We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6
Daniel J. Habben
“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!”
Did a smirk cross your lips? Maybe you’ve had one of those weekends in “Sin City”—you know, where you let down your hair and drank too much or went to a show that you’d never want Mom to find out about. You excused your behavior with a wink because “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!”
The impact of sinful choices
If only that were true. Your credit card company won’t forget what you did in Vegas. It’ll itemize your expenditures and remind you of them a month later. And while Mom may not find out what you really did in Vegas, your conscience knows. You can’t leave that behind in Vegas, can you?
Of course, Las Vegas isn’t the only “Sin City.” Pick any place where humans are gathered, and you’ll find enough sin to fill a city. The prophet Isaiah put it this way: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray” (emphasis added).
The idea of sheep wandering aimlessly on a hillside probably doesn’t raise the hair on the back of your neck. So let’s alter the illustration a bit. Picture a car that “wanders” over the centerline. A moment of inattention is all it takes. What if you were the driver of the wandering car? Imagine helplessly watching while paramedics try to revive the people you just struck. If your carelessness caused their deaths, would you have the courage to attend their funerals? It won’t stay in Vegas, will it?
This Good Friday we’ll get to attend such a funeral. The victim, Jesus, died on a cross—and Isaiah says it was our sins that put him there. We went astray and crossed the centerline of God’s commands . . . and it was Jesus who stood in the path of our sinful collision course. This was no fender-bender. Jesus took our sins head-on and paid with his life. So this Good Friday memorial service, we’ll come before the Father with hearts that recognize and regret the impact our sinful choices had on his innocent Son.
Our victory through Jesus
Though we are guilty, we also can attend this Good Friday funeral with deep relief, confident of our forgiveness. In our reading, Isaiah says that God laid our sins on Jesus so that we would have peace. So what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas—it stays with Jesus. We’re clean. We’re forgiven. No one can accuse any of us of being someone God could never love. He does love us. Good Friday is proof. What happened in Vegas—or last Friday or this morning, for that matter—was pinned to the cross with Jesus.
So what is our response? The events of Good Friday don’t give us an excuse to swerve toward “Sin City” and let loose because we know God will forgive us. His forgiveness snaps us to attention, the way a near-miss on the highway makes a driver sit up and refocus. Refocusing on God’s will is what we’ll want to do, because he’s given us something much better than Vegas. He’s given us victory through Jesus.
Contributing editor Daniel Habben is pastor at St. Peter, Saint Albert, Alberta, Canada.
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Author: Daniel J. Habben
Volume 104, Number 4
Issue: April 2017
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