©Joy Dunlap https://joydunlap.com
My heart sank. I’d been expecting it because of the signs I had seen, but nothing prepared me for what I saw.
Hundreds of tall trees had been chopped down a few blocks from me. What will rise up is difficult to envision, and it’s hard to comprehend how it can be better than the stately trees so peaceful to see.
As for the future of the tree remnants – the trunks, the stumps, the branches – I don’t fully know what will happen. I just know those trees are cut down, never more to live in this form they were in.
Still, I anticipate – I hope – those remains will be used for good.
And when the new rises there like a phoenix, I hope those who encounter it will appreciate the sacrifice and be blessed by what it offers.
Those chopped trees signal change – perhaps growth – coming.
But today sorrow seeps in…for the sacrifice.
Centuries ago, Jesus hung on a cross created from trees. The signs were there in prophecy, and in His own words. He warned the disciples his death would be coming, but it was difficult for them to understand and accept.
On that cross, the Savior of the World hung bleeding and suffering while he bore and absorbed all the sins of humankind – mine and yours.
Stripped. Jeered. Mocked.
Yet, He forgave them. He forgives us.
The two criminals crucified on either side of him had divided reactions. One taunted him.
But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”
And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:40-43
When Jesus breathed his last human breath during that painful crucifixion, some thought it was over, but it wasn’t.
The stone was moved. The grave was empty. Jesus conquered death.
Three days after the crucifixion Mary Magdalene saw the stone to Jesus’s grave had been moved and raced to tell the disciples. Peter and John ran to the tomb to discover theody of Jesus wasn’t there.
He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) John 20: 6b-9
Initially, it was mind-boggling, but then Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene who was weeping.
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” John 20:17-18a
Later Jesus appeared to ten of the twelve disciples who were gathered together in fear behind locked doors. Judas had betrayed him, and Thomas wasn’t there but he would have a later encounter.
Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:19b-22
God loved us enough to send His Son to pay the debt for our sins, so we could live and walk in a restored relationship with God. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we experience mercy and grace in a way that is life-changing and heart-healing.
When we understand and accept the love of Christ, it not only changes the landscape of our lives, but also removes the guilt, and fills the longing in our hearts, opening the door to peace and joy.
The crucifixion of Christ seemed the end in the eyes of so many who sought to destroy the message of the Messiah, but instead it was the sacrificial step toward a new beginning of forgiveness, peace and joy offered to all, and experienced fully among each of us who believe.
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14
Abundant life now. And life everlasting with the Lord.
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13-14
- Do you have a personal relationship with God where you enjoy hearing from His Word and talking to Him through prayer?
- How has Jesus changed your life?
- In what ways is your life still changing, still growing in Him?
- How can you demonstrate sacrificial love to someone else today?
- If you don’t know the Lord but would like to communicate with someone about the peace and joy you can find in a relationship with Him, I’d love to tell you about Jesus.
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:19-20
Life is Better When It’s Full – Joy-full, Thank-full, Purpose-full and Friend-full! ™
*Scripture references are from New International Version (NIV)