The Upward Look, by Jon Forrest
Many years ago at the height of Operation Desert Storm, Ruth Dillow received a very sad message from the Pentagon. The message stated that her son, Clayton had stepped on a landmine in Kuwait and was killed. Ruth later wrote these words, "I can't begin to describe my grief and shock. It was almost more than I could bear. For 3 days I just wept. I expressed anger and loss. For 3 days people tried to comfort me, but nothing worked ... the loss was simply too great.
But 3 days after she received that message the phone rang. The voice on the other end said, "Mom, it's me." It's Clayton. I'm alive. Ruth said, I couldn't believe it at first. But then I recognized his voice and realized he really was alive. The message was all a mistake. She said, "I laughed, I cried, I felt like turning cartwheels because my son who I thought was dead was actually alive."
Holy week is a preparation of the heart for God’s most incredible demonstration of power and love ever known to man. Good Friday is the culmination of sorrow because we are reminded of the horrific sacrifice God made with the death of his perfect, loving Son. Jesus was tried in a kangaroo court and convicted of blasphemy and sent to the Roman governor to be tried and executed in the most torturous manner possible. The same crowd that had praised him as Messiah, a few days prior, was now crying out for his blood. “Crucify Him! Crucify him!” they screamed. Ultimately, Pilot, who admitted he could find no fault in Jesus, gave into the mob, washed his hands and sentenced an innocent man to crucifixion on a Roman cross.
Jesus was repeatedly beaten, flogged, spat upon and ridiculed as he carried His own cross up the hill to his own place of execution. We know that the beatings had taken such a toll that a man named Simon was pulled out of the crowd to carry it the rest of the way. They nailed his hands and feet to the cross and lifted him up to be watched and mocked by the crowd. After a miserable few hours of suffering, Jesus died, was taken down and placed in a borrowed tomb and left there.
His mother and most of his disciples watched this spectacle of judgement in horror. Some of them helped to take his body down and lay him in the tomb. There was nothing left for them to do but mourn. And mourn they did. Adding to their depression was the fear that, with the execution of their Lord, they might be next; so, they did their best to stay out of sight. All their hopes and dreams had been hung on that cross and were snuffed out with the death of the One they loved.
Easter, is the BIG DAY! I prefer the title RESURRECTION SUNDAY! That following Sunday morning some of the women, who were followers of Jesus, went to the tomb desiring to anoint his body with spices and perfume to complete the burial process which had been rushed because of the Passover which began the evening of his crucifixion. They hoped someone could roll the giant stone away for them but, were amazed to find it already pushed back. Once inside, they were stunned to see that his body was no longer there. Before the day was over Mary and the disciples, in separate instances would meet Jesus, face to face and realize that he had risen back to life!
The reaction of the disciples and Jesus’ family had to be at least as powerful as that of Mrs. Dillow when she received that phone call from her son. Except that she had only heard about her son’s death. The people who saw Jesus risen had watched him die and buried him in the tomb. Now, they could celebrate like never before.
You had I did not get the benefit of watching Jesus die and seeing him raised from the dead. However, those of us who follow him today had the experience of being dead in our sins and being raised with and by Jesus to a new life Him. That is a powerful result of what happened on the Holy Week.
When you and I received that power into our lives we experienced Holy Week in person.
He Rose so You Rose!
This Sunday, Resurrection Sunday, the church family will celebrate along with Christ Followers all over the world that Jesus conquered sin and death in His resurrection. But he didn’t just do it for himself. He did it for you and me. We will share another sermon in our “Signs” series with a message titled “The Ultimate Sign of Christ / He’s Alive” from John 20 I hope that you will be a part of this exciting Celebration of the King!
Celebrating with you,