To prepare for Easter, may Christians will do something different in their life – give up something for Lent, read a special daily devotional focusing on Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, or attending extra services at their church.
At our last women’s time (a monthly gathering of the campus staff women on our team), we read through an excerpt from “Christ Crucified: Understanding the Atonement” by Donald Macleod. It was so, so, so good for my heart. I don’t know about for you, but for me, it is so easy to get caught up in the daily demands of my life – kids, homework, tests, newborn routines, campus responsibilities, and even lately for us, the stress of our kids being placed at two different schools for the fall – and I feel that my focus has been on ALL of these things and not on Christ. So, as I read this excerpt, my heart seemed to take several deep breaths and start beating to its natural rhythm again. I have tried to spend every day reading some of this in hopes that my eyes will continue to be fixed on Christ and not just because it’s the season for it with Easter approaching.
I am going to share a few part of this excerpt in hopes that you, too, can breathe, put aside the demands that threaten to suffocate us, and place our focus back on the One who is worthy.
- The story of the cross is proclaimed in all four Gospel books, and the first thing that strikes us is how much space it occupies in the overall narrative. It is clear that the evangelists had no interest in writing conventional biographies of Jesus. His childhood, adolescence, education, and early manhood are passed over in almost total silence. They preached “Christ crucified”. However important the teaching of Jesus, it is not there that his primary significance lay. Muslims may glory in the teaching of their prophet. Christians glory in the death of theirs. (Gal 6:14)
- Jesus was poor beyond our imagining, owning only the clothes he stood in; homeless, without a pillow for his head; oppressed by crowds demanding a sign and plying him with endless questions; often exhausted, as when he lay dead to the world in the stern of a tiny fishing boast caught in the eye of a fearful storm (Mark 4:38). He was misunderstood by his family, who feared for his sanity; pursued by the sick and their desperate relatives; stalked by the Pharisees with their undisguised hostility and their sly coadjutors with their entrapping conundrums (Mark 12:13). His whole life followed a pattern of rejection: rejection in “his own country”, Nazareth; rejection by the religious establishment; rejection in public opinion, always fickle; and rejection, at last, by his disciples, who all forsook him and fled.
- We skip lightly over he words “made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14) forgetting that he had come from “highest bliss down to such as a world as this: a world where he was surrounded on all sides by the sights of misery and wickedness, the sounds of profanity and blasphemy, and the stench of poverty, death, and corruption.
- At Jesus’ baptism, the Father acknowledges him as his beloved Son, but in words clearly reminiscent of the command to Abraham: “Take your son, your only son, whom you love – Isaac…and sacrifice him…as a burnt offering on a mountain that I will show you.” (Gen 22:2). Jesus was to be God’s Isaac. The words of John the Baptist, spoken shortly afterwards, confirmed that this was indeed the path Jesus was to tread. He was the Lamb of God bearing the sin of the world (John 1:29).
- When the crowd around the cross mocks (Mark 15:29), he must remember the voice which came from heaven and gave him honor and glory (2 Peter 1:17). It is as if Abba were saying “Son, in all you are now going to face, never forget who you are, never forget that I love you, and never forget how proud I am of you.” Whatever the pain of his ordeal, it would be a pain in which the Father would share.
- HE WILL NOT DIE IN VAIN!
I hope these thoughts and truths from the Word encourage your heart as much as they have been encouraging mine. May we ever keep our eyes on Jesus.