Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Three reflections at Easter


I have generally put away childish things. I long to grow more deeply into the mind of Christ. This year has been one where I have connected on a personal level with many who are hurting and grappling with issues, sometimes from long times past.
The reality of Christ’s passion has struck me afresh. His disciple betrayed Him. His friends deserted and denied Him. He was stripped and mocked. He was beaten and tormented. He was whipped. He carried His cross, struggling under its crushing weight. His body was pierced with nails. He suffered an agonizing physical torture.
There was worse.
The gospels record that whilst Christ hung on the cross, darkness enveloped the land, which lasted for three hours. We don’t know what Christ experienced during that time, but one hypothesis is that Christ experienced every human sin and pain known to man, past, present and future. The Son of God knew the sorrow of a parent who has lost a child; felt the outrage of a rape victim; saw the horrors of Auschwitz. Only Jesus knows for sure.
There was worse.
At the end of this time Jesus cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” His Father, for the first time ever, had removed His presence from Jesus. Jesus, who had obeyed and honoured His Father, had paid the just price for our sin. If the wickedness of mankind was not enough to break the heart of our Saviour, the total separation from His Father completed the task.

Praise God, we know the final outcome. Death was replaced with life. Sin was defeated. A way was made for fallen humanity to return to right relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. On the third day Christ rose again, revealed Himself to His disciples and many other witnesses and finally ascended to heaven to reign as King until He returns.

Thank You Jesus. Praise You Jesus. Words cannot express.


This has been a year of grappling with personal hurts and disappointments. I struggle at times to remain focused on God and to keep my heart from cynicism and bitterness.
Easter brings its own message in a fresh way this year. My son’s fiancĂ© makes a random comment which reveals a healing facet of the Passion story to me.
My daughter- in- law- to- be has never seen the film of The Passion of the Christ, so we sit together and watch it as a family. Afterwards she remarks on the cruelty of the guards who were whipping Jesus and how “they were laughing. They seemed to be enjoying it.”
Why would they do so? As I ponder, God begins to speak to me of the juxtaposition of two whippings.
John’s gospel, chapter 2, records a furious Jesus making a whip of cords to drive out the moneychangers who were profiteering in the temple courts in Jerusalem. Above all else in His earthly life, Jesus honoured His Father. He was jealous for the sanctity and reverence which should have been evident in the temple and would not tolerate any disrespectful behaviour. His authority to drive away the commercial vendors was immediately challenged by the temple officials.
Chapter 19 of John’s gospel records another whipping. This time it is Jesus who is lashed, scourged by Pilate’s soldiers. They relish their task. They have the sense of power of the sadist, that of being in control of an innocent victim. In the Passion film, the members of the Sanhedrin and the temple officials stand watching. You can almost sense the collaboration. The Romans are doing their dirty work for them. Their position is secure. The embarrassing, challenging interloper is removed. Business will resume as usual.
Praise God, we know the end of the story, beyond the cruelty of Christ’s suffering and death.
For the temple was not to remain the same. At the time of Christ’s death, a mighty earthquake shook the land and the curtain of the sanctuary was torn in two, from top to bottom. As he had prophesied at the time of cleansing the temple in John chapter 2, Jesus had told them “ Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again”. He was speaking not of a building or system, but that which replaced them - Jesus Christ himself.
It was so. On the third day, Christ rose from the dead to reign forever as Lord.
So it can seem with the systemic evil which is found in the world today. We are sometimes discouraged and tempted to think that wickedness has triumphed. Bad behaviour is tolerated. There is no justice. Corruption and greed thrive. The institution of the church falls short, sometimes in great measure. Yet we know that this is not the end.
Christ has the last word. Christ has defeated sin and death. Christ is our heavenly intercessor.
Jesus Christ reigns forever as Lord and King. Praise God.



“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:17,18 New International Version of the Bible)

Jesus was not compelled to go to the cross. He chose to. He did so first and foremost to honour and glorify and obey His Father’s will. He could have left the suffering humanity that mocked and despised him to its just end; however he chose to become sin, to bear the punishment for us, to be cast away from his Father. For the first time the unity of the Trinity was broken. Praise God, we know that Christ through this sacrifice forever defeated satan and his minions and established a new covenant between God and those who believe through faith in Jesus Christ. Christ is forever our heavenly intercessor. The temple veil was torn in two. “In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”(Ephesians 3:12 NIV).

Not only did Jesus choose the cross for His Father’s honour, He chose the cross because He loved us. John’s gospel is full of Jesus’ tenderness and care for his disciples, then and now. Chapter 10 describes him as the “good shepherd”. He cares for his sheep. He leads and guides them. He searches for the lost and rejoices when they are found. He tends the sick. He protects them. He calls them. He will defend them with his life.

Before He goes to the cross, Jesus comforts his disciples. He prays for those He was with at the time and prays for us today too, who would believe in Him through their message. (John chapter 17, from verse 20). He had already promised that He would not leave us alone when He had gone, but would send another comforter from His Father – the Holy Spirit. (John 14:15).

Even when he hung on the cross, Christ showed his concern and care for His mother, His friend John and for the repentant thief alongside Him.

Thank You Jesus, for the choices that You made.

We who follow You will never have to make the choices You did. We know that whatever happens to us, You will never leave us. We will never be as utterly alone as You were. Even when the Father left You, You never left us.

For a short time it seemed that Christ was gone forever. Then, Hallelujah! Jesus appeared to those who were mourning His loss. Just as He said He would.

For God himself has said “I will never leave you nor forsake you” Hebrews 13:5.

We too have choices. We can choose to have faith in Christ or reject Him. We can choose daily to walk in His will and His ways, or to do the selfish things that can seem so attractive. We war against our own flesh. As Christ chose His Father’s will, so ultimately we are required to choose His will before our own. Not always easy, but somewhere beyond the struggle we come to realise that what God offers is the best.


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