When I was little kid, I had very mixed emotions about Easter. I loved the part where I got to decorate eggs, eat chocolate, and dress up in a pretty new outfit. But, I dreaded going to church on Easter. They said the Easter story was good news, but it didn’t seem good to me. It was the story of how mean people made fun of Jesus, and beat Him up, and then killed Him, and that somehow, it was all my fault. What was good about that?
But I know something now that I didn’t know then: I didn’t kill Jesus.
Jesus made the decision to die entirely on His own. In fact, He could have changed His mind anywhere along the way. For example, I can easily imagine this scenario happening in the middle of Jesus’ torture:
Jesus lifts his chin and focuses straight ahead. Suddenly everything stops, suspended mid-motion. The roar of the crowd turns to silence. The razorlike whip, a mere 2 inches from His torn flesh, dangles in midair like strands of Spanish moss. He rips off His cruel crown and tosses it aside. In three long strides, He reaches the men stooped over his robe. He grabs the garment from frozen hands, donning it as He walks away, slicing through the stilled crowd like a hot knife through butter.
This could have happened. Jesus had plenty of power to do this and more. But He didn’t. Every single moment of His life, and every second leading up to His death, He made the same decision over and over again. To stay. To endure. I can almost see Him gazing at each person in that vicious crowd, and as their eyes met, His murmuring, “You are worth it.” He is still saying it to each of us. “I love you. You were worth it then, and you are worth it now. I have called you by name. You are mine.”
This Easter season, stop at the cross for a while, not to pile on guilt, but so you can be rid it. Let God banish those lies swirling around in your head: “You are worthless.” “You are a screw-up.” “You don’t deserve to be loved.” Ditch the lie I believed as a child, “I killed Jesus.” Stay at the cross for a while and absorb the truth: “Jesus chose to die because He loved me, and wanted me with Him forever. That’s how important I am to Him.” “I am totally worth it. He said so with His words, and by His actions.”
Shed the lies. Accept the truth. And then move on. Live your life in the freedom that Christ paid so dearly for. Freedom from condemnation and shame. Freedom in the knowledge that you are loved, valued, wanted, and worth dying for.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
It is for freedom that Christ has set you free. Gal 5:1
There is no dread in Easter. Only joy.
His joy is us.
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 NASB
Our joy is Him.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. John 15:11