Two precious gifts

Published 11:01 pm Friday, April 2, 2010

On Saturday, the Sabbath Day following Passover that year, the new tomb still held a body. The miracle of the resurrection was still to come, and even those closest to Jesus were not expecting it.

Saturday would normally have been a day of worship and rest. Following the events of the previous day, though, Saturday had become a day of mourning for the friends, family and followers of Jesus Christ — waiting for the chance to visit the tomb again on Sunday and properly prepare the body.

When we read the accounts of Christ’s life and death in the four Gospels — not to mention the prophecies about both from the Old Testament — it seems hard to understand how those who called Him Lord could forget the promise Jesus made that death would be unable to hold him. We wonder what became of their faith. Shouldn’t they have remembered he said the temple that was destroyed would be raised again in three days?

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Still, I am reminded of my own wavering faith in time of crisis — and in crises far less crushing than watching my Lord and Savior nailed to a cross to die with criminals.

When my day falls apart at work, and I’m feeling that all hope has left me, where is my faith then? When I’m feeling alone and afraid because of headlines that seem to prove the world is coming apart at the seams, where is my faith then? As I struggle from day to day with my own sinful nature, finding it impossible to overcome on my own power, where is my faith then?

As a believer, do I not have Christ with me as surely as did His disciples and followers almost 2,000 years ago? Are His promises and the promises of His Word not as valid today as they were then? Since God is unchanging, then His promises must be, as well.

And when His Word tells me that He will never leave me nor forsake me, I can be sure that’s as true today as it was to his 11 faithful disciples, to Mary Magdalene and the other women and men who loved Him so much and yet saw him die on that terrible day. Two thousand years later, that gives me reason to rejoice.

There’s a reason that a day filled with such brutality and horror has come to be known as Good Friday. As Jesus Christ poured out his life on that Roman cross, he fulfilled God’s plan from before the foundation of the world to redeem sinners like me. And the resurrection that his followers’ faith was insufficient to expect would become the hope that sustained them and all of them who have been called to follow Him since then.

And it all comes back to a couple of incredible gifts — God’s gift of His Son for a sacrifice, and His gift of faith in His promises. In the face of such gifts, there is nothing to do except praise Him.