Oh! What Love!
My Dear Friend in Christ:
Easter is my favorite time of year. Here is set aside a time to commemorate the cru-cifixion and resurrection of our Lord. It is a time that inspires; first and foremost because of this we have Christianity, and that is far more important than most realize. Paul, when he pens what is the first written account, states that the risen Lord appeared, “to Cephas, then to the Twelve, Then He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles” (1 Cor.15:5-7). He then speaks of himself as “one un-timely born,” just as we believers are our selves untimely born.
That is born of a faith that arises from the most witnessed events in the ancient world. Yet, these events were a surprise, and it would take awhile for them to realize what it really meant. That’s probably not too surprising; they were in shock. Their beloved “mas-ter” arrested, grilled and then abused by their religious leaders, further ill-treated by the reviled Romans, and then quickly crucified. The words of the travelers on the road to Emmaus says it all, “We had so hoped He was the one to redeem Israel” (Lk.24:21). None of this fit their understanding of scripture. This was not their prophetic expectation. Just like many today who do not expect tribulation or judgment. The Messiah in Jewish thinking was not to suffer, and certainly not die.
Yet Paul will declare in that passage, “that of first importance… Christ died for our sins in accordance with scripture (15:13). This we find in prophecies that were previ-ously misread or ignored for centuries. Now we do understand that the Christ died for our sins. Something we believe God planned “before the foundations of the world” (Eph.1:4). That He was to “…appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sac-rifice of Himself” (Heb.9:26). Does that sound complicated? It’s not, but we have made it so; we speak of salvation, redemption, propriation, expiation, sanctification, and atone-ment, and many have written thousands of pages, maybe millions, about something so basic. We have even tidied up the events in our art, music, and even our minds. For a true depiction would shock us.
Crucifixion was meant to do that. It was beyond cruel, but bestial and meant to instill abject fear and repulsion. And it is little wonder that our Lord asked, “if it be possible let this cup pass from me” (Mt. 26:39). Even David’s Psalm, where at times he will propheti-cally depict this event, lacks any real horror (Psa.22). It is here! In ways we cannot fathom that God tore at His very essence, to birth what we call the incarnation, and what Paul will call the “Kenosis.” All of which fails to come close to what this cost our Heavenly Father and His only begotten Son, and thus what it means for our faith. For God in this excruciating act of separation, the death of Divinity, shed His own blood, He did this so as to pay the debt we could never pay, bare the stripes we so deserve, endured the dark-ness that we might have light, take into His soul our sin sick souls, suffer death that we might have life, bridged the chasm we could never cross, and shed the only blood that could atone.
Surely, “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, upon Him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with His stripes we are healed (Isa.53:5). And beyond that, we must understand that this is only so, because the grave could not hold Him. If there is no “Easter Morn,” there is no “Calvary that Atones.” Without them both there is nothing. Without the pain, travail, and blood there is no hope, no life, no eternity with this Creator, who so loved…. Are we not lucky, blessed, so fortunate, that He does love; even us! Dare we ask why? (More on that next month)
Oh how He loves you and me!”
Thomas Randolf Wyatt