“And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’”
Can you imagine how Mary felt that night she brought Jesus into this world? How she must have felt as lowly shepherds came to worship at His bedside? She must have marveled that Someone so small, so fragile would one day save the world. Days later, when they brought Jesus to the temple, Mary encountered Simeon. What fear must have struck her heart as he prophesied the pain that they would all face in the years to come! Like any mother, she must have wanted to protect her precious Son. How could she possibly dream of seeing Him tortured and put to death by the very people He loved and came to save! Did she know that He was dying for her? Did she believe that He was the Messiah? Was she anxiously waiting for the days to pass to see Him conquer death and rise victorious?
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 (emphasis mine)
The first Easter . . . What a glorious Sunday morning that must have been! I imagine that God painted the sky with the most beautiful sunrise that this world has ever seen! Jesus is ALIVE! He is the VICTOR!! Every Sunday, when we gather in churches all over the world, we celebrate His victory. Easter is a special time set aside every year to reflect on Christ’s victory and what that means to us. Romans 8 reminds us that because of what He did, we are more than conquerors. Over 2,000 years ago, Christ defeated sin, hell and the grave!
Victory Over Sin
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
Every Christmas and Easter, some friends of mine and I get into a friendly debate over which holiday is more significant. I, of course, have given my vote to Easter for many years! They say Jesus must have been born before He could die. My theory has always been that God could have sent Jesus just for that one weekend. However, as I have dwelled on that thought, I have come to realize how significant both days are! Sure, God could have sent Jesus into this world with a lightning bolt. He could have died, rose and returned home to heaven. But a piece would have been missing. Sin. Who would defeat it? The disciples were a poor lot to rest in that hope. Certainly, none of us could withstand the temptations of this world and our flesh. Then who? Who would conquer this deadly foe? Jesus did! He, fully man and fully God, walked this earth and was tempted just like we are. Yet, He did not sin. He was the perfect sacrifice—the lamb without spot or blemish and who stood alone as the only sacrifice worthy enough to cover all of our sins.
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
2 Corinthians 5:21
Victory Over Hell & Suffering
“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows”
Isaiah 53:3-4a (emphasis mine)
I don’t know that we will ever be able to fully comprehend the depth of suffering that Christ went through for us. I have watched the movies, seen examples of the nails and the thorns that went deep into His flesh. Each time, my breath is taken away. How could any one person endure such torture? Why would He do that for me? Then I think of the shame He bore on that cross—stripped of His clothes, mocked, the sins of the world on His shoulders. Take that one step further—He was completely abandoned. His friends deserted Him, and His own Father turned His back on Him. Why? He was forsaken so that I would never have to be alone. So that I could have an eternal relationship with my Heavenly Father, never separated by the very consequences I deserved, He bore my pain that terrible, wonderful day. The day that the wrath of God was fulfilled.
“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”
Victory Over Death
“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen”
I remember the first time I went to see the Passion of Christ. Sitting in a completely quiet movie theatre, stunned by what was flashing across the screen. As they brought Jesus’ lifeless body off of the cross, I am sure I was weeping. Yet, I knew what was coming. I knew how the story ended. He wouldn’t stay in the grave. At the very end of the film, as the stone was rolled away and we caught a glimpse of Christ step from the tomb, I almost shouted (and probably should have)! It was finished! He did it! He is alive forever more! As I type right now, my fingers cannot move fast enough to keep up with my excitement! What a GLORIOUS day!! Because He lives, life has been promised to us! We do not need to fear death. If the Holy Spirit is abiding within us, death is just a doorway to our forever home! When my great-grandfather (and later my great-grandmother) passed away, my rather large family crowded into the room and around their bed. Knowing they would soon be lost to this Earth and welcomed into heaven, we sang. We sang beautiful hymns, songs of promise, songs like “Amazing Grace” and “It is Well with my Soul.” Although it is always sad when someone you love faces death, it was a truly incredible to sing them into eternity. It was like being a very door of Heaven; you could almost hear the angels singing as Christ stood with open arms to welcome His child home. That is a victory that would not be possible without Christ’s triumphant on Resurrection Morning!
“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
1 Corinthians 15:18-20
*Image courtesy of Google.