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4 min read

Easter Devotional: Fixing our eyes on Jesus

A favorite athletic event for me has been the relay race. The athletes not only run their leg of the race but also receive, carry, and then hand off the baton to the next runner. It is an exciting and sometimes nerve-racking event to watch.The handoff of the baton from one runner to the next is a beautiful thing to watch as a practiced team makes that switch with precision and the race then continues. To watch the handoff go poorly or not at all is a devastating thing and has significant consequences for the runners and the race. The race hinges on this event, the handoff, which is a few short seconds, but a significant moment in the race.

 

“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. (Hebrews 12:1)

 

In Hebrews 12: 1, Paul the Apostle likens our walk with Christ to a race. “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith."

RaceJesus was incarnate, with us, for roughly thirty-three years. He was born into the world as the God-Man, fully God and fully man. The uniqueness of Jesus is that He is the only one in history that embodies that reality, the one and only time where God took flesh, became one of us, lived a life free of sin, and went to the cross on our behalf. Leading to the cross, Jesus did and said things that proved He was God, proved He was fully human, and provoked the leaders of the time to either accept and follow Him or reject Him.


The race begins with Jesus' ministry.

The final 44 days of Jesus' time on Earth, He said some things that both were striking then and echo now in the heart and mind of every person who claims to be a follower of Jesus.

Three days prior to Resurrection Sunday, now known as Easter Sunday, Jesus gathered His key followers in a room for the Passover meal—a meal that had been celebrated by God's followers for hundreds of years. Jesus both celebrated the Passover and turned the meal on its head. The Passover meal was now about Him. He would be that sacrifice, on the cross, three days later.

John records this in chapter 13, verse 34: “On the night that our Lord was betrayed, just after celebrating the Passover meal with His disciples and just before instituting the Lord's Supper, He turned to His friends and said, ‘A new command I give you: Love one another.’”

 

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34)



Jesus has begun the handoff of the baton. He says this in John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” How will the world know that we are His followers? By loving one another.


Cross

The race continues through Jesus' Resurrection.

Jesus is accused, beaten, put on a cross. He suffered and died that Friday. But the message and the excitement of Easter Sunday is this: as the angel said to Mary as recorded in Matthew 28:5-6: “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said!"

 

“Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said!” (Matthew 28:5-6)

 

For the follower of Jesus, the focal point of all history is the Resurrection of Jesus. It is what we celebrate on Easter—and what an occasion to celebrate! Through Him, death is defeated forever, and all who believe in Him are welcomed into eternal life in the presence of our sovereign God and King!


The handoff of the baton is complete at the Ascension.

Jesus accomplished His mission to be the atoning sacrifice, and now He has a mission for us: 40 days after rising from the grave, He called the disciples to meet Him on a mountain top where He completed the handoff of the baton.

Reaching for JesusHe says to them as recorded in Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” He leaves His followers, empowered by His Spirit to now run the race of speaking, living, and representing to the world, the message of the gospel—that Jesus is the God-Man, He came, He lived a life of sinless perfection, and He willingly went to the cross and died on our behalf so that we who accept this can be free of the sin and the darkness in which we once lived.

This Easter, I want to challenge you to widen the lens of history just a bit, specifically to these last 40 days of Jesus' life with us,  to the “handoff zone” in the race that Jesus ran, where He commanded, “love one another”, and where He commissioned, “make disciples”, going into all the world on His behalf, with His power, sharing and living out His message.


The race continues by the power of the Holy Spirit.

So how is the handoff going for you, for me? Easter Sunday is a reminder of the race that we who are Jesus followers have said yes to. For all of us, there will be moments of running poorly and or fumbling the baton, but by the power of the Holy Spirit—the helper that Jesus promised us; His own spirit—we resume the race, grab firmly the baton of the gospel, and pick up the pace. 

This Easter, let’s remind ourselves and each other that Easter is more than the cultural event we have made it to be, Easter eggs and Easter Bunnies, etc., but it is the central moment of history when the gospel baton was handed to us.

I leave you with this passage on how Paul the Apostle carried the baton of the gospel. I like how it is paraphrased in The Message version of scripture:

“Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!” (1 Corinthians 19:19-23)

This Easter let’s not just “talk about it,” “let’s be in on it!”

 

Come to the Gathering on April 25 to see how the gospel of Jesus is at work at Union Gospel Mission. 

UGM Gathering. Register. >>

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