Posts Tagged ‘Easter’

We are in the week before Easter normally called the Holy Week but more real to many Kenyans this is the week after a devastating weekend that has changed the course of life in our country for many. As Christians have done before, this week we’ll bombard you with Christian messages about the death and resurrection of Christ and perhaps you don’t feel like you want to hear any of that at this time. Easter is like Mini-Christmas to the world but is more important to Christians than that. It’s a time where Christians around the globe remember what Jesus accomplished for us at the cross. When we get a window to send those “Christian messages” and you are not allowed to shush us down. In our defense though, we believe every day is the Lord’s Day. So we feel we should remind each other about him, what he has accomplished for us at the Cross and how we are to live in light of that.

But I think this Easter is even more important at this time if you allow me to share. The COVID-19 pandemic has been with us for over one year and we now know so well how weak and vulnerable we are. Here in Kenya we are struggling through the hard grip of the third wave, with constrained health care system and a worse hit economy. As we are speaking countless people are looking at the next few days with little hope and we don’t even want to think about the future. Worst thing is we know we cannot even depend on our government. The majority are living in the proverbial times when unless the Lord comes himself to help us we don’t know how we’ll survive.

But this is precisely what makes this year’s Easter come with such great news because God has in fact come down to help us in Jesus as he prophesied. In our Utumishi training course here at iServe Africa we’ve been looking at the book of Isaiah and this is the beautiful news we see from Isaiah 40. The prophet begins this second half of the book with a message of hope:

1Comfort, comfort my people,
    says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
    that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
    double for all her sins
Isaiah 40

This message is in utter contrast to the first half of the book which paints an ugly picture of Israel’s sin and its effects which is serious purging judgement from God. God’s people have forsaken him, they live indifferent to him and his call through prophets like Isaiah and they don’t even care what awaits them. God in turn after being so patient with them declares through Isaiah that cleansing and purging judgement is inevitable. If you are a woke Israelite living when Isaiah is prophesying you feel something needs to happen to deal with injustice and callous leadership but Isaiah’s message scares you to the very core. So what we see here in Isaiah 40 is not just good news, it’s the best news in what is otherwise a very hopeless situation. It’s like what we are all hoping for, something like say the president declares tax relief and economy boost but even better.

You see what is prophesied to happen to God’s people is real and serious. Judgement is coming for them through a foreign nation and they will have no mercy on them. And the worst news is that it’s God who is behind this in response to their sin. Sin demands judgement and Israel deserves this. In other words the picture painted is one of hopelessness unless the Lord intervenes. And it’s for that reason why Isaiah 40 is so popular and so comforting. God is coming not to judge but this time to rescue, to lead and strengthen his people. This is exactly what you want to hear when in a crisis; that a helper is coming and he’ll will redeem you.

But as we continue in Isaiah we realize that the way God came through for his people is through his obedient and suffering servant looking at Isaiah 52:13—53:12. God fulfils his promise to deal with sin and redeem his people through the coming of his son. In him God wins us our redemption by his death and resurrection. He was crushed because of our sins and by our hope and knowledge of him we are made right with God today:

11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
    make many to be accounted righteous,
    and he shall bear their iniquities.
Isaiah 53.

I know what you are hoping for is something more practical to get you out of this crisis. You want someone to tell you here is the money to survive this lockdown or at least a way to maneuver around that. So I can understand why many might care less about the many Easter messages sent your way this week and instead look out for more political and economic news. But before you throw this to the dustbin let’s survey how this speaks to our situation today. As I said at first I think the message of Easter is more relevant and here’s why:

First, what we want now above everything else is hope that at least tomorrow will be better. We want someone to tell us that the crisis we are in is just temporary and good things are waiting for us ahead. I think if COVID has taught us anything it’s the value of the currency that is hope. And that’s what we need more than anything right now.

Well, that’s exactly what Easter offers us but better than wishful thinking or hoping in political leaders, Easter gives us real hope in someone who is fully trustworthy. Easter says what God promised hundreds of years has been fulfilled through Jesus and therefore we can have unwavering hope and trust in him no matter what happens. Easter gives us hope not only for tomorrow but that one day these diseases, the curse of unwise and uncaring leaders and even Death itself will be no more.

The second thing I know we are after is help here and now. It’s easy to dismiss the Christian message for something we’ll need later in life and argue that what we need is help here and now. We want some cash to buy bread, we want help to pay the bills, and we want a boost for our businesses and a cut on our taxes. We want help now and not stories. I get you and believe me I’m with you on that. But I don’t think the message of Easter or the Gospel for that matter only applies later in life when we come to our death bed. The Gospel hope that Easter reminds us of is what we need every day, pandemic or no pandemic.

As a matter of fact, I cannot for the life of me fathom how someone wakes up, goes around their business, and sleeps at night ready to face tomorrow without the hope of the Gospel. Through the Gospel Christians know that no matter what happens tomorrow to us or our loved ones God will uphold, keep and help us. It reminds me that in the most lonely times, when I’m struggling with things I cannot speak even to friends, Christ is ever present to listen and he promises never to leave me. Easter tells us he came to die for us, for our eternal hope but also that he lives with us by his Spirit helping us daily as we walk towards our eternal heritage.

When his people felt weak and hopeless he said don’t fear, I will help you:

14Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob, little Israel, do not fear, for I myself will help you,” declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 41.

No matter how fragile our bodies are, regardless of how unpredictable the future is and how often we’ll seem to be alone in this crisis, God is with us and is working out everything for our good. Because of what he did on that first Easter we have hope for tomorrow and life without end. And even right now when we are unsure what will become of us we can look up to him for his ever present help. He will work out a way to help us whether he’ll use our jobs, the government, the church, our friends and family members or even strangers we don’t know. We only know he’ll hold us fast and whatever happens will turn out for our good. Praise be to him only!

But Easter also reminds us that the path to the glorious future was born through the suffering of God’s Son. As God’s children in this world we will face struggles before we come to our eternal future. What we are to do is put our trust in our Lord and Saviour and emulate him as we live for him here and now. Here’s a challenge then to share this Gospel message to a desperate world, a challenge to humility, obedience and to dying for others. The greatest leader won his people by becoming a servant, obeying God and dying to redeem his people. If we choose to lead and walk the Christian path we need to follow in his footsteps. This is a challenge for Christians in every sphere of life and especially those in leadership to look to Christ and emulate him in all we do and especially at this time. 

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Last day of the ministry training week for the iServe apprentices and great last few chapters of the book of Job:

  • Can you execute justice and judgement and bring world peace (40:9-14)? Can you overcome the great powers of sin  (40:14-24)? Can you put the King of Darkness, the Evil One himself on a leash (41:1-34)? But the LORD can and he does. You no longer need to live in fear.
  • Job does not leap from chapter 2 to the double-double of chapter 42. He goes through the torment of hell and out the other side to resurrection life.
  • For Job’s friends, in the face of God’s burning anger there is hope in a burnt offering (42:7-8).

As we finished with the Lord’s supper Pst. Silas took us to the historic gospel facts, resurrection life through Christ’s death and assurance in the risen Jesus (Mt. 27:45-56).

And in terms of preaching this death and resurrection: Evangelistic Preaching.

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