Today is Easter and I have to say I have experienced a lot of firsts this Easter. A very good, much needed thing as it has helped me to remember the cross not as the story I know because I hear it told year after year but as the scandalous, beautiful, expression of love that is the foundation of our faith. It was my first Easter Pageant Celebration, my first Holy week services, my first Lord's supper that we dipped from the same cup, my first Friday night service leaving in darkness (so profound), and a beautiful sunrise service. It has all been most awesome and thought provoking.
The Easter pageant celebration was our choir's celebration of Jesus' life from birth through resurrection. We dressed in Jewish garb, sang songs and there were acting parts of strategic highlights from Jesus' life that brought the story to life. It was a powerful production and if I had really let myself think about it I would not have been able to get through it dry eyed.
We had to play all parts, meaning following Jesus as wide-eyed worshipers in one scene and then yelling as the angry mob when we did not get the king we wanted. I was caught off guard when our director, Dave, said to shout things like "crucify him", "blasphemer", "guilty'. It was difficult. Many said "I can't say that". I was not immune as I thought to myself I can't say that, that is horrible. It was too. When you think on what Jesus endured, His death, it was as our pastor says "scandalous".
Make no mistake though. He endured ridicule, beating, mocking, whipping, and being nailed to a cross for me and for you. In essence we have all said "crucify Him". We were enemies of Jesus in our sin. You still are if you have never accepted Him as Savior. It was our sin that held Him there. He choose to endure all of it because He knew us (the Bible says, before He formed you in your mother's womb, He knew you. Jeremiah 1:5), He loved us (the Bible says, for God so loved the world that He gave his only Son. John 3:16), and He desires for us to be with Him in eternity (the bible says, God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:3 & 4). Yes, Jesus did this for us. It was intentional. It is why He came...and we think we know love. If you know not Jesus, you know not love.
There is a song that comes to mind by Nichole Nordeman called 'How Deep the Father's Love For Us" that sums it up. I'll leave you with her words for in His gift, I have life, hallelujah!!
How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory
Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom
Thank you Jesus!