I recently celebrated my birthday. I had an awesome day.
I got to share in some wonderful time with my friends and family, and got some really awesome messages and cards from friends and family who don't live close. I've noticed over the past few birthdays that I've grown more and more reflective over them (am I getting old? Don't answer that, I think I'd rather not know). Whereas before it was about having fun on a special day all about me, now I feel like I get an opportunity to put my life in perspective, in the midst of all the craziness that is the rest of the days of the year. I think about all the wrong I've done, what has happened that's brought me to where I am today, all the good things in my life... it's like a yearly family update to see where I'm at.
It just so happens that this weekend we remember and celebrate the death and resurrection of our savior, Jesus. So, naturally, I began to reflect on that as well. As I was reflecting on my life on my birthday, I couldn't help but be overwhelmed at the thought of what Jesus accomplished on the cross for us at Calvary, and by conquering death at the Resurrection. We just finished an incredible series on Psalms here at Red Hills, and my favorite thought from last week was that Jesus' entire mission on earth was to bring dark to light, sin to holiness, and death to life. To make all things new. In spite of any opposition, Jesus knew what He had to do, and He did it for us.
In John chapter 12, we learn about Palm Sunday, and how excited the people were for Jesus to arrive, even shouting Hosannah as he rode into town on a donkey. It always blew my mind how these people could turn on him so quickly in just a week. But these people didn't want a savior, they wanted a general that was going to overthrow Rome. I realize how often we want Jesus FOR something, and not just because we want Jesus.
Psalm 118 illustrates this in a poignant way, and also demonstrates the beauty of it all when we are freed from that sinful way of thinking.
“You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!”
- Psalms 118:28-29 ESV
This is one of my favorite verses in all of scripture, because this is where I want my mind and my heart to be at all times. I don't want to use God for my own purposes, I don't want to fall back on Him only when I'm in trouble. I don't want Jesus to just be my crutch that I ask for things from. I want him to be my most intimate relationship. I want to always think “you are my God” in all things.
Earlier, I said this weekend that we celebrate the Resurrection. I did because that's exactly what it should be! A celebration! Our savior conquered death. It is the foundation of the gospel (Paul even goes as far to say in 1 Corinthians 15 that without it, “our preaching is in vain and our faith is in vain”). Jesus died on the cross to bear our sins, and rose to give us new life. So as we look ahead and prepare our hearts for this holy weekend, my heart is full of joy at knowing that our Jesus is alive, and that death no longer has a sting.