Today’s Reading: Exodus 38; John 17; Proverbs 14; Philippians 1
In the midst of a world rife with dissatisfaction in prosperity, and frequent acts of terrorism and desperation, I wondered: “What does God see when he looks upon the world He created?” And: “What does he choose to do about it?” My answer was found was in the story of the first Easter. It is a story of unconditional love, personal sacrifice; and redemption for all who ask. A story of Hope for all.
God looks down from Heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. -Psalm 53:2-3
This is also quoted in the middle of Romans 3:9-20, where the case is made that all mankind is guilty, and that our salvation comes not from works but through faith.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing it is a gift from God. -Ephesians 2:8-10
When Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead he demonstrates his power over death. And he explains who He REALLY is to Martha, the sister of His dear friend Lazarus.
Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? -John 11:25-27
PASSOVER — 33 AD:
On the day of the preparation for the Feast of the Passover, the day which required the sacrifice of a spotless lamb, Jesus was crucified. On this day, Jesus, the innocent perfect person, God in the flesh, was subjected to a MOST AGONIZING DEATH.
He took the place of Barabbas, who was actually guilty of insurrection; Barabbas, a man who deserved to die for crimes that Jesus was wrongfully accused. The Aramaic name for Barabbas translates as “son of man,” or “Jesus Barabbas.” It is he who represents all of us who deserve condemnation and punishment which Jesus Christ bore in our place. Remarkably, this happens so that we might be reconciled with our Heavenly Father. In the moment of Jesus’s death, new life became possible for everyone who chooses. In this way God demonstrates perfect love for His creation, making a way back to Him for each of us. The death of Christ is our bridge over the chasm of sin that separates us from God. By faith in the knowledge of Jesus’s sacrifice we receive the power to restore our souls, becoming new creatures, the people we were meant to be in the beginning.
The death of Jesus finds its true meaning in His resurrection. And in this moment Jesus offers living proof of the words he shares with His disciples at the Last Supper: I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me. -John 14:6
The resurrected Jesus (the spotless lamb of God) demonstrates his power over everything. He is more than a man, he is God in the flesh, whose life and sacrifice points towards Himself, while creating the way back to Him.
For forty days, until he ascends into Heaven, the resurrected Jesus appears to many. This is the foundation of Christianity and proof for the salvation of the world. And just as one story is finished, another begins. It begins in the lives of those who first believed. In the transformation of the timid and confused disciples who become fearless apostles. Then one by one; in the many, God’s Holy Spirit was passed along.
Christianity grew because of a small, radical, splinter group of Jews followed Jesus, witnessed his ministry; his death and resurrection. They followed the God of the Old Testament who appeared as a man; believing he was the Christ. He was the anointed deliverer of God’s chosen people; then all people, as prophesied and recorded in the ancient Scriptures. This true story is documented in the New Testament as well.
…and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance that I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. -1 Corinthians 15:2-6
Easter is both the end and the beginning of the story of God becoming man to save us from our sin. Wise men (like Phil Yancy) have said this happened so that we could see the face of God, to know how to respond to Him who has responded to us in perfect Love. Through Jesus, by the Holy Spirit, God demonstrated the perfect relationship, to and with Himself. The perfect person (something we will never achieve on our own), perfectly responding to God. Jesus, through his life, death, burial and resurrection, (and ascension), ensures that we have the opportunity to be made holy in God’s eyes. In His sacrifice the relationship we are all supposed to have with God and each other is possible. In His resurrection we find our faith and hope. This is the foundation of Christianity!
Jesus purchased a ticket for everyone to the best place in the universe, and to the most perfect life we could ever imagine. Then he offered it to us all freely. By his death and resurrection we have the privilege to dwell within the God of all creation, which is only possible through Jesus as His Holy Spirit dwells within us. This allows the most miraculous fellowship of a lifetime; then an eternity. This is true life as it was always meant to be! He is risen. He is risen indead!
God, please open my heart to your amazing grace. I pray to learn to live in the incredible power and blessing of redemption through the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. I seek the peace, joy and purpose that transcends all understanding. Grant me the faith to see truth, and the wisdom to find it. In the name of Jesus. Amen