Come Like a Child


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This week Reagan explained the gospel to me like this:

Mom, I know the greatest thing about God. He died on the cross for us.

Me: Why did He die for us?

Because, if he didn’t, then we would always have sin in our hearts (*places her hands over her heart in dramatic fashion*) and it would never go away!

Me: Well, how did he get rid of the sin in our hearts?

Because when he died, he took all of our sin and put it in HIS heart, so we wouldn’t have to have it in OUR hearts anymore.

All this week I’ve had that conversation in my mind as I’ve read through the Gospel of John, reminding myself of this message upon which I’ve staked my life, of this good news that I believe completely. That I have believed since I was my daughter’s age.

And when I try to think of this good news from an outsider’s perspective, I’ll admit it, it appears a little crazy. A bit farfetched. It seems unlikely. It offends sensibility and pride. It rings of foolishness and mysticism. That is why my daughter’s words struck me so when I heard them. Because they were simple and convinced. She’s not confused. She knows she sins. She knows she does wrong. And she thinks it’s simply wonderful that someone would love her enough to forgive her and cover the guilt. She couldn’t even word it as I just did, so simple is her understanding of it.

Repeatedly we see our Savior, Jesus, calling us to come to Him like little children. “Truly, I tell you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” When our own children express their belief in this Jesus, we should sit up and pay attention. This is how you want us to come to you, God? Like this? 

So as this Holy week moves toward it’s celebrated conclusion on Easter Sunday, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned from Reagan about how to come to Jesus.

Don’t forget that it’s your sin that put Him there on that cross. I love that Reagan unabashedly admits that we have sin in our hearts. Period. There’s no way around it. We sang these lyrics last night during our Good Friday service, “It was my sin that held Him there until it was accomplished.” Not just sin in general, but my sin. Sin is real and deadly and unavoidable, and it exists in all of us. And it is the reason Jesus Christ was nailed to a cross.

Don’t forget that Jesus took our sin on Himself. There are many people who would like to talk about the love of God without talking about the ugly truth of sin. This is impossible. Jesus didn’t die simply to display love. This makes no sense. He died in our place because otherwise, there was no way out of the sin.

Don’t forget that salvation through Jesus means a new identity. Jesus took our sin on himself, bore it’s weight, bore it’s punishment, and now it does not own us. It’s been dealt with. Today I was listening to the wonderful song “The Power of the Cross,” by Keith and Kristyn Getty, and I love this:

Oh, to see my name written in the wounds

for through your suffering I am free

death is crushed to death

life is mine to live

won through your selfless love. 

This is what the cross does. It frees us. We are no longer slaves to sin. It no longer rules in our hearts. And though it tempts us as long as we live on this earth, it does not own us. Christ does.

Don’t forget that we do nothing and receive everything. As Reagan said, if Jesus didn’t die, we would always have sin in our hearts. If I’m like a child, I admit that I can do nothing, and everything I have is a gift. This is GRACE. If Jesus didn’t do it, it wouldn’t be done. I can’t earn it. I can’t add to it. It is all grace, and He gives freely to those who believe.

Don’t ever forget that this is the greatest thing about God. This is my favorite thing that Reagan said, as she opened this conversation. The longer one is a Christian, the easier it becomes to grow dull to the centrality of the gospel. It is central to our salvation, but we forget that it is central to our continuing sanctification. We are made holy through a constant, ever-deepening understanding of and dependence upon the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we lose this, we lose our way. Always, always, the greatest thing is the Cross.

One of the things that always strikes me about the book of John is the way it ends.

“Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (21:25).

This Gospel, this unbelievable news, is inexhaustible. We cannot ever know enough about it. The world itself could not contain all there is to know about it. It is the greatest thing we can know about God, that He sent His son Jesus as a perfect man, fully God, fully human. That Jesus lived a life we could never live, paid a debt we could never pay, died in our place. That the earth shook and the veil was torn and darkness fell. That three days later He crushed death to death, and rose from His grave. Death could not hold Him then, it does not hold Him now. And it does not hold us if we have placed our faith in Him.

So this Easter, may those who have placed their faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ find renewed, child-like joy in the ageless truth of the gospel. May we go back to that truth not just this weekend, but daily, moment-by-moment, for every need, in every temptation, for the rest of our lives. And if you don’t know this Savior, know that there is a way, through Jesus, to be free. To experience life as it was meant to be lived. To have abundant life. Confess sin, receive grace, and be free.

“These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” – John 20:31






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