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By Ricky Carstensen/Pastor, FUMC Lockney—
LOCKNEY – During this past week of Holy Week, in the midst of a global pandemic, we have faced an incredibly difficult time. I am reminded at each moment, the difficulty of ministry and worship while we practice “social distancing”. Many of our local churches will have faced the most unusual Easter in memory. However, with that said, I see incredible creativity to share the Gospel message in this moment of History. Many have taken to social media, drive-in church experiences, and other means. “As much as this saddens our hearts that the church doors are closed and the pews are empty, we need to remember that until Jesus came into our hearts, we were all empty!” (James A. Hall, Ministry Consultant, The Word for You Today Ministry)
As we celebrated Palm Sunday without our children waving palm branches, most will celebrate Easter and singing “Up from the Grave He Arose” sitting around our computers or television watching through social media. We are reminded of the challenges, pain, and heartache we see in our community, State, Nation and the world, but the Good News is we worship a God who has experienced all that we are experiencing now. (Hebrews 4:14-16) We may not always have a good explanation of the pain and suffering, but I am confident that we have a Savior, who suffered on the cross for all of us.
In the Gospel of Luke 23:44, it says it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. Matthew and Mark say that after those three hours, Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It wasn’t as if He expected the Heavenly Father to rescue Him but rather for OUR benefit. He expressed what had just occurred during those three hours. Jesus declared He’d paid OUR ransom. The price that was required by the law of God to free us from our bondage to sin. He was abandoned by the Father and experienced on the cross the horror of Hell itself as the sins of the world were poured out upon Him. As symbolized by darkness and illustrated by His cry, we understand that Jesus suffered so we wouldn’t have to. As Luke tells us in Luke 23:46, “Jesus called out in a loud voice ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’” Jesus wanted everyone to know that He chose when to die. (John 10:18)
In Luke 23:47-49, one might get the idea that there was a bit of disillusion on the part of the disciples that day. They had expected things to turn out differently. Eventually, they would understand the full impact of the Cross, at that time they were overwhelmed.
Sometimes, the circumstances of life can cause us to become confused such as “social distancing”, sheltering in place, the coronavirus, our economy, family struggles and yes even the hoarding of toilet paper! It is then that we need to look towards the cross and realize the full victory Jesus won for us there. What does the cross teach us when it comes to overcoming our daily struggles and life’s curve balls? 1. The power of God is bigger than any burden. 2. Wait on God and trust Him.
Jesus left His royal throne in glory and came to a sinful world to offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins, being crushed for our sins, shedding His precious blood, so that we through faith in Him, might be privileged to wear the robes of royalty.
Today, for whatever victory you may need- from sin, from daily difficulties, from stress or worry-provision has been made for us through the CROSS. Christ is Alive! He paid our debt that we could not pay. We serve a Risen King, a Victorious Savior who conquered Hell, death, and the grave.
May the Easter message of the Resurrection be that we should draw near to a Holy God, not to distance ourselves. The churches may be empty, but so is the tomb! He is Risen!