As I write this article, Christian believers throughout the world are preparing to celebrate the most sacred events in our faith. This coming Sunday we remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey as the crowd places their coats and palm branches on the path he travels. As they do this they shout “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord” (NRSV). What a wonderful welcome and outpouring of affection, but it was not to last. By Friday the crowd will have turned against Jesus and he will be condemned to death and crucified.
It is a lot to take in in one week’s time and we might be pulled into great sadness by just thinking about it, however in the midst of this seemingly tragic series of events, God’s extravagant love for us is being poured out and demonstrated on an almost inconceivable scale. Jesus, the Only Begotten Son of God will willingly endure death on a cross to atone for our sins. The blood of the Lamb of God will be shed once, and for all time, to reconcile us to God. So in the midst of our thinking of the horror of a Roman crucifixion, we also are to be mindful of the great love at work there on our behalf. To think of this always tears me two different directions, I feel deep sorrow that Jesus died so tragically, and at the same time there is the presence of deep gratitude. Gratitude that Jesus would do that for us. Yes, Good Friday is a time of conflicted emotion, but then comes Sunday morning and we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. The sorrow is past, and we spring into joyous celebration. He is risen! Jesus has conquered our greatest enemy, death. Death had no power over Jesus and that is really good news! To those who believe in Jesus, death no longer has power over them either, because Jesus has offered salvation and eternal life as a free gift, received through faith in him. This is the “Good News” or “Gospel” that has been preached by the followers of Jesus throughout the centuries since his death burial and resurrection.
This message of salvation and eternal life through Jesus Christ is just as valid today as it was 2000 years ago. God wants to pour his extravagant grace and love out upon all who will put their faith in his Son Jesus. How about you? Are you willing to receive this gift of love that is offered to you without price? If so, there is no better time than the present! Put your faith in Jesus, confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then come and join with fellow believers at the church of your choice. Seek out instruction and guidance to learn more about God’s Word and God’s people. Be baptized into Christ’s Church, Then, be ready for a life that truly has meaning and purpose!
The writer is the pastor at the Church of Christ in Port Jefferson and Spring Creek Christian Church.