Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne,

   steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.

Psalm 89: 14

What a strange way to crown a king. The party atmosphere that preceded the coronation itself has been replaced by the angry shouts of a lynch mob. The joyous gathering of family and friends that culminates in the Passover meal has turned somber with the foreboding shadow of betrayal hanging in the room. The night itself is filled with prayer, but these are not the hopeful expressions of a dream of a future of freedom and peace, but instead, they are the anguished cries of the teacher as He faces the torture ahead with absent friends and the sure knowledge of that necessary abandonment by the Father, too. In this ridiculous and scandalous ceremony, Jesus stands singularly suitable to obtain this crown and to sit upon the only righteous and just throne that has or will ever exist in this world.

If these fundamental characteristics that are the expression of the rule of a true king are to be found among us, then they must come from their source, and this is God, Himself. Outside of God’s touch and the provision of His grace, there exist only shadows of what is right and just in our world. There are times when people may attempt to act in such a way, and these moments of peace tend to last for short periods of time, but in the end, the powers of evil that attempt to control all of this place will gain some portion of control, and their chaos will return to cause those peaceful systems of rule to topple over. As people attempt to grasp onto those crumbling icons of goodness and mercy, we are usually left with nothing other than shards of broken stones held tenuously in our fingers. Yet, when we hold onto the mystically tangible presence of Christ in our lives, we find that our hands are being held in the sure grip of the Eternal King.

This is a King who loves each of us with a passion so intense and a love so lasting that He was willing to endure all of the agony and the anguish of that awful coronation in order to establish and perfect God’s plan for redemption for any of us who will accept Him and for the entirety of creation as well. Here we have King Jesus upon His rightful throne of grace, mercy, peace, righteousness, and unfailing love where He pours out God’s true and eternal justice upon this needy world. That bloody crown that was provided by humanity three days prior has been replaced by an unperishable one formed out of the glory of heaven. The wounds in the flesh are still visible, but now rather than bringing about a reminder of pain and death, they provide a soothing touch of healing to anyone who turns to Christ, even to those of us who have participated in placing those painful thorns on His sinless head. Today Christ sits upon His victor’s throne, the blazing light of righteousness surrounds His presence while His voice calls out to all people to come to Him and be healed of all that is hurt, damaged, and broken in our bodies, hearts and minds.  

And light will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Revelation 22: 5

 

Darkness is a theme that hovers over this day in our Christian calendar, for Good Friday is the heaviest day of the year in emotional content and with its blanket of harsh reality. This day is loaded with the most significant darkness before the dawn content of any day in earth’s history. This is that point when all of our rebellion against God’s reign and struggle to find our own way in a world that was created to fully support our journey but was not quite sufficient for us in our own appraisal of things came to a singular point of focus. Anger, violence, and death had their pinnacle moment, and their intense gathering in was aimed with laser point intensity on all that is love and was set to attempt to destroy the one who promised life where death had conspired to appropriate control.

 

As we know the next aspects of this story, we recognize that the darkness was temporary. Sight was returned to our darkened eyes in the dawn of resurrection, and that brought with it the absolute overthrow of death’s power over life. But death and its darkness are still with us. We are subject to the pain that comes with loss of loved ones, and we all enter into the process whereby our bodies and our minds move away from full vitality and head in various degrees and at an individual pace into decline and decay. In this world we do not know immortality, but through Christ, we can go into the darkness of death in this life and then follow Him and join with Christ in the glorious light of the dawn of our own eternity. Christ endured the deepest darkness possible so that we would not be required to know that sort of painful separation from God.

 

Now, in Christ, we can dwell today in the radiant light of salvation while we also look forward in the certain hope of eternity with God. We will see that day that is promised by Christ in the Revelation account. We will know the pure joy when all sin ceases to be as Creation is made anew into the form, shape, and function that was God’s intent at the inception of it all. Christ has claimed our eternity for each of us who turn to Him. In Him and by His Spirit we walk today in the presence of this great and unceasing light. Although the physical properties of our world still require various forms and sources of light to grant to us the sight that we need to navigate our way, Christ gives us a form of the same light that will eliminate the need for any other in that final restoration, and He fills our hearts, minds, and souls with it today. Even on this darkest of days in our calendar, the glory of Christ’s redemption fills the world and illuminates the path that we are to follow.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.

