After the misery of the wettest winter on record, spring seems to have exploded upon us. Everything seems to be early and vibrant with colour. With the clocks changing we seem to have been propelled forward into the beauty of spring and the hope of summer.
I always wonder how people in the southern hemisphere cope with the fact that Easter comes in the autumn for them. Easter seems so tied up with all that we see happening in the world around us that they must experience it in a different way. Some of that must be good – no Easter cards full of daffodils for one thing! Yet the coming of spring after any kind of winter reinforces that message that after the bleakness of the past comes hope for new life.
Of course we know the Easter message. Most of us have heard it many times. But imagine what it must have been like to live through it the first time. Jesus was the great hope of Israel. People had had silence from God since the last of the prophets. There were holy men and women who sought to follow Him but no direct revelation. Now the temperature had risen and the expectation of the Messiah was at boiling point. When Jesus came and was baptised in the Jordan; began to teach and to bring healing into the lives of the people of Galilee and then Judea; people saw a hope. Surely this man was the Messiah they said, what more could he do?
As his chosen disciples spent more and more time with him they were convinced that he was the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One. Yet in the midst of their conviction was confusion. Why did he keep speaking about Jerusalem and dying. None of this made sense. They knew what the Messiah was to do – he was to rescue his people and usher in a new age. It would be an age of righteousness when God’s people would be rewarded and the other nations would be subjected to them. An age when the Romans would be put in their place.
That’s why so much of the time we see the disciples utterly bemused by what Jesus was doing – he wasn’t following the script that they had for him. Instead he was sowing the seeds of a Kingdom that was not just for Jews but in which the opportunities that had come to the Jews were enjoyed by anyone that would come and submit to God. That’s why Jesus journey to Jerusalem ended not with the triumph of Palm Sunday and the ride into town, but the triumph of Gethsemane, Calvary and the empty tomb.
What we have to get our heads around is the sheer scale of the change in thinking that the disciples had to go through; from one way of thinking to an entirely different one. The Messiah was a conquering king but his battle field was the agony of Gethsemane followed by the even greater agony of the cross. There he battled and overcame the very powers of evil themselves. He took all of our sins; all of our personal evil; and took the punishment for it. And he rose again from the dead; triumphant over it and master of it. Now we have something to really celebrate – life in all its fullness.
There are many ways to be part of what we are doing this year from Maundy Thursday Passover celebration to the joint CTBS service on Good Friday and our Easter Day celebrations. There is only one thing to celebrate:
We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life.
Yours in Christ