Ever since Adam and Eve, God has used imperfect people, or desperate, impossible situations, or both, to bring about his redemptive purposes.
sinned there was a cataclysmic separation of creation from its creator, and the world plunged suicidally away from its original purpose.
God, grieving, sent the flood, but Noah (meaning comfort), would still carry hope for salvation. He wasn't perfect, not as Adam and Eve had been, but God could and would use him. Through Noah,
comfort (hope) sprang forth.
Through biblical history, and since, God has used imperfect people and impossible situations, to bring about his redemptive purposes. We might say bringing life from death, hope from despair, is the way he most often does things; no situation or person is beyond his redemption.
, for instance, was miraculously conceived following the heartache and desperate cry of his barren mother Hannah
, and later used by God to bring revival to all of Israel. Jacob
was a liar and a thief, Rahab
was a prostitute. Jesus
was none of these things, but there are few more squalid or harrowing scenes than crucifixion.
Yet even here, as the sky darkened and His father in heaven apparently deserted him, new hope sprang forth. As Jesus hung on the cross, a soldier put a spear in Jesus' side, drawing blood and water. John finds this so surprising that he takes the trouble to give credence to the testimony of the man who witnessed it.
That flow of blood from His side is easy to understand: it is the blood that cleanses us of sin, but the water?
A rather unnatural phenomenon, there's been much speculation about what it meant. Buried in the writings of the early church Fathers is the suggestion that John saw it as the life of the Holy Spirit beginning its flow from Jesus' side.
This makes good sense. The prophet Ezekiel, centuries earlier, had seen a river flowing from the temple; Zechariah had prophesied of the day a fountain would begin to flow in Jerusalem and of course Jesus himself had earlier stood up in the temple courts, exclaiming that rivers of living water would flow from the inmost being of him who believes, adding that the Holy Spirit had not yet been given, but would be once Jesus had been glorified (crucified).
This stream from the side of Jesus would increase. He would breathe upon His disciples in the upper room where he appeared to them after his resurrection, and it would become a torrent at Pentecost, totally immersing the disciples and others who were with them in Jerusalem that day.
Jesus didn't just die so that our sins could be forgiven. He died so that God's life, the Holy Spirit, could be poured out in fulfilment of Joel's prophesy centuries earlier.
In the world there may be darkness but, especially where there is darkness, there is hope! God turned around Adam's error on the cross, and the power that would enable a people to be God's people began flowing as Jesus died.
Whatever impossible people or situations you may see around you this Easter, know for certain that God has already acted in history and has provided all you need today to see his redemptive purposes come forth. It is finished!
Richard George is Director of The Way of the Spirit and Pastor of Cornerstone Church, Norwich.
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