No Do-Overs

17 03 2013

Do-over: A chance to redo an action. In golf it is called a Mulligan. Didn’t like your first shot; tee up another ball and, without penalty, see if you can do better on the next.

Those of you who are Andy Griffith fans will recall the episode in which Opie had a slingshot. He heard a bird in the tree and aimed in her direction, not considering that he might actually hit the bird, and giving no thought to the consequences if he should. Sure enough, he did hit it. But this wasn’t just any bird. This was a mama-bird with three babies in a nest up in the tree. Opie cried when he realized he had killed the bird. Later that night it was almost more than he could bear to hear the babies in the nest outside his bedroom window, knowing their mama would not be coming back to protect them or to feed them. Opie would have given anything for a do-over…to be able to go back in time and not take that shot.

Jesus had been hanging on the cross for several hours; dying a slow agonizing death with the weight of His battered body supported only by the nails in His hands. At mid-day the sky grew as dark as night. This lasted for three hours and finally Jesus cried out to God, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” He then took His last breath.

Hearing Jesus’ words the Captain of the Roman military unit carrying out the crucifixion suddenly realized Jesus was exactly who He claimed to be and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” Others realized this too and walked away in deep regretful sorrow. Jesus’ earlier words, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” proved to be very insightful.

Like Opie, the Roman centurion and others who had witnessed Jesus’ suffering would have given anything for a do-over.

Jesus’ body was removed from the cross, wrapped in a long linen cloth and then interred in a tomb hewn from a rock. A large stone was rolled in front of the opening to seal off the tomb. Three days later, women who had come with Jesus from Galilee, brought spices to the tomb in much the same way one would take flowers to a gravesite today. When they arrived at the burial place they saw the stone sealing the tomb opening had been moved aside and Jesus’ body was gone. To their amazement, the tomb was empty.

Opie took the three baby birds from the nest and put them in a cage. He named them Winkin, Blinkin and Nod and fed them until they were big enough and strong enough to fly. Then, with the realization they were becoming too large for the cage, it became obvious the logical thing to do was to release them. Reluctantly, Opie released each bird; first Nod, followed by Winkin and finally, Blinkin. To Opie’s delight, each bird flew straight into the tree in which they were hatched. Afterward, Opie commented on how empty the cage looked. “..but don’t the trees seem nice and full?” asked Andy.<a href=”“>

While the murder of Jesus was a tragic event, it was an event that had to happen if we were to have eternal life with God. Jesus was the sacrifice that gave us that opportunity. And even though He had said this during His ministry, no one seemed to really understand what He meant.

Opie saw sadness in an empty cage. But if the cage had not been empty then the trees would have been. To the women who came to Jesus’ tomb, they saw sadness. If the tomb had not been empty then our lives would be and we would have no hope of an eternal future with God in heaven. Thank you, God, for the empty tomb and the fullness of life in Christ. Amen.

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Nails

31 03 2012

The nail. So small. So simple, yet so versatile and powerful. A single nail can transform a room when you use it to hang the family portrait. A single nail can quiet a room when used to stabilize a squeaky floor board. With 12,000 nails you can build a house. With a billion nails you can build a city. We see the nail as a symbol of construction. It is used to build. Once a commodity of great value, the nail, today, has little value until you find yourself one nail short at the end of a project. Two thousand years ago the nail was used as a tool of death. Those who refused to believe that Jesus was not who He claimed to be, the long-awaited Messiah, used the nail for destruction as they tried to destroy Jesus and His ministry.

The Cross. The single most important symbol of Christianity. Like the nail, the Cross on which Jesus was crucified was, at the time, a symbol of death. Crucifixion was a common form of public execution in which the victim was tied or nailed to a cross and left to die a slow, agonizing death.

Tomb is defined as a place of internment; an excavation in which a corpse is buried. The tomb is clearly a symbol of death. The end of life.

The irony is, that because of the power of God, all three represent life…new life. Each represents victory over death. The day Jesus rose from the dead and walked out of the tomb was the beginning of new life for those who accept Him as Savior.

The nail, the cross, the tomb…daily reminders that this world doesn’t have to be our final destination. Without Jesus’ death and resurrection this world would be the best any of us could ever hope for; but, thanks to the cross, we, who have made Jesus Lord of our lives, have an eternal future in heaven with the Savior of the world. Who would have ever thought that just three nails could save humanity?

The single greatest moment the world has ever known.