Holidays End, Hope Endures
For as long as I can remember, my mom has always been excited about the holidays. Almost too excited. She would start getting revved up weeks before the holiday arrived. She would plan and scheme and focus all of her considerable might on the execution of her holiday plans. Decorations would begin to appear early. Music would be played well in advance. If there was a movie that applied to the particular holiday in question, we would watch it again and again (claymation was the preferred form of entertainment). Once the holiday passed, the decorations would stubbornly sit and protest the end of the holiday. At times, weeks could go by before their sit-in would end. The holidays elicit different emotions in different people. For some of us there is sweet anticipation and excitement. For others there is apathy. For many of us there is grief and a deep sadness. The Easter Holiday (or Resurrection Day) has a message for all of us. A message of a hope that will never fail.
Many people place their hope in something or someone for something. For example, they might place their hope in their money for their security and happiness. They might place their hope in the success of their children for their sense of personal satisfaction. In every case, such objects of hope eventually fail. Money disappears. Children fail. Many people have given up hoping in anything which eventually leads to a sense of hopelessness and sadness. On Easter Sunday, Pastor Kenny discussed John 11: 17-44 and focused on the death and resurrection of Lazarus. He explained that we as believers place our hope in the God-man Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, the freedom from the punishment we deserve, an eternal relationship with the God of the universe, and the resurrection from the dead unto eternal life with Him (free from sin, death, and all evil). What a great hope we as Christians have in Him! Sadly, we do not often think richly and meditate deeply on what all this hope means.
In the section of verses from that we heard preached, there were was a particular phrase and a particular verse that seemed to be especially encouraging. In verses 33 and 38, we read that Jesus was "deeply moved." The word originally used portrays a sense of deep sadness and anger. As Pastor Kenny pointed out, Jesus was angry at the effects of sin, death, and evil in His world. He was saddened because of the grief of His friends and perhaps even over the death of his friend Lazarus (even though He knew that He was going to soon resurrect him). Death was not a part of the initial creation. Death entered into creation because of the sin of Adam and Eve. That is also why we grieve at the loss of those we love. That is why some of us are so sad during certain (or sometimes all) of the holidays. We miss them. It is not right that they are not here with us. In verse 35, we read that "Jesus wept" or cried softly. At this point you might be asking, "how is reading about Jesus' sadness, anger, and tears a message of hope?" I will endeavor to explain.
Our God is not a god who is far off. He is not a god who does not know what it means to be human. He is not a god who is apathetic to our plight, our suffering, and our emotions. No, God the Son put on humanity. He lived for 30 plus years and endured everything that we endure. He was tempted, tired, hungry, and thirsty. He suffered pain, loss, and grief. He experienced every emotion we have. He was different than us in only one way. He was without sin. Easter is a celebration of The God who is close to His people (Joshua 1:9; Isaiah 41:10; Matthew 28; 20; Hebrews 13:5). It is a celebration of The God who was not content merely to become one of us but to also save us from sin, death, the devil, and the punishment due to sinners. Our God was not only "deeply moved." He did not only weep. No. He acted. He brought Lazarus back from the dead. He did not stop there. He went to the cross for His people. On that cross, He traded His royal robes of majesty for the soiled cloak of our sin. He absorbed our hell by taking our place. He died and was buried. And on the third day, He rose from the dead beating sin, death, and the devil.
His is The Message of Hope. To those who celebrate, His message is to celebrate Him (who He is and what He did). To those who are indifferent, His message is that there is One who is worthy of being trusted with their hope. To those who are sad beyond measure, His message is that there is One who is the source of comfort and hope even in grief. To those who do not know The One True God of the bible through Jesus Christ, turn from your unbelief. Repent of your sins and place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. He is a Savior of sinners and the only hope that will never fail. To my brothers and sisters in Christ, let us hope in Him and Him alone. Let us tear our hope away from people and things that will all ultimately fail us and once again place it on the mighty shoulders of our steadfast Savior. Let us rejoice in Him. Let us stoke the fire of our indifferent hearts with the good news of His resurrection. Let us grieve, but not as those who are without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Our hope is found in nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. Happy Easter!