For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18 ESV)
We are now celebrating the most important week in all of human history: the Passion week. There is nothing more weighty, nothing more significant in all the universe. It was the best of all weeks; it was the worst of all weeks. It was beautiful and joyful; it was horrific and awful. “Passion” is really just a fancy word for “suffering.” In other words, we can try to sugar coat it with nice words and pretty clothes and jelly beans, but this is the Suffering Week. Peter makes the point of “Suffering Week” — the reason why it happened — really clear. The Greek word for “suffering” in this week’s Fighter Verse (pascho, which looks coincidentally similar to “passion”) basically means “to feel really strongly.” Jesus hurt. To say He felt terrible is an understatement. Yet He suffered for our joy out of His great passionate love for us, and that’s why the Passion Week is so great and so horrid at the same time.
He suffered once for sins. I like how the different translations put it. The NIV: “Christ died for sins once for all.” The NLT: “Christ suffered for our sins once for all time.” It was a singular moment on a Judaean hill in the spring of AD 33, and yet it covered all of time and space; all humans who have ever lived or ever will live can lean on that one act on the cross.
Which means, by the way, that if you keep beating yourself up in guilt for something you’ve already confessed, then you’re basically telling Jesus, “The cross wasn’t enough. I have to suffer a little extra on top of what You did.” Yet if we truly believe that Jesus suffered for our sins once for all time, then we’ll stop with the pity parties and the guilt fests and the self flagellation and the constant prayers of confession for the same sin over and over again. Instead, whenever your heart is heavy with sin, take it to the cross and leave it there because Jesus already dealt with 100% of it and 100% of the consequences.
Make no mistake: you were unrighteous. In and of yourself, you’re awful and disgusting. You don’t deserve God. But “the righteous suffered for the unrighteous.” Every sinful thought and deed and desire and feeling — every way in which we’ve “missed the mark” — was piled on Jesus. You failed the test, but He took your failing grade. You had a criminal record, but He willingly bore the judge’s punishment instead of you.
But why? He did that not “merely” so we could be declared “not guilty” and free of condemnation and death. He did it “that He might bring us to God.” Our relationship with God is no longer that of an Angry Judge and a Criminal, but it isn’t even the relationship between a Judge and an Innocent Civilian. It’s the relationship between a Father and Child! We are reconciled to God; our relationship is restored forever (once and for all). Jesus suffered this week over two thousand years ago that you might nestle in the warmth of His embrace. Are you taking advantage of that gift? Are you relating with God this week? Are you staying in constant contact with him, constantly delighting in Him? Are you inseparable with Him?
If you’re not, you can be. Christ was put to death in the body, but made alive (raised from the dead!) in the Spirit. And so are we, when we trust in Him. Our flesh that doesn’t want to seek Him 24/7 is dead and crucified; our new heart that loves and longs for Him every second is made alive in the Spirit with Him.
QUESTIONS TO ASK EACH OTHER:
- Which of the many truths packed tightly into this verse is most comforting to you? Why?
- As you meditate on this verse, how does it stir up your affections for Jesus?