“Passion” week is upon us, where many Christians will be thinking a little deeper on the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross (a very healthy practice) and then celebrating the fact that He has risen from the dead in power (a life-changing reality!). This time of the year was always my favorite as a pastor.
So, being I will not have the privilege of preaching this week, like the last six years, I thought I would write about it, even if just to minister to myself! In this article I’d like to attempt to show how the gospel (which means good news!) or “the cross, the burial and the resurrection” of Jesus is so applicable and ever so needed every day of our lives and in our world today.
Let’s start with the cross. First of all, how did Jesus even end up there? Think about it. Acts 10:38 tells us that all he did was this: “he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” (Acts 10:38). If you read the Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John), you read story after story of Jesus healing people, helping people, teaching people, feeding people, delivering people, saving people etc. Yet despite this he ended up being betrayed from within by one of his own, abandoned by those he poured his life into all those years, turned on by the very people he came to serve with the cries of the crowd going from “Hosanna” to “Crucify” in a matter of a few days! He ended up beaten, scourged, mocked, despised, spit on, rejected, falsely accused and dying the death of a criminal on a cross, unfairly and unjustly (Isaiah 53).
This world, filled with fallen and sinful people, can be a very brutal, nasty, cruel and unfair place. You can be “loved” one minute and “rejected” the next. Embraced and just as quickly turned on! But that is one reason I find the cross on which Jesus died “comforting.” It was certainly not comfortable and it is convicting to think about, but it is also comforting to know Jesus faced the darkest and deepest evil in the heart of man and yet endured to the end. This gives me hope and gives me strength in seasons and situations where I have felt betrayed, abandoned, turned on, forgotten, rejected, despised, falsely accused etc. It can give hope to millions around the world who likewise are right now being beaten, treated unfairly, unjustly, facing the evil that is very raw and real in this world. The cross was raw, real and bloody. The crown he wore was sharp, painful and thorny. The scourging he received was harsh, cruel and unfair. The rejection was piercing, the betrayal agonizing, and the abandonment painful. And yet deeper than all these things, was something darker than any of us can fully comprehend or will ever experience…the weight of all the sin of the world was on him as God’s wrath was poured out on him as He died in our place for my sin and your sin and the sin of the world.
Then came the burial. Christ really and truly died. Christ really and truly was buried. This period is often forgotten about or not talked about as much as the crucifixion and resurrection, yet it was just as real and is just as applicable to us today. Not only in that our sins and our old life has been buried with Him (and ought to stay buried!) but how many seasons of life do we feel like we are in that time in between “Friday” (the crucifixion) and “Sunday” (the resurrection)? There was a “day” (“Saturday”) in between those two events. A time of “limbo” where discouragement, disillusionment, grieving, mourning, confusion, doubts, fears and so much more “lingered.” Things did not turn out at all as they were expecting. They thought it was over.
Aren’t there days like this in our lives? Something happens and we are left shaking and scratching our heads. We don’t understand how things turned out this way. We are disoriented. Dreams die and dreams are buried. Hopes are dashed and we lose heart. We are shaken to the core. Doubts linger, fears rule and disillusionment leaves us bewildered and confused. I call them “Saturday’s” of the soul.
But then comes “Sunday!” Oh, how I thank God for “Sunday!” Christ rising from the dead changes everything! Christ being alive and “appearing” changes everything! Jesus not being in the tomb anymore is indeed still the greatest news ever declared on earth!! His living presence imparts peace to our troubled and shaken souls. His victory over death begins to conquer our fears and turn our mourning into dancing, our sorrow into a release of joy. His resurrection means our restoration. Him rising in new life, raises us to new life! Hope, healing, peace, joy, courage, gratitude, and new life begin to flood and fill our hearts and lives again.
The Gospel is the most real thing in the world. It is the most powerful thing in the world. It is the most applicable and needed thing in all of our lives every day. The Gospel changes everything…most of all us. It means Jesus understands and relates to us in every season of life. It means he is with us in and through every season. He endured the cross. He was buried. But He conquered death. He overcame all the sin and evil of this world. He rose to new life. And so can we…and so will we literally and bodily as he did one day…for those who believe!
John 11:25-26: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
May he refresh and encourage your heart this week as you think on these truths.