Matthew 27: 48

 

Noon to three in the afternoon. These are the peak hours of the day, especially in the courts of the temple in Jerusalem on the eve of the Passover Sabbath when the sacrificial sheep were slaughtered. Now something profound was happening. Here was the final lamb, the ultimate sacrifice that would end the need for there to be any more, and He was hanging in the agony of crucifixion on a Roman cross. God’s desire for reconciliation with His creation was gaining its full expression in the pain that the human form of Jesus was enduring in His flesh and in the agony that His spirit attained as the separation from the Father was fully realized in those moments when the penalty for the sinful rebelliousness of humanity were placed onto the innocent back of the Messiah. Nothing that we can endure in our most desperate experience of life comes close to the sorrowful anguish that must have filled Jesus or the deep grief that overtook the Father in this hour.

 

The sky became supernaturally darkened as the shroud of loss obscured the source of all light, and then everything turned in a new direction. The deathbed vigil ends as Jesus surrenders the life-fight of man and enters into the rest of the fallen. Yet, this death is victory, and this loss is humanity’s gain. The fatal divide between God and people is no longer present, and even the classes and categories of people that our sinful desires had produced were abolished and dissolved in a moment. Here on this hill in an insignificant land at the far end of the earth’s greatest empire occurred the holy reconciliation that no human could have produced and that nothing else in history has come close to matching in its significance or impact upon what life in this world means. The people of this earth are granted the gift of grace that opens the door to forgiveness for all that we have thought and done in opposition to God and to His righteousness. In this crucified Jesus, this risen Christ, we are all taken out of the living death of our births and placed by Christ into life in the total and full expression of its loving embrace.

 

For it is true that the human tools that broke the body of Jesus did nothing more than free creation from the slavery that had encased it in its icy grip of death. The body that surrendered to that sacrificial death was soon raised by God into life, and the life that Christ enjoys has become the same life that fills the souls of all who turn to Him in repentance and in submission to our Lord. In so doing we enter through the cross of Christ into the tomb of surrender and submission of our selves to God’s righteousness, and in our own experience of His resurrection we are given a new and transformed form of existence that now begins to accurately reflect the God-image design of God’s original intent for humanity. In Christ we are taken out of the darkness of the fallen world so that our hearts, minds, and spirits no longer dwell in that fearful shadow land. Now we join with our risen Lord in His victory over all that oppresses and destroys in this world, and our lives can sing out the praises of our God who saves all who come to Him.

 

 

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.”

Matthew 28: 5

 

It is the dawn of a new day, and life has become even more uncertain than it had been before. For the people who came to the tomb where Jesus had been placed, it is doubtful that they really knew what they would be doing or how it was all going to go from that moment forward. Life had been turned upside down and inside out. Yet, the answer to their concerns had already been set into motion by God. In fact, they had been living in the proceeding of that answer for some time before the great and disturbing events of the prior week. They had walked with Jesus and now they were witnesses to and participants in the next chapter in this story of redemption for all of creation.

 

On that morning, the first words that the angel says to the women are, “Do not be afraid.” This messenger that God had sent knew what was going on in the hearts of the people that he encountered. He was aware of the fear and the concern that filled them, and he knew of the courage that coming to that place at that time required. The situation that these women found themselves in was not all that different from where most of us find ourselves at various times in our lives. We are facing uncertainty, there is risk to be found in the actions that we are faced with taking, and yet we stand on the edge of great and wonderful things.

