Have you at any time wished that you could relive a day of your life and do it differently? People express such a wish after a costly mistake; they fantasize erasing guilt by the magic of a rerun. Yet who is to say that such magic would produce a successful or happy experience? That takes a different mechanism than guilt gained by mistakes, a bigger change than regret will produce.
Certainly a new beginning is the very hope of our life. Does not God tell us that in many ways? We are again coming into the annual miracle of spring, and we all feel the refreshing, uplifting joy of it. Besides, the promises of heaven that the Lord holds before us present a new beginning in every sense, when the old things of this earth and of sin have been forgotten and we awaken.
A Divine, Loving Exchange
The Lord has a message for you if you want to start all over. The love of Christ must constrain you to do so: “For the Lord of Christ constrains us, because we judge thus: that if one died for all, then all died: and He died for all that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Cor. 5:14f).
In the verses leading up to this declaration Paul has rehearsed how God wrought His glorious gospel ministry through fragile and unworthy human containers, earthen vessels. Yet they preached and worked with intense emotion. And in the face of all opposition they testified to the Savior. Here we learn how they could do so: the love of Christ constrains us, drives us, compels us.
Now let us take note that the apostle, in speaking of the love of Christ, does not mean Paul’s love for Christ. It is Christ’s love for us. Behind the facts of this Passion season we are brought to focus on the motive of our Savior, and the accomplishments produced by His love.
Surely it was matchless love which moved the holy, spotless Lamb of God to surrender Himself to the curse for us all. The love that our Savior has for sinners urged Him forward, knowing that the verdict of death upon Himself would be sufficient for our life. What a power lies in the truth that Christ died for all — for “if one died, then all died; and He died for all…” This divine, loving exchange is the most marvelous truth under God’s heaven.
If Christ died in place of, instead of, all humanity, then his death took the place of their death, and as far as their sins and punishment are concerned, all have already gotten through that. So the love of Christ has made it possible for every human to say “goodbye” once and for all to that old life that was headed for certain destruction in hell, which is, after all, tied to sin and its consequences.
It Has Been Done FOR YOU!
What an exciting new prospect this has opened to the world! That is why the apostles could not rest. They knew the miracle of love that put sin and death into its grave with Jesus, and as He arose again unto new life, so all humans are given title to a new life, to start a new way. People are spending their days as slaves to sin and regret and guilt and headed for a death that somebody else already died for them. How anxiously the apostles sought to make their fellowmen realize that. Should the love of the Savior go to waste? See the miracle of love that has come to pass! “And He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again.”
Who would not like to acquire such a new beginning? We speak not only of the criminal who would like to live his life over; not only of the drunkard or drug addict who wishes he could put the past behind him; not only of the weakling who has sold his soul to the devil for pleasure and grieves that it did not satisfy. We speak of all of us whose lives are befouled by bad attitudes, besmirched by lust and greed and lies and bad temper and self-conceit. Whoever can say, I wish I had it to do over, should know it has been done for you in divine love. Christ lived your life for you, and He lived it perfectly and beautifully. He accepted your sins, imperfections, mistakes, and paid the bill.
That enables each of us to start with a clean slate. But not without Christ. For unless we are found in Christ, everything we do is still a patching of an old garment, a hopeless guilt-powered effort at building our own righteousness. If we are recreating our own lives by the black magic of our own resolve and good intentions, then we are acting as though we had not yet died, and then it is still the old life we are leading ever if we use Christ as our example or guide.
The love of Christ must bring us to the new starting place created by God for sinners. When we see ourselves as redeemed by Him, we see that only His work makes us children of God and heirs of heaven. We know that is where we belong, and that is how we want to live. We gladly surrender our mistakes, remorse, and guilt to Jesus, where all needs and our future are divinely cared for in His great redeeming love.
— Paul Koch, Prof. em.