April 2015

June 9, 2015

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

We have just enjoyed the wonderful spectacle of a partial eclipse of the sun, the earth really did go dark for a few minutes. There was a coolness in the air and the birds went quiet. The Bible records that when Jesus died on the cross there was darkness for three hours. Some scholars say that this was a total eclipse of the sun but if so it could not have been Passover as that occurs at full moon. There is also the problem that the maximum length of a total eclipse is thirty-seven minutes. However this does not disprove anything. The God who caused the Virgin Birth, raised Jesus from death and created the universe would not be fazed with the prospect of causing darkness over the Middle East for a three hour period on a Friday afternoon in April! Nothing is impossible for our God.

On that day, which we now call Good Friday, two thousand years ago Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, the only sinless person ever died on the cross. He died in place of us, He took our sins from us, destroyed them and their consequences because He loved us so much and wanted us to live with Him for eternity. It was a truly momentous day on which some very significant things happened.

Let us return to the earth going dark for three hours (Matthew 27:45). Yes, it really happened. It was a symbolic action for all to see. As Jesus died he took all the sin of humanity upon himself and its sheer volume was overwhelming, blocking out the light that comes from God. In that moment Jesus was separated from God, the love of God could not reach Him, he was in darkness and the ‘eclipse’ was a visual representation of that for the onlookers.

The second symbolic act I want to focus on is the Temple Curtain being torn in two (Matthew 27:51). This was no ordinary curtain like those at our windows. This was the curtain that separated the ’holy of holies’, the most sacred part of the Temple from the rest of the building. Only the High Priest could go beyond that curtain to communicate with God, and then only on certain special days. No-one else was allowed in under any circumstances whatsoever so when the High Priest went in he had a rope attached to his ankle so that if he collapsed or died he could be pulled out. The tearing of the Temple Curtain was a symbolic act demonstrating that at the moment Jesus died the man-made barrier of sin between God and man was removed and all people were free to approach God.

Above all powers, Above all kings
Above all nature and all created things
Above all wisdom and all the ways of man
You were here before the world began

Above all kingdoms, Above all thrones
Above all wonders the world has ever known
Above all wealth and treasures of the earth
There’s no way to measure what you’re worth

Crucified, Laid behind the stone
You lived to die, Rejected and alone

Like a rose trampled on the ground
You took the fall, And thought of me
Above all

However marvellous this day was it was not the end of the story. Jesus was buried in a tomb, sealed by a large stone and guarded by Roman soldiers yet just thirty six hours later the tomb was open, the graveclothes neatly folded and Jesus was alive talking with His friends. What seemed impossible on Friday night was no obstacle to God and however absurd it seems Jesus was, and still is, alive! This is the guarantee of eternal life, that death is not the end and that we will live for evermore.

Your cross is empty, Lord. Your tomb is bare
This Easter Day we lift our hearts in praise
But always Lord may we remain aware
Of what you did in those momentous days.
Marguerite Kendrick

This is the good news of Easter, the message that we must proclaim to the world. In a world of pain and suffering, a world where we are taught to live for the moment, for ourselves, a world desperately looking for meaning and purpose we have the answer. It is wrong to keep it for ourselves. We must tell the world the good news of Jesus Christ, introduce people to Him and allow Him to make disciples of all who will listen. Easter is not just a holiday it is the weekend that changed the world forever and we must celebrate that.