“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” John 11:25-26, KJV
This time of year always finds me in an emotional turmoil. Getting through the week before Easter is like taking a roller coaster ride through the landscape of some other world. I go up, I come down, I go up again.
My biggest hurdle is getting through to Easter Sunday without crying my eyes out. Thinking about what Christ went through on my behalf is alternately humiliating and exhilarating. I am ashamed to have caused Him such suffering. I am so lifted by the knowledge that He loved me that much. I grieve for what He suffered, all the while celebrating what He did. Talk about giving yourself a schizophrenic dilemma!
Come with me back to the Easter Sunday of my childhood when I first realized what it was all about. I stood between my parents, trying to sing along with the hymn “The Old Rugged Cross.” The thought hit me: that must have hurt…a lot! Poor Jesus.
Suddenly, I was transported from the tiny sanctuary of our neighborhood church to the base of the cross. I looked up, trying to see Jesus’ face. All I could make out was His eyes, shining with even more love than I usually saw in my Daddy’s eyes.
As He looked straight at me, He whispered “It’s okay. You’re worth it.” At that moment, I knew that He was suffering because of me. The pain, the beating, the insults – He endured them all because of me. Tears began to roll down my cheeks.
My mother took me out of the sanctuary and tried to find out what was wrong, but I was crying too hard to explain. It was some time later before I could tell her what I was feeling. I’m not sure she believed all that I was saying.
Later, the pastor came to ask me about what happened. He seemed of the opinion that I was too young to understand what I was talking about and couldn’t really have seen and heard what I was describing. When I told him I wanted to be baptized, he rolled his eyes and said “Not yet.”
That night, I cried as I pondered that the grownups wouldn’t let me belong to Jesus. How could I be too young to belong to Him? Didn’t we have a picture of Him in out Sunday School room that showed Him surrounded by children? And I heard Him whisper again.
“You do belong to Me, no matter what others think. You are mine forever.”
I finally fell asleep, secure that I was safely in the fold.
As years went by, I came to understand that the adults meant well and only wanted to be sure that I really comprehended what a profession of faith meant and how serious a decision I made. But nothing that I’ve learned in nearly 60 years of living since that Easter morning made the decision any more personal or intense than it was in that moment when I realized that Christ paid that awful price for me, so that I could have life. He paid it for you, too.
Merciful Savior, thank You for loving me enough to face the cross and the pain and the sorrow. Keep me mindful of the frightful cost of my salvation. In Your Precious Name, amen.