The whole world was rocked by the recent death of one of basketball’s greatest players. Kobe Bryant, his young daughter and several others whose names will never be remembered died in a helicopter accident near Los Angeles on a foggy morning. It was a tragic end for a superstar. We noticed. It dominated news cycles and personal conversations. It touched fans and non-fans alike. Those emotions will soon fade except for those with whom he had a personal relationship.
Two thousand years ago there was another headline death. It darkened the sky and literally shook the world. Witnesses saw deep beyond His Jewish skin to One with divine roots. This was no ordinary man. He had calmed storms, healed the sick, cast out demons and raised the dead. He touched the untouchables, embraced the sinful, challenged the establishment and angered the aristocrats. He was nothing the experts expected and everything they needed. He was the long-awaited Messiah, and He was dead.
Everything changed that day. It was the focal point of a plan devised in heaven to solve the biggest problem that any person could possibly face: sin. The devastation it brings is impossible to exaggerate. Its first recorded consequence was murder among kin folks. God’s plan of man and woman as husband and wife has suffered ever since. Family shredded and discarded by sin. If we doubt it, look at the cross and the death of the Savior.
It was a wretched way to die. He knew it was coming as He agonized in the garden. It would all soon be heaped on His solitary shoulders. There was no other way, “The wages of sin…” It was payday. He alone could reconcile guilty sinners to a just God. It would be brutal. Beating. Mocking. Spitting. Crowning. Nailing. Suffering. Darkness. Trembling. Temple veil torn. The last labored breath. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” First hand evidence of what sin can do to a relationship. “Father, forgive them…” “It is finished.”
It was no accident, nor was it homicide or a miscarriage of justice. The crucifixion, as gory and horrible as it was, had been the plan all along. It offers an insight into the way that God sees sin. Each act drives the nails a little deeper and pains our Lord more. He suffers again. He hurts for the damage it does to His once-good creation. It distorts His image in which we were all created. There was only one remedy. Ungodly hands carried out a godly strategy to give us a way home. We gather on the first day of every week to remember. Simple grape juice and unleavened bread remind us. An intentional design to forgive us. Kobe’s death was a tragedy. This was not. Sin is. The death of our Savior is the solution. The memory fades except for those who have a personal relationship with Him.