“He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Luke 24:6-7 NIV
Happy Easter Sunday! As some call it, the “Super Bowl” of the Christian faith. Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus… but in order for Jesus to raise from the dead, he had to die. A sacrifice had to be made. Have you ever thought about the depth of that sacrifice? Sometimes we hear the story through the years and we become numb to it. Pause for a moment and think about it: God gave His one and only Son, Jesus, to be murdered. That’s right, crucifixion ‘aint no pretty thang. Jesus was tortured. Beaten. Spit on. Cursed, laughed at, yelled at. Dragged. Given over to a mob. Chosen for death over murderers and thieves! Flogged until his flesh was torn, bloody, and the bones were exposed. Forced to wear a piercing crown of thorns in mockery. Hung on a cross with giant nails hammered through his hands and feet, while He hung gasping for air as his lungs collapsed. Then, He was pierced as He died in human form. Willingly. Jesus could have stopped this but He didn’t. Because He knew that while the sacrifice was unbearably and undeniably high, He loved us that much. The veil was torn…
‘It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.”’ Luke 23:44-47 NIV
So why, in light of this sacrifice, do we, as Christians… followers of Jesus, carrying the Holy Spirit within us… find it so difficult to sacrifice? We complain about having to get up early on Sunday morning. We argue that the church is too far away, too inconvenient, too loud, too weird, too Spirit-led, too structured, too long, that we don’t like that type of worship music, can’t stand the congregation, feel the Pastor isn’t entertaining enough, don’t like the shoes his wife wears, don’t think the kid program is organized enough… seriously?! Suck it up, buttercup! (Don’t feel offended. I say this to myself also.)
There are people in foreign countries being slaughtered each day because of their faith! They travel miles on foot to host underground churches so the government doesn’t hunt them down, since they aren’t free to worship as they choose. They fight just to have a Bible in their home. It is a privilege. These followers of Jesus have read the Bible cover to cover so many times the pages are torn. Americans have the right to be Christian in this great nation, yet most of us “Christians” aren’t walking with Jesus. We are too busy to go to church. We have multiple versions of Bibles on our shelves… collecting dust!
So here’s our call to stand up and stand out. Don’t just be a “Christian.” Be a follower of Jesus. Live like He lived and love like He loved. Make a sacrifice. Read The Word and live the scriptures out. In light of what He did for us, our sacrifice is unbelievably minor. Take a step today towards whatever He has laid on your heart. Is He tugging at your heart to accept Him as the Lord of your life? To place God as your top priority? To remove idols that are currently replacing God’s seat on the throne? To become a member of the church body and attend weekly? If you’re already attending, is He calling you to sit one service and serve in another? Do you feel a pressing to read your Bible? Memorize scripture? Tithe? Serve the homeless? Tell a friend about Jesus? Pray for the Salvation of the lost in your circle of influence? Invite a family member to church? Pray with a stranger? Take a meal to a neighbor? Stand up for your faith in the workplace? Get Baptized? Admit to an area of sin in your life, repent, and seek help?
Whatever the area is, it may feel like a big sacrifice. A giant step. Uncomfortable. It may sound challenging. But if God is calling you to it, He will give you the grace, strength, and blessing through the journey- and you will be so glad you said “yes” to His call.
“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” Luke 9:24 NIV
“Sacrifice: an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.” -Oxford dictionary. I can’t think of anything or anyone more important or more worthy. The choice is yours. God is a gentleman and He will allow you to decide the direction of your life. No, the walk isn’t always perfect or easy, but it sure is peaceful walking with Jesus holding your hand. We are learning to sacrifice right along side you:)
Here’s to your health!