Minister’s Letter April 2014

Dear friends,

In the events that led up to Jesus’ crucifixion we encounter the very worst of human behaviour. Negative behaviour spills out from those who are closest to Jesus to those who had significant power and influence in Jerusalem and Judah in Jesus’ day. One of Jesus’ disciples betrays him with a kiss while Peter, who seemed to part of Jesus’ inner circle, denied he even knew the Lord Jesus, just as had been predicted. The Sanhedrin and Roman authorities conspire together to have Jesus crucified for blasphemy (his claim to be God). It is the sins of betrayal, denial and deceit that lead Jesus to the Cross.

Yet as Christians we do not believe that the events surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion happened by chance. Jesus himself believed that he would die and be raised three days later (see Mk 8:31-37; Mk 9:30-32 & Matt 20:17-19) while the Old Testament is littered with references to the future suffering of God’s messiah. God the Father and the Holy Spirit lead Jesus to Calvary; the scriptures are clear on that fact.

Thankfully the bleakness of the Cross and the events that led up to it are not the full story.  God in his providence turns the negativity of the Cross into a positive and inspiring story. Jesus’ death, as futile as it might appear to the onlookers who were present was not the end. God’s purpose of redeeming Creation which was fallen and ruined by sin is achieved on the Cross. The human race benefits directly in a restored relationship with God through Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the Cross.

God turns the positivity of the Cross into the triumph of Easter Day. When the women go to the tomb on Easter morning they expect to embalm Jesus’ body with spices, as was the custom. But they find that the stone is rolled away and his body has gone. His broken and battered corpse has been transformed into the most amazing resurrection body that can pass through walls, eat food with his disciples and ascend into heaven.  Yet it continues to bear the wounds of crucifixion and retains some recognisable features Jesus original body. What is God telling us through this?

Firstly human evil and the spiritual depravity of the devil did not win through on Good Friday. God could easily have left the situation unchanged and consigned humanity and all creation without hope and in continued spiritual darkness. Yet his love is so strong that no depth of human evil or the level of spiritual darkness can hold back his power to raise Jesus in triumph on Easter morning. Evil is defeated (there is now another way to live) and the devil is vanquished.

Secondly, the triumph of the resurrection is that death is conquered once and for all. The ultimate reality of sin is the death of all relationships (that’s what true death brings: the loved one is gone). Yet Jesus leads the way in showing us that God has won a way through death, that he will share with those who love him and trust in him.

May you know the hope and blessings of Easter.

Your minister and friend,