This week, more than any other week of the year, the world is tuned to remember the last few days of Jesus' life. Jesus was falsely accused, illegally tried, brazenly beaten, severely scourged, brazenly spat upon, blatantly taunted, viciously ridiculed, openly humiliated, purposely made a public spectacle, and brutally crucified before a jeering mob. He endured all of this even though he could have prevented it, for you and me! The Son of God submitted to the Father's will and offered himself as a sacrifice for sins. The early followers of Jesus said it clearly and forcefully:

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures ... (1 Corinthians 15:4 TNIV).

Christ died for our sins! Let's make this more personal: Jesus died for your sins. The Son of God died for my sins.

How should we feel about such a gift?

What should our response be to such a great sacrifice?

Buddy was 19 years old when he was taken as a prisoner of war. During the 3 1/2 years of his imprisonment, he and his friends worked as slave labor, ate starvation rations, were tortured in unspeakable ways, endured daily abuse, and faced all sorts of diseases. Almost two-thirds of them died. I can't imagine surviving such horrors for such a long period of time at such a young age. The cost that Buddy and his friends paid is enormous.

As I read through Buddy's now nearly 70-year-old copy of the New Testament, I realized that what I was touching was precious. This Book and these words sustained him during indescribably awful times. I also read the notes Buddy had written about those who endured these horrors with him — some of whom paid the ultimate price and never returned home to their families and friends. As I held this small Bible in my hands, I was moved in ways I can't verbalize. As I read the Lord's Prayer out of that Bible at Buddy's memorial service, I was barely able to hold myself together.

Several days prior to Buddy's funeral, I visited with his family. Their words were filled with memory and admiration. As they told stories of his life, they made it clear that they wanted the cost paid by Buddy and his band of brothers to be remembered, respected, honored and appreciated. They also wanted everyone to know how proud they were of the way Buddy had celebrated life! They felt that Buddy's life and sacrifice were not only awe-inspiring, but also life-inspiring! They didn't want us to be sad, but thankful. They didn't want us to feel guilty, but grateful.

Nothing is comparable to Jesus' sacrifice and his unparalleled gift of mercy and grace. Yet the sacrifice of Buddy and his band of brothers helps me understand a little better what my response should be to such a great sacrifice. While I am deeply saddened that my sins made such a costly sacrifice necessary, my primary focus is not on the sadness of his death, but his love for us in giving such an extravagant and life-transforming gift. (Romans 5:6-11;  Romans 5:6-11;  Ephesians 2:1-10;  Colossians 1:20-22)

God wants us to remember, appreciate, and honor his Son's sacrifice. Yet rather than wanting us to live sullen lives of guilt and muted passion, the Father calls us to live bold and passionate lives of vibrant celebration. Look at the book of Acts and notice the lives of those who were first touched by Jesus' death and resurrection: they lived passionate, vibrant lives of appreciation and hope. And when we look in the mirror, who are we to see? Aren't we are the recipients of God's extravagant love? How can we not respond with passion and celebration.

So as we journey through this week, let's take time to remember Jesus' sacrifice with humility, reverence, and deep appreciation. But as we do, let's also celebrate with confidence and joy, know that we are loved and called to live bold and vibrant lives that bring glory to our Lord who sacrificed so much to make us his own!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him ...

... to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us ...

... in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory ...

What should be my response?
... to the praise of his glory (Ephesians 2:3-14)

When you remember that Jesus died for you — how do you feel?

Is it easier for you to feel ...

... guilty?
... sad?
... joyous?
... victorious?Why?

Should we feel each of these different emotions when we remember Jesus' death for us?

Do you think it is significant that the early church celebrated the Lord's Supper together on the first day of the week, the day of Jesus' resurrection, and not the day of his trial, persecution, and crucifixion (Acts 20:7)?

Jesus told his followers to take the Lord's Supper "in remembrance of me." The apostle Paul also adds, "For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Corinthians 11:24-26).

How does this emphasis on anticipating the return of Jesus as we remember His death change the way we view the Lord's Supper and the death of Jesus?

If our "life-song" is to bring God glory (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14), then how do we move from sadness to joyously living for the "praise of God's glorious grace" (Ephesians 2:10) ?