Friday evening, I attended Good Friday services at our church. Our Pastor delivered a very moving service, calling it not a good Friday, but a great Friday. He spoke not just about the forgiveness of sin granted by the grace of God through Jesus Christ, but also the ability and responsibility of His children to forgive each other.
On Sunday morning, our church was more full than I had ever seen it. So many people were in attendance, that many were not able to see the service live, having to sit in overflow areas and watch the service on video. The pastor once again delivered a beautiful message, about the evidence of Jesus. He talked about Jesus appearing to more the 500 people after rising from his tomb, about the apostles dying for their beliefs, and about Mary, the mother of Jesus, watching her son die on the cross, knowing He had to do this to save us from sin.
But while we celebrated our Lord’s ascension to heaven…
120 protesters died in Syria.
How ironic that on a weekend that we celebrate a rebirth, brought to us by Jesus Christ, that so many around the world are losing their lives in their search for the basic freedoms we take for granted in the United States. According to some reports, the Syrian government is using sniper gangs perched on rooftops to kill protesters. It is reports like these that remind me that there is such thing as pure evil in the world.
If there is something that I was reminded of this weekend, it is the purpose of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. In a word, it was rescue. He came to rescue us, mostly from ourselves. When we read about the chaos in the world, the evil in man’s heart, it becomes clear what Jesus meant when He said…
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Everything about the life of Jesus says – peace. He taught us two commandments…
“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
So when I was thinking about what I was going to write about, I knew I wanted to talk about the deaths in Syria in relation to Easter. But what should my message be? Well, the message is just – a hope for peace. Jesus taught us to forgive, to be at peace with our neighbors. But to do that, we must come to Him. He is the way. How much more obvious can it be than by pointing out the two polar opposites of a beautiful Easter weekend in contrast to the sheer violence in Syria.
How simple were His words, yet how hard it is for man to follow. It truly speaks to our imperfection, to our fallen nature. How far some stray from God and the example Jesus gave us is sometimes startling. You simply cannot mow down protesters when you are focused on loving your God and loving your neighbors. We need Jesus to rescue us from sin, to free us from our chains.
Today as we mourn the loss of innocent lives, let us pray that those who let the bullets fly will come to realize their error, and will free themselves from the sins they have committed, and may commit again. Let us pray that no more lives need be lost, and that those who are currently in harms way learn where true liberty lies…
In the arms of Jesus.