20100402 - Easter
- Today is Good Friday, the day that Jesus was tried, crucified, and buried. Easter will be here in just a couple days. With that in mind, I hope you will enjoy a devotional I wrote years before becoming a CF Devotional writer.
Luke 2:7 says "And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn." And so the birth of Christ . But wait this isn't Christmas, it's Easter! What gives? Well had it not been for Jesus laying humbly in a manger as a newborn, His ministry would not have begun. And if His ministry never began, it would not have taken him to the cross. Indeed his work would have never ended had it had never begun. And it was on the cross that it ended for he cried out, "It is finished!" And then he whispered, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." He screamed "It's done once and for all" as a proclamation to the world that the cure for sin lay before them and that its high price had been paid. And then he whispered more privately as a servant, "Dad, come get me I did what had to be done." But the story doesn't end there. If it did we wouldn't be showing up in large numbers in our nice new clothes Easter Sunday. Indeed, three days later Jesus reclaimed His life and rose from the grave having paid the debt sufficiently for us all.
We often hear that God is both loving and just but for me it just really clicked this week how He is both and always has been. First we see that God wanted someone to fellowship with so he created Adam and loved him above all other creations. He had simply spoke other creatures into being but, with this one of a kind being, God fashioned the body with His own hands then picked up the clay head and blew life into it. As I envision that scene in my own mind I can see even a small tear rolling off the face of God as he knows what the future will hold. In that creation we see love.
Following the story we come to Genesis 2:16-17. Here we find God's first commandment to man. "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." God gave man one rule and was clear on the penalty for disobedience. But man did not listen; man thought he knew better than God and so he broke the rule not fully realizing the extreme penalty involved. Man put himself first, betraying God's love. Then the consequences had to realized; life had to be taken away. Absolute death is complete removal of life both spiritually and physically. Mercifully, God allowed sheep to be used as a temporary physical payment by allowing animal life to delay the ultimate requirement for human life. For thousands of years animals paid for our sins but animals didn't really pay fully and so man was not restored totally to the relationship with God. That is why we see Lazarus and Abraham in paradise in the story Jesus tells in Luke 16. I think this paradise was probably a lot like the original Garden of Eden except man still did not walk with God. After all, the payment of human life had not been met by those spirits that dwelt there. Man had simply received the right to postpone final payment; the debt was still there we simply received "no payments, no interest finacing" until about 33 AD, We really needed a redeemer. One copy of the Bible that I have over Luke 2:36 says "Anna bears witness to the Redeemer". I like that because Jesus, indeed God himself according to John 1, came in human form to meet that obligation. He came and gave his own human life to satisfy the punishment He had demanded. Justice was done and the price of sin was paid but his love spared us from paying it ourselves. Many men have tried to pay that debt themselves. Those who paid on their own are with the rich man continuing to pay that debt with an eternity in Hell; they are still paying that debt. They lack the power to pay it and return because sin requires complete separation from life and from God.
Sin can not be traded for good deeds it must stand alone as its own transaction to fully satisfy the first command God gave. Jesus was separated from life completely, from his physical body and spiritually from God the Father but being God himself He was strong enough to meet that obligation and return to tell about it. He told others who told others and one once told me and now I share this great news with you. Jesus is alive and loves us all. If you have not come to him, let today be a celebration not just of His resurrection but of your own renewal as well. Accept his payment in your place.
The manger shows the compassion and mercy of God. The cross reflects God's love. And the empty tomb reveals his power. And each of these scenes show how His just and loving nature made the way for us to be restored to full fellowship with Him. Just as God had planned in the beginning.