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A Beautiful Exchange
Every year our incredible Student Ministry team puts together weekend retreats for our middle and high school students. These retreats are truly life-changing for so many, as students experience an entire weekend filled with worship, the teaching of the Word, and time in small groups with their friends. They are also weekends filled with humorous moments, especially if you attend a middle school retreat.
To get to camp, we all jump on school buses and make the three-or-so-hour drive. It’s there you’ll hear the weirdest conversations, find out you really aren’t up on the latest trends, and get a lesson in the value of everyday items, such as snacks.
In case you’re wondering, middle school students have no idea about the value of money. Meaning, they don’t really know what things cost. Case in point, while riding up to a middle school retreat one year, some bus bartering (as we’ll call it) was taking place. One kid had a bottle of coke and a bag of sour patch kids. The other had twenty bucks. The conversation began.
“Hey man, what do you want for your pop and candy?”
“Uh, I don’t know, got any other snacks?”
“No, but I got twenty bucks.”
“Sweet, I’ll take it.”
Now, did this candy and pop cost $20. Nope. Not even close. But this student was willing to pay for snacks he wanted and thought were valuable. He exchanged $20 for snacks costing no more than $5. The exchange was not equal, but it still happened.
When Jesus died on the cross an exchange happened. His life for our sins. An equal exchange? Absolutely not. Jesus didn’t deserve death. He didn’t do anything wrong. Yet, he chose to exchange his life for the rest of us.
Because he loves us. Even though we spat in his face, mocked him, and disobeyed him, He still chose to give up his life for ours. We may not have been there they day Jesus died, but everyday we still trust our own ways over His. We still put our fear in man instead of in God. We still believe the lies the world tells us about who we are. We are sinners and the punishment for sin is death. Romans 5 tells us sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin has spread now to all mankind. It’s a disease we are all dying from.
But in one moment, Jesus changed everything.
The moment Jesus hung his head and said, “It is finished” was the moment the cross exchanged death for life. Jesus broke the curse of our sinful condition. Think about the gravity of this for a minute. You and I were destined for death, yet someone who lived 2,000+ years ago, long before we took our first breath, loved us so much he was willing to die so we could live. As gruesome and horrifying as Jesus’ death on the cross may be, it is the most beautiful exchange we could ever witness.
The moment Jesus hung his head and said, “It is finished” was the moment the cross exchanged death for life.
Now, instead of a life destined for death, in Jesus we live. Now, instead of believing lies, we can know and experience truth. The love of Jesus paved a way for us to have life eternal. And nothing can separate us from His love. Romans 8:38–39 says this:
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present or things to come, no powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Nothing could stop God’s love for us at Calvary. And nothing can stop His love for us now. The exchange Jesus made, his life for ours, was done out of a fierce, unstoppable love. A love we do not deserve, yet God graciously demonstrates it to us. Friends, Jesus loves you. He laid down his life for you. He exchanged a death you and I deserve for life with him. All you need to do is accept it.
There is a song by Hillsong called “The Beautiful Exchange.” In it, there is a chorus saying, “When only love could make a way, you gave your life in a beautiful exchange. When only love could break these chains, you gave your life in a beautiful exchange.”
A beautiful exchange it was indeed.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.