Editor’s note: The Easter season begins with Ash Wednesday on February 14. Consider enriching your ministry’s Easter preparations with resources from CTA—devotion books, family activities, send-home gifts, and much more. This week’s devotion is slightly adapted from the FREE sermon outlines that accompany This Is Love: Acts of the Savior, one of CTA’s themes for the Easter season. You can browse through all of CTA’s resources at www.CTAinc.com.
Imagine being color blind—and seeing color for the first time! Imagine your mostly monochrome world suddenly transformed into bright reds, greens, and blues. Some people don’t have to imagine it. A new kind of lens is making the miracle possible for them. Similar in appearance to ordinary glasses, these new glasses are reversing color blindness for many people of all ages.
One grandfather, putting on the specially designed glasses, saw vibrant color for the first time in 70 years—and broke down in tears.
One boy, age 10, put on a pair of the glasses and immediately his face lit up in amazement and he began to dance. After several speechless moments, he calmed down enough to comment, “This is the day that changed my life!”
When these glasses were released, this good news was all the rage on social media. Videos that had captured these magic moments in many lives were shared thousands of times.
Most of us take for granted color and the ability to see it. We take for granted the beauty and the joy that color brings into our lives. But this ability is profound. The 10-year-old’s exclamation says it all: “This is the day that changed my life!”
It makes me wonder about how often I take God’s incredible gifts for granted. Above all, do I take my Savior’s love, his life-changing, sacrificial love, for granted?
It would be easy enough to do that. And that tendency is one reason why, year after year, Christians spend the 40 days before Easter preparing to celebrate our Lord’s resurrection from the dead. We rehearse the events of his suffering and death with such regularity because we don’t want to take it all for granted. We don’t want to forget that those were the days that have changed our lives! This, this is love!
We want to hear the stories again and again. We want to contemplate the truth that Jesus died for our sins. Not for some imaginary sins. Not for some minor mistakes or mess ups. Jesus died for our sins, for our very real sins, and was “raised for our justification,” as the Bible says (Romans 4:25 ESV).
Palm Sunday. Holy Thursday. Good Friday. Resurrection Sunday. Those days are the days that have changed our lives, changed them forever! This is the love that has changed life for us, changed it forever!
Just imagine. Imagine if the events of those days had never happened. In that case, the Christian faith would be nothing more than a hollow shell, just another religion among the many world religions. Without Jesus, without his suffering and death for us, life with God becomes an endless, futile self-justification project. Without Jesus, our lives must focus on what we can do to earn God’s favor. Without Jesus . . . We shudder to think of it!
But we are not “without Jesus.” Jesus truly did suffer for us. He did truly die for us. He was truly raised again for us. And as a result, our lives are changed. Forever and completely. This is love!
The Book of Acts demonstrates the life-changing power of all that Jesus did and taught. In this Book, we see the early Christians moving forward in the power of the Savior’s death and resurrection. But we also see them looking back, reaching back, framing each word of witness, each decision in the context of the cross. Those early Christians saw themselves as continuing the story that had begun at Calvary.
Acts 1:1 introduces this story. (Read Acts 1:1.) Jesus began to teach and to do the ministry that he calls each church, each individual Christian, to continue. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are the prologue to and power behind each Christian’s life today, just as they were in the first-century church.
The story of God’s plan to save the world he so loves is a true story. It is an electrifying story. It’s a story that spans generations, spans centuries, spans millennia, even! And each one of us here today has a part to play in that story.
As we prepare for Easter, we can flash back to the adventures lived out in the shadow of the cross by those first Christians. We can also flash forward to our own lives as Christ’s ambassadors, his witnesses today, living out our own adventures in the shadow of the cross.
We can evaluate our lives, not through some magical, rose-colored glasses, but soberly, through eyes of faith. We remember that just as Jesus followed the way of the cross, so too our path through life parallels his. Life here on earth, even for Christians, is not easy. Life here on earth, especially for Christians, is often hard!
Life is often hard. But God is always good.
By studying the Book of Acts during Lent, by focusing on the message the first Christians proclaimed and the lifestyles they adopted, we begin to see new ways to honor our crucified and risen Lord. We gain new courage for doing that. We see more clearly than ever that . . .
We will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus (Acts 15:11 ESV).
I pray that you will find new courage and hope as we journey together toward the cross and the Lord’s empty tomb. I pray that along the way, you will grasp more deeply the beautiful truth that God loves you (yes, you) with all his heart. And I pray you will be more fully equipped to be witnesses of that love throughout your lives.
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