 

Jesus was the answer on that long ago morning, and He still is now. That tomb, that place of death and symbol of loss, was empty then and it still is just as empty now. Jesus is alive, and the life that He knows is the same life that God grants to every one of us who accepts it as the ultimate gift from heaven that it is. We may approach that place of decision with fear and uncertainty in our hearts and on our minds; yet, Christ answers those concerns with an overwhelming love and grace that can come only from God who is their singular source in the universe. All people are granted their mornings before the empty tomb of Christ; it is up to each of us to respond. After that hour of acceptance, it is still our decision to engage with this life that we have with the fearlessness that is Christ’s on-going gift of love to His people.

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Colossians 1: 13, 14

 

The Easter season is a time when many things come to mind. Regardless of the exact date for Easter Sunday, this time of year marks the beginning of Spring in the northern hemisphere and the start of Autumn in the southern one. For me this seasonal change is always welcome as it brings about newness by way of different colors and aromas in nature and the promise of different activities to come. Of course, Easter is a time of special remembrance and celebration in the world of the Christian church. Something very important happened in our history, and that event is perhaps the most worthy of any for us to focus our attention upon and our worship around.

 

This is the point in history when God’s plan for redemption and restoration came into full view. Until that first Easter, the Father had promised a way for people to come into an unbreakable relationship with Him, and He had provided His Son, Jesus, as the prophetically proclaimed Messiah who would bring about that permanent reconciliation. Now in a flurry of human anger and violence, the sinless Lamb of God was taken to that fulfillment on the cross, and God’s victory over the shroud of death that had covered all of creation was made full as it was torn away. As we surrender ourselves to Christ, we enter into that same escape from the eternal covering that buries us alive in the darkness of the grave. Christ cuts the shroud away from our souls and sets us free.

 

In our freedom we are new beings. We are a people who have a dwelling place in the Kingdom of God both now on earth and in eternity. The full price for our freedom that was required by a righteous God has been paid by Christ so that we are absolutely and totally redeemed from sin’s sentence of death. Now, in Christ, we have the gift of the light of the Spirit to illuminate our understanding of God’s purposes and plans. The glory of heaven penetrates into the darkness of the world so that we can know the way of God’s will for each of us. This redeemed nature, Christ in us, demands that we live in a manner that celebrates the miracle of Easter as our normal way of conducting life. As Christ has delivered us from death into life; so, we can share the story of that redemption and its freedom with a world that cries out for salvation.

Rescue me and deliver me out of the hands of aliens, whose mouth speaks deceit, and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.

Psalm 144: 11

 

The Easter story is a tale right out of the action adventure genre. It is an epic saga of people who have been taken captive, and who are being held by an evil ruler who provides no real means of escape. The evil jailer does his job very well, indeed! He convinces these people that they are not actually being held against their wills; He tricks, deceives, and bullies his prisoners into actually joining in his cause. They not only stop seeking their own freedom but they also join in the process of deceiving others into defending the walls of their prison against the attempts by free people to break through and set them all free.

 

Make no mistake, for even with its beautiful decoration and its coat of fresh paint, the world that Satan has trapped humankind in is the darkest and the most oppressive dungeon that exists. Still, the hero of this story has powers, serious powers that He chooses to use to defeat the ruler of this world of pain and death. Jesus came into this world on a mission of rescue. He came to bring out to eternal freedom every captive that was being held and that would ever be held in this spiritual jail. However not all of us want to be rescued, and some refuse to leave, for leaving requires trust, faith, and acceptance of God’s truth. Some people continue to live under the delusion of Satan’s lies, and they often view the rescuer as the enemy and their jailer as their friend. This is where the Hero’s greatest weapon needs to be used.

 

Christ brings the love of all Creation into this world; for, He brings the love that God, the Father, has in abundance to dwell in the lives of people. Christ’s Spirit provides us with the ability to understand the great and deep truths of His word, and His word instructs us in how to love and care for the people that we encounter. It is the sworn duty of everyone who knows Christ to spend our days touching the world with this love. As we have been rescued and set free from the personal hell-on-earth prison where we were born, we are to spend the rest of our days breaking through those same walls, bringing the light of Christ into the darkened cells of Satan’s empire, and claiming God’s beloved creation back into the freedom that it was intended to enjoy.