Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday are behind us for another year and so are the reenactments of the major events around this time of year as celebrated primarily by Christians. Many of us took the time to reflect on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and what those events mean to us personally and collectively. For others, it was a nice long weekend away from the busyness of everyday living.
Now that that weekend has come and gone, what next? What do we do with Jesus? Having celebrated His resurrection from the dead, we can no longer put Him back in the grave for another year. The apostle Paul reminds us that Jesus hanging on the cross was a profound demonstration of God’s love for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8). In other words, He loved us despite the fact that we were sinners who deserved condemnation and without any assurance that we would love Him in return. Jesus was crucified not because of anything He had done, but as a substitute for you and me. At that moment God made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). This kind of unrelenting unconditional love that causes God to pursue humankind throughout the centuries demands a response from every individual.
When Jesus ascended to His Father in heaven, that was not the last the world would see of Him. In His final conversation with His disciples, He promised them the infilling of the Holy Spirit to effectively tell people all over the world about Him. The narrative continues, “And after He said these things, He was caught up as they looked on, and a cloud took Him up out of their sight. While they were looking intently into the sky as He was going, two men in white clothing suddenly stood beside them, who said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This [same] Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will return in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11, Amplified). He came as a baby, died like a common criminal, rose triumphantly from the grave, majestically ascended back into heaven, and is coming back again “to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly deeds they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh and cruel things ungodly sinners have spoken against Him” (Jude vv.14-16).
So how do you respond to God’s demonstration of love? What are you going to do with Jesus? As he reflected on the wondrous cross and all it represented, hymnist Isaac Watts summed up his thoughts this way: “Were the whole realm of nature mine / That were a present far too small / Love so amazing, so divine / Demands my soul, my life, my all.” I agree with him. How about you?