A Hope Restored…Sunday has Come!
Well, this is Easter weekend, beginning with Good Friday…I remember years ago, during a period when my life was in turmoil and despair (the years I call the dark years), I always wondered why we called it “Good” Friday. I mean what was good about an innocent man, the Son of God, being brutally beaten and tortured beyond recognition and then subjected to one of the most humiliating and horrific deaths mankind could imagine: crucifixion!? – if you have seen Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ you have a somewhat accurate visual portrayal of what I’m talking about – and that movie is a good illustration of what I am going to share today, because, as we shall see, everything good came out of what happened that 1st Easter weekend which began with Good Friday.
I remember the first time I saw The Passion of the Christ years ago in the theater, it was difficult at the time to describe the emotion I was feeling. I was sick from watching Jesus being brutalized and the graphic portrayal of his suffering. I was in tears at the realization that he did this for me as it says in the Scriptures that God demonstrated his love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us and that this is what John 3:16 was all about: For God loved the world so much that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall have everlasting life! But even though I knew that in my head, why was I left with such a sinking empty sick feeling in my gut? A feeling I guess I would describe now as hopelessness. It was that same feeling that would come over me time and time again during those years I was in bondage to alcoholism when I would sit in despair and depression thinking about how I had failed my family, my children, my God. It’s that same feeling that tries to come in and take over still when things happen in life that are just too overwhelming; when things just get too hard; when things are not working out according to plan (usually my plan).
Hopelessness and despair come in because I am only looking at part of the story! Jesus’ horrific suffering and death to pay for our sin was only part of the story….Sunday is coming!! One of my favorite stories in the Scriptures is the account of Jesus’ walking with 2 of his disciples on their journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus on the Sunday after his crucifixion.
And while they were discussing and arguing, Jesus Himself came near and began to walk along with them. But they were prevented from recognizing Him. Then He asked them, “What is this dispute that you’re having with each other as you are walking?” And they stopped ⌊walking and looked⌋ discouraged. The one named Cleopas answered Him, “Are You the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that happened there in these days?” “What things?” He asked them. So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus the Nazarene, who was a Prophet powerful in action and speech before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed Him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified Him. But we were hoping that He was the One who was about to redeem Israel. Besides all this, it’s the third day since these things happened. Luke 24:15-21 (HCSB)
Notice is says that they were discouraged and had lost hope! But as the story continues to show, Jesus entered into the situation and reinterpreted it for them; he explained what was really going on and revealed himself to them. They said later, “Weren’t our hearts ablaze (or burning) within us while He was talking with us on the road…?”
And so goes the story of our lives…life is hard; we live in a fallen world, one that lies under the power and sway of the evil one (I John 5:19), we all have stories where lives and plans just don’t work out the way we had hoped, where we get blind-sided by circumstances, where our dreams are shattered and we lose heart. But Sunday has come…Jesus conquered everything that life and the devil hurled at him…he rose from the dead and that gives us hope!! We don’t have to live in just one part of the story; we don’t have to just sit and wait for the next “bad thing” to happen, Sunday will come. Because he lives, we can live also… The Scriptures tell us that the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us! We can always have hope, but hope that is seen is not hope, hope is learning to trust God (and others) with every aspect of our lives, that he is working all things together for our good because he loves us. He doesn’t expect us to just “buck up” or just “make the best of our situations”, but he does want us to invite him into the story of our lives…
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity… Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NKJV)