Today’s story is on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. You can read it here.
The implementation behind today’s story is pretty touching. It goes through Jesus’ arrest, trial, the way he was mocked and beaten, and finally crucified. Throughout, I’ll get to remind them that Jesus could have stopped this at any time. He was the son of God. He could have called down angels or pestilence or had the Earth open up and swallow his tormentors whole. But he didn’t.
A reason named Alissa. A reason named Jessica. A reason named Brittany. A reason named Jeff. A reason named Dee. A reason named Jodi. A reason named Jackie. A reason named Ben. A reason named AJ S. A reason named AJ B. A reason named Shawna. A reason named Dana. A reason named Cheryl. A reason named Denise. A reason named Kelly.* And 500 reasons at Musana. And seven billions reasons around the planet.
(*In case you couldn’t guess, these are the names of my teammates.)
Jesus took that punishment, endured that shame and abuse, and suffered that excruciating death because of his love for each and every one of us. I think it’s easy to focus on the “world” part of “For God so loved the world…” and forget that the world is made up of individuals. And the God cares for every single one of them. Jesus didn’t die because he loved some of us or most of the people in the world and therefore was willing to die for some extras in order to save those he loved. No, he loved each. and. every. one. of. us.
My sin separated me from God, and he loved *Alissa* so very much that he gave his son Jesus as a sacrifice so that *I* could be reconnected back to him. Even though I do wrong, Jesus loves me. And even in the midst of my wrongdoing, Jesus loves me. He doesn’t wait for me to improve; he loves me NOW.
So we’re going to have all of the kids come up and write their names on a big wooden cross to remind them that Jesus loves each of them more than they can ever possibly imagine. And then we get to share the good news that in his death Jesus conquered sin and is alive again. Praise God!
So let me share two special things with you on this fourth day of our VBS adventure.
The first is this beautiful hymn. I hope you’ll take four minutes from your day to skip through the youtube ads and listen to its words, which I have hanging on my refrigerator.
The second is a poem that was shared with me back at Bethany Church many years ago that incorporates John 3:16. I’m not a big poetry person, but this one takes my breath away every time I say it.
FOR GOD, the Lord of Earth and Heaven,
SO LOVED and longed to see forgiven
THE WORLD in sin and pleasure mad
THAT HE GAVE the greatest gift he had:
HIS ONLY SON to take our place
THAT WHOSOEVER – oh what grace! –
BELIEVETH placing simple trust
IN HIM the Righteous and the Just
WILL NOT PERISH, lost in sin,
BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE in him!