Dear pastors, missionaries, chaplains and friends,
Steve Jones here… Easter reminds us there is victory over sin and death. Victory over the sting and stink of death.
Lazarus was one of Jesus’ best friends. He died and Jesus came to visit his friend’s graveside. Instead of laying flowers at the grave, Jesus yelled, “Lazarus”, and his friend rose from the dead. Several days of rot in the hot sun must have made an unbelievable smell.
Jesus used this event as an analogy to identify humanity’s spiritual condition. All humanity is spiritually dead and most don’t even notice the smell. We’ve been surrounded by the smell of spiritual death so long we’ve become accustomed to the smell. Thankfully, Jesus has not.
Jesus finds the stink of death unacceptable and so he calls out “Lazarus”, “John”, “Joan”, “Arise!” Our task is not to get up, but to admit we’re dead. The only people who remain in the grave or remain spiritually dead are the ones who don’t realize or believe they’re dead. They never seem to smell the stink nor admit their need of God’s solution – another man’s death.
All of humanity is in desperate need of God’s grace. Grace is something I do not deserve nor merit. We are separated from our Heavenly Father and only Jesus’ death on a cruel cross is sufficient payment to bridge and heal our estranged relationship with God. We don’t deserve this kind of love but that is the very nature of grace. We don’t deserve it, but God gives it generously.
Without God’s loving kindness we remain spiritually dead. We smell. The rot of death envelops us.
In 16th century Europe, ladies wore corsages and gentlemen wore boutonnieres to mask their own body odour. The common wisdom of the day was that bathing was not healthy and one could catch a deadly cold. Ladies rarely bathed and so, bouquets were brought into rooms in their manor homes and scented handkerchiefs were kept in their purses. All to cover up their rancid body odour.
The captivating scent of the Gospel has the power to overcome the crippling stink of sin and spiritual death.
Easter is our reminder that Jesus’ life, freely given on the cross, is a testimony of His unbridled love for all of humanity. And His body reanimated and surging with vitality and life — resurrection life — is His testament to the power He offers each of us to know victory over sin and death.
Let us say it together: “He is Risen. He has Risen indeed!”
Have a blessed week,