The story of us all
Kevin DeYoung | We are sinners in need of a Savior
The story of Holy Week reminds us of the story of the world. And as the Passion of Christ tells the story of the world, it reminds us of our story as well.
We are sinners in need of a Savior.
Not theoretical sinners. Not “nobody’s perfect” sinners. Not “we all make mistakes” sinners. Real sinners—inside and out. Dead in our sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1), desperately sick (Jeremiah 17:9), enslaved by passions and pleasures, being hated and hating one another (Titus 3:3)—that kind of sinner.
In need of a real Savior. Not a myth or a metaphor. Not a better version of ourselves. Not a hero of our own making. We need a man like us, and we need a God utterly unlike us. We need a genuinely historical person who transcends history. An eternal Son born in the fullness of time. A dying sacrifice who does not stay dead.
That’s the story of Holy Week. That’s the story of the world. That’s our story—yours and mine. At bottom, the gospel is a simple story, which is why so many simply reject it. We like the hope and joy of the resurrection, but before we get there we have to look squarely at the betrayal, the denial, the abandonment, the jealousy, the hatred, the jeering, and the unbelief that culminated in the crucifixion of Jesus the Christ. Behind the veil of our self-aggrandizement and our self-regard, we are sinners capable of inventing a thousand academic ideas and a million personal excuses so as not to admit we are sinners in need of a Savior.
Ye who think of sin but lightly nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly, here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the sacrifice appointed, see who bears the awful load;
’tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed, Son of Man and Son of God.
If we want to make much of the cross, we must never make light of our sin.
You may proudly wave the rainbow flag, you may protest racial injustice and gender inequality, you may see yourself on the right side of history and be an advocate for all the right causes—but what will you do with your sin?
You may decry the intolerance of fundamentalism and lament the conservative church of your youth, you may be proud of your deconstruction and newfound enlightenment—but what will you do with your sin?
You may stand opposed to the ways of the woke, you may reject Marxism, socialism, and liberal cancel culture, you may know for certain that a man is a man and a woman is a woman—but what will you do with your sin?
You may embrace middle-class values and sing the national anthem with a lump in your throat, you may work hard to provide for your family, you may be happily religious, even a member of a church—but what will you do with your sin?
Who was the guilty who brought this upon thee?
Alas, my treason, Jesus hath undone thee.
’Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee:
I crucified thee.
The tough pill to swallow is that those words should be on our lips. The God-denying treason, the ashamed-of-Jesus denial, and the Christ-hating crucifixion—we can’t keep them safely in the first century. They exist in every human civilization and reside in every human heart. The story of your life, and my life, is irreducibly a story of sin and rebellion.
But that doesn’t have to be the end of the story. Faith is believing that we were born one way but can be born again another way. Anyone can be found, if only he will admit that he’s lost. Christianity is the hope of the world for those who have no hope in themselves. The fundamental story of the world is not the story of good guys and bad guys, or of oppressors and the oppressed, but of sinners and a Savior.
That’s the story we must tell to ourselves and tell to the world, because that’s the song of the redeemed and the song of the ages.
Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
in my place condemned he stood,
sealed my pardon with his blood:
Hallelujah! what a Savior!
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