A lot of posts I see floating around social media at the moment are reminding me of where we were “this time last year” - and it involves a lot of lasts. Our last holidays, our last hugs, our last days of blissful ignorance. Perhaps we wish we had treasured those things more while we had the chance. A year ago this weekend was the last time I sang in my church, the last time I sat next to (I mean, actually next to) someone in my congregation, and the last time I really experienced fellowship and communion with my brothers and sisters in Christ. God-willing, those things will happen again soon, but right now (at least in my part of the world) we are longing for that day still to come.
This time last year, Emu released ‘Hymn of the Saviour’ - a song that speaks of the gospel as God’s gracious plan to save humanity through his Son and Saviour, Jesus Christ - from creation to new creation. As we approach Easter, Christians around the world will remember that great victory of Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection to new life on Easter sunday. We eat our chocolate eggs, buy bunches and bunches of daffodils, and rejoice at the signs of new life we see all around us, feeling as though spring has finally sprung. But Easter’s symbol of new life - the empty tomb - is not all we remember as we look also to the cross - the most brutal, humiliating and shameful death there was to die. Why do we remember the cross and not just jump to the empty grave? Why do we place such emphasis on a message of apparent foolishness? John Stott writes that the cross’ “combination of death, crime and shame put [Jesus] beyond the pale of respect, let alone of worship” - so wouldn’t it be better to forget about it?
To the world, the cross looks like foolishness. But we read in the letter of the apostle Paul to the Corinthians that it is the culmination of God’s sovereignty and power (cf. 1 Cor. 1v18). While unbelief sees disgrace in the cross, faith sees glory and death overcome. Jesus takes our place, pays the price for our sin, suffers, dies, bursts forth from the grave and proclaims the victory is won.
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”
Colossians 2 v13-15
Whether you can sing with your church or whether you’ll be singing at home this Easter, let’s sing with joy of the saviour who did not leave us dead in our trespasses but made us alive with him. And as we look forward to the day when we can sing again (mask-free and probably very loudly!) let us long even more for the day “when a thousand tongues cry ‘Glory to God’, forever his praise we’ll sing.”