April begins with a jokester of a day. That being April Fools Day. Fortunately this year I escaped the pranks that usually show up somewhere on that day. Another small thing to be grateful for I guess.
As I think about what else April brings and I’m drawn to the irony of another joke, so to speak, which was put upon creation. The world, devil, and flesh thought it had won a stunning victory and put upon mankind the great April fools of all time.
All three of them were dead (pun intended) wrong.
Jesus had indeed been crucified and placed in a grave, but no grave was capable of holding The Savior within. Jesus Christ delivered the final punchline to His arch-enemy when He said “It is finished” and then demonstrated it on the third day.
As the angel sat atop the rolled away stone, the joke came to a stunning silent conclusion. “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary”, stood looking at the sight and the angel said to them; “Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here. For He has risen just as He said.” Matthew 28:5-6a
This victory over the grave is the same victory won for us as we pursue freedom from unwanted behaviors and the healing of the wounds that fueled most of our journeys into the dark.
Christ walking free and alive from the grave accomplished an eternal goal and provided a way to freedom; a glorious release from bondage.
Galatians 5:1 “For freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm, then, and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
Thinking of Resurrection Sunday (Easter) this year, has me reflecting on Jesus' reason for going to the cross: you and me.
Jesus said Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing (Luke 23:34). Yes, Jesus was speaking to and about those directly in front of Him, yet also for you and me.
In the worst of our addictive and unwanted behaviors, I imagine Jesus the Christ sitting on the throne, advocating for me and you with the same words for us: forgive them. Even as Jesus hung on the cross, being fully God, you were not gone from His mind. In fact, I will suggest you were specifically on His mind.
Picture the day (your D-Day) when everything came into the open and all the pain, shame, guilt, and anger ran you over. Then see Jesus at the Father’s right hand advocating for you, defending you based on His perfect and complete sacrifice.
Imagine Jesus saying this on your behalf: “Father, forgive_______________ he knew not what he was doing. As a boy, __________ didn’t understand what he was about to open his life up to. As a man, he didn’t know how to find the freedom I died to give him. Father, forgive him.”
Now, I know what I just wrote is not in Scripture. Yet we know Jesus advocates for us from the Father’s right hand. (1 John 2:1) We know we are saved by grace through faith, not by one or a thousand good works.
Jesus sympathizes with His sons and daughters as He pours out mercy upon us. Just as he told the woman about to be stoned for adultery, “Neither do I condemn you, now go and sin no more.” John 8:11
As Jesus has fully paid for your sins (and mine, praise His name) he was fully in control of the exact moment it was “finished”.
Please read the next verses carefully. Think about it. Meditate and pray on it.
Luke 23:46 “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (emphasis mine) Then He breathed his last. Picture this in your mind if you can. Sit with that image for a minute.
How many times have we heard that Jesus, and others who were crucified, were by crucifixion primarily suffocated and that even breathing would become extremely difficult for those crucified in such a manner?
The veil was torn in the temple, opening the throne room to God’s people. It grew dark in the middle of the day.
The one criminal on the cross was told, “Today you will be with me in paradise” while Jesus hung on the middle cross.
Here’s my point. Jesus called out with a “loud voice” and voluntarily gave his spirit to God the Father. Can a man who can barely breathe speak in a loud voice? Was Jesus in full control, in and with the Father, of when He would submit His life as the final payment for our freedom?
The answer is yes. Absolutely yes.
Jesus chose exactly the right time to lay his life down. Satan’s sick joke on mankind was over.
Just as He said in John 10:18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
As you continue to work toward the Galatians 5:1 Freedom that Jesus offers you by grace, remember this same Jesus who controlled the moment of His very last breath has been fighting for you eternally.
Jesus has risen. He is alive. The tomb is empty.
Your freedom is fully paid for.
For freedom, you have been set free. Live into it!