Sunday, April 5, 2015

Cursed No More

I have fond memories of this time of the year from my childhood.  The dogwoods would be in bloom scattered  in the front yard and in the woods behind the house.  There were azaleas with their crimson colors, the heavenly scented lavender wisteria draping the trees behind the house produced a virtual wisteria wonderland. Tulips lifted their colorful heads to the sun.  Spring and the promise of new life was depicted by every throbbing molecule of creation.   Every year we had a new outfit for Easter Sunday.  As children that included an Easter bonnet as well.  We dyed eggs and got Easter baskets on Sunday morning. There was usually a special meal at lunch that typically included ham and potato salad.  It was fun to have the new clothes and to eat the candy and hunt eggs.  But as a child, that was pretty much it.

I am not knocking my childhood, but there is so much more to the story.  I do not believe it is by accident that Jesus died in the Spring of the year.  After the long dark winter, life is renewed.  After man's long dark winter of death brought about by the disobedience in the garden, Jesus steps on the scene at the pinnacle of history and dies on a cross so that man can be born again spiritually to new and abundant life.  

Almost every Easter at church we sang He Arose ! I loved the drama of the song.  But once again my heart and mind were blind to the revelation that He did indeed arise and that makes all the difference in the world and for eternity.  

The story starts in a garden with God.  Adam and Eve are in perfect harmony with their Creator.  God gave them one rule.  Don't eat from one tree.  The punishment is physical and spiritual death.  They choose to usurp the authority of God and He makes good on His word.  He always does.  But from the beginning God makes the first promise that He will be the one to fix the problem.  He says that Satan will bruise the heel of the seed of the woman but that "The Seed" will crush Satan's head.  Strange promise unless you know the rest of the story.  God follows through on His work of "Saving Man".  He chooses a man, Abraham, and makes promises to him. Through Abraham's family the promises become more and more clear.  There are pictures like the story of Passover, the sacrificial system of the Temple,  and the serpent on the pole.  There are prophecies in Psalms, Isaiah, Micah, Zechariah and other places adding more clues to the story.  

Finally, at just the right time God does something astounding.  He comes to earth as a baby and forever Jesus identifies with us as the God Man.  Fully God and He is yet fully Man.  He fulfills the Old Testament prophecies including riding into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey.  He came proclaiming by His actions that He was the king.  He was "The King" coming in peace  But before the week was over, He was rejected and lied about and placed on a cross.  But all of this was not because He lacked the power to stop it.  It was for this reason that He came.  He came to willingly lay down His sinless self to pay the death penalty for our sins.  He was the Seed of the Woman who was temporarily subjected to death.  But in the end He crushed Satan and He crushed death.  When He rose on that third day.  He proved that death had no power over Him and He had defeated death for us as well. 

Because of His work of redemption, every person can be freed from the power of sin.  It is over!  The curse in the garden has been reversed for those willing to come by faith and turn from their sinful self and believe the good news that Jesus has paid our penalty and now He offers us new life and restored fellowship with God.  

I do not have to be enslaved to me or my mean selfish ways any longer.  Yes, there is a promise of
eternal life forever.  But true eternal life is knowing God.  I have hope and I know love.  It is more than enough! He is risen indeed.

 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.