On Palm Sunday, the Surgeon General of the United States, Jerome Adams, predicted that this would be “the hardest and saddest week of most Americans’ lives.”
I disagree with one word of that assessment. It may not be the hardest and saddest week of “most” Americans’ lives, but it certainly will be for some. The list of the dead will grow. And many of the sick will hurt like never before. Some people get COVID-19 and show experience few symptoms or none. But others become painfully ill. Liberal CNN anchorman Chris Cuomo said he felt like a piñata – like people had been beating him. The chills were so extreme that he chipped a tooth. Vivid hallucinations left him unnerved.
It will be a hard week for many Americans and others throughout the world. But in this time of pain, death, and separation, I keep hearing of something else. Revival! I hear many reports of a personal renewal of soul. Previously weak, compromised Christians are catching the fire of the Holy Spirit. And they’re passing it on in their families and to their friends.
And what better time! The events we commemorate in Holy Week are more than religious dogma. They are history. On the first Palm Sunday, Jesus really did enter Jerusalem on the back of a donkey as the crowds sang out, “Hosanna!” Jesus really did die on a cross, receiving in Himself God’s judgment for our sin. And He really did rise again!
These facts are as historical as 9-11, the Kennedy Assassination, or the attack on Pearl Harbor. Does it take faith to believe it? Yes. But remember that it also takes faith to believe in Abraham Lincoln. No human being alive today ever saw him in person. The important thing is that our faith in Abe is not a blind faith. Instead, it is a reasonable faith held by reasonable people based on real and abundant evidence. And so it is with our faith in the resurrection of Jesus. In fact, after you look closely at all the evidence, you may conclude as I have that it would take more faith NOT to believe.
The prophet Isaiah wrote about the coming Messiah’s death. His words sound like something out of the New Testament. But he wrote them 700 years before the birth of Christ. “He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:3-6 NASB).
Those words are emotionally moving and intellectually challenging. They perfectly foretell the mission of Jesus on the cross. The New Living Translation puts it like this, starting in the middle of verse 4. “We thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.”
If you are not yet whole in Him, you can be. His story did not end in death. What about yours? Hebrews says that the fear of death permeates people’s lives, but it doesn’t have to.
1 Corinthians 15 calls death the last enemy, and then tells us of death’s defeat. When Jesus rose from the dead, He was the first of a resurrection that will one day include all who trust in Him. Our present, death-infected bodies will rise as eternal, glorified ones.
1 Corinthians 15:55 says, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
Because Jesus rose from the dead, those who have received Him need no longer fear death… or even an extremely difficult week.
His is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
PROGRAMMING NOTE: I hope you can join me every Sunday evening at 11PM EST on Daystar, or online anytime at www.hallindsey.com or www.hischannel.com for my line by line examination of Revelation. If you missed any episodes in this study, you can catch up by visiting www.hallindsey.com/videos/.