Saturday, March 30, 2013

On Spring and Incredible Gifts

It's officially spring in Texas. I say "spring...."

What I really mean is:

The weather is 10x more bipolar than usual. Texas is unpredictable at best, but the weather seems to have worse mood swings in the spring. It must be the transition or something. Pick a climate already! 

The trees became green literally overnight. Which is nice, except the view from my window is going away in 3...2...1 because of the large bushy tree right outside.

We lost an hour of sleep. That was fun.

They're already saying that we'll be in a Stage 4 drought by end of April.

The birds have started singing. I think there's a nest outside our kitchen window. Which I love. So, so much.

It's been more overcast than usual.

What was that? I can feel summer coming. 

Even so, spring is for us what is for everyone, everywhere. New life. Hope. Renewal. 

I suppose that, since God is in control of everything (including timing), that is why the events that we remember during Holy Week happened in springtime.

It's really quite amazing, beautiful and awe-inspiring what happened.

The Son of God relinquished the glory He had every right to hold on to in order to come to earth and take a human body and live a human life. A life, which, though it can seem pretty marvelous to us, is not even comparable to anything in Heaven. He did not have to do this. He was (and is) God. However, we humans had a problem. A huge, insurmountable problem.

Humanity had begun to sin almost right out of the gate. From the very beginning, there was a reckoning coming. The wages of sin is death. That's how it works. God is Holy.

In order to successfully pay for sin, a perfect sacrifice was required. How is a perfect sacrifice to be offered if we are all sinners? None of us are capable of reaching the perfection required. It is not a certain level of "good enough" or a matter of "good outweighing bad." Sin is sin, and we're all guilty.

God is absolute perfection, and nothing short of His level of holiness would do. There is no person on this earth who could even come close.

So the only possible solution was promised, right there at the fall. The Son of God would come to earth, be born of a virgin, walk this earth perfectly and then die an accursed death. Jesus Christ, the Son of God (who is God himself) would sacrifice himself for humanity's hopeless cause. He would give hope of Salvation. All those who are saved by his perfect blood would be saved for all eternity. The crimson would be washed as white as snow. 

He died a horrible, wretched and despised death--one reserved for criminals. While doing this, the worst possible thing happened to him. He was separated from the Father when he took all our sins on himself.

The marvelous thing, though, is that He did not stay in the clutches of death for long. On the third day, he rose again, and ascended into heaven 40 days later. He is not on this earth any longer, he is not a corpse in a tomb.

Christ's was the triumph over death, sin, and Satan himself. He is alive, sitting at the right hand of God the Father. In him, we are safe from the righteous wrath of God.

Jesus' death was all that was needed. All those who are in him are forgiven, washed clean. On this earth, the saved aren't perfect--but we have perfection promised to us in Heaven. We have a promise of life in Heaven, a life that will never end.

His sacrifice was all that was needed. We can't complete it. There is nothing we can do to earn, deserve or have any part in it. Salvation is the free gift of God. He quickens us to accept his son--the very belief that comes into the heart so that the confession with the mouth can take place and so that a person is saved is granted to us by Him.

Death has not victory over us.

No sting.

For the Christian, death is nothing more than the beginning. There is nothing to fear, thanks to Jesus' death and resurrection.

It's getting to be cliche now, but it is worth saying: Easter is not about the rabbits, or the chicks, or the delicious chocolate and Peeps. These are all lovely things, representations of God's gift of life.

But the real point of Easter--the whole reason it's celebrated--is the sacrifice of the ultimate, perfect Passover lamb. The lamb without defect. This one paid for sins, permanently. There is no need for a yearly sacrifice...Jesus died and rose again, having completed the work that had been waited for for upwards of 2500 years. We are saved by his perfect, ultimate gift. The gift that only He could give.

The Crucifixion

"After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." (John 19:28-30)

The Resurrection 

 "Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you. So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.  And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:1-10)


Joshua Mills said...

I realize you probably only know who I am based off my family name so pardon my unannounced appearance. A quick explanation, I follow a lot of blogs simply because I enjoy reading what other people write. That's why I'm here.

That being said, yours is probably the most well written and well thought out blog I've perused in a while. Just wanted to compliment you on that. That is all.

Olivia said...

I actually do remember you, though you may not remember me. Our years at SAC day overlapped a little. I'm very glad that you clicked over to the blog...and thank you SO much. Your encouraging words absolutely made my day. :) Happy Easter to you and yours!

Joanna Webber said...

Hey Olivia! If you want to you can participate in a tag. :-)

Joshua Smith said...

Nice to be reminded of those cooler months when in the middle of a Texas summer, since it’s going to be, like, 5 months before it cools down again. More importantly though, it was uplifting to be reminded of that miracle that made salvation possible, and the price He paid for my chance to be called a son. Quieting thoughts for a summer’s day, and summer’s days usually need them. Thanks for writing this!

BTW, at the bottom of this post there’s this tag thingy that says “from the scattered mind of…”, which seems kind of out-of-place in this instance.

Olivia said...

@Joshua Smith: Thank you for commenting! I'm glad this post was uplifting for you, and I'm really glad to see other Christians who feel the same way! :)

The tag thing at the bottom is automatic, from one day when I was feeling particularly random. Not specifically meant for this post, to be sure. :)