Scripture Reading: John 19:16-42
No doubt you’ve heard the phrase “familiarity breeds contempt.” While that may be true in some areas of life, I hesitate to apply it to biblical truth. Instead, I would say that familiarity often breeds apathy. Here’s what I mean: our very familiarity with the story of the cross may be the very thing that distances us from its impact. We become, in the worst sense of the word, “objective.” There is grave danger in studying theology in third person. We speak about God. We talk about things like incarnation, justification, atonement, redemption, sanctification, and we do it all from the comfortable distance of third person–He did this. He said that. He is prophet, priest and king. “He.” But God orchestrated human redemption so that we may move from third person to first and second person– “I” and. “You.” “I once was lost but now am found.” “You are Lord of heaven and earth.” “You are my savior and my God.”
We could speak intelligently and convincingly of Jesus Christ and his earthly ministry, compelling teaching, convincing miracles, his courageous response to scourging and triumphant declaration from the cross, “It is finished.” But what makes this whole thing matter is when I am able to say honestly and humbly:
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.
Grace is always cross-shaped and redemption is always particular. Not to detract from his general work of securing future grace since Christ died for the sins of the world, but, astonishingly, he offered himself up for my sin in particular. Although I will never choose to escape the responsibility and privilege of life enjoyed in community with family and friends, something deep within rouses to the thought of excusing myself from the company of others in order to relish and revel privately in the ecstasy of grace, unimaginable pardon for unforgivable sin. You may not hear it from my lips in word or harmony, but my soul breaks free in jubilant round, heralding my own strain of mercy inserted above the anthem of the redeemed.