For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:13, 14
From the foundation of the world, God, in His unfailing love, had devised a plan to save man. This plan would include mercy to provide for our forgiveness, but also justice that would exact the full penalty for our sins. This plan would become a Man. This Man was Jesus! Yes, God's very own Son, our Creator, would leave the glories of His Father's heavenly home, come to earth clothed in human flesh and pay our sin debt with His own royal blood! God began preparing a sin-sick world for His Son's advent. He called out a small nation of Jews to be His own people. Through God's dealings with this nation, the whole earth would be blessed and see the Salvation of the Lord! God gave the Jews the Law to teach men of His righteousness and sent prophets to proclaim the coming Savior or Messiah. But would sinful men recognize Him, understand Him, accept Him? The stage had been set. The time was right.
The scene is a small dusty town called Nazareth. An angel visits a young Jewish virgin named Mary. The announcement is simply that Mary will bear a Child, God's Son, and shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. He would be conceived by the Holy Spirit. Joseph, who loved Mary and believed God, took Mary as his wife. In Bethlehem of Judea on a cold night, God's Son made His entrance into the world He had created. Angels sang at His birth, but for the most part it went unnoticed.
The Child grew. Mary and Joseph, devout Jews who loved God, gave Him the upbringing He needed. He was much like we humans with one exception... He never sinned.
At the age of thirty He was ready to begin His public ministry. His conflict with Satan, which began before the creation of man, was nearing its climax. John the Baptist was chosen by God to pave the way for Jesus. He preached mightily for man to repent for the Kingdom of God was at hand. "Behold the Lamb of God!" John shouted. The people were thrilled. They wanted a Messiah, someone to save them from the drudgery of life. But why call Him a Lamb? Wasn't a lamb the animal used for blood sacrifice?
Jesus was devoted to His Father and desired only to do His will, to seek and to save that which was lost. He determined to give eternal, abundant life back to man. The price would be high. He preached that He alone was the way to God the Father. He healed the sick. He fed the hungry. He comforted the sorrowful. He even raised the dead! Satan, Jesus' long time foe, was frantic. He must tempt Jesus to sin so that His sacrificial life and death would be unacceptable. He must sway Jesus from His course. Satan wanted all mankind to die in their sin and be condemned, to be forever separated from their Creator as he would be. Jesus wanted all mankind forgiven and restored to their noble estate. Man's fate, yours and mine, hung in the balance.
People loved the bread Jesus provided and the healing of their many infirmities. But what of these strange claims of being One with God? The teachings of self-denial, repentance and obedience were not popular. They wanted immediate, material deliverance; not a spiritual kingdom that is entered into by one's own death. Just as they had misunderstood the prophets, they now misunderstood Jesus. The tide turned against Him. As the crowd shouted for His death, they thought themselves rid of a controversial troublemaker. Little did they realize that the Father would use even this turn of events to accomplish His ultimate purpose... that His Son would taste death for all men so that all men through Him might taste life. Few loved Him at the end.
As He hung on a cross outside Jerusalem the greatest conflict of all time raged. Satan must have laughed as Jesus' own creation spit in His face. Surely the humiliation, the rejection, the pain would cause Jesus to change His mind and cry out for man's damnation. He cried alright. He cried, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Finally, with the sin of the world on His shoulders, He drew His last breath and entered into death, Satan's own dark kingdom. The Light of the world died. Darkness covered the earth. And Mary cried.
With the Sabbath approaching, Jesus was quickly removed from the cross and placed in a tomb. His followers were devastated. What went wrong? How could He die and leave them alone? Had they been wrong to believe in Him? Had Jesus Himself been mistaken? His disciples, huddled together behind closed doors afraid and disillusioned, could not be comforted. He spoke of a kingdom, yet they were still under Roman rule. He spoke of His Father's glory, yet He was publicly humiliated. He spoke of their joy being made complete in Him. They never knew such sorrow. He spoke of light, and darkness covered the earth. He promised abundant life... then He died. But that was Friday.
Then came Sunday! What a dawn it must have been! The sun must have shone a bit brighter that morning. The birdsong must have been sweeter. The dew must have glistened more brightly. For it was the third day! God raised His sinless Son from the grave, just as predicted! Jesus' sacrifice on the cross of Calvary had been acceptable to the Father! With every drop of His royal blood, Jesus purchased our pardon. All sin could be forgiven. All sin... past, present and future. Yours and mine. Jesus had crushed the head of the serpent. Death and hell had been conquered! Man had been set free from the tyranny of sin. The law of sin and death could be rewritten in our hearts by the law of life in Christ Jesus! At long last the disciples understood. They really understood. And they never knew such joy!
Jesus appeared to his followers over the course of forty days. He encouraged them. He loved them. He even cooked a fish breakfast for them. Then after commissioning them to continue His work, Jesus ascended to His Father. Would the world hear from its God again? Just as angels heralded His entrance into this world, so they also had a message at His exit, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven."
"Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven." Praise God! I am ready for that day. This is another very well written article Linda. Thanks,
Linda, as I said in my last comment, you have a story to tell, and you tell it well. This story has been told over and over again by hundreds of people; yet everyone has his/her own way of telling it. This is uniquely yours. Well done!