Easter – a message of Christly love
Christ Jesus’ ability to forgive those who crucified him proved the absolute power of divine Love, God, to overcome hatred and injustice – which we too can apply in our lives today.
When I was growing up, my family’s observance of Easter included attending church services that focused on rituals symbolizing the crucifixion of Christ Jesus. To me, it seemed as if the crucifixion was the main event of Jesus’ career instead of his resurrection from the grave three days later. It is tempting to be fascinated by the injustice and horror of the crucifixion, a fate no one was expected to survive. In fact, not even Jesus’ closest friends and disciples could believe those who said they had seen him after he rose from the grave.
But the story didn’t end with the crucifixion, which was the way to the resurrection – to the final proof of all that Jesus had taught.
The Bible says that Jesus “went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil” (Acts 10:38). Wasn’t this the heart of Jesus’ mission? Christ Jesus’ life-purpose was salvation for all humanity. Through studying Christian Science, I’m learning that this is a full salvation from all kinds of discord, including disease and sin. And it’s not something to be attained in some far-off time or place, but right here and now, as Jesus proved.
The Bible tells us that God is Love (see I John 4:8). In “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, writes: “Jesus aided in reconciling man to God by giving man a truer sense of Love, the divine Principle of Jesus’ teachings, and this truer sense of Love redeems man from the law of matter, sin, and death by the law of Spirit, – the law of divine Love” (p. 19).
Jesus clearly understood the magnitude of God’s limitless love, expressed to us and through us. This was the Christ-message that Jesus taught and lived. It was this “truer sense of Love” – of divine Love – that filled every detail of his daily life. This Love enabled him to heal quickly and effectively even the so-called incurable.
Jesus proved that loving one’s enemies is possible, even when he was falsely accused, unjustly tried, and crucified. Under such circumstances, to forgive his accusers would have demanded a consciousness so filled with a pure sense of ever-present, all-powerful Love, that it enabled him to rise above hatred and injustice. The cross and the grave had a finality about them. Yet the Christ – God’s message of the power of divine Love and goodness – which Jesus expressed, enabled him to overcome them.
Jesus proved that nothing – no cross, not even death – could stand in the way of salvation. And by his life-example, he showed the way for all of us to do the same. His instruction to “take up the cross, and follow me” (Mark 10:21) means to overcome the challenges in our daily lives with the same Christly understanding of divine Love.
Some years ago, a relationship became very strained when someone angrily flung false accusations at me. I knew I needed to pray, because resentment, anger, and the temptation to replay the incident over and over felt like a heavy weight on my chest. I struggled with the need to forgive.
Then I remembered Jesus’ words on the cross: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). It struck me that Jesus wasn’t relying on his own personal ability to forgive his accusers. He relied on his heavenly Father to forgive. And I could do the same, because forgiveness is a quality of Love, God.
The very first chapter in the Bible says that man is the image and likeness of God. That includes all of us. Therefore it is normal and natural for us, as God’s image or reflection, to express all the qualities of God. These aren’t personal qualities that we must struggle to express. Rather, we naturally express the love that is inherent to our nature as Love’s reflection, and this gives us the ability to forgive, without condoning wrong actions.
I felt completely at peace. And a short while later, when we met again, this person apologized, and the relationship was restored.
While my experience was very minor compared to Jesus’ cross experience, it brought me one step closer to gaining that “truer sense of Love,” which resurrects thought buried in discord. Overcoming daily challenges, big or small, with a deeper understanding of divine Love takes us forward, step by step, in the way of a full salvation.
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