Monday, May 1, 2017

Meditations on Easter I

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Psalm 22: 1-2

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.

Luke 22: 39-44

Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

Hebrews 2:9

But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

Life is full of separations.  In our fallen world we are confronted with the loss and grief produced by the separation of husband and wife, estrangement of parents from their children, and the alienation of ethnic minorities from their host society. In their humanity, these separations reflect on the brokenness of the imago dei, our mirror-likeness of God's eternal attributions which has been damaged ever since the Fall and marred the horizontal relationships we have with each other, causing us to act in self-love to serve our own ends, rather than the agape love Christ showed us in his sacrificial act of atonement for our sins. These separations also hint at a divorce far more deeper and profound in its implications for our eternal status, one which caused our Lord to cry and sweat bloody tears in the garden of Gethsemane and to pray that the cup of suffering be removed far from him.  Temporal separations come with a period of grief and mourning from which the human heart can eventually recover, but the separation of man from God carries with it an eternal price tag: spiritual death and eternal judgment under the wrath of God.
Christ tasted God's judgment and wrath on the cross for us, marking the separation from His heavenly Father with cries that matched the Psalmist's: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Surrounded and mocked by his enemies, Christ faced the punishment for our sins alone, without consolation and with only silence from the eternal throne room, so that we wouldn't know God's silence but rather his fatherly approval.  Christ's propitiation satisfying the demands of the law and granting to us an alien righteousness that gives us access to God's kingdom, once barred by flaming swords.  Christ's separation on the cross is our relief, his mourning bringing us joy at Easter time that he tasted God's righteous anger so that we may go free forever.  In the name of Christ.  Amen. 

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