Easter – The beginning of the end
That my God should die for me
I can still remember the exact spot I stood a few years back, when I first heard the words from the Wesley hymn ‘And can it be’ (although it was the slightly more upbeat version by the band Phatfish). I’d been a Christian for just under ten years by this time. I understood grace, I was born again and I loved Jesus. However, when I heard the words ‘That my God should die for me’ they hit me like a hammer, tears rolled down my face. You see, I knew that Jesus the man had died for me, and believe me, I was grateful, but when it occurred to me that God himself had died for me, I was truly undone.
Think about it. The most powerful being that ever was and ever will be, He who can create a universe that we still can’t see the end of, who can create life itself, this ‘person’ dies for you and me. Not only that, but we scorned Him, we laughed as He died and suffered and turned our backs on Him, spat at His feet (yes, if you have ever sinned then you have done all this). So not only is he the most important being that has ever been, but we are the most hateful. Would the Queen give her life to save a virus that was going to make her suffer? Not a great analogy I know, but it’s the closest I can think of.
I’m trying to express the enormity of what happened that first Easter and what happens each time a non-believer surrenders their life to Christ. Each time I think about it, it leaves me speechless! I utterly have no adequate response.
Ultimate leadership, ultimate God
I am shortly due to attend my inspector’s public order course. The last time I attended shield training was at Hounslow about two decades ago! My memories of the inspectors position in public order training then was somewhere at the back, well away from the action, barking orders at the sergeants, who, in turn, then barked orders at the PCs who themselves had all the bricks and petrol bombs thrown at them.
The Met is short of public order inspectors at the moment, so I volunteered thinking, well at least it won’t be as dangerous as when I was a PC. Perhaps they even put inspectors in control rooms these days leading via the heli-telly! Then I got talking to an inspector colleague, who, to my horror, informed me that nowadays, they put inspectors at the front of the serial! (I’m in my 50s, what was I thinking)
But this is like our God. Easter separates our faith from all others. In no other religion do their ‘gods’ step down into earth and die for the people they created and love. This is true leadership, leading from the front at its ultimate extreme. Not the demanding do, do, do of other religions but the done, done, done of the God of grace. God not only leads his public order serial from the front, but he tells his PSU to go home and relax, he’ll sort out the riots himself and give his life in the process! Now that’s a God I can truly and freely love!
The apostle Paul sums it up in Romans 5:7-8
“Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”
Not only death, but life also
As Paul put it, if Jesus never rose from the grave then we (Christians) are of all people to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:19). The hope of all those who follow Jesus is pinned to that one act of resurrection. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then we are still in our sins and condemnation rests upon us.
But the truth is that Jesus did rise again! Death was defeated on that first Easter and hope reigns supreme. And if you have turned to Jesus, all this is yours at no cost to you. No more striving to keep a demanding law, we have guaranteed eternal life with Jesus.
Police officers sadly witness some of the worst depths that humanity can stoop to, and it seems like new depths are being invented daily. But the truth is that everything, even the worst tragedies, pale into insignificance when you see your life in the perspective of Easter. This is why Paul commands us to ‘Rejoice Always’ (Philippians 4:4 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
There is no greater event in history, we are now in end times and they are glorious. So my brothers and sisters, this Easter and every day, Rejoice, I say again rejoice!
If you don’t yet know the joy of surrendering everything to the one who gave it all that first Easter, then ask Jesus into your heart today. He won’t turn anyone away!