Published April 3, 2012

Shelia Shares....
"Ultimate Joy"

As I write this article (months in advance of publication), we are enjoying the Christmas season. It is a time to celebrate – a time of great joy. Spirits are light and laughter is in the air.

Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. For me, it has the greatest significance of any holiday – celebrating the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Births are a time of wonder and celebration in any family.

Matthew 2:10. "When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy."

On the other hand, Easter isn't "fun." The only parts of Easter that could be considered "fun" are Easter bunnies and new clothes – not very spiritual, right?! Thinking of death doesn't seem to fit into the holiday feeling. How can we celebrate a death?

Few of us joyfully think of going to a funeral. Usually, we go because we care about people who are grieving for the person who died. Often, we go to a viewing or funeral out of a sense of duty. Typically, funerals have not been joyous occasions.

However, the scriptures do point to joy in the death of a Christian. Psalms 116:15 reads, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." God knows that in death, the saint (the Christian) is made whole and experiences total joy.

Christmas celebrates Jesus birth. But, before he was born, Jesus knew he would die. The purpose in coming to earth and living among people was to die. And, although he went through various stages of life on earth, He never forgot His one ultimate goal.

Luke 9 talks about Jesus' determination to go to Jerusalem. It says that He "steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem." According to the definition of steadfast, Jesus was "not subject to change." He was "faithful."

Hebrews 12 says of Jesus, "who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." Did that verse say "joy" and "cross" in the same sentence? How can there be joy in death?

Part of the reason for joy is that the cross and death are not the end of the story for either the saint or the savior.

The saint – or Christian – will be with the Lord forever. Death just ends the troubles on the earth and moves you to be forever with the Lord.

For Jesus, death was crucial for the resurrection and provision of our salvation. Knowing the reason for death, knowing what death provided, knowing He had finished his earthly race and accomplished salvation's plan gave and gives great joy.

This year, truly celebrate the Easter season. When death ends in resurrection, it is a cause for joy.

- Shelia

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