To me, the most important part of every story is the why question: Why is the action unfolding as it is, and what is motivating the main characters to act as they are? If you can answer this why question in any story you have unlocked the mystery at its core.
When we think about Holy Week and all that Christ endured, we must consider the why question it raises: Why would Jesus go through the pain to shed His blood on the cross for people who rejected Him? The prophet Isaiah gave the answer succinctly about 700 years before Jesus was even born:
"But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed. We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost. We've all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong, on him, on him" (Isa. 53:5-6, MSG).
Jesus took our punishment on the cross because it was the only way to save us. He told His disciples, "And if I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to Myself" (John 12:32). For Him, the pain of the cross was nothing compared to the reward of being reconciled with all of humankind—with you and me.
I am often asked, "What is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen in traveling the world?" My answer sometimes catches people off guard: in the darkness of the night I love to see the sky lit up with an empty cross. That's because the cross of Christ is more than a wooden structure made with a hammer and nails. It is about more than the people who witnessed it, the governments and systems impacted by it, and the way it changed existing religious traditions and began a new one. This week, as we remember the events leading up to the crucifixion, the crucifixion itself and the resurrection, we must reflect on the power of the cross, which gives birth to hope in the hearts of men and women that we can be reconciled to God. We must remember:
- His cross is the place where God revealed His love.
- His cross is where heaven kissed the earth.
- His cross is where God's Son died.
- His cross is where we die.
- His cross is where we are found.
- His cross is where the curse is broken.
- His cross is where God's grace is revealed.
- His cross is where we are forgiven of our sins.
- His cross is where we know extravagant love.
- His cross is where we experience extravagant generosity.
- His cross is where we find extravagant power.
What makes the story of Christ's cross different from other accounts of crucifixions in that day is the precious blood that was shed on that cross—the priceless blood, the perfect blood of God's only Son.
Because of His blood, that is applied to the mercy seat we can enter into the presence of God.
Because of his blood, God's presence can enter into us.
Because of His blood, by faith and through grace we can be a witness to a lost, damaged and dying world.
Because of His blood, we can tell the world about the Holy Savior who is not dead but alive and who holds the keys of death, hell and the grave.
This week, we will celebrate the week that changed the world.
When we do, we who are in ministry must ask ourselves our own why questions: Why has God called us to the specific population He has ordained and qualified us to serve? Why is it still important for us to share the saving love of Christ with them this Holy Week, even if they have heard the message of salvation before (from us or others)?
Why do we as ministry leaders need to keep the realities of Holy Week at the forefront of our minds and messages year-round?
It is tempting to fire off rote answers to familiar questions like these, but it is good to intentionally consider these questions regularly, even if the response is the same each time.
Today I encourage you to remember the cross and everything it stands for.
Remember Christ's sacrifice, and let it transform your life all over again.
Mikel French has challenged spiritual awakening all across America, where many celebrations extended into multiple weeks, and has conducted celebrations in France, Sweden, Russia, Romania, Poland, Ukraine, Moldova, Serbia, Germany, South Africa, Malawi, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Haiti, Japan, Singapore, India and Thailand. He conducted an outreach celebration in Manila, Philippines, reaching 200,000 teenagers with the book of hope. Through the generous support of partners, he has presented the message of Jesus Christ to millions of people in the nation of Russia through televised citywide soul-winning celebrations. Mikel considers it an honor to assist in conducting the annual pastor's conference, where thousands of pastors from Russia's 11 time zones come for training, teaching and equipping. Mikel and his wife, Marsha, reside in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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