Taking a break from Love Does to talk about Good Friday and Easter. I went to the Good Friday service at Desert Springs last night, and Pastor Kelly really got me thinking. So I'm going to share several of my main take-aways from yesterday.
1) First point has a story behind it - I actually think I've included it in my blog before, but I was reminded of it last night. In Venice this summer, we saw a painting of the crucifixion by Tintoretto. It's this MASSIVE painting - took up a whole huge wall - and the colors are intense. The painting itself seems chaotic at first because it's the entire scene at Golgotha. There are Roman soldiers casting lots, a Centurion on a white horse, the thieves are being nailed to and raised up on their own crosses, Mary mourns at the foot of the cross, etc. Tons of commotion going on. But somehow, looking at the painting, I could not take my eyes away from Jesus hanging at the center of the painting. Although Tintoretto included so many small scenes, if you take the work as a whole the main focal point of the painting is never diminished - Christ dying on the tree. The other characters/scenes point to Jesus, they frame him, they raise my eyes to the King.
Sitting in church last night, thinking about this painting, I asked myself, "Am I casting my eyes to the Lord?" The thing about Tintoretto's piece is that it would be easy to get stuck looking at one of the smaller scenes rather than stepping back and taking it in as a whole. So am I zeroing in on specific circumstances in my life, getting caught up in the chaos of life, or am I stepping back and fixing my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, who endured the cross? Am I looking for ways that the goings-on in my life direct me back to God?
2) Desert Springs has a great stage set up for Easter Weekend. And I don't know if it was just where I was sitting last night or if they set up this way on purpose, but every time I blinked my eyes after looking at the stage last night, the wooden cross awash in red light would stay burned on my retinas like a sun spot. What an incredible image, what an incredible allegory. The cross and the sacrifice it represents should never be out of my sight or out of my mind. May it be burned into my eyes, stamped onto my brain, seared across my heart: Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.
3) One of Pastor Kelly's main points last night was throughout the crucifixion, God was working behind the scenes. Things look like they're going wrong, like sin is going to win, like death is going to triumph, but in reality, everything is going according to God's original plan. Are there situations in your life that look like failure right now? I know there are in mine. Guess what? God can reconcile those - have faith that He's behind the scenes right now, working things together for good.
4) This revelation literally blew my mind last night. Jesus experienced silence from God, too. How many times have I felt like I have no clue what God is saying to me or like God's not saying anything to me AT ALL? Answer: so many times. Jesus knows what that feels like. He asked repeatedly for His cup to be taken from Him. I interpret that as Jesus got no definitive answer from God so He simply proceeded in faith. Jesus cries out on the cross that He is forsaken by God, but He remains obedient. Jesus, as always, is the example to follow: ask God, listen hard, follow the plan as we see it laid out, don't be discouraged, be obedient, have faith. God has plans not to harm us but to give us a hope and a future because He is good and He is love.
Bob Goff tweeted this yesterday, and I loved it for this weekend. "Day turned to night, His friends scattered, and death thought it had won. But heaven just started counting to three." Praise God! Jesus is risen, indeed!
Happy Easter :)