"When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself."
This week is my favorite week in ministry. The four Gospels, which tell the story of Jesus' life and teachings, spend more time on one week than on any other period in Jesus' life. That one week is the week leading up to Jesus' death and resurrection.
Once a year, we spend time remembering and celebrating Jesus' path to glory. He came into the capital city, Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, praised by a chorus of regular people (including kids with palm branches). He went to the temple and acted out God's judgment on false religion. He was arrested and tried, acting out God's judgment on oppressive government.
And then he was stripped and whipped, mocked and abandoned, and nailed to a cross in an execution that doubled as a public display of shame and pain.
All of this was part of his plan--a plan to give himself up out of love for us, to save us. "Christ loved us and gave himself up for us" (Ephesians 5:2). "Our great God and Savior Jesus Christ gave himself for us to redeem us" (Titus 2:13-14). He didn't want to die. But he did want to live a life as one of us, in humility and service, all the way up to the bitter end. So he chose to bear the pain and death that we all face, so that nothing would separate us from God's love (Philippians 2:7-8; Romans 8:38-39).
He chose to bear the pain and death that we all face, so that nothing would separate us from God's love.
We had a great Passover experience on Wednesday, celebrating God's salvation of his people from slavery and also acting out Jesus' final Passover meal. Called the Last Supper, this was Jesus' last chance to remind his followers that he was going to love them in life and in death, with his body and with his blood, in order to give us an eternal connection with God.
As I write, we are gearing up for a Good Friday service at Christian Church of Waterford, where we will spend some time in memory of what Jesus did for us on the cross.
And then comes Easter Sunday--my favorite morning of the year--when I wake up early and my heart starts to pound, celebrating the day that Jesus rose from the dead and broke the powers of evil and death forever. We will participate in the community Sunrise Service at 6:30 a.m. on the Ligonier Diamond, then come to our own special Easter service at 10 a.m. at the church.
The grave is empty. Death is defeated. Life wins. Love wins. And all because Jesus walked the painful path to glory, and blazed a trail for us follow, through suffering and death and out the other side.
Christ is risen.
The glorious Easter season is upon us. April 9 we are celebrating Easter, with a community sunrise service at the Ligonier Diamond and a special breakfast and service at the church.
Thanks to all who made our Wednesday evening Passover-plus-Last-Supper experience so wonderful!
April 14-16, the weekend after Easter, is a Youth Spring Retreat at Camp Christian. Let us know if you know anybody grades 6-12 who is interested in going.