So, yes, here we are at the beginning of Easter week.
And I am sitting in front of my laptop wondering what I can say about these most miraculous events.
What can I say that might be new and fresh and exciting?
And then I realize something – what on earth has happened to make me think the story needs a facelift?
But really, isn't this part of the enemy's grand plan? If he wasn't able to stop the crucifixion in the first place, then let's just spend the next 2,000 years trying to minimize it.
Let's face it, there's not much room in our culture for a Savior anymore. Most people are too busy chasing the almighty dollar, or seeking their 15 minutes of fame, or doing their best to run faster than old age…
Most people don't have time for Easter week.
I'm not trying to point fingers here – because I know that sometimes I am guilty of this mindset, too.
I can be guilty of sidelining Jesus because He just doesn’t *fit in* sometimes.
This year is different, though.
This year I am pondering it all in a different light. And I've come up with three lessons, and some questions I want you to ponder along with me.
The first thing that fascinates me about Easter week is how quickly Jesus went from being a hero to a zero.
Today (Palm Sunday) Jerusalem is feting Him as the King. There is noise and praise and oh-so-much-attention.
And yet, in less than a week, Jesus will spend a lonely vigil in a garden, sobbing with soul-wrenched tears, frightened and exhausted and humbled to death.
Well, Jesus became unpopular. Jesus offended the "powers that be." Jesus acted like Jesus, instead of conforming to the expectations of the crowd.
Jesus does not fit into a neat little package. He doesn't "perform." He will not be at our beck and call to execute our wishes. He is no genie. No, He is the great I AM – and that one fact, that He is God, makes Him unpredictable.
So this is my first question:
Are we guilty of re-making Jesus into our own image – of wanting a comfortable God?
OK, so here's the second thing that fascinates me about Easter week.
Jesus didn't have to die.
Oh sure, our sins would not have been forgiven if He didn't. But think about it – in reality, our sins didn't need to be forgiven. Oh sure, if our sins weren't forgiven, we could never be reconciled to God and have a relationship with Him. But think about it – in reality, God didn't need a relationship with us. He wasn't incomplete without us.
Do you see the theme?
Yes, God did set up a system of sacrifice in the Old Testament – a way to atone for sins. But, He didn't have to follow that up with a Savior. Not really.
The plain fact of the matter is that Jesus didn't HAVE to die…
He wanted to.
And God chose to have Him die.
This is what stops me – there is an almighty choice in this matter of the crucifixion. God didn't have to do anything to restore the relationship that we broke in the Garden of Eden. He wasn't obligated to clean up our mess.
He wanted to.
Because of a love that we can barely conceive of – a love that wants relationship. A love that cost Jesus His very life.
You know, if I never do anything else in my entire life except sit at the feet of the Lord and thank Him for this unspeakable gift, I would be complete.
Jesus didn't have to die, but He chose to because of His tremendous love for us. His love cost Him His life. It was a choice that He made. Though He could have stopped it at any point by calling down a host of angels, He didn't. Why? Because He wanted a relationship with us, though we didn't deserve it.
So these are my second questions:
Why do we lose sight of the tremendous, all-fulfilling love of God? Why do we look for anything else to fill us up?
Finally, this Easter week is holding a new meaning for me as I contemplate it in view of my dad's recent death.
How many years have I gone through all the Easter services and been tremendously blessed by what I hear? (Don't answer that – you might need a calculator).
But this year, as I look forward to Easter Sunday, I am thinking about the Resurrection in a new light.
The simple statement that resounds in my mind is this:
Jesus didn't STAY dead!
Actually, Jesus tells us that we never really die if we believe in Him. Our bodies, these paltry earthly tents, will cease – but the real person, the whatever-it-is that makes us *us* – well, that never dies.
My dad died in January. And after we received the call from the rehab facility that he had passed away, my brother went over. He said that he got one last look at Dad's face.
