by Rev. Christopher Lewis
Have you ever wished for a new beginning? You started out full of ambition and hope, but nothing turned out the way you thought it would. Everything you hoped for fell apart.
What do we do when none of our previous new beginnings had the happy endings we had expected? This is the situation eleven guys and a number of women had one Saturday.
They looked back to an amazing fresh start they’d been given in life. An incredible young man who was full of wisdom and power had asked them to follow him on an adventure of a life-time. They had learned under this man’s tutelage for over three years and watched as he taught some of the most amazing lessons in life and even did miracles. Yes! Actual miracles! And many times they had sat in wonder as they listened, thinking, “He actually chose me! ME! A poor fisherman…a tax collector…a sinner.”
But then everything went horribly wrong.
They actually thought this man was going to become the greatest political leader in history. He would lead them into independence from an oppressive Empire.
But he got arrested.
They had watched on helplessly as he never even defended himself at his trial–and then he had been sentenced to the death penalty.
They had watched on hopelessly as he had been hung on two pieces of wood, shaped in the form of what the Roman Empire called “a cross.” They had executed thousands of rebels using this cruel execution device.
But Jesus didn’t deserve to die. He was so full of love, joy and hope.
And now it was all over.
That had happened on Friday. Now it was Saturday. Everything they had hoped for had turned out to be a miserable failure.
At least that was Saturday’s perspective.
What they didn’t know, however, was that Sunday was coming.
On Sunday morning, the impossible happened. The one in whom they had put their hope rose again from the dead. They had a hard time getting their heads around it at first. The idea that their Messiah would come back to life was so completely against everything their culture believed that there simply was no precedent for such an absurd idea.
But then they saw him standing in front of them in the flesh. It was true. It was real. Jesus had come back from the dead, and it turned out that all the suffering he went through was for a reason. If the apparent failure had not happened, the true victory would have been impossible.
He had died to pay the price for all the stupid things in their own lives, to deal with their own ugly, sinful hearts and to make a way that they could be made brand new.
Jesus’ plan had not been just to deliver a few people from slavery to the Roman Empire. His mission had actually been much bigger…to save the world.
Now anybody who trusted in him could get a clean slate…a new beginning.
Do you find yourself living in the Saturday of despair? All your old new beginnings seem to have ended in failure or regret? Don’t give up. Sunday is coming.
Look into this Jesus who rose again on that first Easter.
Does it seem absurd? It did seem absolutely absurd to the ones he called his disciples, and it seemed like utter foolishness to the people in the Roman Empire.
Some people assume that the early disciples just made up a story that the superstitious people of the ancient world would have swallowed, but they say we have moved on. We are smarter now. We know better.
But that is simply historically wrong. The people then were just as intelligent as we are now, and they weren’t convinced by every silly fancy that came their way. In fact, the story of Jesus was absolutely ludicrous in the eyes of both the Jewish and the Greek world views into which it made its first appearance.
Even the Apostle Paul recognised this, when he wrote the following words in what we now know as the Bible:
“But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” (Note: those who are not Jews were called Gentiles)
So how did this seemingly impossible story of a crucified God find enough traction to survive 2,000 years of cynicism and eventually win over 3 of every 10 people in the world (yes, in the current day over 30 per-cent of the people around the world believe in Jesus. That’s over 2.1 BILLION people!)?
Perhaps a lot of it has to do with the evidence of transformed lives.
People who are serious about following Jesus tend to be changed by him. Christianity is not just some religion. It’s about a relationship with a God who is very much alive and in the business of giving people new beginnings.
Sure, there are a lot of people out there who claim to be Christians but who give Christianity a bad name. But what about the ones you and I have met who are GENUINE? The ones whose lives glow with a love and grace that just can’t quite be explained in this dog-eat-dog world in which we live? Check this out if you don’t believe it, but don’t dismiss it.
What if there really IS a second chance for you? What if there really is a new beginning out there that can make sense of ALL the garbage you’ve been through up until now? What if the power that resurrected Jesus on that Sunday can resurrect your life and give it new purpose and hope? I believe it can. He’s done it for me. He’s done it for a lot of people I know.
I’m not asking you to consider religion. I’m encouraging you to consider a relationship with a living God who loves you and wants to raise your life up again and give it meaning and hope. As the very existence of Easter reminds us every year, he’s in the business of new beginnings.
You can find many other such articles by Christopher right here at KRL.