I remember a few years back when it seems like the whole world was on a “face swap” kick! Up until a few years back, face swaps were left to the professionals who knew how to expertly insert one face in lieu of the other using Photoshop. But then somebody released a free app that allowed anybody to face swap using the camera on their smartphones!
I remember people getting pretty creative with it! Not only were people swapping faces with their friends and their significant others, but fathers were face swapping with their newborn babies, teenage girls were face swapping with Justin Bieber, and pet owners were face swapping with their dogs! And then, I saw one that made me feel incredibly uncomfortable…somebody did a face swap with Jesus while He was hanging on the cross.
It literally gave me chills. I couldn’t get the image out of my mind. And it bothered me for days.
I remember thinking about how inappropriate it was. I remember thinking about how heretical it was! In fact, it was disgusting! “That guy must be beyond depraved in his sin to think that a face swap with Jesus would be ok!,” I thought to myself!
And then, it hit me…
What my sin did to Jesus was disgusting! What my sin did to Jesus is disgusting! It’s inappropriate, it’s heretical, and it’s depraved! …and that’s the entire point!
This time of year, the most prominent image of Jesus usually tends to be the sweet baby Jesus laying in a manger in a stable. And like babies are, sweet baby Jesus is innocent! But the deal is, Jesus didn’t stay a baby. And I don’t think anybody would argue otherwise, but Jesus actually grew up into a teenager, and then eventually into a man.
Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.
And I never understood this quite like I do now that I’m a father myself, but every time I look at my young son, I still see an innocent young baby (even though that is far from the truth). There are times when my son will be throwing a temper tantrum over the dumbest thing, and what it all really boils down to is wickedness. But still, as a parent, no matter how old he gets, I will look at him and see my innocent little baby! I look at him and I see a lie.
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
and desperately wicked.
Who really knows how bad it is?
But that’s where things are different with my kid and with Jesus. God, the Father, looked down at His Son and He thought the exact same thing: “Jesus, my innocent baby!” But it was different because Jesus was actually innocent! Jesus had no sins! Jesus had no selfish desires! Jesus threw no tempter tantrums! In fact, check out what 1 Peter has to say about Jesus:
1 Peter 2:21-23
Jesus is your example, and you must follow in his steps.
He never sinned,
nor ever deceived anyone.
He did not retaliate when he was insulted,
nor threaten revenge when he suffered.
He left his case in the hands of God,
who always judges fairly.
But then, as winter turns into spring, Christmas turns into Easter, and sweet baby Jesus in the manger turns into a bloody Man on a cross. The Bible tells us that Jesus suffered tremendously on His way to the cross, and then suffered even more while He was being tortured to death on the cross. And then, Jesus turns His head to the sky and cries out with a loud voice:
“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
The reason Jesus asks His Father why He had forsaken Him was simple: when God the Father looked down at His Son hanging there on the cross, He no longer saw His innocent Child, but He saw a filthy sinner. Instead of the face of Jesus, he saw my face; He saw your face. And so the Father, who is so holy that He cannot look upon sin, turned His back on His face swapped Son.
“When God looked down at His Son, He no longer saw His innocent Child, but He saw a filthy sinner. Instead of the face of Jesus, he saw my face; He saw your face. And so the Father turned His back on His face swapped Son.” Click to Tweet This!
The book of Isaiah puts it this way:
Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
the sins of us all.
What Jesus did on the cross went beyond a face swap – it was a guilt swap.
“What Jesus did on the cross went beyond a face swap – it was a guilt swap.” Click to Tweet This!
Romans 6:23 tells us that our sin had earned us a death sentence, but Jesus took that death sentence upon Himself so that we could live in His place!
1 Peter 2:24
He personally carried our sins
in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
and live for what is right.
By his wounds
you are healed.
And so, in light of how much that face swap with Jesus bothered me, I think it was ultimately healthy for me to dwell on it for as long as I did. It was healthy for it to bother me as much as it did. It made me think of what Jesus did for me in a brand new way. It made me grateful that, while I was still a sinner, Jesus chose to face swap with me!
This Christmas season, I’d love to leave you with this question: have you ever face swapped with Jesus?