My junior year in college I was engaged. As the wedding date came closer, many people started to give me bridal shower and wedding presents. I dutifully opened them and wrote my thank you notes, looking forward to using them in my new home. It was a surprise to all of us, when my fiancé called off our engagement just three weeks before the wedding. Suddenly, those who had so joyously given us presents to make our house a home, were asking for the presents to be returned. It seemed since the gifts weren’t going to be used the way the givers expected them to be, then I wasn’t to have them at all.
When you have received a gift you didn’t like, you may choose to return it. When the item is taken to the store, the employee will often ask why you are returning it. It could be due to color, size, style, even its function, whatever the reason, you don’t want it. The very item someone spent time selecting for you, means little to you because it isn’t what you needed, wanted, or liked. It just didn’t fit.
I started thinking about Grace and Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross. What if we looked at Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection and decided it didn’t fit with how we thought that we should be saved? So we took the gift of Grace, the sacrifice of God’s Son, and returned it, unopened to God, and said, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Before that sounds ridiculous, just remember that every day, even every hour, someone in this world does exactly that. It could be your brother, your parents, your child, it could be you.
Jesus came to Earth to offer the amazing gift of Grace through His death and resurrection. There is no other way you will find healing, forgiveness, grace, mercy, love, joy, or peace. Sure the world may offer ways to experience these things, but not one way will bring you the eternal healing, love, joy, or peace that comes from accepting Christ’s give of your salvation through Him. We can try believing there are many ways to God, but it’s just another example of the return. We don’t think that we want only one way to Heaven, so we invent other paths. Other spiritual leaders may have profound wisdom, but in the end, it just leads to a brick wall. No way over and no way out, unless you turn around and go a different way.
Easter is really all about the exchange. No refunds or returns. Instead, it is about the sin Jesus took on Himself-in our place- and carried into death and Hell itself. He took all of it. The sins of Adam and Eve, the sins of your great-great-grandfather and your great-great-granddaughter, Jesus took them all and paid the price for them. His death was the payment. As each person learns of this payment, it becomes the opportunity for choosing to accept this gift or handing it back to God and saying, “No thanks, I am going to keep looking.”
Best Beloved, what are you doing with the gift God is offering to you? Have you taken the package and opened it, saying, “Thank you, God it’s just what I wanted!” Or did you return it, unopened, wrapping paper still around it? We all have to choose. If you don’t make the choice, then by your indecision, you will have made a decision.
My prayer for you and for those in my life who have yet to open God’s gift, is that this Easter their eyes and hearts will be opened to see what God really did that Good Friday so long ago. May we see it as it truly was, a Great Exchange for you and for me, if only we would receive it.