I had a hard time absorbing Easter this year. I felt myself making a concerted effort to stop and reflect on the death of my Lord and the significance of His resurrecting from the dead. The two biggest events in human history followed up by even the prior birth of Christ, one would think would move me each time beyond measure. Yet, sometimes it doesn't. Ooooh, that makes me sound like such a bad Christian does it not?!
The fact is, the crucificiton and the resurrection are events in history that I utterly believe in but that are far away from my own every day reality. That is just the truth of it. Only by the impression on my heart from God's Holy Spirit are my eyes even open to receive and believe those truths. Though they are massive, earth shattering, and eternally life changing to me, they are emotionally and practically a long way away from my every day and I feel I have to work my brain to travel back to what I even have knowledge of regarding their existence.
So, this morning I was greatly impressed and encouraged by an event no less significant that allows the "rubber" of the Easter story to hit the "road" of my life.
Most of you know that Passover is before Easter. That the last supper took place at Passover. That passover is a remembrance of when God rescued the Israel nation out of slavery and brought them into the promised land. It was a time to put the blood of a lamb on the door post so the angel of death would passover the home of those who put their faith in God. You also know that this was indeed a foreshadowing of the coming of Christ to be the Lamb of God, shed his blood, that though faith would allow the freedom from slavery to sin as well as salvation from eternal death.
Jesus was crucified after the passover meal and rose from the dead three days later. Of course his resurrection and it's significance trumps any other before or after existing belief regarding the salvation of humanity. It fulfills all prophecy to the "T", and it allows and points to the possibility of our own certain resurrection in bodily form before the creation of the New Earth as we are told in Revelation.
When Jesus rose from the dead he appeared to the disciples and ate meals with them to prove he was not just spirit but risen body as well. He remained with them for 40 days teaching them about the Kingdom of God.
All great events, all foundational and life changing for me of course. However, nothing I have participated in myself or been able to witness to where my memory is forever branded with experiential absorption of truth. What is experienced in my life happened 50 days after that Passover.
It's called the Feast of Weeks and is also known as "Pentecost" (meaning "fiftieth") celebrated 50 days after Passover in May/June (Lv 23:15-22). For years, and years, and years, the people of Israel came to Jerusalem to celebrate this important event.
It's astounding to me how consistent God is. I'm so thankful for that. How important absolutely perfect timing is to him as well. He is precise, concise, and affirmative. He used the events of Jesus to coincide and tie up all loose ends of the rituals of the Old Testament and make them complete and fulfilled. Wow. For it was at this exact time that the events of Acts chapter 1 take place. The promise given by Jesus (vs.8) to send the helper, the comforter, the source of power, the very spirit of Himself would come to pass at this time. It was called the Pentecost. During the former feast at Pentecost, the firstfruits were offered and the image is paralleled and fulfilled as the Holy Spirit came and brought the firstfruits of the gospel of Jesus the Christ through the salvation of the first Christians that day.
The amazing thing is that this is something I am a part of. It was the beginning, but I get to be part of the story. The apostles had to wait for this special event but all after are given the Holy Spirit at salvation. That means that the power that motivated Christ to obey the will of God even unto death, now dwells in me. It means that the comfort he gave out to others in his human life, is given to me, just as if his very hands were laid upon me. It means that his Spirit to fulfill the will of God on earth is moving and working even now on this earth and through His great grace, it is moving through my very life and circumstances. It means that my life can be decided in every detail by God's direction. There are no more chances, guesses or good luck/bad luck outcomes. Notice that even the last decision made by the disciples before the Holy Spirit came was made by the casting of lots. They cast lots between whether Matthias or Barabbas (or Justus) should be the disciple to replace Judas. They trusted God to decide through this practical process proven by their prayer in verse 24. It was an OT way of determining the will of God. That was about to change. God was about to become even more intimate than just saving our souls. He was going to hand us the very spirit of His son to navigate our steps till we reach the end. If we belong to Him and prayerfully decide what to do in life, He will lead us in the will of God. That is an amazing thing if you really think about it.
In summary, it's kind of a "that was then, this is now" story. Try as we might to muster up emotions and significant responses to the events of Christ's cross and resurrection, we waver and we fail. We come and we go. We are unpredictable and unsteady. We are distant from the event itself and unable to grasp it's importance fully.
Then God gave his intimate solution to the problem he knew all to well that we had. Wanting to help us, love us, and guide us through, he unleashed the Holy Spirit of his beloved Son into our very lives so that He can navigate and keep faithfully that which has been in trusted to His care. We are not powerful. We are not comforted. We are not wise. We are not fulfilled and focused. Yet the event of the Pentecost, 50 days from Passover, and up and coming on your calendar, is the phase two in the Easter Story. It is the hand to be held, the motivation to be used, the peace to be permeated, the direction to be led, and the companion so treasured along the rest of a journey for the Glory of God. For Him, to Him, and by Him, making us complete in Christ.
So, whatever you do....don't stop celebrating if you believe, because this is where YOU come in to the story itself!