Do you ever wish that you could turn back time? Actually, it is a feat I achieved last week thanks to the International Date Line! Travelling from New Zealand to the States, I arrived in the States before I had actually left New Zealand! Bonus! Of course on my return I then lost a day. The wonders of time zones eh!
But I am sure like me, there are times in your life when you would love to be able to rewind the clock. To make a different decision, to not say something or do something that you later regretted. Hindsight often gives us greater clarity! I’d love that when it comes to selecting which supermarket queue to join as it seems I always choose the one on a go slow.
We’ve all said or done things that we have regretted. And the enemy just loves to capitalise on that. To burden us with guilt and condemnation. To harass our minds and remove our peace. To make us feel that God is no longer for us and that the sin has created an impenetrable barrier between us and God. But God, ever the all loving Father and Redeemer, has in place this wonderful thing called forgiveness. Through Jesus taking upon Himself all our sin (past, present and future!) we can be forgiven and reconciled with God. Sin is not an impenetrable barrier.
I love how in the Anglican Liturgy, every Sunday we would bow to our knees and ask forgiveness for all our sins. I love how God remembers them no more – that we are redeemed and set free from sin. How, through the blood of Jesus, God sees us in our finished state, unblemished and forgiven. In a way, God turns back time for us – He removes our sin from the timeline of our lives.
we have sinned
in what we have thought and said,
in the wrong we have done
and in the good we have not done.
We have sinned in ignorance:
we have sinned in weakness:
we have sinned through our own deliberate fault.
We are truly sorry.
We repent and turn to you.
Forgive us, for our Saviour Christ’s sake,
and renew our lives to the glory of your name.”
“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” (Psalm 103:12)
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins1 and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
“Look to my coming at first light on the fifth day. At dawn, look to the East.”
Helm’s Deep. Trapped. A dwindling, weakening army. Looking out across a formidable enemy. Staring at defeat, imminent death. And then the sun begins to rise. And the words of Gandalf echo in their minds “look to my coming at first light on the fifth day. At dawn, look to the East.” Hope begins to rise in the hearts of the men (and elves, hobbits and dwarves!) And sure enough as the sun rises much needed help arrives. The tide turns on this battle and the orcs are defeated.
Hope is a powerful force. It gives us strength to hang in there, to carry on, to hold on. As Christians, hope encourages our faith and helps us persevere. But this hope is not just wishful thinking, fledgling or weak. Nor is it a hope that can be shattered due to the frailty of man. This hope is secure, assured and strong. This hope we have is in Christ. Easter assures us that we can have a hope that will not waiver for Christ laid down His life for us and was victorious in conquering death and hell. Christ’s death and Resurrection means that life is now lived from victory. Through Christ our salvation is certain.
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:19)
I’m heading overseas shortly. Not for long, but an International flight will be involved. So as a result I will queue up more than once as I process through check in, immigration, security, customs etc. I can’t circumvent these steps, it’s part of the journey to enable me to visit a distant land. My destination and purpose of my trip (work!) will keep me patiently queuing and standing and waiting. I’ll endure it all so I can get to my destination. I know that on the other side is the plane for me to board and the country for me to visit.
During Lent, we can give pause to think of Jesus on the before side of the Cross, His death and His resurrection. How must He have felt? How must He have longed to avoid it? To avoid the pain, the suffering, the horror. Jesus, while fully God was also fully man, so this journey to the Cross would not have been without fear or anguish. Yet He pressed on, He continued. He rode into the City of Jerusalem knowing He was days away from arrest and crucifixion. He shared Passover with His disciples knowing that this side of the Cross it was the last meal that He would share with them.
Why did He stay on this journey to the Cross? Why did He endure it?
For us! For you, for me! Out of love for us and love for the Father. For our redemption. How incredible, what a sacrifice that Jesus would endure all of this, for us, to restore us as sons and daughters of God.
“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ” (Hebrews 12:2)
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Easter’s a-coming and you don’t even have to look at a calendar to know that! One walk through a supermarket will show you – the selling of Easter eggs and hot cross buns has begun. But this time of year is about much more than the anticipation of Easter Eggs or the enjoyment thereof (not that I have!), this time of year is about remembering the journey that Jesus took to the Cross.
It’s a season known on the Church Calendar as Lent. It’s a time to reflect, remember and consider this pivotal time in history. In these precious 40 days we remember the journey that Jesus undertook to the Cross. His arrest, the betrayals, the beatings and the crucifixion. We open our hearts afresh to the wonder that Jesus – Son of God would lay down His life for us and then the miracle and the victory that would come from His resurrection.
Churches often encourage the sacrifice or giving up of something – a particular food, an activity – during this season. By doing this it gives us a trigger or a reminder to keep our hearts turned towards Heaven. The reminder comes as we experience the gap in our lives from what we have chosen to go without. The removing of something from our lives gives us more space to remember, to consider the most amazing demonstration of love of our God for us. Lent reminds us that the Son of God had to willingly walk a path to death. For without this journey there is no Easter Sunday. There can be no Resurrection without a death first.
As we countdown to Easter Sunday let us consider what Jesus did for us, endured for us. I am sure then that our hearts will be filled afresh with awe of this season and Easter Sunday our hearts will overflow with the celebration that He is Risen!
Christ has died!
Christ has risen!
Christ will come again
“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:12)