Friday, April 3, 2015

Reflecting on His Death & Celebrating His Resurrection

I grew up and remain in what is considered the Fundamentalist Bible Baptist setting.  I make no apologies for it, for there are none to be had.  I believe whole-heartedly the Bible and its teachings which are preached and have been preached by my pastors, past and present.

However,  many born-again Christians in this circle came out of the Catholic Church, a religion which spends a lot of time focusing on Advent, Lent, and the Easter season. I believe some saved Christians fear that these things smell too much of Catholicism necessitating a complete separation from them.  I am not sure that is the case.

Our family focused on Advent for the first time this past year.  I didn't have to worship Mary or pray to saints or anything like that.  We just took each day in December to reflect and meditate on the coming of the Saviour of mankind.  How much more meaningful Christmas Day was celebrating the birth of Jesus when we spent the entire month anticipating it through reading the prophecies and the story of Mary, Joseph, and the central characters in the story of His nativity.

So it is with Easter or, Resurrection Sunday (Easter was a pagan holiday already being celebrated before the death, burial & resurrection of Christ.  They are two different holidays celebrated on the same day).  While we have not chosen to recognize Lent (though, I will say, our church and family do a month of Sanctification in January, which prepares us for serving the Lord the rest of the year and I find it similar), I think it is important to not ignore Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.

The "argument" is made that, as born-again Christians who are saved by the blood of Christ and His resurrection, we celebrate His resurrection every day of our lives.  We remember His death, burial and resurrection often in church when we commune around the Lord's Table.  Yet, do we really celebrate His resurrection every day?  I do not.  Oh, I think of it and I thank and praise the Lord for it regularly, but it is not my daily focus, even if it ought to be.  But to take a day to really focus on it and to celebrate I think would be something my Lord would be pleased with.

Do we not, as Christians and Americans, take a day to remember our country's fallen heroes on Memorial Day?  We have parades, speeches, picnics.  Do not the fireworks bursting in air on the Fourth of July remind us of our heritage and give us pause to think about the foundations and beginnings of this great country and the blood that was shed?  How much more so should we take a day or two to truly reflect on the shedding of blood for our very souls?

Yes, I know the debate over whether Christ died on a Friday or not. Quite frankly, I would dare say that  those who shun Good Friday over the fact that Christ probably died on a Thursday don't even take the Thursday to reflect on what happened on the cross.  The point is to take a day to remember the day Christ hung broken, naked, bleeding, dying…for me.  He bore in silence rebuke, scorn, ridicule, mocking...for me.  So that I, a couple of thousand years later, could hear of it and accept His gift of salvation.  Is that not worth a day of somber reflection?

(Good Friday…why "Good"?  Because, what He did for me is so very good.  It is a good gift…a most excellent gift.)

Resurrection Sunday should be a celebration.  It is the remembrance of the very day the soldiers fainted as dead, the stone was rolled away and Jesus Christ, after lying dead for 3 days, walked out of that tomb!!  We put up decorations, buy gifts, feast and make merry on Christmas to celebrate His birth.  How much more extravagant and joyous ought the celebration of His resurrection for the hope of our salvation be?!

Throughout the Bible, God's people are commanded - not given the option - but commanded to hold feasts for Him in remembrance of the miraculous works He did for them.  Passover commemorating the exodus of the Jews from Egypt.  Purim commemorating the saving of the people during Esther's time.  Feasts of thanksgiving.  Feasts of harvest. What more miraculous work has God done for His people than give His only Son, allow Him to die, then raise Him from the grave so we may live forever with Him in Heaven?

Man, I feel like praising Him and celebrating right here at my desk!!!

We are not commanded to set aside a day of feasting etc. to commemorate the Resurrection of Christ, perhaps because we live in the age of grace. Perhaps God would like us to do it of our own free will.   So, this I challenge you, especially if you have been brought up in a church that shies away from celebrating these holy days:  take time today, Good Friday, to reflect on your Saviour hanging on a tree for you. Then on Sunday, celebrate whole-heartedly this truth:

He is risen.  He is risen, indeed!

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