Lifelines January 31, 2021

The dream came crashing down.  The enemy forces had encircled the Messiah, and the noose was tightening.  He knew.  He had warned His little band of followers that treacherous times were just ahead.  A few of them shared an intimate and agonizing trek into the garden to pray.  They could hardly stay awake as He suffered through the mental aspects of what He was about to suffer.  It would be brutal. 

Sin originally cost humans a place in paradise, and through the ages it had activated a plan by the loving Creator to repair the immense damage.  The ultimate cost was being realized.  Death is not easily fixed.  It took the Son of God arriving at this point to undo the destruction.  Mankind had separated itself from the Lord and turned on each another.  Unity had been replaced by animosity.  Violence and immorality were the norm.  God was grieved.  Time to cleanse the once-pristine creation.  Build a boat Noah. 

The ark saved a few, but sin soon began to spread.  History shows the same pattern over-and-over.  Our compassionate Creator went to extraordinary lengths in demonstrating His love through strategies intended to benefit His most prized creatures, the ones He described as very good.  They were formed that way, but it did not last.  Wayward souls in search of meaning filled the earth.  Satan roams seeking victims.

Jesus entered the fray to offer a different, hope-filled alternative.  The conflict reached its pinnacle on a cross.  There is no way to overstate the collision that occurred on those ragged slabs of wood.  It shook heaven and earth.  It disrupted the eternal union between God the Father and God the Son.  Evil unloaded every bit of the most violent hostility imaginable. Words can never capture the truth of it.  The disciples watched at a distance as their Lord died.  Sin is brutal.

It was the darkest moment in history.  It is hard to imagine how the apostles felt for those hours between that horrible execution and their encounter with the risen Christ.  It was a bleak time, no doubt.  It scarcely seems the script for the most dramatic rescue operation ever undertaken.  Mission accomplished?  It sure didn’t look like it.

Those dark days don’t seem to fit in our preconceived notions of the God of light and His strategy to save us.  Yet, there they are right in the middle of the whole plan.  Sin continues to cast a long, dark shadow over the land in which we live.  The Lord’s church follows the steps that lead up a hill to a cross.  Who is on ours?

Crucifixion is a daunting thought without seeing the whole picture.  It was not the end of the story for Jesus, and it won’t be for us either.  Resurrection and ascension complete the story.  Without them, life is awfully gloomy.  With them, there is endless hope.  Always remember: 

The tomb is empty.