A Ho-Hum Easter

Luke 10:17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” 18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snake and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
 
Jesus had sent the disciples on a mission- a very special one… “The harvest is plentiful,” He had said, “but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves…” Then He added, “Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road…”
 
For this trip, He wanted them to rely entirely upon Him, and upon the kindness of strangers who would take them in and look after them. Not the most attractive sounding trip at the outset… Well, they had an awesome time…
 
“Jesus! You should have seen it! Lame people walked- blind people can now see!” Someone else chimed in, “Hundreds saved, and dozens cured…!” and, “Andrew got bit by a viper- and he’s still here!” and in a hushed whisper, “Jesus… even the demons obeyed us…!”
 
“Awesome!” Jesus replied, “I once saw Satan himself fall like lightening! But you know what’s really amazing- not that demons run from you, but that your names are written in Heaven- in Dad’s book! That’s what you ought to be excited about…!”
 
Think of the things that we get excited about… a snow day, the next vacation, the next episode of Downton Abby, …a new car. How often does a big smile spread across your face just because you belong to Jesus…!? I wonder how attractive Jesus’ mission would seem to us today…?
 
We must never say, “Saved? Been there, done that…” It is not something merely to check off your bucket list. It’s what should drive your life! I am free… forgiven… God, what can I do for You today?!
 
Now, if this does not excite us, then truly we do not grasp what God has for us. For a variety of reasons, we can miss the joy of knowing Him- earthly distractions, business of life, etc. But I believe the chief reason is failing to understand how deep is our sin and therefore how great is His salvation.
 
The Apostle Paul described his situation in the Body of Christ in three different ways throughout his life. Early on, he wrote the Corinthians, “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am…” Later, to the Ephesians he wrote, “Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ…” Do you see that pattern? The more Paul realized His own rottenness, the more he could see God’s goodness- and truly rejoice! 🙂
 
In Paul’s final letter, years later, he wrote to his young friend, Timothy, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners— of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
 
The sooner we realize that we don’t have to hide or pretend, that indeed deep confession will lead to deeper faith and joy, the sooner we can stop yawning and start singing!
 
A leading candy company is boasting this year, “Nobunny Knows Easter Better than [we do]” Really?! I love their candy, and am a regular patron, but I’m not sure they quite have the whole story. As Easter approaches, and the only spark of joy you can muster at the thought of that Sunday morning is the excitement of your kids finding your cleverly hidden candy eggs (precious as that is), I submit that there is more indeed to be thankful for than candy and even than your kids’ smiles. Rejoice that your name (yes, your name) is written in the Lamb’s book of life! Amen?
 
Blessings,
Pastor Mark