The Passion of the Christ is a wonderful movie; it shows in graphic detail what Christ endured for us. Now I have a confession to make - I've never watched it. When it came out, I encouraged people to go see it, even people who normally don't go to movies. My parents, who are not moviegoers, went. People brought tween kids to see it. I couldn't do it. I have a really hard time dealing with difficult movies like these. After watching The Titanic, I dreamed about it for four nights before finally dreaming a happy ending. Yes, I know - somewhat pathetic isn't it?
Each year at Easter time, I sort of cringe. You see, I have this very active imagination, and when I really start to think and meditate on what Christ went through, it hurts me. It hurts me in a way that is hard to explain, but usually, it makes me weep. Somehow at Easter, the focus is often on the cross. I realize that the the cross is really important. After all, that is where the sacrifice happened; that is where Christ laid down His life for us. Without the cross, there is no salvation.
When I was praying about this, I was telling God even though I am in awe of Christ's sacrifice for me and how important I know it is, I was having such a hard time REALLY thinking about it because His death was so ugly and horrific. I felt that small still voice say in my spirit, "Forgiveness is always messy and sometimes ugly." Isn't that the truth? I mean, if you look back at everyone's favorite book of the Bible, Leviticus (what? you don't enjoy reading it?), you'll see that the sacrifices in the Old Testament were very messy and there was A LOT of blood involved. I had always sort of pictured them as clean and sterile, like an opertating room, but that wasn't the case. The blood was everywhere - on the alter, on the priests, often on the person bringing the sacrifice. It was messy and it was ugly but it was also necessary.
God also reminded me that that isn't the end of the story. We miss the best part if we leave Christ ON the cross. We miss the best part if we focus ONLY on His death and what He went through. The truth is, He rose and He is ALIVE! Oh grave where is your victory? Death where is your sting? Christ not only died for us, but He rose for us. He was victorious FOR US! Does that give you goosebumps too?
A little over three years ago, my Grandmother died. Her last day was not a good one and her death was not easy or pretty. I can still hear the sounds of her labored breathing, see her gaping mouth and sunken cheeks, looking so completely different I did not recognize her when I arrived at the nursing home, walking right by her room. That picture, that memory could haunt me and hurt me still if I didn't know the rest of the story. You see, my Granny loved God. She had Christ in her heart, so her death wasn't the end of the story either. Those few hours where she passed from life to death were just that - a few hours. For three years now, she has been in heaven, drinking in the glory of God the Father; seeing Christ face to face; knowing joy that we can only see a shadow of here on earth. Because of Christ's death AND resurrection, death may be ugly and it may be hard, but it is only temporary. It isn't the end of the story. It's the prologue to the best part of the story - heaven.
He's alive and because of that, we can all know the best truly is yet to come!
~ Blessings, Bronte