Easter Sunday is now only six days away. I have been watching the sky every morning as I walk from my car to my office. The eastern sky has become lighter each day. I anticipate the sunrise, but it is still hiding until after I get into my windowless office. For many years we have had a sunrise service outside in a park. We went to a park very close to my house for a long time and I would walk there in the chilly morning. Often the moon would be setting over the mountains to the west as the sun began to lighten the east. Eventually too many houses were built for us to be able to see the sun until it had appeared above the roof lines. We moved to a park across town which hadn't been invaded by housing developments yet. It is a thrill to me every year to leave for the park in the very early hour of Easter morning and watch the sun peak over the horizon as we sing of Christ's resurrection. It's cold, it's early, we have to rush back to change for breakfast at the church and early service. But it is so worth it to me for the chill I get in my body that has nothing to do with the frigid temperatures. He did this for me! He did it for you.
His whole life was about us. He spent 30 years with his disciples, preparing them for when He would leave. Sometimes they understood, sometimes they didn't. He must have been frustrated at times, in His humanity.
This thought has really been imprinted on my soul as I have been reviewing our cantata on my way to work each morning. One of the narrative parts says, "The truth of the Resurrection is central to our faith. The apostle Paul wrote , 'if Christ has not been raised our preaching is useless and so is your faith,' (I Thes. 15:19). But when we believe with our hearts that God has raised Jesus from the dead, and when we know the truth that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him, then His resurrection power begins transforming and empowering our lives. Jesus spoke to our generation when He said, 'Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe.' "(John 20:29b).
That's us! He's talking about you and me. We, who have not seen, and yet believe. He also talked about us in John 17:20, as He was praying for His disciples, and He knew His time on earth was short. He prayed for their protection from the evil one. He also said, "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message . . ." He's praying for ME and YOU. That gives me the chills, or God-bumps, as Diane would say.
Parts of this song (by the Gaithers) have been running through my mind this morning:
THE LOOK OF LOVE WAS ON HIS FACE,
THORNS WERE ON HIS HEAD
THE BLOOD WAS ON HIS SCARLET ROBE
STAINED A CRIMSON RED
THOUGH HIS EYES WERE ON THE CROWD THAT DAY,
HE LOOKED AHEAD IN TIME
FOR WHEN HE WAS ON THE CROSS
I WAS ON HIS MIND.
CHORUS: HE KNEW ME, YET HE LOVED ME
HE WHOSE GLORY MAKES THE HEAVENS SHINE
SO UNWORTHY OF SUCH MERCY
YET WHEN HE WAS ON THE CROSS
I WAS ON HIS MIND.
I quote Max Lucado often. I will do it again as I wrap this up today. It is actually tomorrow's devotional in the book I read each day called Grace For the Moment. This is an excerpt from Max's book, And the Angels Were Silent.
"Then Jesus went about a stone's throw away from them. He kneeled down and prayed." (Luke 22:41)
"The final prayer of Jesus was about you. His final pain was for you. His final passion was for you. Before He went to the cross, Jesus went to the garden. And when he spoke with His Father, you were in his prayers . . .
And God couldn't turn His back on you. He couldn't because He saw you, and one look at you was all it took to convince Him. Right there in the middle of a world which isn't fair. He saw you cast into a river of life you didn't request. He saw you betrayed by those you love. He saw you with a body which gets sick and a heart which grows weak . . .
On the eve of the cross, Jesus made His decision. He would rather go to hell for you than go to heaven without you."
And if that doesn't humble you and thrill you and bring tears to your eyes, you need to check your pulse to see if you're alive!
Have a blessed Holy Week!