Traded!

My very first car was a 1987 Dodge Dakota.  It was my dad’s truck, and by the time I was ready to drive, he was more than ready to find himself a new vehicle to drive.  It had a few flaws.  The speedometer didn’t work all the time, and therefore the odometer didn’t work.  The air conditioner didn’t work either.  It was beyond broken.  It was, “you’re going to have to rebuild the entire air conditioning system” broke.  It was, “it’ll cost more to fix the AC than the truck is worth” broke.  But it was a pick-up truck.  And as most men who drive a truck will tell you, a pickup truck with a few flaws is far better than a car that is perfect.  Well, it took me a while to learn that truth.

As soon as I had the opportunity, I traded my pickup truck.  I reasoned in my mind that a small car would be more affordable – cheaper insurance, better gas mileage, etc.  So, in what was perhaps one of the dumbest decisions I had ever made, I swapped my red & white, Dodge Dakota for a navy blue, 1994 Saturn SL 4-door sedan.  After a few weeks of driving my new ride, the buyer’s remorse set in.  I had gone from my pickup with a few blemishes to a rinky-dink car with air-conditioning.  If you’re not a pickup guy, you don’t understand, but I can assure you that this took an emotional toll on my life.  And wouldn’t you know, that as soon as the warranty ran out, the Saturn died.

The dead AC was nothing compared to my dead Saturn.  They tell me that the timing chain in the engine malfunctioned, doing irreparable damage to the internal workings of the engine.  Translation – new engine.  Can I get that new air conditioning now?

Sometimes, we make bad trades.  Perhaps you’ve had a bad experience with an automobile trade.  Perhaps you’ve exchanged things that didn’t go the way you wanted them to go.  Maybe you’ve traded a bad job for an even worse job.  Maybe you or someone you know has traded something far more meaningful than a material possession, like a marriage for a mistress or a friendship for a façade.  When we make these mistakes in life, it is important that we learn from our errors and take steps to ensure that we never make those mistakes again.

In Mark 15, we see an exchange take place that is difficult to comprehend.  Pontius Pilate gives us the opportunity to release Jesus.  He gives us the chance to have the Son of God released from custody.  Instead, we pick Barabbas – a murderer.  Walking free in the streets of Jerusalem is a dangerous killer instead of a peaceful teacher.  At face value, this is not a good trade, unless we understand who Barabbas really is.  He is me.  He is us.  He is the one who is freed, declared not guilty. Jesus takes the place of Barabbas, therefore Jesus takes the place of all of us.

The 16th Century Reformer, Martin Luther said, “This is that mystery which is rich in divine grace to sinners: wherein by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s, and the righteousness of Christ not Christ’s but ours. He has emptied himself of his righteousness that he might clothe us with it and fill us with it; and he has taken our evils upon himself that he might deliver us from them.”  This is what Luther calls “The Great Exchange.”

Aren’t you thankful that Jesus exchanged his perfection for our imperfection and made salvation possible?  For those who are in Christ, this is a VERY good trade!

Saved by Grace,

Pastor Brian

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