We are in the middle of the most difficult week to date. With the coronavirus, officials predict this week we will have more heartache, yet at the same time, renewed hope. The death rate will climb but the curve will begin to be flattened. Heartache will slowly begin its turn toward hope on our collective roller coaster ride of emotions.
But this isn’t the first time this particular week has been the most difficult. Two thousand years ago, this week–now called Holy Week–was the hardest one in Jesus’ short life. The adoration of the crowds on Palm Sunday quickly shifted. Within the span of a few days, the chief priests plotted to arrest Him and kill Him, and Judas made a secret deal to betray Him.
By the end of the week, He was tortured and killed. Jesus was forced to carry His cross down the Via Dolorosa (Way of Pain and Suffering) to Calvary. The hope that brought joy to His followers turned to heartache and despair. Talk about a roller coaster of emotions.
But the story didn’t end there. It doesn’t end there for us, either. The heartache becomes Hope again, Hope with a capital “H.” The worst thing that ever happened in the history of the world gave way to the best thing that ever happened.
On Sunday morning, the tomb was found empty. Jesus had risen! He broke the bonds of sin and death. Ashes were exchanged for beauty; mourning for joy. He died, but now He lives. Because He lives, we can have renewed purpose and meaning in our lives. And because He lives, we can live with him forever.
“We live and die; Christ died and lived!”
~ John Stott
“There is no greater sin than to hate and kill the Son of God. There was no greater suffering nor any greater innocence than the suffering and innocence of Christ. Yet God was in it all. . . Is not then the passion of Jesus Christ meant by God to show the world that there is no sin and no evil too great that God, in Christ, cannot bring from it everlasting righteousness and joy? The very suffering that we caused became the hope of our salvation.”
~ John Piper, from The Passion of Jesus Christ: Fifty Reasons Why He Came to Die. This is the 50th reason he lists. Christ suffered and died . . . to show that the worst evil is meant by God for good.
Happy Easter, friends! May your worship at a distance be meaningful and turn your heart to hope. Truly, He rose!
One final thought: Moses also worshipped at a distance. In Exodus 24:1, the Lord told him, “Come up to the LORD—you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of Israel’s elders—and you are to worship at a distance.”