Tuesday, April 2, 2013

He is Risen, Hallelujah!

By Julie Gernand
There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends. [John 15:13]
Something stirs inside of me each year in the week leading up to Easter.

I pray that this past Holy week was meaningful for you. For me, something hangs in the air each Good Friday as we remember the horrific suffering Christ endured on the cross. Saturday is filled with a type of melancholy as we remember the sorrow Christ’s followers felt after he was buried.  Utterly lost and afraid. But what JOY we feel on Sunday morning! What hope and wonder we experience as we celebrate with awe that the risen Christ did indeed emerge from that tomb, and that he reigns in Heaven on high! It is truly the happiest day of the year for us!

When I was in the fourth grade, my Sunday school teacher told us a modern-day parable for the story of Jesus’ death. It still deeply affects me today whenever it crosses my mind.

The story went like this:

In his book Written in Blood, Robert Coleman tells the story of a little boy whose sister needed a blood transfusion. The doctor explained that she had the same disease the boy had recovered from two years earlier. Her only chance for recovery was a transfusion from someone who had previously conquered the disease. Since the two children had the same rare blood type, the boy was the ideal donor.

"Would you give your blood to Mary?" the doctor asked. Johnny hesitated. His lower lip started to tremble. Then he smiled and said, "Sure, for my sister." Soon the two children were wheeled into the hospital room--Mary, pale and thin; Johnny, robust and healthy. Neither spoke, but when their eyes met, Johnny grinned. As the nurse inserted the needle into his arm, Johnny's smile faded. He watched the blood flow through the tube.

With the ordeal almost over, his voice, slightly shaky, broke the silence. "Doctor, when do I die?'

Only then did the doctor realize why Johnny had hesitated, why his lip had trembled when he'd agreed to donate his blood. He's thought giving his blood to his sister meant giving up his life. In that brief moment, he'd made his great decision. Johnny, fortunately, didn't have to die to save his sister. Each of us, however, has a condition more serious than Mary's, and it required Jesus to give not just His blood but His life.                                
*Authored by Thomas Lindberg. Taken from www.sermonillustrations.com

This touching story makes me cry every time. As a small fourth-grader, I remember thinking how very scared and confused I would have been if I had been that child. What would I have done if I were to believe I had to give away all of my blood? To believe I would die right then and there? I remember wondering how that little boy could have such courage and strength. How could he just reach out with so much love for his sister?

Wouldn't that be the most excruciating thing to experience? How could he do such a thing so willingly? 

My friends, this is true love.

What that little boy did in the story was exactly what Christ REALLY did on the cross. Yes, it really happened! Someone who loves you that much decided that YOU were worth giving away all his blood. 

On Easter we celebrate that deep love that Christ showed us by his death. He did give away all of his blood.  Did you know the word “excruciating” comes from a Latin participle for “to crucify?”  There is even a specific word derived to help portray exactly the kind of suffering Jesus experienced! *http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/excruciating

But this suffering wasn’t just for one sister. It was for you. And me. And for your mom. And for your boyfriend. And for every other person that walks this planet.

He loves us ALL that much.

Phew. Kind of mind-blowing, huh?

Jesus’ love for you is like that of the little boy for his sister multiplied by millions. And he wants nothing more than for you to accept this free gift.

Wanna know something cool about Christianity? It’s the only world religion that is not merit-based. 

For real.

We don’t have to do anything to attain our salvation. God knew we would be too weak to save ourselves for eternity. So he sent a man to be slain so that we might live.

All we must do is believe.

Dear friends, accept this unbelievable, mind-shattering love!

Then the disciples returned to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.

They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him."

When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.

Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away."

Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher).

Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her. – John 20

Dear Jesus, What wonderful love you have for us, that you would die to save us! So often we cannot fathom how you did what you did for us. We thank you with our whole beings for being our one true Savior. Help us to emulate the love you show to us for others daily. Help our cups to overflow with Easter joy each day of the year! We love you, Lord.

Amen


[Authored by Julie Gernand]

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