The greatest transaction

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Conrad, Rachel and me at the 90th birthday celebration

In a previous post I shared something that I had written seventeen years ago about an imaginary visit to view the Jesus body when it was being carried from Calvary to be lodged in the tomb.  You may review what I wrote by clicking here.  On this Good Friday, 2016, I wish to again go back 17 years to recall more of what I believed and wrote in 1999.

It was awful what they did to him. But something more awe-full and mysterious happened to Jesus on the cross.  It was what God did to him that moved him to cry “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” . . .

Don’t ask me to explain it!  But your sins, my sins, and every one else’s sins were reckoned to that One Holy Person, Jesus, the Son of God.  He Came to be the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. . . .

God gathered up all the sins of the world, all the violence, all the deceit, all the selfishness and cold-heartedness, all the sins, all of them.  God gathered them all up and smashed them against the innocent body of Jesus.  Yes, Jesus was victimized on our behalf.  He was forlorn, counted perverted, for me.

(Before the cross, God) intervened powerfully.  God gave the law . . . meant to save us.   . . . The law had two strikes against it.  First it failed as a means of salvation.  Second it was foiled in its condemnation.  The law as law was frustrated, useless.  It could condemn us no more for there was nothing left to condemn.

So, our God took the law we could not keep, the law that made us guilty and condemned us to eternal damnation.  God took that law and nailed it to the cross of Jesus.  All the “you shalls” and the “you shall nots” collapsed as they were nailed to the cross.  . . .   The sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law.  Both strength and sting are gone.  . . .

But there is more!  . . . Here is a great mystery.  Eternity is a long time, and eternity may prove me wrong.  But for now I believe I am attempting to describe the greatest exchange of eternity.  God reckoned (counted up) the sins of the world and reckoned (considered) them to be the sins of Jesus, and then God took the righteousness of Jesus and reckoned (considered) it to be our righteousness.

You have just read the Gospel as I understood it 17 years ago.  Last night I pondered my beliefs in 2016 and how I should describe them.  I decided to go to bed and let it come to me as I slept.  I got awake this Saturday morning with the thought that 17 years ago my god was way too small.  A god that requires satisfaction through blood sacrifices, and the sacrifice of his own son is too small and too bloody for me. I now have a larger God who loves me as am I, not conditioned on the death of Jesus on the cross. Jesus went about doing good, demanding justice for the poor, using teaching techniques that appeared to be anti-establishment.  That is why they killed him.

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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4 Responses to The greatest transaction

  1. Don Blosser says:

    Martin… I am very glad to see that you are still learning. When you and I look back at where we used to be, I hope we can chuckle at ourselves. I dug out a box of old sermons a few years ago, and as I read them, I felt sorry for the people who had to listen to them. My theology was simplistic, and my answers profound (at least I thought they were).
    I don’t really know all the whens and hows and whys of the changes I went through. The big one was with Ladon Sheats of Koinonia Farms in Americus Georgia. In the space of one weekend I suddenly discovered I could not be a Fundamentalist any more, and I have spent much of my time since then figuring out what I was.
    The thing that frightens/challenges me now is that I am comfortable looking back at where I used to be and seeing how I have changed—-and I sort of like where I am. Does that mean 20 years from now I will look back and discover that in that time slot I am still exactly where I was in this time slot right now? I don’t know whether I will be pleased that I have not changed—or disgusted with myself for not changing…
    What does that say about change? Do we set out determined that we are going to change? Or do we have to look back on our life and discover that we have changed???

  2. Rachel Nafziger Hartzler says:

    Thank you, Martin, for yet another interesting and thoughtful post. However, it seems to me that yours are no longer “Ponderings of an octogenarian” now that you are a nonagenarian!

    • True. I’ve tried to find a way to change the octogenarian to nonagenarian but was not successful. Maybe my webmaster in Albuquerque will see your comment and make the change for me. If not, I will call him.

  3. Carolyn Zook says:

    Oh yes. If Jesus had known a few 90 year-olds, he may have said
    “The children and the nonagenarians shall lead them”!
    Our salvation is that we are still growing and changing.
    How much easier to have had someone else do it for us.
    And how impossible.

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