I had an Easter declaration already planned out, the blog post scheduled for the beginning of the week, words of revelation that will bless those who read it. Then the morning of April 6, 2022, the Holy Spirit spoke a phrase to my heart that scored my thinking, and I cannot ignore the depth of His pleading.
“YOU CANNOT PICK A BACKDROP.”
I heard this statement and saw the cross relocated to what man considers a “cleaner” and “more appropriate” landscape. We’ve played artist with the most powerful moment in history, fitting Jesus’ crucifixion into man-made scenes. We’ve “dumbed down” the agony He suffered with an easy-to-read version that takes only an hour on Easter Sunday, and afterward, we’re free to consume inordinate quantities of ham.
God is not against ham or Easter celebrations. He is against FORGETTING His gracious gift.
The Holy Spirit brought an older song into my thinking, one I haven’t heard since my teens. The song, by the band Whiteheart, “Read the Book (Don’t Wait For The Movie),” tells the story of two men who can’t find Christ amongst their TV and movie needs. Entertainment is more important. Have we fallen this low? In the poem* that the Holy Spirit spoke, which followed, He made it clear we have.
He brought to mind a word that has been rising up within me for several days. INSOUCIANCE, meaning “lighthearted unconcern, nonchalance.” How fitting and painful this word is.
Jesus will never fit into our idea of culture and should never become fashionable. The cross is not a lapel pin or the crucifixion a moment that must be continually updated. The Resurrection is not the calendar date of a religious observance, limited to a particular group of people.
It is ongoing. Continual. Worldwide.
Jesus is as much the Resurrection and the Life of all men today as the moment when He stated this, and in His triumph over the devil, He did a complete work. He left nothing out of salvation, not our eternal destination, not the healing of our minds and bodies, not the lifting of financial debt. We do not make a god of these, but to set them aside makes His death unimportant. (Jn 11:25; Col 2:15)
Please don’t do that. Don’t make Him less.
Hear the prophet Isaiah’s description of Him, spoken thousands of years before their fulfillment. Here, is the image we should remember. Here is the Savior we worship.
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:3-5 KJV)
THE HOLY SPIRIT’S POEM*:
It's not a one-night fantasy.
Not a scene from a play.
Not the work of an artist worth a "cool mill," as they say.
He was despised and rejected
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
For all men He was wounded.
For all sin, He was put to grief.
He was bruised for their sorrows.
He was judged for iniquity.
Hated and despised, He suffered and died
And by His stripes men were healed.
It's not a scene from a movie
Set to a cinematic theme.
Not an author's work of fiction.
Not a romantic book scene.
There is no accurate depiction
No church-subscribed Latinate meaning.
Don't substitute your work for the blood of Christ.
Don't substitute your will or your way.
Don't replace the Savior with an icon,
A life-size replica carved in wood or stone or clay.
Don't kneel at the altar
Beneath a statue that cannot see or hear or speak.
Don't create a religion, then live day-to-day however you please.
He carried the weight of the world,
The whole of every sin, every sickness and disease.
He was marred beyond recognition,
Not to obtain a moment in the spotlight
But so that every man and woman could be free.
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (2 Corinthians 4:17 KJV)
It's not an evening at a drive-in theater.
Not a date for dinner with polite conversation,
Here today, gone tomorrow,
Soon forgotten, soon replaced.
“I would that all men would come to knowledge of the truth.” (1Ti 2:3-4)
This is JESUS FOR A LIFETIME.
Jesus died and Resurrected.
Jesus Savior. Jesus Healer. Jesus King.
Jesus conquered. Jesus won. Jesus triumphed.
Jesus writing history.
Not a paid reenactment,
Not a scene of mystery,
But Victory for the ages,
A gift given for any who would believe.
Not ended. Not over.
This is JESUS FOREVER
With all power and authority.
No small-town fair,
Nor festival of sweets.
Not a parade through downtown city streets.
Not a cruise ship destination.
But the GREATEST ACT OF LOVE, the God of heaven above made willingly.
He was despised and rejected,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
He viewed the joy set before Him.
Not the battle nor the suffering.
Nor the scourging, nor the misery.
But He was wounded for man's transgressions,
And with His death secured the enemy's defeat.
With His life He keeps on living, every hour of every day raising those to LIFE who will believe.
“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3-4 KJV)
*This is how the word was spoken to me. The Holy Spirit often speaks to me in a poetic style. The blog post mentioned in the opening paragraph will post on April 11, 2022.
Suzanne D. Williams, Author