Imagine all the evil of the world piled into one place. What's in the pile?
There is big evil, of course. Slavery throughout the centuries. Genocide. Wars of conquest and plunder. Apartheid. Into the pile goes not just the sins of nations but the sins of complicit individuals, many of whom would claim, "We were just following orders."
On the pile goes personal sins. Lies. Adultery. Failure to rest. Dishonoring your father and mother. Coveting. Our assumption is these are little sins. Not in God's eyes. They are violations of his values. On the pile they go.
Crimes are on the pile. Personal crimes like assault, murder, theft. Crimes committed by corporations and businesses go on the pile too. Treating people like machines. Corporate greed. Failure to pay a living wage.
A big addition to the pile are the sins of God's people. Start all the way back with the people of Israel. They doubted God in the desert. Their neighbors' gods were more attractive, so they failed to be loyal solely to God. Forward to the church. The sins of the church are many. Lusting for power. Failure to welcome the least of these. Attaching God's name to things God wants nothing to do with.
There is evil in the world that doesn't come from personal choice. There is the evil of cancer and of AIDS. There are the unexplained hurricanes and tornadoes, the earthquakes and floods. All the unexplainable evil is added to the pile as well.
Then there is what you add to the pile and what I add to the pile. I bring my assortment of the seven deadly sins: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. I shaped each of these sins according to personal preference. Some control me more than others. All are present in my life and in yours. Compared to the rising mountain of sin, our contribution can seem small. But comparison is useless. Add garbage to a pile of garbage, and it still stinks. Add my sin and your sin to the pile of sins, and it still stinks.
Jesus followers claim that on Good Friday, Jesus did an extraordinary thing. He gathered up the towering pile of the sins of the world, past, present and future, and put it on his soul.
Imagine the agony. His soul, pure, perfect, never warped by double-minded thinking, now bearing the pile of sin that stinks up his creation. We don't like to think about this big pile of sin Jesus carried. It's too ugly. It stinks. It overwhelms us.
Only when you force yourself to look at the pile do you realize the magnificence of the cross. Sins that would crush our souls with their wretchedness are loaded onto Jesus' soul. He absorbs the punishment you and I could not carry. The death we deserved became his.
Before we rush to Easter and its joy, pause and look at the pile. Now you understand how big a miracle Jesus' resurrection is. He took the whole pile of sin and crushed it with grace. The sins of the nations. The sins of the criminals. The sins of God's people. The sins of corporations and businesses. Your sins. My sins. Crushed by the power of His grace.
Clay Smith is the lead pastor of Alice Drive Baptist Church in Sumter.
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