I have a confession to make. I am a sinner.
I have realized it more acutely this past week, especially as I followed the path of Christ's Passion. I have realized that the scriptures are not about other, long-dead men. They are about me.
Christ died for me. I'm the sinner who put Him up on that cross. I'm the one who fell asleep while He prayed nearby, when He most needed my company. I'm the one who betrayed the Son of Man with a kiss. I'm the one who came to arrest Him with swords and spears. I'm the one who mocked Him, and spit on Him, and deemed Him worthy of death. I'm the one who delivered Him to the authorities. I'm the one who brought false witness against Him. I'm the one who called for the release of Barabbas. I'm the one who washed my hands and delivered my King to the tormentors. I'm the one who scourged Christ. I'm the one who drove nails into the hands of a God. I'm the one. It was me.
Christ died for me, a sinner. For me. For me.
And for you.
And it isn't something we can skip right over, the way we often do in the Church, hurrying from the very indefinite mysteries of the sufferings of Gethsemane, past the arrest and trials and scourging and crucifixion and all the painful bits, and straight to the glories of Resurrection morning. The cross stands in the way.
It is true that Christ suffered for us. But even beyond that suffering, Christ died for us.
"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:6-8).
While we were yet sinners, he says. Christ died for us because we were sinners, not because we were good men. He died for us, not because we deserved His gift, but because we could never deserve it. His death paid for our ransom, not our signing bonus.
I know Christ lives. But that knowledge is only important if I know He died.
And I know He died for me. For me, a sinner.