More thoughts on the road to the Cross. The encounters Jesus had (actually during the crucifixion!) at Calvary were very brief and very powerful. The following is a quote from Fulton Sheen on the exchange between Jesus and the thief on the cross beside him.
"A dying man asked a dying man for eternal life; a man without possessions asked a poor man for a kingdom.…In the divine plan it was a thief who was the escort of the King of kings into paradise. If our Lord had come merely as a teacher, the thief would never have asked for forgiveness. But since the thief’s request touched the reason of his coming to earth, namely, to save souls, the thief heard the immediate answer. “I promise thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). It was the thief’s last prayer, perhaps even his first. He knocked once, sought once, asked once, dared everything, and found everything. When even the disciples were doubting and only one was present at the cross, the thief owned and acknowledged him as Savior."
Take a moment to think about the day you were baptized as a follower of Jesus. Do you remember the words of commitment? Were you aware of their significance for your life's path? In this excerpt, William Willimon connects the baptism of Jesus to his road to the Cross.
"To be baptized “into Christ” and “in the name of Christ” means to be incorporated into the way of life which characterized his life, the life of the empty one, the servant, the humble one, the obedient one, obedient even unto death (Phil. 2:6–11). That day at the Jordan, knee deep in cold water, with old John drenching him, the Anointed One began his journey down the via crucis. His baptism intimated where he would finally end. His whole life was caught up in this single sign. Our baptism does the same."
As we look forward to worshiping together this Good Friday, here are some thoughts about the Cross from Philip Yancey. We will be celebrating the Lord's Table together as part of our service.
"The image Jesus left with the world, the cross, the most common image in the Christian religion, is proof that God cares about our suffering and pain. He died of it. Today the image is coated with gold and worn around the necks of beautiful girls, a symbol of how far we can stray from the reality of history. But it stands, unique among all religions of the world. Many of them have gods. But only one has a God who cared enough to become a man and to die."
In this season of the cross, here are some words of deep truth from Evelyn Underhill:
"To look at the Crucifix and then to look at our own hearts; to test by the cross the quality of our love – if we do that honestly and unflinchingly we don’t need any other self-examination. The lash, the crown of thorns, the mockery, the stripping, the nails – It is no use to talk in a large vague way about the love of God; here is its point of insertion in the world."
Today's Easter thoughts come from a sermon by Martin Luther King Jr. He notes that what Easter teaches us is:
"that this earthly life is merely an embryonic prelude to a new awakening, that death is not a period which ends this great sentence of life but a comma that punctuates it to more loftier significance."
Easter weekend may be over for another year, but the events it celebrates have changed our lives forever. May you rejoice in the gift of new life today!
As we approach Good Friday and Easter, these thoughts from Johann Ernst von Holst give a wonderful perspective on the mission of Jesus:
"The Passover was a festival in memory of Israel’s liberation from slavery in Egypt, but at the same time it was a prophecy of the freeing of the whole of humankind from the heavy yoke of sin and condemnation through the atoning death of the perfect Paschal Lamb. Jesus longed to fulfill this 1500-year-old prophecy and at long last to redeem the lost world through his sacrificial death, to close in this way the old covenant and set up the new one. But he saw still further beyond this deed of redemption. He looked into that sunny distance beyond time where his whole work would be brought to perfection, where he would celebrate the meal of joy on the transfigured earth with a redeemed humankind and drink with them the new fruit of the vine."
Pastor Ward Parkinson