This entire week as been what we consider "Holy Week"- the week Jesus was crucified, buried and arose. It's the week that we celebrate our most precious of holidays as Christians-the week that Jesus forever changed our future.
I remember when Phil and I went to see The Passion for the first time- when we walked into the theater, a local church had put a basket of Kleenex at the entrance door and I knew then, I was in for a tear-jerker. If I remember correctly, I cried through almost what seemed the entire movie.
It seems the older I become the easier it is for me to separate reality from Hollywood- or at least what they would like to interpret as reality. I don't know if it's me aging or just being a little more discerning but I see a lot of movies and think they are so far fetched and disconnected from reality.. There's so much computer graphics and stunts that you know physically- some of what they do, well-that's just not possible.
As graphic as The Passion seemed- I believe in reality, it was probably a lot worse than Hollywood could even interpret. I was reared in church- I don't ever remember NOT being in church. Seems every time the church doors were open- we were there. So I've had a lifetime of mental images of what I interpret Jesus final days on earth to be like and though my own images were graphic at times, Hollywood gave me some new images that I had not realized- or maybe didn't want to realize-haunting images.
Personally-in my life, Jesus going through His final days for me is something I want to remember every single day I breathe, and actually even after I stop breathing. I believe because of that final week- my days of praising Him will not end when my life on this earth does. Because of this week, I will forever be able to remember His selfless act of love that will follow me well after I draw my last breath- I will be able to forever praise him for all eternity.
Sometimes being human means that we have limits to our thought process- we have boundaries - "comfort zones" that we stay within, sometimes just because we don't want to think "outside the box" and sometimes because we think it's too painful to think more about it. But the reality of this week is that if Jesus had not been betrayed, put on trial, beaten, crucified and arose- we would have NO future. There would be nothing and I do mean NOTHING for us to live for.
I have had bad things happen to me, or at least bad from a human perspective and I didn't know they were coming- I didn't expect it. Jesus knew what would happen to Him and He did it anyway.. He knew all along the coming pain and anguish. He knew every person that would betray Him- people he had held close to Him- friends- people He trusted as His chosen. Haven't we had and will continue to have people in our lives that have and will betray us? People that we have loved and trusted? How did Jesus react to those that forsakes Him? Did he "write them off"? NO- He forgave them. And most of those didn't even ask to be forgiven- they didn't even acknowledge they had done anything wrong- He forgave them because He loved them. He forgives us that way-unconditionally.
That concept is SO FAR BEYOND me sometimes. It's physically painful at times for me to forgive, I'll admit it. I don't like confrontation or to harbor ill-will towards people, even when I'm angry, but I have had to forgive people that have not asked me for forgiveness, people who didn't care that they had hurt me. We will have people like that in our lives- we just will, it's a very painful part of who we are, and we can't control at times the pain that is inflicted upon us, but we can and should control how we react to that pain and hurt.
When I think of the pain that I have caused Jesus just in my lifetime alone... I'm so ashamed, humbled and in awe of His Mercy and Grace. When it comes to mistakes- I feel I've made some really big ones. And if I'm going to be honest, I've made some really big ones and more than once! I can get caught up in a sea of self pity and selfishness that Satan has a field day with me. That's Satan's "forte"- he loves to show us our faults so we want to throw our hands in the air and say "I give up"- "being a Christian is just too hard"- "I'm never going to be what God wants me to be, I just can't"- THAT my friends, is a LIE! Satan is a liar and a thief- he scours the earth just waiting for a little sense of insecurity to set in and BAM!- he's on us like Tar Baby on Briar Rabbit. And he can be a hard character to shake once he's got his hands on you.
Because of this week- as Christians, we have the hope and promise of eternity with God our Father. Regardless of our past, regardless of our mistakes, regardless of our sin- that is His promise to us. God give us our salvation, it's a FREE gift. We do not earn it- we believe, confess and obey and it's FREE- no strings attached. Don't let Satan pull your stings!- there are NO strings! So don't let him tell you otherwise.
My friends, it is my desire that you will reflect on this past week and rejoice in all we have to look forward to as Christians. Remember that just like Jesus, the grave is not the end for us- it's the beginning!
(1)After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
(2)There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. (3)His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. (4)The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
(5)The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. (6)He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. (7)Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."
(8)So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. (9)Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. (10)Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.."
Matthew 28: 1-10