|Posted on April 11, 2020 at 8:05 AM|
I can’t remember an Easter that I didn’t spend in church. This year, with a pandemic looming over our heads, and all the resultant confusion, it’s easy to allow it to eclipse what this day really means.
I’m going to miss all the festivities. No Easter production at church, the end to weeks and weeks of planning, no big dinner with my family, eating more than is comfortable, then laughing, playing music and tossing around a ball until we’re hungry again.
Oh, there was always a sacred element to the celebration. Easter is my favorite sacred holiday simply because of the greatness of it’s meaning. We commemorate the death of Jesus on Good Friday, but on Easter – He rose again!
While I’m going to miss all the food and fun, I’m not sorry that I’ve had more time to focus on isolation these past weeks. Can you imagine how isolated Jesus felt? He knew He would be going through an obscene and hideously painful ordeal. Yet, on the night before He was taken, when He asked His best friends to keep Him company while He came to grips with it, they couldn’t manage to stay awake long enough to comfort Him.
And when Jesus was brought before the Government for judgement, the very people that He came to save chanted out “Crucify Him!” when Pilate would have spared His life. In John 19 we’re told Jesus “carried His own cross” to be crucified.
In time, when the suffering was so great, Jesus even cried out to His Father, saying “Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani,” which means why hast Thou forsaken me? For the first and last time, He was feeling separation from God. Because Jesus had taken our sin upon Himself, even God the Father had to turn His back and allow the sacrifice. The heavens wept, but there was no turning back.
His mother and His friends stood near the cross, but He hung alone. Oh, there was a thief hanging on either side of him, and He comforted one when asked, but He alone was innocent. When Jesus saw His mother there, His thoughts were on her as He said “Woman, here is your son,” entrusting her care to a disciple whom He loved.
Near the end of the brutality of His suffering, when Jesus knew the prophesy had been finished, He said “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When He had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. (John 19:28-30).
Those words – It Is Finished! He wasn’t saying “my suffering is now done,” as we sometimes think. In the Greek, the phrase ‘it is finished’ translates as Tetelestai. My friend sent me a beautiful short teaching on the phrase. Although I don’t know who wrote it, I was able to verify the information. It says, in part:
[This phrase ‘It is finished’ is ] found only in the Gospel of John. This is an accounting word which means ‘paid in full’…It’s different from the past tense which looks back to an event and says, “This happened.” The perfect tense adds the idea that “This happened, and it is still in effect today.”
We may be feeling isolation, but we are not alone. In Hebrews 13:5b, God promises “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Even while He had to turn His back on His Son for a moment, it was in order to make provision for us for eternity.
And even while Jesus was feeling deep sorrow and loneliness, He knew He was bearing it for our benefit. There’s an old song (written by Ronald Michael Payne and Ronnie Hinson) that says:
He knew me, yet He loved me
He whose glory makes the heavens shine
So unworthy of such mercy
Yet when He was on the cross
I was on His mind
Be blessed my friend. You are on God's mind!