When you celebrate Easter, do you tend to focus on the crucifixion or his rise from death?
I am in complete awe of the Easter story. The temptation, capture, imprisonment, torture, ridicule, crucifixion, resurrection, appearance and ascension.
But other than awe, how else should we respond to the gift of sacrifice made by Jesus of Nazareth?
I propose we respond the way we do when we receive other gifts. We say, “Thank you.”
1. We thank him for his grace and mercy. He recognizes our sin, hears us blaming him for all the bad and evil in this world, feels our rejection as we turn away from him in our anger, hears us laughing as we mock him, and watches us as we destroy our bodies with our own desires and yet makes us alive in Jesus. (Ephesians 2: 4-5)
2. We can thank God that during all the times where we have lived in a spirit of fear and blamed him and rejected him and laughed at him and destroyed his temple and mocked him, he was still waiting for us because he said that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).
3. We can thank him and praise him that we can give up our fear of losing self-control and turn it all over to him. Because God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
4. We thank him for our temptations because he doesn’t swoop in like a mythical superhero. Like a loving father, he lets us endure, make choices, lean on Him and grow, never allowing the temptation to go beyond what we could bear or leaving us without a way out (1 Corinthian 10:13).
5. We can proclaim a sound mind, because we are transformed and renewed and recognize the good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2).
6. And we can cling to the future he has laid out before us, whatever that might be, but we will not fear it because he is with us, guiding us. He is our strong tower, seeing farther and wider to protect us from evils we don’t even know exist, because He is our rock, fortress, strength and shield. (Psalms 23, Proverbs 18:2, 12)
7. And we can praise him because he is risen! “We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed – always carrying about in the body of the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-11)
Friends, don’t focus so much on his death, that you forget that he rose again. We don’t just have his shed blood covering us, we have his resurrected life breathing inside us.
We must not take the sacrificed blood of Jesus and turn it into a pool of shame in which we drown. No! His blood was shed out of LOVE so we no longer have to feel that shame. Don’t weep at the crown of thorns only to miss the risen flesh. He is risen and he has overcome.
Rejoice and be glad in it.
The same authority that came to rule over sin can handle anything you can throw at him. (Ephesians 1:19-21).
And the same authority that saved me from sin can save you from sin. If you have not received the Easter Gift of our risen Lord, receive it. Don’t put it in the corner for another day or when it feels less weird or uncomfortable or more of your friends are doing it. Gifts are meant to be received. Period.
No refunds or returns.
Just beautiful surrender to His peace and love so you can share it with others.
One way you can begin your commitment with Christ is to say a prayer to let Him know you are ready. Here is an example by the late Reverend Billy Graham:
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name.
But you do not have to go at it alone. If you need prayer and support, please contact me. Find a local church or Christian Counselor who can help answer your very important questions. Believers – will you pray for unbelievers in your community this week? Pray that God places a strong desire in their hearts to receive the message and Gift of Easter. Will you join me?