Into darkness, God spoke. The world formed.
Into dust, God-breathed. We were formed.
We walked together hand in hand. Man, woman, creator, in the cool of the morning sun
But in dripped doubt, then in flooded blame and shame.
How could we rebel against our Papa?
How could we accuse each other?
Banished from his presence through our own selfish pride, the fractures grew.
With floods and fires he tried to bring his children back, but our rebellion had gone too deep.
He only had one choice: he must come himself.
Exchanging heaven for a stable
A royal robe for strips of swaddling
A throne for the arms of a teenage girl
Deity divine broke into our broken world - why? For you and me.
He healed the blind
He set the oppressed free
He bound up the brokenhearted
He brought light where there was darkness.
Emmanuel, God with us - he came.
But he was despised.
Confused by his miracles, perplexed by his authority, angered by his company - he was despised.
So his enemies rose up. Authorities determined to take him down. A friend betraying him for a few hundred pound. The life of God’s own son exchanged for silver scattered across a courtyard.
Dragged from pillar to post he stood side by side with Barrabus, a criminal and a murder. The choice of who to set free and the crowd cried “Barabbas!” who represents you and me. The one deserving of death set free... and instead condemned Jesus to a cross.
A crown of thorns on his head, spit in his face, bent double. Lash after lash, our Prince of peace lies silent, that we might be healed by his stripes. His tearing for our healing. The exchange has begun.
Frail and weak he carries this instrument of torture - his cross. Thud. He falls to his knees. His mother standing by, shared pain in one another’s eye. The exhaustion, the dehydration, the weight... too much to bear. But he carries on.
“Cry, oh women of Jerusalem. Let your weeping and wailing be heard. Our King, our saviour is broken, bloodied and bruised.”
Stripped like an animal, his clothes divided in greed.
One nail. His hand. Two nails. His hand. Three nails. His feet.
Friend, brother and son slowly slipping into death. All our wrongs placed on him. He looks to the sky and with one final breath he sighs: “It. Is. Finished.”
Our saviour, he’s died, proven by a spear in his side.
Like at the beginning of time, darkness fills the earth once more.
The ground shakes, the rocks split, the heavy cloth separating us from God tears from top to bottom. There is now no separation between us and our Papa. Relationship restored. He died for us. For you and for me, for our freedom, for relationship restored - he died.
But it doesn’t end there.
The sunsets and rises, sets and rises, sets.
But the third rise was the dawn of a new era - one of freedom.
A few loyal ladies walk in the dark dawn of the day.
Weary from weeping, they lift their eyes to his tomb.
The stone has moved and the entrance is open.
Mary runs back to her brothers and together they return to the tomb, but.. no Jesus.
Rushing in, they see nobody. Where has he gone?
Her brothers now leaving her side, Mary weeps wearily once more.
“Dear woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”
Her saviour, her healer, her friend has gone.
Through her pain she can’t see the way this man looks at her. But here he is, Jesus.
This is what he does - he stands with us in our pain.
“Mary.” He says her name. with one word her world changes, our world changes.
He says her name and she knows. It’s Jesus.
He’s conquered death!
Jesus. Is. Alive!
Do you know what this means?
Death had no hold on him and now death has no hold on you.
This is the almighty power of the Almighty God
This is Easter
This is his gift - Himself
Your pain exchanged for his peace
So, will you accept it?
Joy, hope, freedom and a love without limit?
Just as he stood with Mary that day, he stands with you now and asks you the same:
Will you let him take your pain?
Because today, Jesus is calling you by name.