BreakPoint | Stephen Reed | May 6, 2009
The weeks following Easter can be filled with both joy and intrigue for the believer who tries to figure out the mysteries, especially those which may not always yield so easily to the mind’s constant prodding. Anyone, even non-believers, can resonate with the story of Jesus triumphing over this world, walking and talking among His followers again, then ascending to the Father who saw Him through it all.
However, when the routines of life pick up again, we can either return to them, though with a bit more spring in our step, or we can wish for a life that really reflects the new hope.
In order for us to take our spiritual lives to the next level, more than feelings are necessary. And we require more than intellectual assent to our need of Him in our daily lives. A daily reaching out to Him—and even more important, a daily desire to clasp His outstretched hand to us—that can satisfy. It takes commitment. But it is a decision to have the most wondrous relationship one could hope for, so it ought to be a commitment we eagerly accept.
Best of all, this ongoing relationship has intellectual components, as well as spiritual and sometimes emotional. Yet perhaps deepest of all, this understanding of what is going on is powerfully visceral. Above all else, it is real. No fairy tale. No nice yet implausible theory. The relationship between Christ and his beloved is drop-dead beautifully real.
Picture a father, who has loved his baby girl since before she was born. He has proudly watched her grow up to become a beautiful woman, inside and out. She is the apple of his eye. They delight in each other’s company. Their relationship is connected with a thousand chords of memory, and she relies on him as she matures in every way.
But somewhere along the way, she slips. Call it what you will, whether this oft-times wicked world set a snare for her, or a tragedy befell her, leaving her weakened spiritually; but she has given in and turned away from her father, seeking poor substitutes for his love.
She ends up filling her world with pains unthinkable just a few years before, and the spiral continues downward until her life has more pain than is bearable. Her previous joy with her Father is a very distant memory. She begins to wonder if those times were even real. Life has lost its flavor, and only the rawest forms of excitement, with the consequences they bring, remind her that she is still alive.
And her father? Where is he in all this?
Oh, he tried. He would visit, call or send a letter, but she refused all of his attempts at communication. She was either too embarrassed to talk with him or somehow blamed him for her misfortunes. How could he let this happen to her? Didn’t he know of her intense pain?
In fact, he did, and what was far more painful to this parent—as it would be to any decent parent—was the knowledge of his daughter’s intense pain. Whatever invective she might have hurled at him in her anguish was nothing compared to the obvious pain she was enduring. He vowed many times over to himself that if he could find any way to take on her pain, he would gladly do so. A bold assertion, that. But again, ask any good parent if he would do the same. They all would.
Now, multiply by billions both the number of children and the intensity of love God has for His Children, and you begin to get a feel for the signature trait of the Trinity.
So Jesus is not only the bridge to the Father for us, though He certainly is that. He is not only the “great moral teacher,” as our non-believing friends love to say. And He’s not merely a cosmic garbage can for our sins, though without Him, where would all those sins go?
Rather, Jesus said that he is the way, the truth, and the life. The life. As in, the life we all are designed to live, once we are in harmony with the Trinity with Jesus’ help.
At such a point, we have faith in the Father who sent Him, Jesus who came to minister and to teach us, and the Holy Spirit whom Jesus, in turn, commissioned to help us after he departed.
Through Jesus, His life and parables, God the Father has approached us, His sons and daughters, one more time. Jesus comes to us with two powerful and interconnected truths:
- We each have a sinful nature far beyond our own ability expunge;
- Jesus is willing to help us deal with it through a Grand Exchange: We give up our sinful lives, and in that void Jesus plants a new and better attitude, perspective, and character—namely His own. Over time, we start to see others, as well as ourselves, with new eyes. We are redeemed, transformed.
That is the good news in a nutshell. When we face the cross, we see multiple messages, but two main ones stand out after Easter. We certainly remember the suffering and sin associated with the cross. But then we see the cross, like Jesus’ tomb, now empty, no longer having any power over Jesus the risen Lord.
If Jesus is our Lord, and if even death can’t hold him back . . . if after His resurrection, He can even forgive his extraordinarily weak disciples who scattered and denied knowing him in His most difficult hour . . . then what can’t He forgive inside us as long as we sincerely want His forgiveness?
. . . more