Today’s Readings: Exodus 39, John 18, Proverbs 15, Philippians 2
As our family Easter celebration draws to a close tonight, I’m slowing my pace to enjoy the last moments of today reflecting on the miracle of Christ’s resurrection. For those reading it’s Easter Monday or what I’d like to call…a new year in Christ. As the trees begin to bud and our tulips are poking their colorful heads from the earth, the feeling of a fresh start is truly in the air. Today’s readings in John are particularly heavy. We are chronologically celebrating Easter but the readings take us back to Jesus’ betrayal and to the painful details of his impending crucifixion. John’s description of Jesus’ fearless testimony is so tangible.
“So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he.” John 18:3-8
Jesus knew in that moment that he would be left to stand alone. As broken people, few of us would have the courage to enter that room and say, “whom do you seek” and then follow that with “I am he.” It is me. Do I have the strength and commitment to my faith to stand alone when it is required of me? My personal answer is: not always! I’m always looking to shift the blame for my short comings. Today though, I have a chance for a “new year.” Not a January 1st diet and exercise, clean out the garage kind of new year but a new year in Christ. Today, Easter Monday the very first day of Christ’s victory means a new day, a whole new year actually to do better.
In John Chapter 18 Jesus says:
“…of those whom you gave me, I have lost not one” John 18:9
He is referring to a promise he made to his father God in John Chapter 17 verse 12. He is praying for his disciples. Although he was eventually betrayed by Judas, Jesus was asking in prayer that his disciples be united in love as the trinity is united in what he calls, “the strongest of all unions” (NIV study bible, Zondervan) As Christ’s followers, we are considered one of His. Whether we betray him, speak out against him or fail to honor his teachings in our daily life, he is there ready to forgive. Not one of us that chooses to put Him first will be left behind. What a relief! Now that the ham and potatoes have been put away, the candy wrappers and Easter grass vacuumed up, what’s left of this Easter celebration for us. What is your new year in Christ resolution? We have been given to him through baptism and our commitment. Now, I must be the keeper of my own salvation. Paul leaves us with this in Philippians 2:
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed so now, not only as in my presence by much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philipians 2:12-13
Peace to you.
Happy New Year in Christ.