The Cathedral of Notre-Dame website says, "This Gothic masterpiece took almost 200 years to build, only to be trashed by Huguenots, Revolutionaries, and World War II. Restoration efforts have triumphantly returned every last detail of the cathedral to its former magnificence." But this Easter the building has once again been hit by forces of destruction. It's expected to take years to restore the damage to the structure from this week's ferocious blaze.
Jesus said, "I can destroy God's temple and rebuild it in three days." This was part of his defence at his trial before his crucifixion at that very first Easter. He'd been challenged to reveal on what authority he acted and spoke. Needless to say, his accusers did not believe him and they pressed on with their case which ended in his execution.
Understanding Jesus seems to have been a difficult thing for many of the religious leaders around him. However, that close group of people who followed Jesus through his three years of ministry, up to his death and resurrection, had begun to realise the significance of his words and their power.
Last month, I came across a sculpture outside a building in Southwell called ‘Road to Emmaus’. It depicts scenes from the encounter of two grief-stricken followers of Jesus – who met him after his resurrection from the dead. They recognised him only when he broke bread with them.
Like those two men - our hope is the person of Jesus - who spoke at the beginning of his ministry of a kingdom in the here and now, and who said, “This is my Father’s will: that all who see the Son and believe in Him will have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
Jesus said of the people around him “I came so that they could have life – indeed, so that they could have life to the fullest.”
From start to finish, the story of the Bible is about a loving God who made us and seeks to enjoy our company. The story clearly shows that, sadly, no amount of reminding people about the rules for this relationship could get them to keep them.
So, God works a plan to release his new life and hope into the hearts of everyone. That plan came to fruition at that first Easter with Jesus dying and rising again to show us two things – God’s power over his creation and God’s intention to release his transforming grace, his new life, to enable us to be citizens of this new kingdom. Here! Now!
There’s nothing we can do to earn this new life. There’s nothing we can do to deserve it. God gives his gift of life freely because he loves each and every one. It is a life that begins now and continues through death.
Jesus is our living hope.
Those two men on the Emmaus road met Jesus and saw a new reality through their grief.
Have courage – take hold of God’s new life and new hope today.