Weaving together the threads that make up my passion for the written word…as an author, editor, and follower of The Word.
It is Easter week, and from a Christian perspective, the most important holiday of the year. Christmas is usually a bigger celebration, joyous and festive, with that adorable little baby’s brutal future far in the distance. This time of year is different. It causes us to reflect in a more somber and introspective sort of way, and we are drawn to look deeper into ourselves than we often allow time for in our busy schedules. Our joy is mixed with sorrow and horror, as we see that tender babe grow up to make the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf.
Yes, we know that the good news of salvation will come a couple of days from now, but in the meantime we linger on the darker side of this holiday, traditionally filled with colored eggs and fuzzy bunnies. To understand what we are celebrating, we must first acknowledge the events leading up to that moment in our history when everything changed. We must accept the bad news about ourselves, that no matter how “good” or “moral” we think we are, we will never measure up to God’s standards on our own. The uncomfortable truth is that we are no better than the crowds who called out “Crucify him!,” nor are we better than the Roman soldier tasked with driving the nails into Jesus’ hands and leaving him to die. Those flecks of darkness within our souls would keep us forever separated from our perfect God…if not for the good news on the near horizon.
More and more today, I see people misuse the concept of Jesus’ love–they believe that because Jesus loves everyone, that anything goes, and everything is acceptable. This undermines the power of the cross in unimaginable ways. If there is no right, no wrong, and all of our dark flecks are accepted in the name of tolerance, then what was the point of the cross? Why would Jesus suffer through a human life, and a torturous death, to face the judgment that should be ours? Yes, Jesus loves more fully than we can grasp, but he didn’t die for nothing. He didn’t take away our inner darkness with the cross–our sin is still with us, and we still need to accept that our first instinct is often to do the wrong thing. We don’t need to live burdened by guilt, but to deny that we are sinners is an affront to the true and perfect love that covers us, and protects us from eternal condemnation.
As Christians we honor Jesus’ sacrifice when we fight against our dark nature, and we grieve Him when we knowingly give in to it. He forgave the adulterous woman, but don’t forget that he also commanded, “Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11) But what is sin? The Bible is our only reliable measure and guide; not our feelings, or the events of our past, or what our neighbor is getting away with, or what popular culture says to us now.
From our perspective, Jesus died a long time ago. It can be easy to distance ourselves from that place and time, to want to “modernize” the message, or think it is somehow outdated and irrelevant to the present day. But think about this as you reflect at the foot of the cross on this Good Friday: God lives in eternity, beyond the confines of time that we are bound by here on earth. “Now” is the past, present, and future all at once. Every moment of every day, Jesus is still dying on that cross for us. Not just for first century Jews, or for His family, or the disciples. He already knew each of us personally as he breathed through the pain, waiting for that instant when he could finally say, “It is finished.” He didn’t die for a hypothetical, future group of people, but for each of us by name. And as we look forward to celebrating the good news of His resurrection on Sunday morning, take heart that in every moment, He is also rising above the cross in victory.
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