‘You’re fired!’ The firing of a celebrity sports personality creates a media sensation. We get drawn into the drama of their rise and fall from prominence. So much depends on individual performance, club rankings and commercial success, or the lack of it. But why do we get so wrapped up with this, as if our own identity was somehow involved? Are these actors on the world stage playing for us – and are we participating in and re-living their drama through them? And does this shed light on what we think of ourselves?
The most challenging part of being fired from a coveted position (without first-hand knowledge) is the loss of power, influence and admiration that goes with it. And then there are the strong feelings of being misjudged, misunderstood, and of being rejected. And perhaps worse is the sense of failure, rejection, and public humiliation, not to mention loss of high earnings.
So how do we value ourselves – is it based on our ‘net worth’ or do we have another scale of values? Being fired is certainly a large test of character – whether a person takes it calmly, without animosity or whether it fills you with an intense desire to prove yourself and demonstrate your true worth.
· WAY BEYOND
What has this got to do with Christianity? Think of how the complete rejection of Jesus lights up the central truth of the Christian good news. But way beyond the celebrity personality being fired and the strong fascination with all the drama, in Jesus we see a deeper level – far deeper. For Jesus didn’t just claim to represent a wonderful club or famous organisation; he came from the glory of God into this dark, sin-devastated world, and he came as the eternal Son of God, who had created all things, and he came to stand in for the weak, the sinful, those without hope, he came as the mighty liberator, to bring hope to the hopeless.
And he was rejected, so much so that he who had gone around doing good, opening the eyes of the blind, feeding thousands, stilling the angry storm and not yielding to Satan, his great enemy, even for a moment. This One, who had spoken like no other and brought peace to guilt-laden hearts, was rejected – rejected to the point of utter desolate rejection, nailed to a Roman instrument of extreme torture and capital punishment. Jesus was crucified unjustly, but at the same time, he gave himself fully and intentionally into death itself to endure the terrible gravity of death – separation from God, under his awesome righteous judgement.
The Bible makes clear, that ‘Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God’ (1 Peter 3:18). Indeed, so appalled were many of the people who had mistakenly called for Jesus’ crucifixion, that when they heard Peter’s powerful message that Jesus had been raised as both Lord and Messiah – totally vindicated, they were ‘cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 2:37-38).
What a huge turnabout! Here are crowds of people, who a short time before were calling for Jesus’ death now realising they had made a shocking error of judgement, but at the same time fulfilled their own Scriptures, by having their Messiah put to death for their own transgressions! Now they see the mercy and love of Christ for them. Now they are overwhelmed by the sheer grace of God! Christ, the very Son of God has died for them. In this deepest way, he has represented them, not in the drama of human rivalry and sportsmanship, but in the whole area of human alienation from God. Jesus is the ultimate ‘scapegoat’ who takes the guilt of others so they may go free. He is ‘fired’ out of the human family into death so that in death itself he might receive the full penalty of us who have trampled on the law of God and gone our own way, and ‘fired’ God out of our lives.
Isn’t it great that Jesus was brought in out of the cold, as it were, and raised from death, the supreme Victor? Well, have you found out that you are involved in his death, perhaps in a deeper, more meaningful way than you ever thought possible? Have you seen that if you have trusted him for your salvation that his death gives meaning to your worth!
And now my worth is not how other people measure me based on their value system, but on how much God values me. And if, but only if, I have personally trusted in Jesus Christ as the One who died in my place, carrying my sentence of eternal condemnation, then I know I am valued beyond measure and treasured beyond value – for Christ loved me enough to die for me. What about you?