I know the Easter story, but I don’t want to just know it. I want its truth to sink into the very marrow of my bones. I want to be overwhelmed with Jesus’ love, not only on Easter, but every day of my life. So I have been reading over all of the gospel accounts leading up to, and including the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus again. Oh how I wish they would always stay fresh in my mind.
This is a story that begins with human greed, envy, betrayal, unmet expectations, conformity, prayerlessness, and evil cruelty. But it climaxes with the ultimate love, forgiveness, sacrificial death of Jesus, and then victory over death! Please don’t let anyone ever tell you they killed Jesus. He gave His life willingly…for you and me…no one took it from Him.
One thing that has always made me uncomfortable…scares me actually…is how one minute the people were singing Hosanna (meaning “save now”), and waving palm branches, then the next minute they were worked into an evil frenzy screaming; “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” See, their hearts were not with Jesus. Not really. They were more concerned about their salvation from the oppression of Rome, rather than the spiritual salvation that Jesus was offering, so they turned on Him. Pilate determined that Jesus was no political threat (which was all he was concerned about), so he wanted to release Him, but he gave in to the volatile screams and insistence of the mob. Jesus was spat upon, mocked, beaten and bloodied beyond recognition. Where the Bible uses the words “flogged, scourged, or whipped”, that was actually a leather whip which was embedded with sharp pieces of bone or metal…to literally dig in and rip the flesh. After they pounded the nails into His hands and feet and hung Him on the cross, those passing by continued to mock and hurl abuse at Him. How? How does one ever say they “know” Jesus, then when life gets difficult so vehemently despise Him? At one point while Jesus was hanging on the cross, they offered Him vinegar mingled with gall (Matt.27:34). This was usually offered to help deaden the pain. Jesus refused it. He chose to experience fully, every single hideous moment of his death…on our behalf.
But there is so much more! Oh the joy of Resurrection Sunday! “He is not here: for he is risen, just as he said…” Matt. 28:6 Victory over death. Do we even grasp all that means for us as believers? Oh I hope we do. As Anne Graham Lotz said: “Easter is God’s valentine.”
“…that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures,
that He was buried,
that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
and that He appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.
After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time…1 Corinthians 15:4-6a”
“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” (with no hope)
1 Corinthians 15:17
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
Oh death, where is your sting?
Oh grave, where is your victory?”
1 Corinthians 15:54b-55
We have the victory dear ones. Victory over death and the grave, to live eternally with Jesus when we believe and accept His most generous gift…the gift of true life. We also have victory, through Jesus, over all…yes all…of life’s struggles and hardships. We have victory when we surrender all of it to Him. Positive thinking and the best of intentions can only take us so far. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can rise above it all and live victoriously.
As we go to worship this Easter Sunday, my prayer is that each one of us will comprehend a bit better what went on those three days…and the days leading up to them. Scripture is rich with life application from these passages. If we know Christ as our Lord and Savior, do we truly realize what we possess, and the price that was paid so that we could possess what we have?
Then, as we gather around the table with our loved ones and break bread together this Sunday, let’s have some real conversations. Real conversations about what we possess and the importance of living it out through our lives each and every day. Our families are made up of imperfect human beings and as such, there will be conflict. There will be hurt feelings. At times, we may be the cause of those hurt feelings. But let’s lead by example and love as Christ did and commanded us to do. Let’s forgive as Christ did and commanded us to do. Let’s not assume the motives of other’s. Let’s see the people around our table through the eyes of Jesus. When we can do that, our minor irritations with one another will seem quite petty, because honestly, they usually are. How will we ever leave a godly legacy to our children and grandchildren if we ourselves are not living and loving as Christ did? We all mess up and lose it at times. So go back and apologize. That’s living and loving like Christ. The example has been set. The price has been paid. Let’s live this legacy of love and forgiveness, not only on Easter, but every day He gives us here on earth.
Yes! He is Risen Indeed!
Bountiful Love & Blessings,