I'd be willing to bet that pretty everyone reading this has at least heard of the movie "The Passion of the Christ." The majority of us have probably seen it.
I know the movie is not a 100% accurate picture of the crucifixion. I doubt any Hollywood portrayal could pull that off. But the movie made one thing clear: He suffered. And we were the reason.
A few years ago I read an excerpt from Lee Strobel's book "The Case for Christ." This was just a few sample chapters pulled together in a little booklet called "The Case for Easter." I'm telling you, that little book completely changed my view of Christ's death. (A couple years later, I was able to read the book in its entirety; I highly recommend this book!) The suffering Jesus went through, before he even encountered the cross, humbled me. It opened my eyes to what my Savior went through to ensure my salvation. It opened up a deeper love and appreciation for that sacrifice.
While the movie and the book were very different in approach, both accomplished something. I see the crucifixion differently than I used to. Whether accurate or not, I see the pictures of a blood-soaked Savior struggling to carry the cross. The cross I deserved. The medical description of what his body went through after that night in Gethsemane, through the brutal flogging, and finally hanging by those Roman spikes through his hands and feet will never leave me.
And I'm glad those words and pictures are embedded in my memory. If He was willing to go through that excruciating agony, to pay my debt, why shouldn't I be uncomfortable with the reminders? And by the way, did you know that the word "excruciating" actually came from the crucifixion? (According to Lee Strobel.) There was no other word to describe the pain those being executed on the cross, that they had to come up with a whole new word. Thus "excruciating" means "of the cross." So, the next time you use that word to describe a pain in your head or a broken bone, you're literally comparing it to Jesus' death on the cross.
I don't claim to live with the knowledge of my Savior's suffering every moment of my life. I, like every other human on the planet, get distracted by life. I get too busy or complacent in my Christian walk. I acknowledge that Jesus died for me, but I don't always stop to reflect on the fact that Jesus DIED for me. I try to slow down sometimes to meditate and remember. Especially this time of year, although I know I should every day.
One thing I strive for is to live with passion. Passion for Christ, for His word. He showed His passion for me when he allowed mortal men to pierce his body and hang it on a slab of wood. The least I can do is try to live my life for Him.
I hope this Easter you will stop and consider, really consider, what this day is about. It's not about the presents that everyone rushes out to buy their kids. It's not about hiding a bunch of eggs. It's not about buying a fussy new outfit to wear to your annual visit to church. And it's certainly not about a goofy bunny hopping around giving out chocolate.
It's about a Savior, a King, a Creator leaving His heavenly kingdom to be wrapped in human flesh. Flesh that experiences hunger, weariness, and pain. A lot of pain. Then that Savior lived in that flesh for 33 years, before laying it down on the cross. For you. For me.
That's what this weekend is about. THAT's what we should be living for. THAT's what we should be passionate about.
May you have a blessed Easter, my friends. But do not be offended if I hope and pray that your holiday be interrupted with images or reminders of a brutal death Someone encountered so that you could live. So that you could be saved. So that you could live free and eternally...
In His Grip!