Paul on his way to persecute the church in Damascus (Acts 9) encounters the risen Christ and his life is changed. Likewise, each of must encounter Christ in some way. Christ waits for us on the road as we journey through life. Like the disciples on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), sometimes we fail to recognize him.
The past week we recounted the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus. Many of us prefer to focus on the Resurrection because: 1) it is easier to reflect on because we prefer to not to deal with pain and suffering; 2) the Resurrection if proof to us that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. It is what convince the first believers and on which all Christian faiths build their foundations.
In my recent personal reflection on the Passion, something struck me today. OK, it isn’t something new, I just revisited something I forgot.
Jesus died so that we may be freed from the spiritual punishment of sin, permanent separation form God. The reason I say spiritual punishment, we will always suffer the temporal affects of sin. If I sin against my wife, our relationship suffers because of that sin. If I am sorry and repent my sin, God forgives me. My wife may forgive me, but that damage will always be in my relationship; to what degree will always depend on the serious of the sin and how much I do to make preparations for the sin. A the some time, we need to realize that Jesus didn’t give us a blank check saying do whatever you want, I’ll will pay for it. We are too avoid sin.
However, Jesus’ death becomes more powerful if we place on the cross those things that cause us to sin. If my anger causes me to lash out in unhealthy and sinful ways, then I need to put my anger on the cross. That doesn’t mean Jesus will never let me become angry again, but if I left than anger on the cross, Jesus will help me express and deal with that anger in healthier ways.
We are challenged during Lent to give up something, but it doesn’t mean this process is to stop after Easter. Instead we are to echo Lent and Easter throughout our lives. When we encounter sin in our lives, we not only look at the sin but also its’ source. Then we bring it to Jesus who is dying and the cross and let him take not only the sin but its’ source.
If we truly let Christ take our sin and the source of the sin from us, we will experience Easter again and again.
Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane asks Peter who has fallen asleep as Jesus prayed, “Could you not watch one hour?” The disappointment in the statement is obvious. But Jesus also recognizes Peter’s human limits by continuing, “..[T]he spirit is indeed but the flesh is weak.” This Holy Week Jesus ask that you spend time with Him through his death and resurrection, as best as you are able. Take some time and experience God’s gift of love…even for just a minute each day…. He doesn’t want you to feel guilty about his cruxification and suffering; he did that willingly because he loves you. He wants you to experience and realize the depth of God’s love for you.
My child, there is no sin you could commit that would prevent me from forgiving you. Come to me and let me wrap my loving arms around you.
We can claim we are Christian. We can act like a Christian. But these words and actions are nothing more than wind unless we dwell in God’s love and respond to that love in action. Fortunately, there is nothing we have to do but let God love us. Our response will be as natural as a child loving a parent.