As a kid, I absolutely loved doing the monkey bars. I was so proud of my thick calluses. (I even mourned their loss when I entered middle school and there were no monkey bars.) I was pretty good … but every once in a while, my hands would slip. I’d suddenly be on my back, chest tight, vision narrowed, utter confusion and panic consuming my mind. Then after a moment, I’d get back up and go on my merry monkey-bar-way.
I didn’t realize how many more times I’d have the wind knocked out of me. How many times I’d find myself staring at the ceiling, chest tight, panic rising, thinking “I can’t handle this.” I’m sure you’ve had a moment like that. Many of us have had the wind knocked out of us so hard, we weren’t sure we were going to be able to stand up again. The death of a family member, the shattering of a dream, an unexpected diagnosis. Time makes frail beings of us all in our march towards death. “To be devastated is the door prize to being mortal.” (Levi Lusko, I Declare War)
Who can face death and not tremble? Even Jesus felt such extreme anxiety that he sweat blood. He understands our fear of death. But he marched resolutely to the cross, knowing it was worth the cost.
“… fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. 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. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”Hebrews 12:2-3
In becoming a man, Jesus shared our misery, our dust, our pain, our grief, and our curse of death. If he had stayed dead, that would have been the end of the story. Death would be the finale.
But, praise be to God, Jesus did not stay dead! “For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.” (Romans 6:9-10) In his misery, we find joy. In his emptiness, abundance. In his death, we have life.
I can’t wait for what Summitiview has in store for Easter this year. And because of that, the pastors had me write this post! In our next series “ALIVE,” we are going to celebrate Jesus’s triumph over death.
The next four services will all center on the resurrection and its implications for our lives. We will start Palm Sunday with evidence for the resurrection as a verifiable fact. On Good Friday, we’ll explore how faith in the resurrection assures us of being reconciled to God. On Easter, we will celebrate supreme blessing afforded us through the resurrection: relationship with God Himself that lasts forever! The Sunday following Easter week, we will worship and pray in thanks for this living hope we have been given.
Writing this, I’m reminded of all the times I’ve had chest-tight, panic-rising, I-can’t-handle-this moments. Some of those times were due to my own sin and foolishness, while others came through the frustrating circumstances we call life. In each of those moments, I felt as though I would be consumed and forever devastated.
Yet, my gracious Jesus was continually calling me out of death, “not by might, nor by power, but by [His] Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6). Again and again he reminded me of the living hope I have in his resurrection. The triumph of Jesus has given me power to endure all the times I’ll have the wind knocked out of me. By the Holy Spirit inside me, I have found a living hope which death itself cannot prevail against. In some ways, I’m like that little kid again, bouncing right back up after falling down. Jesus has made me more alive than I ever thought possible.
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”Colossians 2:13-14
We can have hope to face the future: if we believe the resurrection happened, we can face whatever devastation our mortality throws at us. “He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3) Death is not the end.
– Elise Ritschard, Communications Coordinator