Imagine This Easter - Mike Harris

March 29, 2024
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Imagine this Easter…

I have a time machine and it’s landed me in Jerusalem 1990 years ago. It’s hot. People are milling around everywhere and the atmosphere in the city is febrile. I see groups of people huddled on street corners in animated discussions. I hear snippets of conversation, ‘surely he was the Messiah?’, ‘I was convinced he would become our king’, ‘I can’t believe he’s been arrested !’, ‘surely it can’t all end in disaster?’.

As I move on, I can hear a large crowd chanting ‘Barabbas!’. Who is Barabbas? Why do they want him set free? Surely, they can see what a huge mistake they’re making. I want to jump up on the palace steps and yell ‘Nooo’, ‘stop before it’s too late!’ but Roman centurions block the way.

The crowd gets its way, and I can see Pontius Pilate remonstrating with them! Finally, he turns away, angrily he thrusts his hands in a bowl of water as a guard hands him a towel. He walks back into the depths of the palace, inwardly believing he did everything he could in the name of justice. To no avail. This man will be executed. The people will get their way.

Do they not realise? Do they not care? They are signing the death warrant of the son of God. I rush around looking into the faces and the eyes of the crowd. All I can see is anger, hatred, fear. Surely there must be someone who believes a huge mistake has been made. Surely, the crowd will come to its senses.

I feel despair, sadness, hopelessness, and a deep sorrow welling up, even though I know how all this ends. Everything won feels like it’s been lost. The crowd bayed for blood, and they got it.

Everything was happening so fast, like a movie in fast forward. Then my heart leaped, I froze, my mouth opened, I was rooted to the spot as a group of men flanked by Roman guards suddenly appeared. The roar, the chants, the insults, the spitting all focussed onto a single figure. I thought my heart would stop. In that moment everything went into slow motion, as I caught the gaze of my saviour. My saviour, my sweet Lord, the focus of my Christian walk since my childhood. I never really, spent much time thinking about these events, knowing he rose again I preferred to think about that.

Yet now I was a direct witness and confronted with the reality of the pitiful sight of the man I so love, bleeding, broken, struggling to carry the wooden post on his back, wearing that crown of thorns placed on his beautiful head in mockery. Blood running down his face, all over his body bleeding scars from being whipped. A figure of peoples’ anger, hatred, derision. Why? What did he do that was so wrong to deserve this inhumane treatment?

I could not move as the procession passed me. I looked on bereft, hopeless, lost. I stood rooted for what seemed like hours as I heard noises in the distance, a loud hammering, more jeering from the crowd. Then suddenly it went dark. A peace came over me amid my angst.

I heard a still small voice whispering in my ear and to my heart gently reminding me ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.’

An enormous relief and deep peace descended upon me as my time machine transported me back to the present.

Now, whenever I approach Good Friday, I force myself to think about that experience, as painful as it is, to re-live it. Why do I put myself through it? It’s simple, it releases in me a huge wave of thankfulness, of joy unbounded, of reassurance, of fresh hope.

Jesus did not die in vain, he died to save me, to save you and to remind us all that ‘God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’

Thank you, Jesus, for saving us through your sacrifice.

In Revelation 21 verse 5, the Lord says, ‘And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also, he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’

Once again, I am truly grateful for Good Friday.

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