The day of this posting is the day we celebrate as Easter or Resurrection Sunday. And, as I was praying and contemplating about what to write, I came across Ephesians 1:19. Here’s how it is quoted in The Message: “[O]h, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him…” [emphasis mine].
I know that God has done an extravagant work in me, and probably most of you feel the same. Author Max Lucado quotes in the introduction to his book “Just Like Jesus,” that “God can no more leave a life unchanged than a mother can leave her child’s tear untouched.”
But as I’ve been thinking about Easter this year, I’ve really been struck with the extravagant sacrifice He gave just for us – to free us from our sins, and to allow us to become His children.
I know the majority of you have probably heard the story of Jesus dying on the cross and then rising from the dead on the third day many, many times; yet my prayer is that you hang with me as we really try to focus on exactly what it must have been like for Jesus back then.
First off, Jesus is – and was – God in the flesh (Hebrews 1:3). Can you imagine what it must have been like to leave perfection as He did, and come down to earth as a man? Let’s face it – earth is no heaven!
But He came to live among sinners like us; and He chose to use people just like us to be His apostles and disciples. People from all walks of life: fishermen, tax-collectors, prostitutes and many others that probably no other influential person would even take the time to converse with.
He knew as He poured His life into His disciples the three years that He was with them, that they would stumble and fall many times – just like we do. Yet He forgave and encouraged them to keep moving forward. He created us and knows we’re like dust (Psalm 103:14), at times fluttering all over the place before we settle down once again.
His patience was unbelievable. I think often of the time when the disciples were arguing among themselves as to which of them was the greatest apostle (Mark 9:34). Don’t we often do just that ourselves? No we might not say it out loud, but we certainly have our moments when we think, “at least I haven’t done something that stupid.” Prideful we certainly are.
And then came the evening when Jesus needed them the very most. The night of His betrayal by Judas, when He was on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:36-56). Jesus knew what was coming, and He was praying earnestly that His Father might take away the punishment that was on its way.
“Please,” He asked the disciples with Him, “stay here and keep watch with me” (v. 38). Yet they fell asleep – not just once but three times!
To top it all off, once the chief priests came to arrest Him, “all” the disciples ran away and left Him alone (v. 56). I can’t imagine how that must have hurt Him. He’d spent the past couple of years pouring His heart and love into them, and then they decide to run away when their Savior and friend is arrested.
Have you ever been hurt like that by someone you love? Someone you trust? I think we all have at one time or the other. It pierces our hearts, and for a time we may have trouble trusting that person(s) again.
But we’re not Jesus, are we? Jesus forgave them – just as He forgives us when we mess up – sometimes over and over again. And so we must forgive the ones who have hurt us.
Then He died a gruesome death on the cross, after being severely beaten, so that we can be free and live with Him forever. What a Savior!
This Resurrection Sunday, remember the extravagant sacrifice that Jesus endured for you. And all He asks of us is to trust Him, love Him, and obey Him when He asks us to follow Him.