the news would get home. My friend without any change on his face gave the teacher his diary and she wrote a red letter note. As soon as class got over, I went over and asked him, “Why did you do that? Now you have to get the signature from your parents.” He replied, “That’s okay Danny. After all, what are friends for?” Let me tell you, I couldn’t sleep that night. The only picture that kept running in my mind was what could have been happening at his home. His angry parents yelling at him and getting it badly for something he didn’t do. The next day of course I got into class and just ran to meet him as soon as he came in. I asked him as to what happened. He smiled back at me and said it again, “It’s alright Danny, after all what are friends for?” We became very close friends after that day because he took the punishment for me.
He took the punishment for something he hadn’t done.
Why would anyone take up punishment for something they didn’t do?
My friend here took the punishment for me even though he had done nothing wrong because he wanted to be my friend. He wanted to get close to me. To this day I can’t figure out why he did it. I hadn’t done anything for him that I could remember.
You see, when we look at life, as we grow up, it doesn’t become about who chewed the rubber or who came late to class anymore. As we grow the things that we did wrong grows even more. We do more than what we used to do when we were little kids. We get into all sort of wrong addictions and relationships, we have lied and cheated, and we’ve stolen and done things that cannot be spoken about. It leaves us feeling guilty, condemned, and ashamed. We wish we had never done those things in the first place.
But the sad truth is that at the end of the day, we know that someone ought to take the punishment. Someone’s got to pay the price. Then there are those who decide to pay the price themselves. Some people throw money away thinking that maybe that could make it right. There are those who try to make right by doing more wrongs. But we all know that it’s not the answer. That no matter how much money we put in or how many more wrongs we do to make one wrong right, we will always be left with that guilt and condemnation feeling. The final resort is suicide. Majority of the suicide cases that are reported are due to feeling of hopelessness or that inability to live with what they’ve done or that they did not make the mark. Again only a few are willing to commit suicide, but then out of every 10 people you talk to, around 8 to 9 of them would have at least considered suicide once or twice in their lifetime!
But here’s a thought: What if someone were ready to take up the punishment for the wrongs that we did? What if someone were willing to pay the price? What if we didn’t have to pay the price and never had to live with the feeling of guilt and condemnation that came along with it? But instead we could receive forgiveness and grace.
Who is this person that would take up the punishment?
His name is Jesus and He is God’s own Son: God’s only Son. It says that God piled all of our wrongs on Him because of which we are in the right today.
But why did He do it? Why would anyone want to take up punishment for something they didn’t do?
Because He loved us; because He wanted to have a relationship with us; He wanted to become close friends with us. The question lies as to would we want to?
I want to close with this story of my two year old son.
I love babysitting John when Anu’s got work. This one time I took him down below our flat to play. There’s this ditch between the compound walls of our flat building and the next. So whilst we were down playing, John noticed this completely weathered out ball in one corner. It looked quite dirty, so I didn’t want him picking it up but his attention was on it and once a two year old catches their attention on anything, you better have a good alternative to distract. I couldn’t do anything to distract him so I let him pick the ball and we went over to the compound wall. I told him to throw it into the ditch which he playfully did. Then for the next few minutes we kept looking at it and then that was over.
A few days later Anu takes John down and this time there were the neighbourhood kids of his age that were playing with him. One of the neighbour boys had a ball that he was playing with. As they were playing, John picks it up, heads over to the ditch and threw the ball in without any hesitation. Everyone was surprised and had no idea why he did that! (I wonder to this day why!) But Anu scolded him for doing so since that was not his ball. Then John felt bad and by what Anu said, he had this sort of guilty feeling all over him. He pushed Anu to see if there were any means to get the ball back. He tried walking all the way to the end of the wall but there was no way he could get the ball back. Then Anu suggested to him that we could give one of his balls. Surprisingly John was ready to do that!
So they went up to the flat, picked out one his balls and headed down. Then without having anyone to tell or nudge him, much to everyone’s surprise, John went to this boy and gave him the ball. The boy was overjoyed and John was very happy that he was able to do it.
Now here’s the thing: John had done something wrong and he couldn’t fix it by himself and the only way to make the wrong right was by giving him a new ball. John of course couldn’t pay for a new ball himself. But get this: his father paid for it, the full price.
I paid the full price for it, he was able to make his wrong right and go on without carrying the feeling of guilt or condemnation.
This is what Easter is all about. God, our Father paid the full price for every wrong we ever did. Our wrongs have been made right and we can stand with a clean slate without having any feelings of guilt or condemnation because it’s all been taken care of. Would we be ready to get close to this Jesus?