Minden Press-Herald

Wednesday
Oct 01st

Easter is a Time for Renewal and Rejoice

beaversjoshToday is Good Friday. The day the Lord suffered. The day He died for His children.

And what have we done with His sacrifice?

Death, destruction and despair.

War, murder and the like. At every turn, villainy greets us.

It seems the world becomes dimmer with every passing day. Another slip of the human code of ethics and decency.

Some might want to ask God why has He forsaken us? They would not be the first to ask such a question.

Some two thousand years ago, at the sixth hour, darkness came over the land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"- which means, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" 

At that moment, Jesus' purpose was soon to be fulfilled. It was also at the height of His suffering and His pain.

That one question illustrates just how human Jesus truly was.

He was not merely God encased in a body. Inside and out, His humanity was real. He possessed a human spirit and was psychologically one of us.

Though the Son of God, Jesus was born to a mortal woman and experienced all of the emotions that you and I do.

Doubtful? Here are some examples from the New Testament:

Compassion: "But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd." (Matthew 9:36) (Literally, "moved in one's internal or visceral organs")

Distress: "He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, 'My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.'" (Matthew 26:37)

Joy: "In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, 'I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. . .'" (Luke 10:21)

Anger: "And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts" (Mark 3:5)

Indignant: "When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.'" (Mark 10:14, NIV)

And it was in that moment on the cross His humanity was brightest. Moments before His last breath, His eternal strength began to waver, and He despaired.

Note that He doesn't call out "My Father." Jesus calls out "My God."

Those of you who read the scriptures, listen in church or only have "The Passion of the Christ" to go by, know how close the Son and Father were.

When Jesus spoke to God, He always called Him Father, using the Aramaic word "Abba," which is the equivalent of Papa or some other term of special closeness a son has for his father.

There was no call to "Abba" in that moment. Jesus asked why had His God forsaken Him. He felt alone. He felt great sorrow.

All of us can relate. And that's why Jesus is such a good teacher. He lived for His purpose. He remained passive rather than using His powers to defend Himself. He accepted the cup His father gave Him. He suffered so that the ones He loved could benefit.

So too must we.

Some are more fortunate. Some wicked human beings ease through life, yet some of the kindest and most caring souls lose everything.

But what truly constitutes a person's character is how they respond when challenged. Will they falter, or will they endure and overcome?

Nigerian author Ben Okri once said the most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.

That is an important remark to remember as we celebrate this holiday and remember that Easter is a time of renewal and rejoicing. The everyday tragedies of the world should teach us that life is a precious thing.

While violence and sadness mark the days, the Easter message has been sustained through the centuries precisely because it teaches redemption and renewal can come out of tragedy and darkness.

The tragedies of our times are reflections of the human heart. But so to should be the joy of this time when we commit ourselves anew to turn from anger and hate.

We must remember that man is inevitably a good species. While the bad apples may get most of the press, we haven't devolved far enough to lose hope in the way of man.

And the world can endure as long as the good people continue to teach the values that were passed on from those who came before.

So remember that when times are troublesome and hearts grow heavy, when the news is filled with offensive and heartbreaking images, and your days seem darkest, there is always something worthy for which to fight – the knowledge that there is good in the world.

And remember, He was there before.

"Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"

"My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?"

He was not abandoned.

Nor are any of us.

Josh Beavers is the publisher of the Minden Press-Herald. He is a two-time recipient of the Best Newspaper Column award given annually by the Louisiana Press Association.

 

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