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Easter: Hope from Suffering

  • March 26, 2016 10:54 pm

dreamstimefree_186890[1]I often think about one Easter spent in Georgia, somewhere back in the 60’s. My Dad spread blue fur around our hotel room. I’m assuming the Easter bunny was blue. I think that is what Dad was suggesting. He (Mr. Bunny) always took a nice bite out of the carrots I left for him. I believe he did on that occasion as well. Easter was blue fur and bunnies, and carrots with tooth marks in them. And who can forget Easter egg hunts, and being dressed up in patent leather shoes and your finest church clothes?

Those days however, are long gone. What used to be a holiday filled with candy and toys, has now become something much more to me. The Easter story brings hope. Hope of life eternal and grace beyond measure. Hope that streams from putting our faith in the one whose crucifixion we remember. When I decided to become a Christian, to follow Christ, I began to see how the Bible message as a whole became a reason for celebration. The Easter message was there in much of the Scriptures. Scripture was worth studying, memorizing, and above all following.

I would also discover that the most quoted Easter verses did not provide the whole picture. Suffering had to come before joy, fear before worship and God’s plan had to move forward into a message for others to hear. The message of Easter can be found in both Old and New Testament verses. It’s been said; that the message of the New Testament is concealed in the Old Testament. The message of hope therefore isn’t limited to just the standard Easter Scriptures. It is woven through the entire canon of Scripture. Bible verses specific to our Easter celebrations, stand as promises and bring us hope while Old Testament symbolism points to something much more.

It may not sound very hopeful to look at the suffering the Cross carried with it yet Psalm 22 reminds us of the suffering necessary to bring us future hope. Christ’s very words ” My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?” (Psalm 22:1, NIV) reminds us that the pain was a necessary part of the process. The whole Psalm bears witness of this. I have always marveled that the words uttered on the Cross (Matthew 27:46, NIV) were recorded in that Psalm long before. We cannot possibly fathom this suffering yet it reminds us of why we have our Easter celebrations at all. His suffering had to come before the triumph. His friends, family and followers had to endure great pain, before unspeakable joy. Though they pale in comparison, sometimes our trials precede our victories. We have to deal with pain in our lives, often before we see the glory on the other side. Entombed in our heart are many trials, many days of suffering and pain.  But Resurrection power bursts through as our heart is renewed and filled with hope and joy.

The four gospel books contain various accounts of the resurrection of Jesus. In Matthew 28 an angel explains to Mary Magdalene and ‘another Mary’ that Jesus’ body is no longer in the tomb.

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. (Matthew 28:8-10, NIV.)

Our worship should flow out of this very scene. Because of what He did for us, these Bible verses that celebrate Easter, can be personalized. We can worship at the feet of the Lord, because of the very fact that the tomb is empty. The. tomb. is. empty. He has risen. Our fear of any situation can be replaced with joy. The joy invokes worship at His feet.

In Luke Jesus left us this word “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” (Luke 24:44, NIV). The New Testament hope is concealed in the Old Testament Scriptures. Our Easter celebration is not made up of blue fur, and bunnies. Rather it is a celebration of hope. Hope based on a God who kept His promises, and fulfilled His word. I can live in light of the ‘everything’ that must be fulfilled.

This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Luke 24:44, NIV).

The Biblical celebration of Easter has to encompass the Cross of suffering, the joy of an empty tomb and the fulfillment of Scripture, past and future. From our own corner of the world we can preach the Easter message to others. We can share Easter verses of encouragement and hope. We can turn our fear to joy, and share that joy with those who need to hear. Be blessed and encouraged this Easter. Our world grows increasingly more troubled day by day. This Easter, embrace your Biblical hope as you live out your day to day life. Take your suffering and turn it to celebration, over the life that was given, and the life that now lives and intercedes on our behalf.

 

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Glory to God in the Highest

  • December 24, 2014 3:00 pm

Luke 2:1-20 (NASB77)
1 Now it came about in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.
2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
3 And all were proceeding to register for the census, everyone to his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,
5 in order to register, along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.
6 And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.
7 And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
10 And the angel said to them, ” Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people;
11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 ” Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
15 And it came about when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”
16 And they came in haste and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.
17 And when they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.
18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.