As I write this we are in the beginnings of the season of Lent, with Easter just days away, so with this in mind I want to take some time to look at ‘the reason for the season’, to borrow an oft quoted Christmas saying.
When we think of Easter our thoughts automatically, and understandably, turn towards to the cross.. where we focus on the death and resurrection of Jesus.. but before we get there I want to take a step back wards.. To see the cross in the context of Jesus life.
Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.
In Matthew 1, we are told that an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph to calm his fears over his betrothal to Mary and her pregnancy. In seeking to calm Joseph, and provide an explanation for how Mary is found to be with child, the angel says that not only is this from the Holy Spirit, showing that this is not an ordinary pregnancy, because it’s not an ordinary child, the angel says you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. WOW…. now that’s a call to have on a life.
Right here at the beginning of this young life, at the beginning of this cosmic union between God and humanity in a way that has never and will never be repeated, we see the mission of Jesus set forth, in this instance to calm the fears of Joseph – the angel is saying don’t change your plans, take Mary as your wife…. and more be a father to this child from God…
As we move through the gospel’s we see that Jesus himself was in no doubt of why he was on this earth.
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
In these two verses we have a clear indication from Jesus that he knew that his life wasn’t about himself but about others, about seeking and saving and this involved him giving his life. When we get to Easter and we focus on the cross the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are remembering not just that this man died, we are remembering that God, eternal unchangeable God, became a man and entered into humanity so as to bring salvation, restoration, reconciliation, redemption to humanity whilst also bringing glory to God – showing the judgement and justice of God in a way that we hadn’t seen before.
So as we approach Easter, let’s not just focus on Jesus the man who died and rose again, but on the man who came to seek and save those distant and far off from God through giving his life so that those of us who deserve death and judgement may find peace and rest in God.