As a kid, I loved celebrating Easter. It was another reason to get the family together and have a big meal. We would often do the Easter egg hunt at my parents’ house, but we preferred to do it at my Nana’s and Popop’s house because while Mom and Dad filled the eggs with Jolly Ranchers, Nana and Popop filled them with quarters and the occasional silver dollar!
But as we sat down for the meal and my dad would pray over us, we never doubted what Easter was all about. We knew, as we do to this day, that we serve the one true, living God. There have been a lot of speakers and teachers throughout history, but only One has conquered the grave. And this is exactly the message we want our kids to know about Easter.
I remember a specific play hosted by a church in Tulsa that we always attended on Easter weekend. It was Mom’s favorite thing to do. As I became older, I appreciated the play more and more as I watched the church staff and members act out the event surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection. The one thing that always hit me, and still makes me weep like a baby, is the story of the Roman guard. When the people whip Jesus and then put Him on the cross, and as the earthquake shakes the stage, there’s one guard who takes a step back and says, “Surely this is the Son of God.” Then after Jesus comes back and is hugging His disciples and Mary, this guard approaches Jesus with his head down, ashamed of himself. But Jesus doesn’t hesitate — He embraces the soldier in a big hug.
That one scene gets me every year. That’s what I want my relationship with Christ to look like. Furthermore, that’s how I want to embrace others. God’s grace is all over the Bible and I want to display His amazing grace in my marriage, to my friends and anyone else who is watching. Even though we are imperfect people, we have God’s grace to accept for ourselves and pour out on others.
Similarly, when I think about the character of Barabas, I’m again humbled. Barabas was a guilty criminal, on trial near Jesus. But while Barabas was able to walk away free, Jesus was unjustly charged. Here was a rebel — a criminal — whom Jesus could have pointed out for his sin. He could have compared Barabas to His own perfect life, but He didn’t. He let the man walk away free.
In America, we are taught we have to work hard for what we want. And we do, don’t we? If we want to make it to the NFL, we have to put in the work to get there; it’s not handed to us. If we mess up along the way, we have to pay the consequences. That’s life. But Jesus doesn’t require that we climb a ladder to get to Him. What I love about Jesus and the relationship we get to have with Him is that the work has already been done. So the only question for us is, “Now what?” Christ hung on the cross with the last words of, “It is finished” (John 19:30). I wish that our biggest struggle as followers of Christ was to wrap our minds around the reality of this truth.
It is finished. Now what? What would it look like in our lives if this perspective took root? Often we think we have to get it all together before we can be used by God, but that is the opposite of the Gospel! Come to Him first, then watch Him change you.
— Tress Way, Washington Redskins punter
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