I think I made an old friend mad last week at church. He came through the door for the first time in months and I said, “Wow it isn’t even Easter yet”. Well, here we are approaching that time of year once again. It is a season of bunnies, brightly colored eggs and candy, new dresses and suits. I remember my childhood, and the fussing momma made in getting me ready for the big day at church. Who am I kidding I really liked “EASTER SUNDAY”. Now let’s be honest, most folks know this is one of two big days when many people go to church who would not darken the door of a church for the rest of the year (well at least not until Christmas).

What is the big deal here? Why do we even care about Easter? Is it not just another church day stolen by the “the World,” and turned into a fertility celebration? Has it lost all of its original meaning to today’s believers? Sadly, for “Resurrection Sunday” we find most Christians showing up for church just like any other Sunday, oh with the exception of the new outfits and Easter bonnets.

Now last year was different when Mel Gibson released his movie, “The Passion of the Christ”. Once we had seen his interpretation of the suffering Jesus went through in order that we might live, we would never again be able to take the sacrifice of Jesus for granted. This is one reason the visual medium is so effective. The majority who saw that movie wept; some were afraid to see it at all. Some were angry and some were even offended. The special effects were too believable. It looked too real. For those of us who had read the biblical account again and again we were just shattered at what I think was a mild depiction of all that the Savior suffered.

Sometimes we look at the world around us and think that we have made major strides over the centuries. Mankind is very different now than it was 2000 years ago. We are much more sophisticated, much wiser. The ugly things of the world and the actions of today’s Barbarians offend us. In my heart I don’t want to relive the past with things like the cross. Sometimes we feel we have come so far that we no longer have to touch, or be touched by, the suffering of others. We acknowledge that suffering is a real part of this world, but we have insulated ourselves from it as best we can. America is a great place to do that.

Then, Mel Gibson came along telling the story of the crucifixion with such a powerful visual and it was so real. He wanted us to feel like we were there with the disciples, watching someone we loved being tortured and put to death. The truth is, the movie is so realistic that you think you are there. We may feel like Pilate, or the soldiers, or the spectators, or even one of the thieves executed with Him, but most of us can find ourselves somewhere in the film.

We’re there all right, and the movie reminds us of that in an unpleasant way. I suspect we’d all like to think that WE should have stood with Jesus instead of denying Him. But that isn’t true, is it? Instead, the movie graphically depicts the terrible price that had to be paid for our — my — freedom. None of us wants to be confronted by that, yet we badly need to see it so we will NOT forget.

We badly need to remember how much God had to pay in order to purchase our eternal freedom. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave …. What was that he gave all mankind again?

“The Passion” changed me. I was made more aware of the magnitude of His Love toward me, as well as my own impurity and unworthiness. In the midst of my shame, joy filled my soul. I was reminded of how much I had been forgiven, a revival broke out in my heart. I’m saved and heaven bound because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Here is an idea, instead of waiting until Easter Sunday to even think about what Easter means, I encourage you to begin thinking, even meditating, on it now. I strongly recommend that you see “The Passion of the Christ” or the re-cut sometime soon. Let God use it to help you grow. Use it to remind yourself of what you used to be, and what you are now, by his grace.

Finally here is something to think about, the title of the movie, “The Passion of the Christ.” What is it that Christ is truly “passionate” about? You need to do nothing more than look in the mirror — it’s you!

The Waynedale News Staff

Greg Patten

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