Thursday, April 5, 2012


You've seen Cecil B. DeMille's Ten Commandments, right? That epically long movie that came out in 1956, starring Charlton Heston as Moses and Yul Brynner as the Pharaoh?

Whenever I think of Passover, two memories come to mind. The first memory is from second grade, when we were learning about First Communion. We celebrated the Passover as a class one spring evening at school. Bitter herbs, unleavened bread, the whole bit. It was very simple and somber. The more vivid memory, though, is of watching the Ten Commandments as a child. The fear and sorrow I felt as we watched the firstborn of every household in Egypt face their demise. The relief I felt when the camera came to rest on an Israelite house, saw the blood of the lamb smeared on the doorway, and then passed that house by. Maybe this relief was especially tangible to me since I was the firstborn of my family.

As a child, the lines between good guys and bad guys are very clear. As an adult, those lines are blurred at best. Now I wonder about those Egyptians who were just minding their own business. Maybe they didn't know about the coming plague, didn't have time to prepare. I also wonder if the forgiven Israelites felt guilty for being forgiven while they were still sinners (Romans 5:8) or simply relieved. I mean, just imagine:

that fateful midnight when the Lord's messenger of death passed through Egypt from house to house. Imagine him arriving at the first home, looking through its windows and seeing the idols of Egypt strewn about. Clearly an Egyptian home filled with idols and idolaters, he enters and claims the life of that family's firstborn. He moves on to a second home: more idols, and another firstborn sould is claimed. Then he moves on to a third, and looking through its windows he finds the same Egyptian idols. But then he looks up and find the blood of a lamb on the door. And he passes over. {from Redemption by Mike Wilkerson}

My heart is so dark. I am a Christian and I am a sinner. There's no way around it. Even on my best day, I'm not worthy of being spared. Yet I am. Passover teaches us that we don't, and never could, deserve God's forgiveness. Our debt is too great.

Thankfully, when I say “God, I can’t do it.” Jesus shows up and say, “No problem. I already took care of it.” When I throw my hands in the air and say, “I’m not good enough,” Jesus shows up and says, “No problem. I was perfect in your place." I throw my hands in the air and say, “God. I can’t please you.” And Jesus shows up and says, “Everything I ever said or did pleased the father, I took care of that.” I sigh, “God, I can’t merit salvation” Jesus shows up and says, “No problem. It’s a gift. I give it to people. I love ya. It’s grace. You don’t owe me anything.”

When my heart has been struggling and struggling, and I don't think I have the strength to push on, Jesus shows up and says, “I’ve got it all covered. Stop trusting yourself. Just trust me. Stop trusting in your goodness. Trust in mine. Stop trusting in your life. Start trusting in mine. Stop trusting in your efforts and trust in mine. Stop trusting in your wisdom. Trust in mine. I’ve taken care of everything. I love you. I have accomplished everything that need be done to reconcile you to the Father. All you need to do is trust me. And to do that, you need to stop trusting yourself.”

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