I trust you experienced meaningful worship over the past few weeks while remembering the final days and events of Jesus’ earthly life. This yearly reminder of Jesus' teaching, his ways, and the lengths to which he went to purchase our salvation is very important.
The Apostle Peter wrote to believers expressing the need to refresh your memory because he found that reminders stimulate you to wholesome thinking. (2 Peter 1:12-12 & 3:1). Sometimes when we become familiar with a truth, event or tradition we may practice it without really engaging or thoughtful contemplation. The events and truths we are reminded of at Easter continue to resonate in my soul. My mind is stirred with the wonder of God’s gift of his only begotten Son, and his demonstration of how important we are to him.
On Palm Sunday we rejoice with the way Jesus supported the worshippers in the temple. He did not look at the adulation of the crowds as his big day; reveling in being the center of attention. Jesus moved through the adoring crowds to enter the temple of God. There his first actions are in support and defense of the worshippers who were being preyed upon by greedy profiteers in God’s house! After scattering the thieves and removing the distractions Jesus began to teach the people in his gracious words, healing the diseased and suffering, and reveling in the extemporaneous and boisterous praise of children. Oh that the presence of Jesus among us would inspire such wonderful events with regularity again today!
On Good Friday we contemplated the solemn sacrifice of the Son of God. He was denounced by the very people he came to save! Being rejected by those he loved had no effect on Jesus' determination to offer himself for these same people’s forgiveness and salvation! The scene of the Creator and Lord standing silent through accusations, suffering, and abuse until his terrible death hanging on a cross moves us with what Paul calls a love that surpasses knowledge! (Eph 3:19). I find the words of the classic hymn, The Love of God, by Frederick Martin Lehman stirring in my soul of late. The words of the chorus proclaim a refrain recognized and loved by many:
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song.
Then came resurrection Sunday morning when sorrow was turned to joy. The first to meet the resurrected Jesus are those who sought him first that day. A number of women with Mary came to the tomb to care for Jesus in his burial. Their minds were so focused on their desire to honor Jesus they failed to consider the obstacles of the Roman guard and sealed tomb. Oh, may our love for Jesus be so focused on pleasing him that obstacles do not deter us! But, instead of the sealed tomb, Matthew’s account states these women witnessed an earthquake with the appearance of an angel of God who rolled away the stone and sat on it! I love this simple image which seems to me to be dismissive of the important seal of Rome. Instead of being intimidated by the armed Roman cohort, the women witnessed the soldiers shaking in fear and falling to the ground! Instead of finding a bound body lying lifeless in the tomb, the angel greeted the women with the message,
“Do not be afraid.
You seek Jesus.
He is not here for He is risen, just as he said!”
Matthew describes the women leaving the empty tomb with fear and great joy! There was no reason to remain at the tomb. Jesus in fact met them after they left the tomb; appearing to them, speaking comforting words, and fulfilled their greatest joy!
In the words of the Apostle Peter, may our thinking and memory be refreshed as we contemplate,
"How wide and long and high and deep
is the love of Christ,
and to know this
love that surpasses knowledge." (Eph 3:18-19)