Monday, April 14, 2014

Because He Lives

The emphasis at the outset of Holy Week is generally on the outpouring of support that Jesus received from the Jewish people as they contemplated the Messiah’s overthrow of the oppressive and corrupt Roman government. Although we know how quickly that support turned on Jesus, those images of palm fronds lining the road to Jerusalem are the enduring image of what we call “Palm Sunday”.

However, in our community, Palm Sunday turned dark this year as the forces of evil reigned ugliness and violence on a couple of Jewish centers in neighboring Overland Park. Three people are dead, including a teenage boy, and the entire Kansas City area is experiencing a collective sense of deep sorrow.

Although it’s early in the investigation and things are sure to change as more information becomes available, it appears that the motivation for this senseless violence was the irrational hatred of the Jewish race, something neither novel nor isolated.

But even as our hearts are heavy for those directly affected by this violence, we are reminded that at its core, Easter is all about such dark & sinful hearts. And while we may not have fired shots at innocent people or openly spewed such hatred for our fellow man, we too are guilty of sins for which Jesus had to die. It is every bit as much our spiteful thoughts, our jealousy & envy, our arrogance, selfishness and stubbornness that nailed Jesus to that cross.

It is because we all fall short of God’s standards of righteousness that we need a Savior. Not to make our tax system fairer or our healthcare system more just, but to pay the price for our sins and to endure the very wrath of God on our behalf.

So even as our celebration of our Savior’s victory over sin, death & the grave is tempered a bit by our grief for our fellow man, it should also be heightened by the reminder that such hatred and ugliness will not gain the ultimate victory. The love, grace & mercy of God will reign, and it is this hope that enables us to glorify God through our tears and to exalt His Holy Name despite our heavy hearts.

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