I stood on the edge of the pool. Our instructor had set up the scenario. Although I was a teenager, I was to pretend that I was a toddler. Another guy in the class was to be my “big brother” and he was genuinely a tough football type in real life too. He was meant to push me into the pool and I was going to need to be rescued. I didn’t see it coming. My “big brother” didn’t just give me a gentle shove into the pool – he really went for it. I was launched into the middle of the pool. When I finally surfaced, I felt truly desperate for air. I needed a rescue.
No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him – the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough … But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself. Psalm 49: 7, 8, 15 (NIV)
Really! There’s no such thing as self-rescue, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. The cost of rescue is beyond our means, and even then it doesn’t guarantee … But me? God snatches me from the clutch of death, he reaches down and grabs me. Psalm 49:4, 8, 15 (MSG)
That moment in the pool isn’t the only time I’ve needed a rescue. I have always known that all my attempts at being good have never been quite enough in the sight of my God who is holy, righteous and pure. Not only is He completely just but He is completely full of love, mercy, grace and forgiveness.
My Heavenly Father saw that there was no way on earth that I would ever be able to bridge the gap that separated us. It wasn’t a “mind the gap” kind of gap, it was a Grand Canyon chasm keeping us apart. Me on my side with all of the gunk that is the missing the mark in my life and Him on His with His perfection on full display.
But I know that He looked at me and He loved me. He saw the grossness of my sin and He loved me. He desperately wanted to close the chasm and so He sent the best thing He could. My Father sent His only Son. The One who had always been. My Father knew that the rescue plan required Someone perfect to pay the price.
The price was steep. The debt was a monstrosity. There was no way that I could ever do enough to deal with my debt. I needed a miracle. Someone else would have to pay, Someone who was perfect and spotless. My Jesus was willing to take my place. He suffered. He was abandoned by every friend He had ever known. He was innocent. They twisted His words, pretending Him, the One who spoke truth, to be a liar. He was silent. He didn’t argue or defend. He took it all. Then they beat Him. They tore His flesh, they crowned Him with thorns, they mocked Him and spat on Him. They made Him carry His cross. For me. For my sin. For my shame.
They nailed Him to a cross. The Roman torture chamber in full view of everyone to see. As He agonized for every breath, He wore my sin. It was ugly. My Ransom-payer suffered the ultimate in rejection. Not just the friends He had invested in on earth, but His Father broke the Son’s heart. All for me. All for love. All for grace. All for mercy. All for forgiveness. All because He chose me from the foundations of the world.
He died. My Ransom-payer died and it seemed that hope was gone. He was buried. The grave held his body for three days. The stone was rolled in front. No one was to enter and surely no one could escape. This perfect One was done for, or so it seemed to all who knew Him. The chasm only seemed wider. Surely God’s plan was finished now. When the One sent to rescue is done for, what hope can there possibly be?
But My Jesus didn’t stay dead. On the third day, the day when it seemed there was no possible hope left, the day when the women came to anoint His body, when the grief seemed sharpest and the tears so hot, the tomb stood open, empty, filled with light. Death and despair lost that day and my Ransom-payer trounced every tactic formed against me. He rose again, to give life and hope, to put an end to defeat.
My Jesus, the One who lives has pursued me all my life. He is constantly rescuing me from the sin that so easily entangles my heart and mind. He never stops. Because He is living, there is more hope than I know what to do with. Because He is living, I can live confident in His plan for me. He wants me to live, live fully, life completely surrounded in Him. The One who paid my debt. The One who loves me best. The One who will never let me go.