Quite often, more than I care to admit, I am reminded of just how stupid I really am. On this occasion, I decided to save my wife the aggravation of driving with me early in the morning to drop the van off for some maintenance work. So, I dropped the van off at the mechanic a little after 7:30am, walked to the nearest bus depot and took the bus as near to my destination as possible. I walked up the street until I was 800m from my destination where I had to be at 9am. It was 8.20am. Plenty of time. Looking good. I got my exercise. Didn't wake up the missus. And I will be on-time for my bookkeeping class.
Then, things went pearshaped. The road I was about to walk down is a very busy road. I wasn't sure there were footpaths beside it so I decided to take a "slight" detour down a residential street and see if I could cut back toward my destination as soon as possible. The result of this decision can be illustrated by this map:
How did I turn a 800m jaunt into an 8km wander? I left the path that I knew for the path I would have to guess at. And, time and time and time again, I guessed wrong. I was so wrong I arrived at my 9am class at 10:15am. I was tired. I was sore because I wore my dress shoes. I ended up with aching, blistered feet and could not concentrate on the important information that was being taught.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
How many of us on this planet live an abundant life? How many of us are thieves, murderers and vandals? How many of us are paralysed or react in fear of thieves, murderers and vandals? Anyone who is not living an abundant life is lost. If you are not living an abundant life you are lost. You might think you know where you are and how to get back, but unless your answer is Jesus, you will stay lost and vulnerable and confused and trapped and tired and sore and increasingly desperate.
Why am I so confident about this? Why does this frequently stupid man believe that Jesus is the gate; that Jesus is the voice that should be listened to in the crowded marketplace; that Jesus is the Good Shepherd that cares about each and every member of His flock?
And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.
This is what we remember on Good Friday. Jesus did not have to sacrifice himself. But, he did. The love for His Father and for the world compelled him to sacrifice himself. It was the only way. He had to be exposed to the judgement of man while being forsaken by His Father in order to provide a way back for those who would believe that Jesus is the One who saves, the Son of the Living God.
Man judged Jesus on Friday. This is what we acknowledge on Good Friday. We acknowledge that each of us have turned our back on God because we didn't have faith that God would provide the best life possible. Surely, the key to life is stuff or power or fame. This is what we see so this is what we want. What would Jesus know? He's just a man from the wrong family, from the wrong town, hanging out with the wrong people, preaching the wrong message, offering the wrong kingdom, serving the wrong God.
Thanks to God's grace, God is judge not man. God judged Jesus on Sunday. This is what we acknowledge on Easter Sunday. When we are at peace, when we are honest, when we have our eyes opened to the truth, we know that only the Creator of life knows how to live the best possible life. He is the way. He is the truth. He is the life. He is the gate. He is the voice. No one knows the way to the truly green pastures where we can frolic and rest and eat and work and love and care and be content and live life to the full. God did not leave Jesus. The Father raised His Son and gave Him the name that is above every other.
It has to be this way. Our Heavenly Father demonstrated to all of us, in the resurrected body of Jesus, that Jesus was the right man from the right family, from the righttown, hanging out with the right people, preaching the right message, offering the right kingdom, serving the right God.
Have a wonderful Easter weekend everyone. L'Chaim!