This picture was taken on a beautiful summer day. The blue color of the sky, with the white fluffy clouds and sun brightly shining, was masterfully designed by our Father in heaven. It compels you to look up and you can not help but consider how wonderful He is! Could this be how the sky looked as He ascended? It gives us reason to contemplate.
The season and events surrounding Easter is not just a one to three day time frame. It begins with the forty day period of Lent and continues through Palm Sunday, Holy Week, the crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection and ascension. Forty days after the resurrection Jesus ascended into Heaven to be seated at the right hand of God. Then ten days later, the day of Pentecost happened. This is when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus. This also signifies the birth of the Christian church. The Day of Pentecost also ends the Easter season.
We tend to focus mainly on resurrection day, rightly so, however, there is much more to consider. Take the time to contemplate all that took place.
The ascension and day of Pentecost both were a fulfillment of Jesus’ ministry on earth. The Bible tells us in Acts 1:9-11 that He is coming back in the manner He ascended, in the clouds! Be ever so diligent and alert! Jesus tells us He is returning and He cautions us to be watching and ready, for no one knows the exact day, only the Father in heaven. Be ready!
“Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” Matthew 24:42NKJV
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.” Matthew 25:31NKJV
“He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”Matthew 28:6 NKJV
Oh what a glorious day, the day we call Easter, Resurrection Day! As wonderful as this is for us; it was gruesome for Jesus to get to this point. We all rejoice and need to be forever thankful that our God would send His only Son to lay down His life for us. Let us reflect on this and never forget.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…” Genesis 1:1. Although we do not know the exact time frame from creation to the fall of man, in the realm of time, it came relatively quick. In chapter one we read about creation and then chapter 3 brings us to the fall of man. This put us in a dire situation, as we now were separated from God due to our sin.
This dilemma was tragic. However, God had a plan already in place. John 3:16 tells us of this plan. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 NKJV
Jesus came to save us and restore us unto Himself. “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 NKJV
Therefore, God sent His only son as a little babe to earth for us and He grew and fulfilled His purpose.
“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.” Isaiah 53:1-5 NKJV
Jesus came, He suffered, He was crucified and died for our sins. Then He rose and ascended just as He said and He is coming back again for us! We are grieved He had to suffer for us, yet we rejoice in His love and redemption. This resurrection day believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. Hallelujah!
“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if not I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” John 14: 1-3 NKJV
I love this doorway. It is not only comforting and peaceful, but there also is an alluring quality to it. Truly, you just want to enter in.
This surely should be the same, plus even more, about Christ, Himself. He is comforting and peaceful, as well as alluring. He emanates pure love toward us. Lovingly, Jesus calls to us bidding us to come unto Him.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 NKJV
Jesus came for us. He left His Father and heavenly home to save us. Sadly, we chose to sin. Somberly, we reflect on how this caused God to sacrifice His only begotten Son for us. This was the only way to redeem us from our sinfulness and restore us into a right relationship with God the Father. Of course we are thankful and rejoice in this, however it does cause us to grieve over what He went through for us.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 NKJV
In the season of what we call “Lent”, we reflect and focus on what the Lord has done for us. Also, we consider our own lives and behavior as we spend time in prayer and fasting to seek to be closer to God. It is a time of preparing for our Lord. He wants to have a relationship with us. He wants us to seek Him, not just during Lent. As a Christian, a follower of Christ, this needs to be our daily practice. The more we seek to be closer to Him, the closer He comes to us. He is not an indifferent God. Jesus’ death on the cross is not the end of the story. Remember, He arose from the dead. We celebrate His resurrection and rejoice in the new beginning this gives to us all. Come, seek, knock, ask, search and you will find rest. He bids us to come to Him, He came for us! What a glorious resurrection day Easter is! Please enter in. There is salvation through no one else.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 NKJV
Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Who is Jesus Christ? We learn in the Scriptures, He is the Son of God, Our Savior, The Lamb of God, The Prince of Peace, The Coming King, The Good Shepherd, to name a few. I want to focus on Him as The Good Shepherd, The Lamb of God, and our Savior, as we commemorate His resurrection.
Sadly, for this to happen, Jesus had to go through the agony of suffering on the cross. This is the reason He came into the world, to die for us, to save us from our sin. Through the Lenten season we reflect on this gruesome event. Thankfully, because He was willing to suffer for us, we now can embrace His resurrection and victory over sin. He is alive!
Jesus already laid down His life for us, so now He takes up His role as The Good Shepherd to keep us in His flock. His love and care for us did not end on the cross! What is a shepherd? A shepherd is a person who cares for, tends and guards his sheep. He will even lay down His life for the sheep. Furthermore, we think of a person who protects, guides and watches over others as a shepherd. In the following Bible verse Jesus tells us, Himself, that He is The Good Shepherd.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” John 10:11-15(NKJV)
This is something to celebrate. He cares for us; we are His sheep. He rose from the dead for this purpose. Because He lives, we have hope, we are not alone. In Hebrews 13:5, Jesus tells us: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Moreover, His love for us is not a superficial love, but a love of great depth. He loves us each so much that if just one of us was lost, He would have still come and died for our sin alone. See the parable of the lost sheep in Matthew 18:10-14 (NKJV):
“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”
This brings me to the featured photo of the stained-glass window. I really enjoy these windows. Stained-glass windows are so engaging; they tell a story with their pictures alone. They truly are a unique form of art. Sadly; it is a form of the past.
This alluring stained-glass window is in St. John’s Episcopal Church, Ogdensburg, NY. It is one of the many beautiful windows on display there.
Jesus, The Good Shepherd, is fully expressed for us in this stained-glass window. Here we see Jesus holding a staff in one hand, while holding a lamb in His other. The lamb He is holding is that one lost lamb. We also see He is out and about in a pasture, keeping watch over the rest of His flock as well. Jesus, The Lamb of God, our Good Shepherd portrayed well, without any words needed!
On this resurrection day embrace The Good Shepherd, let Him guide your life. Rejoice!