The Creation of Adam is the most copied and most famous frescoe on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. That image has been reproduced countless times, the finger of God reaching out to touch the hand of Adam. Intuitively Michelangelo painted the image of God with a human body because it is so difficult for us to think of intimacy, personality, intelligence and love without clothing it in a body. What the painter did imaginatively, God did in reality when God the Son took on human flesh. Paradoxically it is not the possession of flesh that creates intimacy but the connection of the soul and spirit.
In the busyness of our modern Canadian lives it is too easy to rush on and through the great holy days of the year. This is the enemy's ploy to keep us too busy to think, even if that activity is a-musement, which means ‘not to think.' Easter is a season to slow down, to stop and ‘smell the roses,' to look up and gaze in wonder at the stars of the night sky; to turn off the electronic thieves in our pockets and on our walls that rob us of the time and space for deep thought and reflection. This is a good time to reconnect with our souls and with the Maker of our souls; to reach out and touch Him to discover how willing He is to reach out and embrace us in His love.
We have ‘techno-fied' our relationships with our bodies so that it is too easy to forget the biblical truth, that ‘the life is in the blood.' You and I are creatures of flesh and blood. The God Who would rescue us took on our flesh and blood so that he might in every way identify with us in our mortal and flawed condition:
Heb. 2:14-15 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
Yes, God did reach down to rescue us – to redeem the relationship spoiled by the disobedience of the First Adam. Too often we lose sight of life as a gift – beautiful, mysterious and beyond price. It cost Jesus His life to bring us life – body, soul and spirit.
When we get caught up in the pure physicality of life, we soon find ourselves crying out, ‘Is this all there is?' Am I not more than an animated bag of skin and bones? Where do I find meaning? We long to rediscover the life of the soul and spirit that lifts us beyond brutish existence, mere lumps of moving flesh, and to sense the awakening of our souls. God the Son took on our flesh, our humanity, so that he might die, so that we might live — so that we might discover and embrace that ‘something more' that makes life worth living. For this we must come to the foot of the Cross and look up!
Isaac Watts, in his hymn, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, penned this contemplation of Jesus:
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Stop and reflect deeply.
See Him wounded, His head, His hands, His feet — for me, for you.
See the blood flowing down – see His sorrow, feel His love.
See the crown of thorns pressed down – He feels your pain.
The life is in the blood – see His life seeping away in rivulets.
Enter into the shadows of Good Friday when the sky was darkened at midday and the radiance of the sun was blotted out. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He cried out – for you, for me. As Isaiah the prophet, foretold, ‘He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.'
And now we break out of the stone cold tomb of lives without hope or meaning into the life giving brilliance of His love. And the creation of Adam is re-created in us. And we know that it is God Who is reaching out to infuse His life into us, body, soul and spirit.
For death could not hold Him. He broke free from the tomb, and with His resurrection He guarantees the gift of life to all who come to Him. Our destiny is not to a disembodied existence but rather to be raised with a resurrection body like Jesus'. It is Jesus, the Last Adam, Who has come a life giving spirit. His resurrection was the firstfruits. For one day, all those who follow Him will have their mortal bodies transformed into His incorruptible likeness. It begins by a renewal of our souls, the act of coming simply and humbly and saying, ‘Jesus, I need you. I want to know you. I take hold of your promise that all who put their trust in You receive the gift of eternal life. Amen.'
Begin the journey to Life: you must go the Way of the Cross to get to the Empty Tomb. For those already on the journey, slow down and let the reality of Jesus' gift sink in deeply and renew you.
What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners' gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Let the intimacy of God's love in Jesus, through His death and resurrection be especially yours this Easter. Happy Easter!
Rev. Phil Delsaut, President, EMCC