A couple of times during my short lived rugby career I was playing so badly that I got substituted. I remember one particularly bad experience during a BUSA quarter final vs. Hartpury College when I got taken off at half time. I had a kicked charged down and dropped a ball, giving the opposition a two score head start. It was not good.
The essence of Good Friday is an offer of a substitution. It's amazing how familiar the sight of a Roman cross is these days. It's common in jewellery of course and features in many tattoos and other forms of art. Yet the cross was a brutal means by which the Romans would torture people to death.
Worse than my performance in some rugby matches, (and of course with far more serious implications) the behaviour of humanity before God is, according to the Bible, horrendous. The Bible describes us as God's enemies. The Bible describes us as those who live in God's world receiving good gifts and yet ignoring the giver. The Bible attributes the suffering and evil in the world to our choices as a race against God. Each one of us plays our part and each one of us is responsible according to scripture.
If we don't think that God is serious about our offence, or that he is not serious about his love for us, we have to look no further than the cross.
Jesus came into history to pay our debt. He paid so that we might not have to. He faced the anger of God as a substitute for us. He offers this act to people as a gift so that we can get to know God again. He pays so that we don't have to. The word he uses is 'ransom'.
Here is a great series for those who want to ponder once more the mystery of the cross by CJ Mahaney. If you're a Christian I recommend a long walk and a listen to these on your iPod and talk to your God who died for you. He died in my place, for my sins, so that I can know and love him as I was made to.