I am expecting my children for Easter. I am so excited! I have been busy getting the bedrooms ready – my house will be stuffed to the gills. I am trying to think of things they may need or want. I have been baking and cooking the things they like. We have our traditional dishes. I went out and got movies that will entertain the grandchildren – and 2 dozen eggs! Anyone like deviled eggs? It promises to be a beautiful weekend here in the Shenandoah Valley.
In all the preparation, excitement and activity I do not want to forget the great significance of the celebration. It is Resurrection Day!
But between now and then there is “the before”. Jesus wanted to minister, to teach about forgiveness (He would soon illustrate it.). Some of His most pithy teachings were said that week as the Cross loomed: “If you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”; “Render to Caesar that which is Ceasar’s and to God the things that are God’s”; “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”; “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” He had to deal with the temple leaders who wanted to trick Him into saying something that will trap Him. They cannot trap Him and they become very angry. Angry enough to spur them to murder.
From our perspective now we look beyond Good Friday and know that resurrection is a sure thing. Those in Jerusalem did not have that perspective. Jesus, however, knew. He knew there would be a resurrection morning. But He also knew “the before”. He did not want to go to the Cross. The scriptures tell us He “endured the Cross”; He prayed and cried out to God who could save Him from this cruelty; He asked His Father if this cup could pass from him; He agonized int he garden…no, He didn’t want to go to the Cross. But the scriptures tell us He did it “for the joy set before Him”.
What was that joy? Being able to go back to the Father in heaven – once agian take His rightful place at His Father’s right hand. Perhaps the relief from knowing it was “finished”. I don’t think His joy was tied to Himself at all. I think it was a joy knowing He would accomplish the plan of salvation begun back in the Garden of Eden. The curse would be reversed. Death would no longer be the victor. He had joy because He knew at last the Father’s passion to restore His creation would be fulfilled. And His joy came from knowing there were myriads upon myriads awaiting redemption through His blood and one day He would present “the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.” At last the Bride would be ready!
All this was planned before the foundation of the world. Think about it. While God was busy forming the universe, putting the sun moon and stars in place, dividing the dry land from the oceans, He had you on His mind! He desired you way back then. It is mind-blowing! Hallelujah.
And if He was doing all that then – what do you think He is preparing now for us? Eye hath not seen nor ear heard nor entered into the heart of man all that God has prepared for them. It is beyond our imagination!
But there is “the before” as we deal with heartache and loss. Stress and fears. Our anger and bitterness. Our shame and regrets. We can know peace now as we turn to the One who endured the Cross that we might be set free. Hallelujah what a Savior!