There it was. Right in front of my face. It was just waiting for the taking. In my mind, it was a miracle.
I was a freshman in college and was struggling with juggling 6 AM basketball practice and workouts, traveling with games and an 8 AM College Algebra class.
I had always struggled with algebra in the first place. Math was supposed to be numbers, spelling was supposed to be letters. Why were we mixing it up? I could not wrap my mind around the equations. And it showed. For the first time in my life, I had a D.
Our professor was kind and would always allow us to come to him with questions and would offer weekly tutoring sessions. I went several times, and eventually I would work through the problem, but then there would be another.
The semester was coming to a close and we begged for anything for extra credit. He offered us a worksheet and said for every question you get right I’ll add one point to your final grade.
It was unheard of! I was in complete shock and amazement! As he handed out the sheets, I thought, I can do this no problem.
And then I had practice. And then we had a game. And then we were all going to Marisel’s house for dinner. And then everyone was going to Baskin Robins for ice cream. And then…
Pretty soon, I was almost out of time.
I walked into the last tutoring session, and there on the table, laying wide open, was the book our bonus questions came from.
With the answers.
Right there. Right there! It was up for the taking! I mean, I had a D! I wasn’t going to get these problems on my own. I didn’t have enough time. And this would just make things so much easier.
I grabbed the book, went to the hall, made a copy and returned it to the desk.
I took the easy way out.
Sure, I passed the class with a B, but not on my own merit. In fact, when I went to sign up for Physics, the professor told me it would be a breeze if I understood college algebra. And just that stopped me from taking Physics. I wished I had actually learned how to do it. I regretted cheating.
Jesus had the opportunity to take the easy way out multiple times. When the guards came to arrest Him, He could have ran and hid. When He was being beaten, He could have called down angels to protect Him. And when He was being nailed to the cross, He could have deadened the pain, but He didn’t.
“And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. And they crucified him” (Matthew 27:33-35a)
Vinegar is translated “soured wine”, so like a strong alcoholic drink, and mixed with gall, which was believed to be similar to a narcotic, both of these would have lessened His pain and awareness of what was happening.
But He refused.
Jesus felt every stabbing pain as they drove the nails into His palms and tops of His feet. He felt very agonizing tear of the muscle and skin as He was hoisted up on the cross. He endured this pain fully aware.
All because He loved us.
He knew exactly what He was doing. He wanted nothing to alter His judgment or lessen the pain of the sin being laid upon His shoulders. He knew no sin. And for the first time, the pain and hurt of sin was upon Him and He still did it all willingly.
What kind of man does that? What kind of king would do that for his people? What kind of religious leader ever did that?
Only Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
We may be tempted to take the easy way out when we feel pain, hurt, uneasiness, discomfort or trouble. But because of what Jesus endured on the cross, we can trust in Him and His sacrifice and stand strong. Don’t give into the lies and temptations to take the easy road.