A stack of Lenten devotionals sits next to my computer as I try to write an Easter blog post. Four anthologies of writers who are much smarter than me- think Augustine and Luther, Keller and Piper- and I think to myself, “I have nothing original to say about Easter.” But then God reminds me (for the two millionth time) that it’s about His Son, not me, and I don’t need to say anything new. He is making all things new. I don’t have to.
At Easter we celebrate the finished work of Jesus. We examine the cross, His death, and His resurrection like the endlessly glorious and multifaceted focal point of history that it is. Actually, God gives us eternity to meditate about what Jesus has done because it will take that long to appreciate Him fully.
One of the books I have with me is John Piper’s Fifty Reasons Jesus Came to Die. Not that I am one to argue with a theologian like John Piper- I would not even try- but I would love to see him write another book called Fifty Reasons Jesus Came to Live. Because He did live, and then He died, and now He lives. Like ripples in an infinite pond, the impact of His life never stops washing us with new joy and peace and grace.
What is your favorite reason Jesus came to live?
My longtime favorite is Jesus’s job description, in His own words:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord…
According to Luke, these are the first words Jesus read in the synagogue at the start of His public ministry. Then He sat down to teach, every eye fixed on Him as He declared, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21) His audience would have known the rest of Isaiah’s prophetic words:
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise of the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. (v. 2-3)
Jesus came to us, and comes to us still, to preach, to heal, to declare freedom, and to open the prison of sin which traps us all. He comes to change what we cannot. He brings comfort to those who mourn- this is so significant He says it twice, knowing that apart from Himself, there is no comfort in death. He exchanges His precious gifts- consolation, beauty, joy, praise- for our ashes, our sorrow, our heavy-laden spirits. He does all this so that we may be planted in Him and by Him like great trees of righteousness, firm and fixed, with deep roots and soaring branches. He does all this for us, so that He may be glorified.
If that’s not wonderful enough, those trees of righteousness (that would be you and me, brother and sister in Christ)
… shall rebuild the old ruins,
They shall raise up the former desolations,
And they shall repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations. (v.4)
Jesus came to transform us so that we may work alongside Him to transform the world. He heals our past, walks with us in the present, and gives us valuable, kingdom work for the future.
As you think about what Jesus has done and is still doing for you, what means the most to you today? What deep need is He meeting for you, personally, on April 16, 2017? What verse or passage or name for Him brings tears to your eyes or praise to your lips in this moment? What is your favorite thing about Jesus today?
Take some time to tell Him about it. Both of you will be blessed.