It is the time of year that many celebrate Easter but forget what this holiday is really about. It is not about bunnies and chocolate eggs, but of the death of the pure and holy one nailed to a cross, taking on the sins of the world, including mine, dying on that cross, was buried and then rose on the third day. This holiday is for those who believe in the power of His resurrection.
To begin to prepare my heart for Easter, I have been reading through Jesus Keep Me Near The Cross edited by Nancy Guthrie. It is a series of short devotional readings taken from sermons by such men as Martin Luther, C.J.Mahaney, Martyn Lloyd Jones, etc. These short readings have begun to give me a more of a feel of what Jesus went through as he focused on going to the cross. He was intentional about getting there and doing what the father has called him to do.
This week I have been listening to a sermon preached in June 2008 at one of the Resolved Conferences. The sermon is entitled ‘ The Scream of the Damned” and was preached by C.J. Mahaney. There are many good quotes from this sermon, but unless you have the whole context of the sermon, they lose some of their impact. To listen to this sermon, click here.
I think for the first time in the 30+ years that I have been a Christian, I am just beginning to get a glimmer of understanding of what my salvation cost. I realized this while listening to C.J. read through Mark 15, tears began to stream down my face. I noticed that C.J. paused at one point during the reading of this chapter. He was also tearing up and he said, “I can’t read this without being affected by this. My sin is responsible for this. And yours is as well, so I would invite you to be affected by this afresh.” At this point, I realized that God was affecting my heart afresh – I was just getting what it cost both the Son and the Father to pay for my sin!
There are two quotes from this sermon that really got to my heart –
One comes from those who were mocking him and in those mocking words are a profound truth. They were mocking him about saving himself.
“If he was to save others, he could not save himself from suffering divine punishment for sin. Because he refused to save himself, he was able to save others” He could not do both – save himself and save others. He proves that He is the savior because he stays there! This is the heart of the gospel and it is revealed through the mocking of his enemies.
The other comes from R.C. Sproul –
In the midst of this darkness – Jesus cries out – My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” This cry represents the most agonizing protest ever uttered on this planet. It burst forth in the moment of unparalleled pain. It is the scream of the Damned for us.”
This Easter will be different for me as I have prepared my heart to ponder anew what was done for me at the cross. I invite you to ponder this as well – it might just change your life and perspective about this holiday.