I have been wearing my cross necklace since Lent began in March. It was the prettiest one I have. Last Sunday, however, I exchanged the pretty cross for one more in keeping with the original idea of a cross. It is made of nails.
The cross hangs on a plane brown cord. It did not blend in with my Sunday dress-up outfit. Nor did it match my go-to-work clothes. It has looked awkward and out-of-place, and it’s been a bit uncomfortable having it on 24/7. It has reminded me that the cross was anything but a beautiful decoration in first century AD.
The cross was a torture instrument. It was designed so the condemned would suffer agony. A criminal could hang there for days before the relief of death came.
As the weakness set in and the body hung heavily from the arms attached to the cross beam, it became difficult to breathe. The crucified would try to muster enough strength to push up with his legs in order to get a full breath of air.
Suffocation was often the cause of death.
So we hang a beautiful silver or gold cross on a matching chain and put it around our necks as jewelry.
Back in my teens and twenties, a slogan became popular. “God is dead” they said. The world was going you-know-where in a handbasket, so some intellectuals thought God surely had died and left us to fend for ourselves.
The day God died was not in the 1960s or ’70s. It was more like 33 AD. Jesus Christ, fully man and fully God, the God-man, surrendered His life on purpose. It was all according to the plan. The plan was to offer grace to the fallen race of humanity. So in need were we then. So in need are we now.
The only way to bring sons and daughters to God was through death. Only the death of the God-man would pay the penalty for the sins of the world – once and for all. The weight of the world’s sins rested on the shoulders of Jesus as He hung and gasped for the breath of life. The life breath that was first given to Adam by God Himself.
Jesus’ life seemed to be cut short, just a young man in the prime of life and popularity. Yet He lived His life fully to the end because He knew His calling. He would let nothing or no one deter Him from the goal. And the goal was death.
Because of the joy set before Him of bringing sons and daughters to God, He endured the cross despising the shame.
I want to live my life fully, on purpose, doing what God has called me to do. My calling is not to be a preacher or a missionary. But my calling is definite and sure, whispered to my heart on many occasions.
What is your calling? Has the Holy Spirit whispered to your heart and told you how He wants to you live fully, to live joyfully with your eyes fixed on Jesus who will reward you for finishing the work He has given you?
It may not be what your parents wanted, or what your peers thought you should do, or the potential your teachers saw in you. It is a God calling that is particular for each son and daughter of the King. Joy will be the by-product of living life fully in the calling of Christ.
Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread which followed were fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah. Tomorrow we will celebrate Easter Sunday which is actually the Feast of First Fruits. I hope you will come again and share the joy of resurrection with me.
Here is a recipe and activity to do with your children or grandchildren that will let you tell the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection in a way they can understand. It does not have to be Easter Eve to tell the story. Do it often and remember how much God loves us. Perhaps telling the story is part of your calling as it is mine.
- 1 cup whole pecans or walnuts
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 3 egg whites
- a pinch of salt
- 1 cup sugar
- a small zipper baggie, wooden spoon, duct tape, and a Bible
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
- Place the nuts in the zipper baggie and let the children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested, He was beaten by the solders. Read John 19:1 – 3
- Let each child small the vinegar. Put 1 teaspoon into a mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross, He was given vinegar to drink. Read John 19:28 – 30
- Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us new life. Read John 10:10-11.
- Sprinkle a little salt into each child’s hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus’ followers, and the sadness we have for our own sins. Read Luke 23:27.
- So far, the ingredients are not very appetizing. Add 1 cup of sugar.
- Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know Him and belong to Him. Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16.
- Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Explain that the color white represents the purity in God’s eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3
- Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus’ body was laid. Read Matthew 27:57-61.
- Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus’ tomb was sealed. Read Matthew 27:65-66.
- GO TO BED! Explain that they may feel said to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus’ followers were in despair when they left Jesus there.
- On Resurrection morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bit. The cookies are hollow! On the first Resurrection Day, Jesus’ followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty. Read Matthew 28:1-9.
Celebrate the Risen Savior who is alive and ever interceding for us who believe!