I asked him what it was like. Words like "surreal" and "eerie" came to mind. But he also said something to the effect that though Dad's face looked peaceful, you could tell that he was gone.
That's it, isn't it? HE was gone – the spirit that was the real Dad was with Jesus.
Does this make sense?
Let me tell you, the whole experience with my dad was, indeed, surreal and eerie. It's the closest death I've ever known. And I've spent a lot of time trying desperately to comprehend it all. But here's the conclusion that I've come to…
Death cannot be understood.
And that is why it's scary – it's the biggest unknown we'll ever face.
But, is it really??
This Easter, I'm finally beginning to understand that it isn't unknown – it's just un-experienced by me.
Jesus told the thief on the cross, "Today you will be with Me."
And I truly believe that is what He says to me, right now, on this side of eternity –
"Sharon, don't be afraid. I died and I am alive! One day, the same thing will happen to you. One moment you will be in your body, and the next moment you will be with Me. There will be no limbo, no black unconsciousness, no moment that I will EVER leave you alone.
And because My life-giving Spirit lives within you, you are now living a resurrected life. You, the real you, will never, ever die. In life, in death, you are held by Me."
Jesus didn't really die, and neither will we. Dying might be surreal and eerie because we don't understand it. But it doesn't have to be the big and feared unknown. Death is only the doorway that will transport us to the Lord's Presence.
So these are my last questions:
Why do we let our enemy fool us into thinking that death is an ending? Why do we allow him to torture us with fear about the moment we meet Jesus face-to-face?
Friends, as I enter this week of Easter, I am more fascinated than ever by the person of Jesus Christ. He is a gold mine of wonder than can never be fully explored. But oh, the joy in the journey of getting to know Him more and more!
Jesus, the King who doesn't conform to our expectations. The One who is always an unpredictable surprise.
Jesus, the Savior who didn't have to die, but chose this way because of Love. The One who sacrificed everything because He wanted a relationship with us.
Jesus, the Victor who didn't stay dead. The One who proved that death isn't a scary ending, but a thrilling beginning to eternity in His presence!
Jesus, the Risen Lord.
Jesus, Only You!
"Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?
He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!"
"But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn't find the body of the Lord Jesus." (Luke 24:1-3, NLT)
"They said to each other, 'Didn't our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?'" (Luke 24:32, NLT)
"And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. 'Peace be with you,' he said. But the whole group was startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost! 'Why are you frightened?' he asked. 'Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it's really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don't have bodies, as you see that I do.' As he spoke, he showed them his hands and his feet."
(Luke 24:36-40, NLT)
"And he said, 'Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: 'There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.' You are witnesses of all these things.'" (Luke 24:46-48, NLT)
"'Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father's home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.'
'No, we don't know, Lord,' Thomas said. 'We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?'
Jesus told him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life.'" (John 14:1-6, NLT)
As you begin Easter week - what is one new thing you can ponder this year?
Linked today with:
Joan at SHARING HIS BEAUTY
Michelle at HEAR IT ON SUNDAY, USE IT ON MONDAY
Laura at PLAYDATES WITH GOD
Jen at UNITE
Hazel at TELL ME A TRUE STORY
Jen at SOLI DEO GLORIA
Kathy at TITUS 2 TUESDAYS
Rachel at WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAYS
Kasey at WALKING REDEEMED
Rosilind at A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS
Judith at WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAY
Beth at THREE WORD WEDNESDAY
Jenifer at WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY
Tracy at WINSOME WEDNESDAY
Lyli at THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY
Crystal at THRIVING THURSDAY
Bonnie at FAITH BARISTA JAM
Julie at FELLOWSHIP FRIDAYS
Laura at FAITH FILLED FRIDAY
Charlotte at SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS
Mel at ESSENTIAL FRIDAYS
Wanda at THE FRIDAY FIVE
Sandy at STILL SATURDAY
Barbie at THE WEEKEND BREW
Janis at SUNDAY STILLNESS
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