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Eastertide Week One: Remember the Cross

By Barbara Rainey

First posted on

Yesterday we marked the anniversary of the most miraculous moment since the dawn of time: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

How would you evaluate the experience? Not your church or pastor, but your own heart? Were you distracted by the to-dos for your Easter brunch? Did you allow yourself to enter the experience of what actually happened to Jesus over those days in A.D. 33? In short, were you awed in any way?

Today, Monday, schools are back in session and the normal business of life has resumed. But is there any afterglow? Yes, there are tasks to be done, but while you are busy are you remembering the wonder of the cross, the stunning realization of the Resurrection? Or have you quickly forgotten because it all feels like the same every year?

On the day after the first Easter, the circle was small that knew about the Resurrection of Jesus. And even those who knew were probably living in a mixture of shock, unbelief, wonder, and joy as the memories of the horror of the cross were still so fresh. Psychologists use the word “ambivalence” for this mash of opposing emotions. The disciples couldn’t make sense of it all. It would take a while.

Neither did they initially see the connections between the Old and New Testaments, between the Incarnation and the Resurrection, or between the sacrificial blood of Christ and the redemption God wants to work in our everyday lives. Some remembered Jesus saying both, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (John 3:14-15) and “… take up your cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23, New Living Translation), but it was still confusing and hard to understand. The associated suffering was unpleasant. It is for us as well.

We do understand Christmas and find it pleasant—a much happier holiday emotionally. So let’s take a peek into the Incarnation, the birthplace of Easter. The storyline of God’s eternal plan to come rescue us isn’t found in a series of disconnected holidays, like little islands of escape on our annual calendars. Instead, the great mystery of God’s feasts and celebrations is that they were planned from before the dawn of time and they are all connected like a ring of islands all rooted to a circle of rock beneath the surface of the sea of God’s meta-narrative.  

Before Gabriel comes to announce the inception of the Christmas story in Luke chapter one, a glimpse of Jesus, pre-immaculate conception, is given in Philippians 2:6-7. There we see what Jesus had to do before He left Heaven for earth. Though Jesus was “in the form of God,” He “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” 

Three small words contain a universe of meaning: “He ... emptied Himself.” Like emptying the bank account of the wealthiest person on earth and taking away all his possessions. Or like the most beautiful human being of all time choosing to wear a mask which hides impeccably exquisite features behind an intentionally distorted visage of plastic.

From glory unimaginable, Jesus became “despised and forsaken of men … as one from whom men hide their faces …” (Isaiah 53:3). Jesus divested Himself utterly. For you. For me.

His immensity became microscopic.

His power became shackled.

His deity compressed to a single cell.

His throne room became a womb.

And at His birth, the eternal Word of God arrived mute.

Can you even imagine?

For years the Eternal One and Creator of all things “in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible …” (Colossians 1:16), submitted to diapers, hunger, sickness, bullying—because He was a good kid—and oblivion in a tiny, laughing-stock town for 30 … long … years.

“How must it have felt—knowing he had the power to heal—to have to walk past children suffering with leprosy?” writes Alicia Britt Chole. “What would it have been like—knowing his conception was miraculous—to be unable to defend His mother when others whispered about her past? And how agonizing would it be –when His Word would one day raise the dead to life again—to stand by while those He loved (perhaps even His father Joseph) died?”1

This is just the beginning of all that Jesus endured for us. And why did He do this? Because “God so loved the world” … and you … and me. It was love that moved Jesus. Pure unfathomable, unimaginable love.

Today, remember what He gave up, and some of what He endured before the cross, for us.  Today, on this first day after the Resurrection, remember the cross and give thanks that Christ is risen indeed! Just as He said.

For Eastertide reflection:

1. If you have a few minutes of spare time this evening after the kids are in bed and the dishwasher is running, go online and stare at the images taken by the new Webb telescope. The discoveries of new and even more distant galaxies and stars puts a whole new meaning to Psalm 8:3, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place.” What David (who wrote these words) saw in those days without electricity must have been incredible. But what we now see through the Webb telescope is beyond imagining. Might some of these impossibly faraway galaxies be on the edges of the throne room of God Almighty?

2. Now remember again who Jesus is. Colossians 1:16 says, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible …” He chose to turn His back on all this beauty and divest Himself of all this grandeur and glory for you. Will you worship Him with words of praise and thanksgiving? Write or pray a sentence or two of praise and gratitude.

3. During these weeks of Eastertide devotions I’m going to encourage you to talk to Jesus … out loud. When Jesus appeared after the Resurrection, His disciples didn’t get on their knees and pray to Him; they talked to Him audibly because He is a real person! Talking to Him out loud reminds us that He is real and present with us, now, today, and that one day He will be touchable again! Get ready!

In the historical church, the season between Easter Sunday and Pentecost is called Eastertide, a festive season for celebrating the risen Christ. This year we are offering two weeks of Eastertide devotions to our paid subscribers, so look for the next one tomorrow. If you’re a free subscriber, click here to join Barbara’s Friends & Family subscribers and get access to the full series.

We hope you will read these devotions meditatively, learn more about Jesus, and continue to savor the Savior who gave His life for you and rose from the grave. May you celebrate the Resurrection longer this year!



This quote is from the prologue to 40 Days of Decrease, by Alicia Britt Chole. Her book has been a favorite of mine for Lent for four years now. I’ve given away many. I highly recommend it.

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