Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Gospel Illustrated

What if there were a picture that gave us a graphic illustration of the gospel? What if nature itself would declare the grace and mercy of God? What if a simple thunderstorm could show us all exactly what took place on the cross and demonstrate once and for all the love that Jesus has for mankind?

On February 12, 2008 that is exactly what happened when during a thunderstorm in Rio de Janeiro someone snapped this picture of the statue of Jesus as it was struck by lightning. When I saw this picture my initial reaction was that this was a cool picture, but as I thought about it more I realized that this picture was a good illustration of the gospel. Let me explain:

We read in the book of Romans that we are all sinners and that the result of, or penalty for, our sin is death (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23). But God, being rich in mercy and because of His great love for us, made us alive through Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-5). He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we could become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). God made Him (Jesus) to be the propitiation* for our sins (Romans 3:25, 1 John 2:2, 1 John 4:10). The apostle Peter wrote,

He himself [Jesus] bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

I think we are getting a visual depiction of that here with this photograph. What we are seeing is an illustration of Jesus taking the punishment that we deserve - the lightning bolt of God's wrath, if you will - upon Himself.

Is this a perfect picture of the gospel? No. But it does serve to make us pause and reflect on what Jesus did accomplish for us on the cross, so take a few minutes today as you reflect on this picture and thank Jesus for taking the punishment that we deserved upon himself and becoming the propitiation for our sins. And if you have never repented of your sins and placed your faith and trust in Jesus Christ today would be a good day to do that as well.

*Propitiation is the Greek word hilasmos, which means to make reconciliation, or to pay the necessary price for the expiation and removal of the sins of the people.

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Anonymous said...

I think you're the half-cup full person while I am the half-cup empty kind in this case.

I saw that photo as God's warning of judgment against all our man-made idolatry and futile attempts to reach Him through religion. :-)

I guess it's because that statue, to me, is a *huge* sign that says "we love idolatry", hence my initial position.


Chris said...

I agree with your comment on idolatry 100%. I just thought that since most people think of Jesus when they see this statue I could use it to share the gospel ;-)

Anonymous said...

Heh, yea, that works too! Didn't see it that way myself though... ;)