Holy Week Pain, Easter Morning Joy.

“It is finished,” the famous words uttered by Jesus Christ himself as he hung on the cross with his human body dying. This time of year makes me ponder those words as Easter is fast approaching. It is finished; the absolute finality of those words leaves me in awe. The sins of mankind heaped upon the back of the Son of God. Incredible that he was able to take such a heavy burden, one that any other human in history will never be strong enough to handle.
Jesus faced his father turning his back on him because he couldn’t look upon him so full of sin, which is the ultimate form of rejection. When I sit back I realize that even those who don’t believe in God can get a lot from the message of Easter. A man who was once beloved now is despised and subjected to cruelty and humiliation while he slowly died in front of spectators. He never once lost his poise and self control; he just forgave and took his unjust punishment. The images that flash through my mind are powerful; the tug on my heart its powerfully overwhelming. I would never wish that fate on anyone not even an enemy, but here is the story of a man I love being beaten until he drew his last breath.
A non-believer must feel some compassion for this man I would hope. It has been proven in history that Jesus walked the earth. For the believer Easter comes in roaring like a lion in the field, the joy is captivating, He is Risen! However, before that joy we have to walk the path of pain, the very path that leads us to the cross. Without that we have no reason to be so joyful. Back to “It is Finished”, don’t those words make you shudder a little?
When something is final we can breathe a sigh of relief — that term paper is done, the dinner is cooked, the master’s degree is complete. Relief floods us at these times in our lives. When Jesus uttered those words, was relief flooding him? His task was completed; he successfully took the worlds sins upon his back. I would imagine his sigh of relief was one I don’t have the capability to understand. He took the sins of everyone living that day as well as everyone before and after who would live on this earth. One man, God’s own son, took all that sin paying the price that we all deserve to pay. We are human, we sin every single day, and we deserve to die; yet he took that burden from us, effectively freeing us. That is powerful, that is love.
Does my life reflect the immense love that Christ showed me on the cross that day? This plagues me every day, particularly at Easter because I am reminded of the enormity of the cross. We all go through our daily lives, some days are more of a struggle than others, but peace ultimately is there, why fear anything? God is with us walking with us, facing the giants with us, never are we alone. There are times in life that doesn’t seem true. God can walk with us and beside us holding our hands. God leads us, he even at times carries us. God doesn’t move, but we do. I know in my life, let me paraphrase an old hymn “my heart is prone to wonder.” I need God to take it, and seal it. When life bogs us down we tend to shrink back from God, sometimes even blaming him.
However, he can take it, he can even take our anger. I know I have gone through my times of extreme anger at God. I ask why did he take my kids before I could kiss their little faces? Why do I have this disease that is taking my body? Why was I sexually assaulted in college? Why has my life been surrounded with death? I can’t count the times I screamed my pain at God, screaming until I grow weary. My anger at times has blinded me to fact that God was carrying me though those times, if he wasn’t I would not be here today. He picked me up, and carried me to the other side of grief so I could fully face him again. I have lost my joy at times in life, who hasn’t? The joy returns when I return to the cross, to the foundation of who I am.
God has given me the ability to love others, to share joy with others, to write about my pain to help others through it, he has blessed me with a great love in my life, and with a family that surrounds me in love. Yes, I have had immense pain, but I have also had tremendous joy. Sin entered the world, sin causes pain, Jesus however banished that allowing joy to come in. My sins I must confess, for he paid the price for them, it is finished.
Easter week is emotional for me, my heart hurts for what Jesus went through. I can’t stand to watch any movie that depicts it; it’s like watching my father being killed slowly while spectators spit on him. It is too much, my heart physically hurts, tears flow. I love that man, he did this for me, for you, for all. Did he deserve to die like that? The answer is a resounding No; he was without sin. This brings me to Easter Morning, he has risen, he overcame death, sin, rejection, his father can now look upon him, it’s pure joy, it was indeed finished! The pain of the week before is gone; there is only joy in the morning. “God is not dead, he is alive, roaring like a LION!” (Newsboys, Gods Not Dead, 2012). Stop to listen, you can hear the roar in every hug. Love is triumphant!