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Sunday 21 April 2019
Happy Easter // A Letter to my Readers...
I write what's on my heart tonight.
There are so many things I could write... about the beautiful walk we did yesterday, about the children's joy at our Easter breakfast this morning, about time spent with family.
But truth is, as I type there are tears rolling down my face because my heart is heavy with wanting to share with you what truly matters at Easter.
This day is at the heart of my faith. It is so much more than Easter bunnies and chocolate eggs, and I wish I could truly share with you how much this day signifies.
I don't know what you think about Jesus... who you think he was... what you think he did.
But given that its Easter, will you do one thing for me?
Will you read this letter to the end?
Do you know you are loved? Truly, deeply loved? Not for how you present yourself or for the person you try to appear to be before the crowd... on social media, in public places, at coffee shops and at school gates. But for who you really are... deep down. The one who asks questions, who feels dark sometimes, who wonders why when your life appears so full, it still has the ability to feel so empty? The one who tells white lies, and loses it with the kids... the one who can be mean and manipulative, and sometimes feels out of control... the one who gets eaten away with anxiety.
THAT you is deeply loved.
The deepest, darkest part of you... the one who's there and waiting when the busyness of life subsides and you have space to think... the voice that appears as you lie in your bed in the silence at night. The one that feels insignificant and inadequate....
That you... the real you... the raw you... is deeply loved.
Want to know how much?
So much that the God who flung stars into space, who determines every breath you breathe, who is behind all those feelings of "thankfulness" you feel but never know where to place... the one who gives you stunning sunsets and early morning birdsong, first baby cries and pink evening skies... that God who may seem so distant and unknown, loves you enough that he made himself known. He sent his son to earth...
There is more evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ as a historical figure than there is for Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great. Don't believe me? Go do your research...
Three short years of ministry... that was how long Jesus was on the public scene. He never traveled more than 200 miles from where he was born, he didn't write a book or enter politics. He didn't marry or have a family. He didn't even have a home or a salary. He spent his three years as a traveling preacher moving from place to place... being celebrated in one town, and chased out of the next.
From the moment he started preaching he divided opinion... people either gave up everything to follow him - literally everything... or they hated him with a burning passion that would eventually lead to his brutal murder.
People didn't feel bland about Jesus. He didn't allow for that. His call was too radical.
After three years he was arrested in the middle of the night, betrayed by one of his closest friends for a pouchful of silver... his trial was carried out overnight, with a rabble of troublemakers who had been paid to speak lies. He was sent to Pilate, who though convinced of his innocence, was too afraid of the mob to stand up to them. He was brutally beaten with a bone knotted whip, stripped down and mocked, spat on, hit, and then forced to carry a heavy cross beam on his bloodied back through the city and up the hill. He was then nailed, hand and feet, to a wooden cross which was lifted and dropped into a hole. And then hours of suffering and struggling, pushing up on his nailed feet to grab a gasp of air, before he eventually suffocated.
Throughout this whole process, he spoke very little. He didn't defend himself. He didn't fight back. He didn't throw abuse...
"Father, forgive them... they don't know what they are doing"
"My God, My God! Why have you forsaken me?"
"IT IS FINISHED"
Jesus went there on purpose. He didn't speak up because his death was always the plan. He went there for you. You see, the God who made us is a holy God... that means he is perfect and pure... like the sun, if we were to enter his presence in our broken, inadequate state, we would be burned alive. Our sin stains us and needs dealt with. In order to enter his presence... in order to be friends with God, our sin needs to be taken care of.
And so the Father, the Son and the Spirit made a rescue plan. Jesus would come and take the punishment for all the sin on himself.
The cross was the place that the price was paid. The judgement was declared, the sentence issued, and the penalty dealt. In those hours on the cross, Jesus was able to take on himself all the sin of the world. In those hours on the cross he wasn't just enduring physical agony, but also all the weight of sin of all humanity. God dealt the blow to his own son to rescue you. And Jesus did it willingly out of love for you. And as he breathed his last... the victory cry...
"It is finished!"
But that's not the end... on the third day, the stone was rolled away, the tomb empty, many eye witnesses saw Jesus alive again - spoke with him, saw the scars in his hands. If you've never looked at the evidence for the resurrection, please ask me and I'll send you some info! It is robust and awesome... many have undertaken to disprove the resurrection, only to be utterly convinced by it (William Mitchell Ramsay, Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel are three examples!)
But here's the thing... I can throw you all the evidence (and there is loads of it) but what does all that have to do with me 2000 years down the line?
Here is my own truth...
I can honestly say there is nothing so precious to me in my life as my Saviour Jesus... I could tell you (this blog bears witness to) countless stories in my life where he has given me hope and strength in hard times, I have seen prayers answered in inexplicable ways, I have seen friends who didn't know him come to know him and be transformed in beautiful ways. I have known deeply the peace and joy and freedom that he brings. And I have answers to my questions... the deep ones, the ones you think you can't have answers to...
And I know peace. And joy. And all of it a precious gift from him.
And he's my best friend. Truly. It's not a religious tick list in my life... its a relationship. I know him and he knows me. I love him (inadequately!) and he loves me (fully and completely)...
Three short years of ministry, and yet in those three years his life created a ripple effect throughout the world that is still at work today... countless people coming to him every day. Don't buy the media lies that the church is dying... old church buildings might be closing, but people are coming to Christ every day... the church is growing in other parts of the world like wildfire. And just today three adults were baptized at our church! Three amazing stories of lives totally transformed by Jesus.
So if he made so many big claims... if he still has such an impact after 2000 years... don't you think its worth just investigating? Can you really cast it off as "not for you", or "not your thing" or "I don't believe" if you've never really investigated what the Bible has to say about Jesus?
If its true, its a matter of life and death... so isn't it worth at least looking into?
I'd love to tell you more... I'd love to help you get started by just reading one small biography of Jesus life written by an eye witness... I'd love to send you that in the post, so you can begin to investigate for yourself...
Why not make this Easter one you simply give Jesus the opportunity to speak for himself?
But be prepared you might be about to start the adventure of your life...