(Note: A few months ago I began an in-depth study of the Gospel of Mark. For the next several blog posts, I plan to share some of my ongoing reflections on a chapter-by-chapter basis. Nothing fancy. But I hope you can gain something in each entry. For space reasons, I will only include a small portion of my actual notes & reflections. Unless otherwise noted, I will be using the New Revised Standard Version. For theo-nerds like me, my primary commentary sources are Ben Witherington and N.T. Wright).
Almost all churches and believers observe at least a tiny section of the Christian calendar (Christmas & Easter). While observing these “holy days” (i.e. holidays) is obviously not any kind of requirement, the purpose of observing certain sacred holidays is to latch on to a form of yearly rhythm, as well as to unite oneself to the larger body of Christ. Much like the Jewish feasts and holidays that Jesus himself embraced, much of the global body of Christ across a spectrum of denominations and churches have learned the value of embracing a rhythm of common calendar observance.
Today is Ascension Day. Forty days after Easter Sunday.
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
At the core of the “good news” of Jesus Christ, there is this fantastic exchange where Jesus takes on our sin, and we get his righteousness.
If you have been a churchgoer for a considerable length of time, this is a teaching you have likely heard dozens, if not hundreds, if not thousands of times.
But here’s the thing. While we can believe this to be true in our minds, it’s very easy for this teaching, as profound and beautiful as it is, to stay in our heads and not penetrate the soul where it actually can transform the way we live on a moment-by-moment basis.
For one thing, to a lot of people, this whole message of salvation just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Even if a person intellectually assents to this belief and begins following Jesus, there can still be nagging questions.
“Why did Jesus have to die for me to be saved? How does his death save me?”
Many have trouble connecting the dots. And for some people, because they can’t understand what happened on the cross, it makes it harder for the beauty of Calvary to get on the inside and feel like a real thing.