White as Snow: Easter & Passover Reflections 2021

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San Francisco Peaks March 2021
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Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Isaiah 1:18

After a year of turmoil from the pandemic, lockdowns and masking, economic and business disruptions and closures, unemployment and remote school, racial demonstrations and riots, election irregularities and political partisanship, big tech and media censorship in science and politics, and federal policy change chaos affecting virtually all levels of society, not to omit natural disasters, it is hard to imagine just what we may face next! Thankfully Jesus promised, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 During Passover and Easter week it is encouraging to realize that we need not fear earthly trials and tribulations.

Passover Lamb – Celebrate Salvation

While the Israelites were in bondage in Egypt, God miraculously provided a way to freedom from Pharaoh. As the Angel of death passed over Egypt in the final plague, the Israelites were protected in their homes by the blood of a lamb on the lintel and doorposts. The Jewish Passover foreshadowed Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross for the sins of all people: “Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” I Corinthians 5:7 The Exodus from Egyptian bondage following Passover was likewise a foreshadowing of mankind’s ultimate salvation or “exodus” from sin, the leaven that separates us from God. Isn’t it amazing “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Shalom of God – Bless Others

When we focus on the chaos surrounding us, listening to the voices of those who seek to control us through fear and intimidation, succumbing to the enslavement of their false worldview, and buckling to their derisive censorship that would silence truth, we abandon our God-given identity in Christ. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” I John 3:1 Knowing we are His and abiding in Him, we instead can focus on the peace that only comes from God: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 His peace is far greater than the peace of this world. As the Prince of Peace, Jesus’ perfect peace envelops and empowers mind, body, and soul. His all-encompassing Spirit of grace, love, joy, and hope brings abundant life: “For if, by the trespass of the one man (Adam), death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” Romans 5:17 This peace is the fulfillment of the Hebrew Shalom spoken of by the Prophet Isaiah 800 years before Jesus was born:

If only you had paid attention to my commands, your Shalom would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.” Isaiah 48:18

He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us Shalom was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their Shalom.” Isaiah 54:13

After the resurrection as Christ was about to ascend to heaven, He prayed the priestly blessing over the disciples: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord bless you and make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; The Lord turn his face toward you and give you Shalom.” Numbers 6:24-26 We too can receive and recite over others this powerful blessing!

I am the Vine – Bear the Fruit of the Spirit

Throughout the gospels, the disciples reference that Jesus is the vine and we the branches: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 13:1-2 As we remain in Him allowing the Holy Spirit to work through us, our fruit shall be abundant enabling the will of the Father to be accomplished on earth as in Heaven. Because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who like water coursing through the vine and branches, we are enabled to be His hands and feet around the world. Indeed, Christ’s last command was to “go into all the world, preaching the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15 The gospel of Jesus transforms lives, brings souls into relationship with Him, and sprouts new branches to bear fruit: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23

I am truth – Go into All the World

One of my favorite Christian authors is CS Lewis. His last story published in 1959 shortly before his death was an epilogue to Screwtape’s Letters in which Screwtape, the devil, proposes a toast at a dinner honoring the graduation of new devils whose purpose is to tempt humans to sin. Screwtape elaborates about the ease of the task in the modern world in which society has adopted mindsets supporting one’s sin nature, or in other words normalizing sin! His expose’ predicts precisely what has happened in our society in the last 6 decades! By squeezing individuality and excellence out of the public educational system we promote commonality and mediocrity. By allowing governmental institutions to control all aspects of society and citizens, incentives to excel, innovate, and produce are removed thereby undermining freedom of choice. Lewis makes the point that what was once the strategy of tyrants to suppress their subjects or commoners in the Middle Ages, is now that of democratic governments!

Screwtape laments that democracies have taken the fun out of the tempters’ job by promoting their own destruction: “It is our function to encourage the behavior, manners, whole attitude of mind, which democracies naturally like and enjoy, because these are the very things which, if unchecked, will destroy democracy.” Yes, “Satan prowls about like a roaring lion looking for whom he can devour,” (I Peter 5:8) but so too do godless leaders and policies that subvert righteousness and faith.

In the first century, the Roman Empire dominated the world and subjugated Israel. Yet Jesus did not come to overturn the ruling government, but rather to overcome sin, crushing the head of the serpent Satan, the father of lies and deception. Our salvation is not in governments nor leaders but in Jesus. He set captives free by taking upon Himself the sins of all humans for all generations. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the Life; no one cometh unto the Father but by me.” John 14:6 When we seek solutions to our problems outside Biblical truth, we subvert His plan of salvation.

CS Lewis’ satirical story reminds us that truth does not change with time or with governments or social trends. Jesus asked us to “Take up your cross daily and follow Him.” (Luke 9:23) Therefore, we must be willing to suffer for the gospel, to stand on the rock of Biblical values and to speak the truth in love. These are actions fulfill the great commission to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15) Jesus described Himself as the Good Shepherd and commanded Peter to feed His sheep. It is through His church that Christ as head continues His ministry of sacrificial service not only to the body of believers but through them to the whole world multiplying His flock.

I am the Resurrection — Be an Overcomer

On Resurrection Day we celebrate that while Christ died a horrible death on the cross of salvation, He rose again to conquer sin and Satan. He declared to the Pharisees that in three days He would rebuild the temple, prophesying His resurrection. When He raised Lazarus from the dead Jesus demonstrated His power and authority over death. And when after the resurrection He showed Himself in several visitations to over 500 disciples, Jesus proved His claim to deity. Jesus is the Son of God and Son of Man! “Looking unto Jesus… who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross. Despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 By His sacrifice we have eternal life and are made white as snow. With acceptance of His gift of salvation, we too are overcomers not only in eternity but in this life. Through the power of His Holy Spirit, we overcome all challenges this fallen earthly life brings. This Easter/Passover embrace His grace, receive salvation, and overcome the world!

With blessings,
Sheryl Dawson
April 1, 2021

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