Set Aside All Else

Written by: Conny Varga

“He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.”
(Isa. 53:3-7)

The Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 was reading this exact passage on his way home from Jerusalem when Philip the Evangelist met him along the way and started explaining the Scripture to him and sharing the good news of Jesus, beginning with these very verses. Before long, the eunuch believed, was saved, and was baptized on the side of the road by Philip.

In about a week from now, we will commemorate the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. For those of us who are saved, it is a time of renewed humble devotion to the One who gave His life to save us undeserving people. It is a time of reflecting back on our old sinful life and our arrogance, pride, and rejection of God’s gift of salvation. A time of deep gratitude for the Love that freed us from our slavery to sin and brought us into the family of God.

However, do we take the time to share this Good News with those around us? Will we tell our children, friends, and family about the true meaning of Easter, sharing the whole Gospel story, beginning with creation, the prophets, and our desperate need for Jesus’ atonement? That’s the pattern we see in the New Testament, the pattern Jesus Himself used to teach the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Whenever the story of Easter was shared and explained, nothing was held back, nothing was “cartoonized”, made more cute or more palatable. The disciples did not shy away from pointing out the gruesome details, the sinfulness of the audience, and everyone’s contribution to the suffering and death of the only innocent man who ever lived.

In our politically correct world, do we keep silent about the true meaning of Easter? Are we afraid of pointing out the fact that we, as humans, are by nature wicked and sinful, and cannot be “good” apart from Christ? Do we just focus on colouring eggs and hunting for chocolate, eating ham and carrot cake, because that’s “safe”?

A couple of decades ago, I visited Romania during the Easter holidays, and I was struck by this tradition: On Easter Sunday, instead of greeting each other with “hello” or “good day”, people declared “Jesus is risen” to anyone they would meet, whether out on the street or in their homes.

I pray that we would spend much time reflecting on this great gift of salvation. I pray that we would study the Scripture, formulating in our mind the whole Gospel story, beginning at creation and the prophets, and then praying about how we can creatively go about sharing this Good News of Jesus Christ with anyone we will be spending time with during the upcoming holidays. Nothing else is more important or more urgent than that. Let’s set aside all else for the sake of the Gospel!