Friday, March 29

Agony and Ecstasy and Easter

 Artists and decorators will tell you that using colors opposite to one another on the color wheel gives you maximum impact.  Have you ever noticed this is true emotionally as well?  When you are crying at a funeral, and someone shares a funny story about the deceased, you tend to laugh harder.  When you are all worked up with some fear, and suddenly blessed relief appears, you can burst into sobs as the emotions overlap before the calm of acceptance sets in.

The cross combines the most intense emotions of any other event in history--agony and ecstasy.  There is a terrible, piercing grief in knowing that it is my sin that forced Jesus to endure the punishment I deserve.  The beatings, the spitting, the mocking, the crown of thorns, the shredded back slammed down on a rough wooden cross, the enormous nails pounded through innocent flesh, the cross lifted and dropped into a prepared hole and braced with hammered supports as his wrists and feet bore the impact of every thud--all my fault.  Agony to know his agony was because of me.  

And then there is the ecstasy of knowing I'm saved, guilt-free because the penalty has been paid and perfect justice rendered.  The  ecstasy of being lavished with an indescribable love by the true God and the guarantee of eternal life with him in heaven--this is joy beyond all imagination!
Perhaps only a parent can begin to understand the agony of a Father who refrained from intervention while his child was being mercilously tortured.   It is beyond understanding that God found that the cross also held ecstasy because of his love for us and the triumph over Satan.

Ephesians 1:7-9
In him we have  redemption through his blood,the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us.  With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ....

"Grace that he lavished on us..."--what an understatement!  There are simply no words to describe!  This is ecstasy for us!  And for God?  "...according to his good pleasure....:  How can it be?

The Bible records no cry of pain for the excruciating physical torture he endured, which is contrary to every human instinct.  Perhaps he did cry out--some piercing animal wail as the nails were driven into his flesh, but the Bible only records one sound of agony.  In the story of the cross in Matthew 27:46  it says, "About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, '....My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'"  His greatest agony was a break in his connection with the Father because he had embodied my sins.

I Peter 2:24
He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

Surely doing the will of God brought Jesus fulfillment, but it also brought him joy.

Hebrews 12:2
For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus was happy to die for us.  What he accomplished by dying on the cross supersedes every other divine act, every miracle from creation on.  That it was worth  it to him, that he was happy to do it in spite of dreading it to the point of sweating drops of blood (Luke 22:44), is incomprehensible.
There is an agony, a brokenness when you fall in love with Jesus and then accept as fully as you can the price he had to pay for your sins.  But there is great ecstasy in accepting his forgiveness and friendship!  This is ecstasy:

Colossians 1 19, 20
For God was pleased  to have all his fullness dwell in him [Jesus], and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

It is great that a holiday forces awareness on a skeptical world that we believe Jesus lived and died on this earth to free us from the penalty of our sins.  Certainly the heart of every individual Christian celebrates this fact daily.  We have the blessing of celebrating together every time we share communion.  And now we have a yearly reminder that reaches beyond our private devotions and beyond the fellowship we share because of his death.  Happy Easter! 

This article was written by my friend Linda Brumley and is posted on her Beggar's Purse website... she is an incredible woman of God and I am so encouraged always by her teachings, her insight and her wisdom.....Thank you Linda... you are a gift from God!

No comments: