Pastor Brian Gilroy,
High Prairie Church of the Nazarene
In what or who is your hope anchored? An anchor rightly employed can save a ship in the roughest of waters or an anchor can drag you down to the depths of the sea.
Throughout life with all its challenges – its ups and downs – each one of us looks for an anchor. Consciously or subconsciously, we seek for something or someone greater than ourselves to help us to make sense of life when life hands us more than we can handle.
We look to past glories, financial security, status or reputation, and a myriad of other achievements that the world tells us will help us to not only survive but continue to succeed when all around us is destruction.
During this week, especially, the Christian Church, takes time to reflect upon the last week of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ before His crucifixion or death on the Cross of Calvary, to pay the price for your sins and mine. Actually, to pay the price for the sins of those who ask God for forgiveness and the restoration of our broken relationship with God.
For some it will be harder to focus on the journey to the Cross. They will be overwhelmed with the low price of oil, the uncertainty of their job or economy, and even COVID 19 or the Coronavirus. Others will mourn the fact we cannot meet together to celebrate the victory of this week as the health rules will not permit the physical gathering of people. For many of you, this might be the only time other than at Christmas that you go to church.
This week is special as it answers two of lifes most important questions – How do we receive the grace of God or forgiveness of our sins when we do not deserve any grace? And, how do we know that Jesus was more than a prophet but the actual Son of God?
After all, Jesus claimed exclusive right to offer salvation to the world in John 14:6 when He said, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” [NIV Bible]
The basis of forgiveness begins at the Passover, when the last of the 10 plagues was pronounced upon Egypt in order for God to convince both the Egyptians to let the Israelites go free from their slavery and to convince the Israelites that God had the power over all the gods of Egypt. Passover in its simplest form, involved the obedience of the Israelites to sacrifice a lamb; paint the door frame with the blood of that lamb, and stay inside all night as the Angel of Death came over Egypt [as instructed by God]. Those who obeyed and did everything God instructed, and especially stayed inside, were “passed over” by the Angel of Death. Throughout the Old Testament, the rule of thumb for forgiveness was the sacrifice of a lamb.
When John the Baptist, first saw Jesus he called out that Jesus was the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. He was indicating that Jesus would die to pay for the sins of the world.
Many prophets will make great claims about themselves and the effectiveness of their teachings to make peace with God. However, only Jesus was able to foretell how He would die and indicate that after his death He would physically rise again from the dead. The number of Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah for the Israelites and indeed the world are too numerous to mention. Yet the way in which Jesus suffered and died was all it needed for God to extend His grace to you and me.
The true indication of the validity of the claims of Jesus happened on the first day of the week following the Jewish Sabbath. In the Christian Calendar this is remembered and celebrated by designating Sunday as the first day of the week on the calendar. It was on the first day of the week that some women went to the tomb of Jesus and discovered an angel that told them that Jesus was no longer in the grave but that He had risen.
In 1 Corinthians 15, we read more about the impact of the resurrection. As Christians, this is where we grab hold of our anchor that allows us to have hope, a sense of peace and a joy that is unsinkable.
This week reminds us that our anchor, the truth of how Jesus paid for all our sins and reconciled us to God, is our reason to never give up in this life regardless of the pressures of life.
In Canada, everyone is allowed to freely choose their anchor for life. However, the one question I will leave you with is: when life with all its stressors, uncertainties and fears threaten to sink you, “Will your anchor hold or take you down with it?”