We cannot have Sunday without Friday.
We cannot truly have life without death. We reap the benefit of hearing after what has happened 2000 years ago of saving work Christ did on the cross. Do we ever stop and think of the people who were there and experienced it first hand? The hope of their Saviour and King, crushed at the cross.
Was it really though?
The people did not realize the Hope that died on the cross, the Hope that lay in the grave, and the Hope that would rise from the grave and defeat death forever was standing right in front of them, hanging on that tree.
Today I get to sing of the Living Hope that is Christ Jesus, but He had to die first for us. With no hope of return, the disciples had to watch their Rabbi hang on a cross. A bloody, rotten plank of wood, crossed with another to form the Roman's torture method of choice. This happened after he had already been flogged 39 times with bone and metal ripping out flesh, as well as a crown of thorns being lodged into the top of His precious head, he was spat on, mocked, and denied by His very own.
I actually can't imagine that. I don't know if I'll ever experience that in my lifetime, but if I do, it will have no comparison to what Jesus felt on the cross, for me. But it needed to happen in order to fulfill the law. It needed to happen in order for there to be a way for humanity. It needed to happen in order for us to have a hope in this life, for the next. It needed to happen in order for Christ to display His qualities of love, grace, and mercy. In short, it didn't really need to happen. But He chose to go through it all.
For you, for me.
He chose you, while He was on the cross. He chose me as well. He chose to suffer temporarily, for the eternal glory that was already His. He chose to trade his earthly reputation, for His heavenly presence.
This week I had the sweet opportunity to travel to New York City with my aunts. It was our first time to NYC and it was pretty sweet, but something kept me distant from really enjoying the trip. I was fully aware that it was the Holy Spirit, guarding my heart from the vagaries of the city. I decided to stay tuned into the melody of the Holy Spirit, and resolved to remain in my vigilant state with eyes of the Spirit.
The first night we got there, after seeing such grandeur and pomposity, I reclined to my tiny hotel room and wrote a poem that flowed out of my soul:
When riches are waved, to and fro
and pleasures displayed ‘ere you go
Does your heart pound with delight?
Or does your soul keep you with His might?
Does your flesh yearn for another taste?
Or do you crave your Maker’s face?
For everything will cease to be
One day, will end up, you and me
with Him or without eternally
Did the pleasures of this life, satisfy?
Or did your spirit keep your eyes on the prize?
Wake up, oh Child of God, wake up!
For the things of this world, will never fill your cup.
Do you suffer long for the faith you lead?
Or do the pleasures make your faith recede?
For every glance, every price, every roll of the dice
All is vanity, every last bit, odd.
Does this world seem strange, O Child of God?
That last line, was a resounding, noisy, reverberating, statement in my head the whole trip. In light of the cross and my salvation, do I still live for this world?
"I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." – John 17: 15-16
I remember vividly doing a family study on the book, Pilgrim's Progress, and when they arrived at Vanity Fair, just the glamour, glitz, fashion, and power, showed up; everything was buyable. It was almost like a Thats So Raven moment, where I was taken back to that moment, reading that passage in the book while standing in the middle of Times Square.
"To the Puritans, the things of this Earth weren't nearly as valuable as the everlasting life they believed they'd be rewarded in heaven. They thought that placing any kind of value on material things was mutually exclusive to valuing the gifts of God. This is the situation at Bunyan's Vanity Fair, and it's the source of the hostility between the townspeople and the pilgrims." – (Shmoop, 2008)
I felt so out of place. Not because I was lonely, or because I didn’t look the part. I was longing to see my Lord and Saviour, but everywhere I looked was just a marketplace of consumerism. Thats why this world seems strange to me. When you go to your jobs, when you go to your vacations, and your fancy trips, does it seem almost…wrong? That’s because we don’t belong here. Wake up, and see that our kingdom is NOT of this world. I cannot wait to be united with my Lord Jesus Christ, don’t you?
Let us enjoy this weekend, let us realize how monumental this living Hope is for us. Let us truly realize what it means to take up our daily cross and follow hard after Jesus. Today He gave His last breathe an incarnate human, and Sunday He destroyed death and grave, and death gave its last breathe. Enjoy this beautiful poem written by John Donne and meditate on its principle:
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
God bless you all on this easter weekend.
I prepared a mini easter playlist to enjoy the truths and wonders of the weekend and to remain living in the spirit, reminding ourselves of the same truths and wonders that only God could bless us with.