Gloom and depression settled over the situation like a heavy wool blanket on a hot August night. Jesus was dead. From noon to 3 p.m. it was dark. Jesus died with a loud cry, the earth convulsed, and everyone was terrified. Then, nothing was left to do but take Jesus' dead body off the cross, prepare it for burial, and put it in a tomb.

At the moment Jesus died, God achieved His greatest victory. After creation, Satan drove the wedge of evil between God and people. When Jesus died, God removed that wedge. At last God was free to extend atonement, redemption, forgiveness, mercy, and purification to all people. Never again could evil "own" those who accepted God's mercy by entering Christ. With Jesus' death, God defeated Satan!

Only the judgment day will be more significant than that moment. God achieved victory over evil! Yet, not one human understood God's accomplishment! The eleven apostles did not. The women who followed and served Jesus and his disciples did not. Those helped by Jesus did not. Certainly Jesus' enemies did not.

Jesus presented his resurrected, physical body to many for forty days. Still no one understood. Followers were overjoyed that he was resurrected, but they did not understand the significance of his death or resurrection. Not until Jesus was presented as Lord and Christ in Acts 2 did they begin to understand. What they had in mind for Jesus and what God had in mind for Jesus were totally different in focus. Their focus simply was not God's focus.

Grieving seems to be part of my life. I know and understand much more today than I did ten years ago. Going back beyond ten years is embarrassing. When I reflect on all the things I did not know and understand earlier in my life, I grieve and apologize to God. Now I know enough to realize that I never grasped all that God intended or does in Jesus whom He made Lord and Christ.

My goal: have the faith and courage to understand Scripture's meaning. That demanding goal that is better described as a journey. That journey often walks through fear, often humbles me, and constantly teaches me that faith is trusting God. When my faith is focused on things other than God, I am afraid. When I realize what happened, I am humbled. I often thought I was trusting God only to learn I was not.

I grieve when individuals would rather be religious than spiritual. I grieve when families substitute religious habits for godly values. I grieve when groups would rather defend church history than return to Jesus' cross. I grieve when Christians would rather place blame than repent. I grieve when congregations prefer to measure themselves by their standards rather than Christ's. I grieve when the church substitutes its purposes for God's. And, when I look at God's perfect holiness and purity and see myself, I grieve.

God, please focus us. Only then can we see Your purposes through Your eyes.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 19 August 2001

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