Monthly Reflection – April 2014
I hope that this month’s reflection finds you well.
The Cross and the Empty Tomb
The crucifixion of Jesus- Luke 23 26-43.
As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, “Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!” Then’ “they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ And to the hills, ‘Cover us!’” For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?’ Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.’ The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.’ There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the Jews. One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you- today you will be with me in paradise’.
Jesus Has Risen- Matthew 28:1-10
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
Easter is once again upon us and the shops all across the town are filled with hundreds of Chocolate Eggs! We have as a family already made provision for each other and there is a wardrobe in our house that can be best described as ‘Chocolate Egg Central!’ I for one am looking forward to celebrating Easter with my family and my church family in a number of ways over the weekend.
Just like us Christians all across the world are preparing in their own way to celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Easter is in terms of a faith is a festival which is divided into the painful horrific events of Easter Friday where Jesus was Tried, Tortured, Mocked and Crucified. And the wondrous joy of the Empty tomb and the resurrection of Jesus in victory over death! It is in this divide that sometimes we focus so much on the Death of Jesus on the cross and the suffering that went with it that we forget that Easter was actually a time of victory over death and for all of us the chance of redemption if we believe and accept Jesus as our Lord and saviour.
Jesus’ death on the cross was not the end, and neither is our acceptance of Him as our Lord and Saviour the end. Rather, our salvation is a beginning – of an amazing, exciting (and often turbulent) journey towards that which Jesus achieved on Easter Sunday when the power of the Almighty resurrected Him from the dead into eternal life.
If our focus is ever on the cross and on the suffering of Christ, then we are not grasping all that we have inherited through our intimate relationship with Him. To know that Jesus suffered and endured great pain, degradation and humiliation is important – a great comfort when we ourselves are enduring trials of our own. To know that He loved us enough to take upon Himself the wrath of God that we are deserving of for our sins is a wonderful blessing. But by far the greatest knowledge any Christian can hold in their hearts is the knowledge that Jesus has conquered the grave, defeated death, and, in doing so, given us who are in relationship with Him that same promise of eternal life that He Himself embraced on a Sunday morning more than 2000 years ago.
Jesus came to set us free, and whilst the cross was a crucial part of that process, we cannot linger too long at the foot of the cross. Death was a necessity for Jesus; but only because he had to die to be raised to life again. In Christ, when we are born again, our broken, bloodied and sinful lives are crucified on the cross with our Lord, washed in blood we climb down from the cross, roll away the stone of oppression, break the chains of our captivity and walk in the freedom and radiance of resurrection life.
So this Easter- Yes do be thankful that our saviour was Tried, Mocked, Tortured and Crucified but also embrace and celebrate the Empty tomb and the Victory over Sin and Death of our Risen Lord!
So from your branch Leadership Team and the Family Evans we wish you all a Blessed Easter time!
I thank you for the ultimate price that you willingly paid for my sin when you died upon the Cross. But I also celebrate that on the third day you arose, overcoming Death and I thank you for the promise of eternal life for those who believe and trust in you.