The kids made these Easter crosses in Children's Worship last Sunday. Each item is from the account of Jesus' death and resurrection, and serve as reminders... though I don't remember all that they are to remind us of, and can't remember where I put the card that they brought home with their crosses.
Oh, the irony.
But, I do remember why I celebrate this Easter.
Jesus endured torture beyond belief for me. He had done nothing wrong, but he was sentenced to a horrific death. A death that paid for my sin.
He was betrayed by one of his disciples, Judas, for 30 pieces of silver.
He was tried, but kept quiet. He didn't plead His innocence, or fight back.
The people who were praising Him just a week earlier, were now the people calling out for His death.
His beard was ripped from His face, he was whipped and beaten; to the point of being unrecognizable.
He was mocked, and the soldiers placed a crown of thorns on his head, and a purple robe on his bleeding body.
He carried His cross to Golgatha, where He was nailed to it through His wrists and feet. He lived that agony for 3 hours.
After crucifying Jesus, the soldiers cast lots (dice) for His clothes.
He was only offered a sponge dipped in vinegar to wet His parched mouth.
Even in the midst of the undeserved pain, Jesus asked His Father to forgive them, because they didn't know what they were doing.
After He had taken his final breath, the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and blood and water poured out.
He was wrapped and buried in a tomb; sealed with a big stone.
On the morning of the third day, Mary and Mary Magdalene went to the tomb to anoint Jesus' body.
What they found is the reason I celebrate. The tomb was empty. Jesus had risen. It's the reason I have hope, peace, and am able to love others. It's the answer to the question, "What's different about you?"
The difference is Jesus.
I have a sticker on my fridge that reads, "It's not a religion, it's a relationship." My love for Jesus isn't reserved for Sunday mornings and holidays. That's religion. My love for Jesus isn't shown through memorized or repeated prayers. That's religion. My love for Jesus isn't lived out through traditions. That's religion. My love for Jesus isn't a cookie cutter lifestyle of other Christians. That's religion.
My love for Jesus is lived out in my love for others because He loved me first. He doesn't want to just see me in church on Sunday mornings, He wants me to walk with Him and talk to Him though the week, and not with the 'thees' and 'thous.'
I shared a personal revelation in Bible study last week that, for me, hits the nail on the head.
I've long struggled with the fact that God called David a man after His own heart. Sure, David killed Goliath, but he also had a man put in the front line of battle so he would die, allowing him to marry the man's wife. How is that OK? Well, it's not. God even sent someone to tell David it wasn't.
But as I read through the book Psalms, penned by David, it hit me. He was a man after God's heart because he had a relationship with God. David praised God throughout everything, and trusted Him, yes, but he also cried out and questioned Him. He was brutally honest with God, holding nothing back. He went to God in the good times and the bad. David was completely human, with human struggles, and he didn't go to God just when he needed Him, only ignore him during the good times. He didn't turn away from God when he was at his lowest of lows - he ran to Him.
God wants a relationship with us. He wants all of us. The good and the bad. Don't hold back. He promises that if we seek Him with all that we are, He will meet us.
Last week, Trevor was baptized! He's been wanting to for a while, and missed the last baptism Sunday, but the day finally came!
There's a verse that says when we are baptized, we join with Christ in His death. Being immersed is dying to our self, and coming up is the new life in Him. Our sins washed away, and we are made whole. None of which would be possible without God loving us first, and sending His only Son to pay the price that we could never pay.