darkness

I don’t remember being afraid of the dark when I was little. I do remember knowing without doubt that there were alligators under my bed and I had magic, invisible stepping stones from my bed to the bathroom if I had to get up in the night.

The disciples of Jesus knew a darkness none of us has to know. From about 3 in the afternoon of Good Friday until Easter morning. Jesus had told them He would leave them. He had told them He would be betrayed. They did not understand what He was saying. So when Judas brought the soldiers to arrest Jesus in the garden the disciples fled. All but two– Peter and John. And Peter denied ever knowing Him.

They watched Him painfully dragging the crossbeam upon which He would die. Those who were with Him at His crucifixion saw the nails driven through His battered flesh and watched, waiting, until He cried out and died.

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They left Him. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, two men known to have secretly visited Jesus with Pilate’s permission took Him down from the cross and buried Him in a tomb. The priests, afraid His disciples would play some trick and steal his body out of the tomb asked Pilate to set a watchman. Pilate told the priests to seal the tomb and watch for themselves. Which they did.

Jesus was dead. He was in hell. He was separated from God the Father. None of His followers knew what would happen. None knew what to believe. I know that I would not have known either.

Even the women who stayed by Him on the cross, Mary Magdalene, Mary His mother and Mary, wife of Cleopas did not know. Because Easter morning two of them went to see what they could do for Jesus in His burial but when they arrived the stone was rolled away. The tomb was open. An angel sitting there inside the tomb said to them “He is not here, He has risen, as He said.”

And then He began to appear to others– these women, frightened, alone, then His disciples, then about 500 other believers. He spoke and ate with them. They saw His body again. With pierced hands, feet, side. And they began to understand exactly Who He was. What He did.

The unimaginable pain of scourging. The suffocation on the cross. The humiliation of punishment for sins He did not commit. All for love of us. Then nothing. Darkness. His spirit in hell, separated from His eternal relationship with God, the Father.

He suffered all of this, even hell, so we won’t ever have to.

Only if we believe. And follow.

Love and serve.

It isn’t magic. It’s holy. And I am only human but I go to Him often. I tell Him my heart and plead that He will help me keep a soft heart. For Him. For you. For me. Forever.

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holy week

This is a week in the calendar year like any other. Same days, same hours. Only what is remembered makes it different. Sets it apart. Passover. The remembrance of what God did for His people. Easter. The remembrance of what Jesus Christ did, for all people.

Irrespective of any religion. Or political position. Or persona.

Think about Adam and Eve. God created them after He had created everything else. They were not of any faith. God created them out of His love. And they were not created with strings or pre-programming. They had freedom. To enjoy, to choose, to be obedient. The serpent did not force them into a decision. He made a case for disobedience, presented it and Eve bought it. She chose to disobey God. Then she presented a case to Adam. He chose to disobey, too.

They did this out of their freedom. And subsequently the rest of us have been born into what they did, their failure in obedience to God.

So Jesus. He came, God in flesh. A Man with physical, temporal and spatial limitations yet God. He lived with us, ate, laughed, talked with us. He healed, performed miracles. Yet He had chosen to do something else even we could not do for ourselves. Take our sins, our sinfulness of then, now and future to Himself, a sinless, perfect God-in-flesh man. He was not a victim of the hatred for Him among the Priests and the indifference of Rome. He knew what would be because God’s love offered Him for this. And He chose to obey God, out of His own love for us.

Nothing we can do or offer or say can achieve what Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from that death does.

So we, too have a choice. We can choose to live our lives on our own sufficiency, without acknowledging Him, our need for Him which each of us has and we exhibit this need by attempting to fill it with many other earthly things… achievement, drugs, athletic prowess, friendships, status, name it, if it’s there and we think it’s important, we use it and it becomes an idol.

Because we, like it or not, believe it or not, were created by a loving God with a need for connection to Him. And Jesus is this connection for us. For all of us.

We can never, even if we don’t do anything wrong by human standards, become truly connected with God, our Creator. Not on our own. We need Jesus, who He is, what He did for us out of love and because we can’t.

And so each of us has to make a decision. Beyond what we believe is moral or right or truth. There is a truth beyond our laws, our beliefs, ourselves and we need Him. If we don’t choose Him we have still made a choice. Maybe we don’t make a choice today but we will have to someday and the sooner the better because none of us knows when our last moment, our last breath, the end of ourselves will be.

So this is what this week is about. Whether we choose to remember or not.

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