Well, today is an Easter like no other. Today, we are separated; we are unable to be physically gathered together with our churches, friends and family; we are confined to the walls of our home. In this time of isolation, it has become very clear that being in the presence of others, especially being in close proximity with others, is far more precious than we ever could have imagined. Technology has been a helpful tool to keep us in contact, but there is a tension lingering in the air of our Zoom calls whispering that this way of being together must only be ephemeral. It’s a blessing to live in a technological age, yet through this pandemic it is proving to be an ultimately unfulfilling means of community. The world is longing to be physically present with one another again, it is longing for intimate community, it is longing for deeper connection, it is longing to be free from the walls that keep us apart.
It occured to me this past week as I’ve been reading through Isaiah, that this was the same sort of longing which prompted God to empty himself and assume the likeness of humanity in the form of the servant Jesus Christ. There was indeed a pandemic, not one of physical disease, but rather of sin. Before sin entered the world, we were in communion with God in the garden, sharing in his perfect peace and splendor. But, humanity rebelled, and sin separated us from God, walls went up between us. God, in his complete goodness, cannot be connected to sin; so, we were separated by a great chasm. Humanity was no longer able to be physically present with God, they were no longer intimate in the way God designed us to be with Him, they too became divided by walls. Luckily, this was not the end of the story.
“On this mountain he will destroy the burial shroud, the shroud over all the peoples, the sheet covering all the nations, he will destroy death forever. The Lord God will wipe away the tears from every face and remove his people’s disgrace from the whole earth, for the Lord has spoken. On that day it will be said, ‘Look, this is our God; we have waited for him. This is the Lord; we have waited for him. Let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.’ For the Lord’s power will rest on this mountain…The high-walled fortress will be brought down, thrown to the ground, to the dust.”
Here, we see a promise. A promise that says at the perfect time God will destroy death forever and the walls raised because of our sin will be kicked down once and for all. My friends, this is the Easter story. This is Christ, dying on the cross on Good Friday, and resurrecting three days later on Easter Sunday. The seemingly impossible prophecy Isaiah proclaims here in the Scripture, was indeed fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ on the day he rose to life. Death was defeated. Jesus bore all sin past, present, and future, on the cross so that we might be forgiven and be brought back into communion with the Father by the blood of Jesus.
“But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility.”
These two groups Paul is talking about are the Jews and the Gentiles, as they were reconciled and brought to peace with one another, but we too have been reconciled by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. For God reconciled us back to Himself on the cross as he became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice, thus bridging the gap that was between God and humanity and kicking down the walls that kept us away from true communion. Just as humanity today is experiencing social distance and cannot wait for the moment when togetherness can occur, God wanted the same thing with us and so He took matters into his own hands as nails pierced him on a tree. Because of this miraculous resurrection, we have every reason to be glad and rejoice as Isaiah has prophesied, for He is alive and He made Himself available to us yet again. When we commit our lives to Jesus, God in the form of the Holy Spirit enters into our hearts. He has an invitation for us, to be in the nearest relationship with Him, as He makes His home in us.
I pray in this Easter season that we may remember this sacrifice and keep in mind this invitation of living with Him. If there is anything I feel I’ve learned amidst this pandemic, it is that humanity craves togetherness, we crave intimate community, and we crave being in each other’s presence. Friends, I truly feel this is because there is another desire seeded deep into the depths of our being that longs for this sense of ‘being’ and existing with God through the grace of Jesus Christ. Our longing for community is a testament to the ultimate longing of our souls to exist as they were created to be: in fellowship with God. My conviction remains strong when I recall the brokenness and imperfection of humanity; we let people down despite our best efforts and purest intentions. So, there must be something more, something that perfectly fulfills this longing for togetherness? This is who Jesus is. He is the giver of abundant life and abundant mercy, despite our brokenness and imperfection. God knew we needed saving and sent Jesus to pick up our broken pieces, atone all sin, reconcile us with God, and through his blood give us the gift of eternal life.
Friends, I pray we can learn to put our hope in Him and find intimate communion with the God that never fails to keep His promises and who will never leave us or forsake us and who removes all of our disgrace and wipes away all our tears. Let us recognize this desire for nearness dwelling in us and remember that Jesus kicked the walls down for this very reason. We have been reconciled to God, our sin does not separate us anymore because of Jesus; and so lies the invitation before us. The invitation for salvation and the invitation to enter into perfect and unfailing communion with the Maker. Whether for the first time or the thousandth time, I pray we may take it and I pray that we may learn to live in this grace, this holy communion.
The walls are down, run to Him.