The last several months have been difficult for me and my ministry. I was infected by an unknown, flu-like virus in late December and continued to be ill for almost three months. By then, the COVID-19 shutdown was in place, and all churches and other places of worship in our area had been closed. The stay-at-home orders of our state and local governments remain in effect until April 30th, and there is talk that they may be extended through June 1st.
Life feels very disrupted and uncertain, and most of us, including me and my family, are getting by one day at a time.
Almost two thousand years ago in ancient Jerusalem, another group of people felt the same way – except on a much deeper, and much more tragic, level.
Jesus of Nazareth had chosen twelve men to be His inner circle of followers, but many more men and women had joined them as His disciples. On three separate occasions, Jesus warned that He had to go to Jerusalem, where He would be arrested, mocked, scourged, and crucified – which then happened exactly as He foretold (Matthew 16:21, 17:22–23, 20:17–19, 26:47–27:44).
On the day that Christians now call Good Friday, Jesus died on a cross, and His body was taken down and laid in a tomb (Matthew 27:45–60).
The Son of God was dead.
Make no mistake, COVID-19 and the Crucifixion are nothing like each other. In time, the Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020 will end, our lives will return to normal, and COVID-19 will be relegated to a footnote in history. On the other hand, the Crucifixion will forever be at the heart of mankind’s existence, because the death of Jesus Christ took away the eternal consequences of our sins and opened the gates of Heaven for us (John 1:29, 3:16, 12:31–33, 14:2; Mark 10:45; Matthew 20:28; Colossians 1:19–20; Ephesians 1:6–7).
One dark day in ancient Judea, the Savior of the world was down, but He was never out. On the third day, He rose from the dead and gave us eternal hope – hope that cannot die and cannot be shaken (Matthew 28:1–10, 1 Peter 1:3–4).
During these difficult times in modern America and the world, let us remember that we are people of Hope. We are people of the Empty Tomb. We are people of the Risen Christ!