“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared…” – I Corinthians 15:1-5a
My parents recently gave me a birthday card containing a tiny plastic bracelet, like the kind babies wear at hospitals. I first though it was from my birth, but it was actually from my nearest brush with death: when I came down with meningitis at age two.
Now the parent of a two-year-old myself, I can’t even begin to imagine the anguish and prayers they must have gone through during those days of uncertainty. Even though I soon recovered fully, that experience marked them and me in ways I still struggle to understand.
At the heart of the gospel is the astounding truth that God’s story became our story. Anguish, joy, birth, death: God did not spare His Son (or Himself) from any of it. He is not a peevish spirit hurling lightning from Mt. Olympus, or a dark demon waiting to bury unwary travelers in a dank swamp. He is a hunted Child, born without a home, raised in exile. A Man of sorrows, well acquainted with all our griefs. A loving Father, weeping over the untimely death of His Son…
Yet His story does not end with death. By entering our story, God turned it inside out! Death is now the gateway to new life. And the shame of the cross is now the glorious promise that – if we allow Him to rewrite it – our story will become His story.