Excuse me for being a week behind. I could not let Easter pass without calling our attention to the core belief that sets us apart from all other religions.)
This past weekend millions of Christians from all persuasions celebrated the holiest holiday of the Christian calendar. It is important that each one of us give thought to what it means. Let’s look at why Easter is absolutely essential to the Christian faith. The Cross was not a thing to celebrate in the Roman world. It was above all else a symbol of death. Make no mistake, when Christ went to the Cross, He felt the fullness of the pain and suffering it involved. The stripes upon His back were real; the spikes in His hands were real; the thorns upon His head were real; the strain upon His muscles was real; His death was real; and it all was for you and for me.
It is difficult for us today, sitting in our comfortable pews two thousand years removed from this historical event, to fully embrace its meaning. How can we comprehend this kind of love? Yet, we must, because until we do, we can never fully embrace the Cross and live in the newness of life Christ died to give us.
Would you shut your eyes for a moment and imagine yourself standing at the foot of the Cross? See through your mind’s eye the blood running down His face. Hear Him as He cries out; “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” Hear Him as He yells victoriously,“ It is finished!” Now, hear his breathing, as it slowly grows shallow until finally He looses consciousness and dies. He did that for you and for me, not because we deserved it, but because He loved us with an unconditional love.
The good news does not stop here. For His closest followers the Cross was a devastating loss because they did not realize what God was going to do with this unjust event. They did not understand the resurrection. They did not anticipate the empty tomb. It was not until the resurrection that their gloom turned to glorious celebration and unbridled commitment.
From the beginning, there have been those who have attempted to discount the resurrection. They have attempted to water it down as a tale of desperate people looking for a ray of hope in a situation that looked hopeless, or they have simply rejected it completely. Paul addressed those of his day who rejected the resurrection in his first letter to the Corinthian church. He wrote, “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain…..For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins…..If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied (I Corinthians 15:13,14,16, 17, 19 NASB).”
God does not say that we must understand the resurrection. How can we? It contradicts everything we know about life and death. He does say that we must believe it. It is a matter of faith. It is the event that validates everything that Jesus ever said about Himself. It is the belief that sets Christianity apart from other religions. For you see, we do not worship a dead martyr, we worship a living Lord.
(If you found this devotional thought worthwhile, I encourage you to share it with your friends.)