For more than 1,500 years Christians have especially consecrated themselves to God during the weeks leading up to Easter. This period of time is known as Lent. Our believing ancestors found it beneficial to dedicate short periods of the year like this for intensive self-examination and renewal of their faith.
This year I encourage you to join this holy tradition of unusual devotion to God over the next four weeks.
In order to help you do this I will be writing weekly devotional thoughts on the extraordinary poem written by Charles Wesley in 1738 titled ‘And Can it Be?’ For 280 years Christians from all over the world have cherished the way this poem of Wesley proclaims the wondrous saving love God has for sinners.
Here is the first verse:
And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain –
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be!
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Wesley begins by marvelling that he could gain interest in the blood of Jesus since he was the very one who caused Jesus’ violent death in the first place. Wesley confessed that it was ‘me who caused’ Christ’s pain and that it was ‘me who pursued him to death.’
Here is Wesley’s implied line of reasoning. It was his own sin that made a penalty for that sin necessary. We instinctively know that if we break God’s just law, then the Lawgiver, God Himself, requires punishment for that broken law. The stunning miracle that inspired Wesley to write this poem is that God Himself came to earth in Jesus in order to pay His own penalty that was justly hanging over our heads! The Savior’s blood, which is really God’s blood (Acts 20:28), was poured out in His death as the payment for my sin! Wesley is astounded that Jesus would die for his enemy, for the very one ‘who caused his pain,’ for the very one ‘who Him to death pursued!’
‘Amazing love! How can it be!’ That God would willingly come to earth and ‘take the rap’ for undeserving rebels like Wesley, like me, like you!