The sign over His head said it in three different languages. A mere twenty-four hours before, the people had proclaimed and wanted it. The leaders had feared it and plotted to stop it. What had happened? How did things change so quickly?
Life can change in the blink of an eye. What looked like a sure, solid, reliable thing, person or reality becomes unstable, falls apart, or completely turns around. With our mouths agape, heads spinning and despair rising in our hearts, life feels shaky, unstable and nothing feels sure, absolutely true or trustworthy. Our eyes pop open in the morning, and that unsettled feeling fills our minds, and our stomachs churn in fearful anticipation of what the day holds.
Jesus’ disciples were surprised and shaken. Judas was surprised and became hopeless. Pilate was surprised to be caught in the middle of it, that Jesus offered no defence and the crowd chose a known murderer over a declared innocent man.
Jesus was not surprised.
Christ fully knew the hearts of men and how fickle and untrustworthy they are. He went into Jerusalem fully aware of what the next twenty-four hours held. He chose to go anyhow.
Have you been sideswiped by an unexpected turn of events? Has the bottom fallen out of your plans for tomorrow, next month or next year? Do not be shaken or despair. There is an absolute truth, a solid Rock that cannot be shaken or moved.
As Christ, the true King, hung on that cross, battered, bloody, pierced, and mocked, His purpose and His truth were revealed.
Beside Him stood two other crosses with the drooping, pain-ridden bodies of two men no one, including themselves, was surprised to see there. These were criminals, rightly judged to be punished and receive the fruit of their sin.
One cursed God and demanded a release from his suffering, the other, knew a holy fear and humbled himself. In this horrible yet, beautiful scene, the gospel is displayed in all its mystery and glory. The criminal, who feared God, turns to Christ, acknowledges His Kingship and His holiness and simply asks to be remembered.
The response? Assurance of an eternal relationship with the One True King and dwelling with Him in paradise. What hope and joy must have filled the soul of that man? Here is the Rock we can stand on and not fear change or instability, a true and absolute hope. With Christ, there are no unwelcome surprises only the steady faithful presence of our Creator and eternal, joy-filled life.
At this time of year, plans are often made for pleasant surprises tucked in bright coloured baskets and hidden in scattered plastic eggs. Our thoughts are full of chocolate, the long-awaited warmer weather and turkey or ham feasts.
It is passion week, the week before Jesus Christ was crucified. We do not know what this week will bring, what surprise may greet us in the morning or even the next minute that may shake our world. We do know someone who isn’t surprised by any of it and who loved us enough to die for us. He has promised to be with us in it, to strengthen us through it and show us which paths to take.
When life surprises and shakes us or feels broken and hopeless, let us remember the Solid Rock and put our faith and trust in Him.
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He is Risen!
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