Easter: From Darkness to Devotion
Imagine you were personally invited to follow Jesus during His earthly ministry.
You were with Him for three whole years. You witnessed Him turn water into wine, feed thousands with just a small amount of bread and fish. You saw Him walk on water, calm the seas, love the unlovable, heal the sick, the lame and the blind. He told you things about you that only you knew.
You saw Him pray for the entire world, predict His own death, get unjustly convicted of crimes He did not commit. You watched Him get beat to a bloody pulp and then get crucified.
You watched His bloodied flesh and bones get placed in a tomb, and you knew this incredible ride was over. He was dead and so were your hopes and dreams. For three long days you believed it had all ended.
We’ve all been there in some way or another. Sometimes it’s a dream full of hope that only lasts a couple of days until we realize we’ve been conned or duped—and we feel like an idiot. How many folks have gotten the invite for that free steak dinner (I still get them)? The one where you get an awesome meal but it comes with some sales pitch that promises to make you rich and then all your worries will be gone? For me it was the marketing of water filters, and then flipping houses, and the list goes on. You pay the start-up fees only to find out it’s some multi-level marketing scheme. The only way you will ever make any money is if you con the next guy.
For others, you’ve spent a lifetime investing your time and hard work into the company that is making an impact on the world, only to find out they didn’t really care about you after all. They only cared about the bottom line and lining their own pockets. You feel like a fool; part of you is angry, disillusioned, and you wonder what you could have done differently.
Can you imagine the disciples? Heartbroken, some of them simply went back to their fishing boats, wondering why in the world they bought into a message and a whole new way of life for it all to be for naught. I’m sure the Jews in the local synagogue were having a field day with this one. “That guy Jesus was a fake. He was able to pull off a few magic tricks but in the end, He’s gone, along with His band of clueless followers.” “They should have known God only cares about us following the rules and that there’s no grace that can ever make up for our sins. This guy Jesus said he’d pay for our sins—and look where He is now. Good grief.”
And then…the unbelievable happens!
Jesus rises from the dead and He is alive again.
You spend time again with Him but this time He is in a risen state. You see Him ascend into the sky and you receive something called the Holy Spirit. Several years later, you and some of the other guys you hung out with begin to write your individual accounts of your time with Jesus.
When you read Matthew, Mark, Like, John, Acts, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation from the New Testament, you are reading the results of spending three entire years with God in the flesh.
Think about this when you take in the excitement, the hurt, the affection, the discipline, and the devotion brought to life through these words which were recorded 2,000 years ago. There's a reason these books of the Bible are so loved by some and so hated by others.
Going back to Jesus’ final days for just a moment, He gave his last message to some non-Jews and it can be found in John 12.
In kind of a reversal of Andrew and Philip being invited to follow Jesus, some Greeks ask these two disciples to see Jesus. Jesus proceeds to tell everyone listening:
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. The one who loves his life loses it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it to eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” (John 12:23-26)
I think Jesus took this final time to let His disciples and others know, “ I’ve got this. It’s going to be okay.” He knew He had to die, be buried, and then rise again to bear much fruit. It was also an exhortation to His disciples that like Him, we must all allow the old self to die, be born again, and die to self every day. In the end, although we will physically die, we can know our lives will bear much fruit. And as we let go of this earthly life we will experience an eternal life with Him that will never end.
Let this Easter be something more than just a time to celebrate Jesus' death and Resurrection, but also to truly appreciate all that we’ve been given because of it. Let’s take heart that "He’s got this” and there is nothing that will pay better dividends than to spend the remainder of our days on earth serving and telling others about this guy, whose name is Jesus.