Happy Easter to all!
I wrote this over the last few Sundays as I reflected on the Savior and his atonement.
Close your eyes for the next few moments. Imagine the Savior standing before you. He is much taller than you. The expression on his face is one of kindness and love. At his side is a table draped in a white cloth. Upon the table a loaf of bread rests on a plate and a cup stands near to it. His piercing eyes penetrate your soul and you find it difficult to meet his gaze. You are content to kneel before him and beg his pardon for your weaknesses, for failing so many times, for not being kind to his children as you passed them on your walk through life.
He speaks your name. He doesn't reference a list, he doesn't ask an assistant to remind him of who you are. As you hear your name leave his lips you feel the love in his voice. You are aware that He knows you perfectly, completely.
You respond to his call by looking up to his face, unable yet to speak. In his eyes you see kindness, patience. Your sins replaying in your mind, you recognize He is aware of your thoughts.
Still you see love emanating from his face. You look for condemnation in his expression but there is none. Neither, though, is there acceptance of your misdeeds.
He takes the bread and breaks it placing the pieces on the plate. You watch his hands, noting the marks in his palms and wrists. He lifts the plate and extends it to you.
You look up again at his face and hear him utter these words: “Take, eat. Do this in remembrance of me’” You look again at his marked hands holding the plate with sacred bread. As he speaks you seem to feel these words spoken to your heart. Come, follow me. Do the things which you have seen me do. Covenant with me now that you will keep my commandments. Covenant with me that you will feed my sheep.
The love in his voice overpowers our natural desires. You want to serve Him. You want to please him. You want to serve all you meet.
Reaching forward you partake of the bread. In your mind you see His life. You see him teaching, healing, lifting. You see him hanging on the cross, calling out to His Father and His head falls to his breast as life leaves Him.
He speaks again. Now the cup is in his hand and he offers it to you. “Take. Drink. Do this in remembrance of my blood which was shed for you!” Taking the cup, your hand shakes. You see Him kneeling in the Garden in Jerusalem, Gethsemane. His hands are on the ground, his body shaking as he prays for relief. Again your failings and sins return to your mind and your heart starts to feel the anguish that you see laid upon Him. But this is not all. You see him next tied to a post stripped of his raiment, a Roman soldier striking him with a scourge over and over. He is forced to stand and a heavy beam is placed upon his shoulders. He is forced to carry the instrument of his death to Golgotha. He is marched to the hill of crucifixion. He stumbles repeatedly, exhausted from the beating, the hours of suffering in the garden, standing through three illegal trials through the previous night without sleep. The soldiers tire of the stumbling and abuse him, swearing, spitting and kicking at him. They lays their hands on a spectator near and order him to bear the crossbeam the rest of the way.
At last they reach the end of the march. There the beam is thrown down and His strong arms are stretched across it. Soldiers hold his hands and feet in place as six great nails are driven through his flesh. He hangs for tortured hours, the pain and anguish he is bearing is yours.
Then he is dead.
You see the cup in your hand. You notice the nail prints in his feet.
Jesus’s eyes seem to say, “Follow me. Do the things which he have seen me do. Inasmuch as he have done it into the least of these, my brethren, he have done it into Me.”
“Don't dwell on your mistakes. Turn from your sins and look forward to what can be. Follow me and I will lead you. Love your neighbor and I will forgive you.”
“Covenant with me now that you will follow me and keep my commandments.”
This opportunity is ours, to make this covenant anew each week. It is not a reset button. It is a saving ordinance that we can receive each week if we prepare our hearts and minds to receive and make this covenant.
The living Jesus Christ himself offers this ordinance to us. He has offered his body and life and He extends his power and grace to us to make us His. He can heal us. He can make us whole. He can ease our suffering. He can replace our despair with hope. All of this He can do if we turn to Him, if we seek Him, if we follow Him.
God wishes for us to join with Him in his mission of saving His children. Not all will accept his message but all are loved by Him. All suffering is worthy of empathy. Like Simon, who bore the cross for the Savior, we can ease the burden of the Savior. But we can help him by easing the burdens of our neighbors, friends, family, and even our enemies.
This Easter and every Sunday, even every day, I hope we can reflect on our risen Savior's life and love and sacrifice and commit our lives to his service, that is, serving one another.