Thank You, God, for Easter.

Blind Faith (No. 14, 2015)
Weekly Devotional for April 2, 2015
Thank You, God, for Easter.

A prayer for Holy Week:

Thank you, God, for Easter Sunday. All of us need a reason to
celebrate life. Spring’s breath-taking outbursts of foliage and flowers
remind us that you created life so that renewal is the normal order of
things. On this Sunday we are reminded especially that you showered us
immeasurably with grace and love by sending Jesus to redeem us from our sin
and demonstrated your power to affirm life over death by raising him from
the tomb. We hear anew on Easter Jesus’ own promise: “I am the resurrection
and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone
else, will live again. {26} They are given eternal life for believing in me
and will never perish.” (John 11:25-26 NLT) We recall and proclaim the
angels’ attestation of the reality of Jesus’ life-giving resurrection: “You
are looking for Jesus, who was nailed to a cross. 6 He isn’t here! God has
raised him to life, just as Jesus said he would. (Matthew 28:5-a CEV) Jesus
Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! We praise you in confident, joyous
songs for your raising Jesus to life, and we are drawn again to your promise
that, through faith, we will be raised to new life with him. On this Easter
Sunday and throughout our lives, may we evidence the ramifications of
trusting in the risen Christ, as Paul described this new life: “We were dead
and buried with him in baptism, so that just as he was raised from the dead
by that splendid Revelation of the Father’s power so we too might rise to
life on a new plane altogether. If we have, as it were, shared his death,
let us rise and live our new lives with him! (Romans 6:4b-6 J.B. Phillips
NT) By the exuberance of our Easter worship, we pray that people will come
to new experiences of personal faith in Jesus. May they be even more
powerfully persuaded by the Easter faith we live daily.

Thank you, God, for Holy Saturday. We confess that too often we
rush through it with little thought that Jesus’ body lay in a grave for this
whole day. The reality of Jesus’ death typically is lost in our routine of
baking Easter ham, or tending to last-minute shopping and preparation of new
clothing, or holding Easter egg hunts, or going about yard work, ball games,
and other petty pursuits. Scripture does not tell us the details of Jesus’
experience on that day in the tomb. But we know by faith that he was
sustained in your eternal presence. May we find time to ponder the full
depth of the words recited by believers for centuries, that Jesus “Was
crucified, dead, and buried: . the third day he rose again from the dead.”
Remind us that whatever we face – anxieties over the uncertainties of life
or the unknown repose of death – we, too, are forever in your sustaining
presence. You held Jesus in the power of your love and grace to raise him
from death. Hold us in your hands when we face both the death of hopes and
relationships and the reality of the end of our lives, faithful that your
grace will sustain us, too.

Thank you, God, for Good Friday. We wince at calling it good
when it heaped scorn, abuse, and death upon Jesus – each affront due to our
sin. We take solace in the words he spoke even as he was being executed:
“Father, forgive them, because they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke
23:34 NCV), and “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in
paradise.” (Luke 23:43 NCV) We are dumbfounded by such boundless grace!
Forgive our incredulity as we sing, “What wondrous love is this That caused
the Lord of bliss To bear the dreadful curse for my soul?” Give us holy
imaginations to place ourselves in his sandals to feel the humiliation of
the jeering crowd, the travesty of justice in the trumped-up courts, the
wrenching pain of each fist and lash, the jolting pierce of the nails,
sword, and crown of thorns on the cross. Help us to imagine enduring such in
place of another’s wrongs – our wrongs. O, God, forgive us! Give us the
faith to put the otherwise despicable day in its central place in your story
of redeeming love and grace toward us. Help us to embrace faithfully the
vision for life that was revealed to peter as he witnessed that Friday and
reflected upon it under direction from your Holy Spirit: ‘Christ suffered
for you and gave you an example to follow. So you should do as he did. {22}
“He had never sinned, and he had never lied.” {23} People insulted Christ,
but he did not insult them in return. Christ suffered, but he did not
threaten. He let God, the One who judges rightly, take care of him. {24}
Christ carried our sins in his body on the cross so we would stop living for
sin and start living for what is right. And you are healed because of his
wounds. (1 Peter 2:21-24 NCV) We praise you, Father, for the faithful
fulfillment through Jesus of your promised salvation spoken through your
ancient prophet, Isaiah: “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our
sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and
afflicted. {5} But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for
our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by
his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5 NIV) Impress upon our hearts how
unspeakably good this Friday is for us, indeed! It is the absolutely Best
Friday!

Thank you, God, for Maundy Thursday. We want to know the
security of intimate fellowship with Jesus, as the disciples shared close
communion with him in the Upper Room. May we take into our beings a new,
personal response to Jesus’ words signaling the institution of the New
Covenant, “Take this bread and eat it; this is my body,” and, “Every one of
you drink this. {28} This is my blood which is the new agreement that God
makes with his people. This blood is poured out for many to forgive their
sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28 NCV) Let us not forget the challenging implications
of that new covenant Jesus taught all of his followers. We see that Jesus
“showed them the full extent of his love” )John 13:1b NIV) by washing the
disciples’ dirty feet, then saying that we should follow his example and do
similar acts of service for one another. (John 13:13-15) But, God, we don’t
like washing dirty feet! Help us to see beyond our selfish aversions and
assumed privileges to submit willingly, graciously to the clear command
Jesus gave us: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved
you, so you must love one another. {35} By this all men will know that you
are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV) God, help us
to be better, more obviously recognizable disciples of Jesus. Thank you for
the testimony of the Last Supper to Jesus being as close within us as the
food we eat and drink. Help us to follow his example of love as the basis of
our actions with one another.

Thank you, God for the gifts of life, love, grace, and new life
through faith in Jesus. Give us fresh appreciation for the depth of those
gifts Jesus demonstrated during his last few days on earth. Lead us to
reflect his way of life more clearly day by day. Amen.

– J. Edward Culpepper