‘Hey, who did that?’ It’s a frequent question at my house. We have four kids, ages 12 and under. There is always some mess that someone made somewhere. And the mess itself is not the problem; it’s figuring out who did it so that we can attempt some measure of parenting and teach them to be responsible for their actions. It’s all about helping children see the natural consequences of things, right? If you spill food on the floor because you weren’t sitting at the table, you get to clean it up.

But my kids don’t like owning up to their mess. Crumbs are always the mysterious work of some unknown being, some alien figure wandering invisibly around our home leaving a trail of jelly smears and bread crumbs. ‘Hey, who did that?’ ‘Not me.’

The truth is, adults are not much different. In the wake of broken relationships, hurt feelings, and other messes in life, we feel the pang of the Spirit’s convicting call, ‘Hey, who did that?’ ‘Not me, Lord. It was their fault.’ Someone else, something else is to blame. We don’t own up easily.

On the way to the cross, Jesus had every reason to stop and to say, rightly, ‘It wasn’t me.’ But He kept going. The Friend of Sinners stuck closer than a brother, taking our sin upon Himself, and suffering our death. The irony is that while He wouldn’t leave us in our sin, we left Him in His sacrifice. One by one the disciples fail Jesus in the days leading up to His death.

Today, our downward descent into death with Christ requires us to say it: ‘It should’ve been me. The death you died should have been mine.’ This mess…’Who did that?’ ‘I did that.’Owning up to that is difficult not only because of our pride or because of the shame connected to our guilt; it is difficult because we don’t know how to fix it. Sure, a kid can clean up crumbs; but how do we right the wrongs we’ve created because of our own sin? We can’t.

So when we say, ‘It should’ve been me’, we also say, ‘But thank God it was Jesus.’ Because only Jesus in His death could atone for the sin of the world. Only Jesus could give Himself so that we might be saved. Only Jesus could suffer so that all will be put back together. Who did that? Jesus did. Thanks be to God.

 

Devotional written by Glenn Packiam

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