Courtesy: Daniel Bramlett
I’m sure by now you have heard of the burning of the iconic Parisian Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday. The world wept as this symbol of faith and hope languished in flames for some nine hours before the firefighters could successfully extinguish the blaze. Tales of worshippers walking the streets in song and heroic firefighters rescuing priceless threatened relics abound on the internet. What struck me is the immediate outpouring of dollars, millions of dollars, given for the rebuilding of this giant among cathedrals. It is no exaggeration to say that in its grief the world is responding to this tragedy.
Tomorrow is Good Friday. This is the day we traditionally remember Jesus sacrifice for us on the cross. Sunday is the day traditionally called Easter. It is so much more than pretty dresses and choir specials. This is the day Jesus was announced by angels, rose from the tomb and addressed his friends who were grieving their loss. Mary is found weeping at the empty tomb, thinking her Messiah has been stolen. Peter and John are seen sprinting to the tomb to verify the absence of Jesus’ body. Two on the Emmaus road recognize Jesus as their hearts burn within them and Thomas’ eyes are opened as he places his hands in Jesus wounds. Heartache and celebration crown this 2,000 year old event and people have remembered it in kind for generations.
I am saddened by the damage to Notre Dame. I can feel the grief of France. But my sadness runs much deeper and my grief much stronger for a world that weeps over a building and dismisses the risen Christ with the obligatory attendance of a single Church service. While I understand the many who feel the nails of our crucified Lord and joyfully proclaim His new life along with His disciples, I know there are millions more who will push this weekend aside as just another Church holiday. I challenge you to not be among those millions this weekend.
It is no joke to say the earth trembled, the sky went dark and the curtain that had separated the world from God tore. It is no matter to brush aside for us to think about the soldiers who confessed Jesus as the Son of God, the battering ram the enemy tried to use to end God’s redemptive purpose on earth and the awful torture Jesus endured for our sake. “Truly this was the Son of God!” From prophecies fulfilled to over 500 eye witness accounts, Jesus’ death and resurrection is not a thing to be toyed with.
Josh MacDowell famously said, either Jesus is a lunatic or He’s God’s Son. There is no room for Jesus to just be a good teacher or a good guy. The things He said must either be accepted as truth or brushed aside as the words of a crazy guy. While there have been many crazy people throughout history to claim things similar to Jesus teachings, none of them were able to follow through. Not a single one of those guys were raised from the dead. Not a single one fulfilled hundreds of Biblical prophecies. Not a single one has been carried through history as the Son of God. Most all of them have been forgotten. But Jesus remains. If you plan to worship Him this Sunday morning you must consider this thought: either Jesus is absolutely false in all of His claims to be God’s Son OR He is worthy of every ounce of our lives and obedience. Either He is crazy or He is God. There is no in between.
I remember the sinking feeling I felt as the Twin Towers fell. I’ve been to the USS Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor and felt the solemnness and gravity of standing over the graves of hundreds of soldiers. I’ve stood on countless US and foreign battlefields and felt the weight of the blood spilt for my freedom. But never have I ever experienced on any of these fields the utter freedom of my sin being paid for, my life being unbound from clutches of the enemy and my heart being bound to the millions of others who submit to Jesus as Lord. A lack of grief over a building or a heritage is crass but a lack of grief over our sin is deadly. To miss the solemnity in a battlefield is immature and sad but to miss the purpose of life is condemning for eternity. There is a difference. I pray you see and react to the difference this weekend.
2nd Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him!”