If there is anything that Easter reminds us, it is that “salvation”—God’s wonderful gift of peace with Him in this life and in the life to come—is not something we achieve by what we do. It’s something that has already been done for us. Jesus died on the cross for our sins; He rose again on the third day. He did it, not us.
Happiness is made up of many things: it is a smile of a child, the golden glows of a sunrise, the warm hug of a loved one, health after sickness. But such happiness is also transitory: a child does not always smile, the sunrise may be overshadowed with dark clouds, a loved one may leave, sickness may not pass. There is another happiness, that is deeper and everlasting, and that is the happiness that comes into your soul when you realise the depth, breadth, and height of God’s love for you, a love embodied in His Son, Jesus.
Again [Jesus] began to teach by the sea. And a great multitude was gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea. Then He taught them many things by parables.––Mark 4:1–2
The path of the past year is ending. We can look back at what has passed and recall the happy moments, the unanticipated joys, the good news that arrived like refreshing waters to a thirsty soul.1 Then again, we may also heave a sigh of relief that the troubles of the past year have finally come to an end.2 In between those high and low points, there were the average days when nothing out of the ordinary happened.
“Answer me speedily, O Lord; my spirit fails! … I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me.”—Psalm 143:7; Micah 7:7 NLT
“The straw that breaks the camel’s back” is the final item in a collection of burdens or troubles, perhaps even a seemingly small thing that threatens to take you beyond the point of endurance. The strain has been building up for a while, and finally you sense that you are about to crumble. You can’t stand it any longer.
There are countless people whose lives have been changed by an encounter with Jesus, both within and beyond the context of Bible history.
Paul is often rightly cited as an example of the power of Jesus to transform lives. He was a Pharisee (a member of an ancient Jewish religious group) who was so dead set against the followers of Jesus that he took it upon himself to launch a crusade for their imprisonment and in some cases death.
“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.”—Alan Watts (1915–1973)
Comparing our relationship with God to swimming isn’t a bad analogy. When you swim, you’re surrounded by water; it’s the element in which you move and survive. “In Him we live and move and have our being,” Paul proclaimed.1
The ministry of John the Baptist mostly preceded that of Jesus. John’s message was one of repentance; he proclaimed the coming of the Savior. Although some of his followers went on to become disciples of Jesus,1 others evidently stayed at John’s side.