Bonus Devotional for February 2017.
Today we read about one of the most terrible events in all history: the crucifixion of Jesus.
We followed Jesus’s story with so much hope and expectation. We watched as God left the glory of heaven to come be here with us as a small baby laid in a manger. We watched as God came bringing good news of his love for all people, and his salvation for the whole world. We watched as God showed us what it means to live in his kingdom: to love and care for others, to treat them with compassion. We watched as God healed us, and led us out of darkness. We watched as God fought for what was right and fair, standing up for the weak and rejected, welcoming those who had been pushed aside. In Jesus, God came into our world and reached out to us all, to all humanity.
But what did we do? We grabbed hold of the God of Love and we threw him back out of the world. In Jesus, God came to be Immanuel, “God with us”. But we didn’t want God with us. Instead we bound him, beat him, nailed him to a cross, and killed him.
Is this how the story of goodness and love ends? Are goodness and love always doomed to be attacked and rejected and destroyed? Maybe. After all, don’t we often experience this in our lives too? We care for others, try to be kind and generous, try to forgive, to turn the other cheek, and so often it just brings us more attacks and troubles. Is it worth living a life of kindness and gentleness if it only leads to a cross?
In Jesus, God showed us that yes, being kind and loving does open us to troubles and to attack by those who don’t want goodness and love. And if we stopped reading Jesus’s story here, we might think that that’s how the story ends: that hate wins.
But this isn’t the end! The wonderful truth of the crucifixion is that it leads to resurrection. The good news of the crucifixion is that no matter how hard evil and hate may try, they will never win – because suffering and death are not the end. Even though evil looks so powerful, it too will fail. Goodness will win, and love will win, because on the cross Christ won!
Pastor Stephen Lakkis