You have to give it to your enemies sometimes; they may successfully trap you and leave you isolated. They can betray you and leave you half-dead. Danger ever attacks the defiant – especially those who turn a deaf ear to surrendering to iniquities of any sort. And no matter how sanctified you are, you’ll soon face the dilemma of making crucial sacrifices. Your neck will be on the line and you might lose your bag. Embarrassment will not be enough – only the selling of your soul will suffice. This past week has been celebrated by Christians everywhere at varying degrees. In a time where the political and economic climates are volatile, we remember Jesus on His way to Golgotha.
Being a Black Man in America, I can recall the days of growing up in the Church. I was raised in Sunday School and Children Books that portrayed a Savior that looked nothing like me. Not that I cared then or am ultimately concerned about it now, but there is an existential problem that thrusts every African American into a sinister metempsychosis. It’s the choice every Christian must make, but in the world of the Negros, it’s either donning the social martyr, or becoming the star of minstrels. Either way, we’re exposed to being double-crossed not only from our nemesis, but from our very own people.
These things are what makes the gospel of Jesus not some irrelevant fairy tale. No, His story does more than just spark a dance. To those who have been wedded to His cause for years; who heard His call and shared in His suffering; the bruises of whips and mockery exchanging thorns for a crown; the bleeding and feeling the capillary action stemming from punctured wounds; seeping out dying hopes and dreams…and peace…and happiness…loss of achievement and acceptance. And as much as the Black Man has endured the shedding of his skin and loss of vitals, he cannot compare to the excruciating pain Jesus endured on the Cross.
As eyewitnesses, we see Mary, the soldiers, and the Disciples looking at Jesus being hung on a tree. In many times an in many ways the story is preached all over the world. Jesus is taken down and buried in a grave; ravaged not only in body, but in mind and soul. He descends into Hades. And what Hell awaits Him! If you cannot sense the torments shoehorned into every fiber of His being; from the follicle going underneath the epidermal walls; the agitated nerve and strained muscles; deep within the spongy cartilage penetrating all the way to every ruptured nucleus; Jesus is baptized with plasmatic waves of the dead. Certainly, the weight of His afflictions were of cosmic proportions beckoning his fanatic devotees to immerse themselves in His anguish, if but for a moment.
Silence continues for hours. We watch as his Disciples are left confused; wondering whether or not their cause was a sham and all for nothing. You can only imagine what fear and frustration went through their minds as they rolled Jesus into the Tomb. Those hours of void must have felt like centuries although in hindsight, it was only three days. And how often have we, in those brief times of loss, has it felt like decades before relief? Hasn’t this pandemic shown us how time can stop still? As creatures of life, waiting and uncertainty is tortuous. Let me speak for myself when I say being in lingo sucks – I mean – it’s one of the worse feelings in the world. Like your circumstances feels like Russian Roulette only except you’re not the one holding the gun to your head. Turning our eyes back to Jesus; I wonder how many of His followers wanted to commit suicide upon seeing His crucifixion?
Except the story goes: on the day Jesus died, the sun failed to give it’s light, there were earthquakes and many of the dead saints were raised from their tombs. Surely that pivotal moment provided no place to sit down as it foreshadowed what Jesus would do in the days ahead. Going into the grave heavily guarded by demons and devils, the LORD would make His way preaching to the lost. What amazing work of God! To be everywhere present, yet do the work of espionage. Can you imagine Satan laughing at this time? I’m sure there were taunts echoing through the underground; figuring the chances of redemption and restoration are done for. They must have reveled in such a stupendous feat in killing God Himself! I can see them asleep at the door while Jesus walks on by; stealing the keys of sin & death with tongue in cheek. That must’ve sent shockwaves all throughout Hades; shaking Hell’s imperial guards to consider what happened only to find their greatest treasure was stolen from their lord. How embarrassing to have to give an account to Satan:
SATAN: How is it my keys are stolen from me?
BAAL: We do not know. Isn’t the evil lord dead?
SATAN: He’s not extinguished warden!!!
Indeed he’s not extinguished! Just like when Moses’ serpent devoured the snakes of the magicians, this Jesus; the all-consuming fire conquered all the fires of Hell as an innocent man – yet – taking on all the sins of the world onto Himself. Down into the grave and up with resurrecting power, the stone is rolled away before the watchman. With thunderous roar, Jesus’ body is taken away. He’s not extinguished warden! And I don’t care how long your dreams have died away; how long your adversaries have triumphed over you; how long you have gone through lost and despair. They may have thrown dust on your name, but he’s not extinguished warden; you may feel that you’re way past your prime and it’s too late, but he’s not extinguished warden! You may feel that you may never find true love, but he’s not extinguished warden. For as Christ is in you, there is a Spirit that longs to not be put out. Those who are fighting the good fight of faith say amongst yourselves, “He’s not extinguished warden!” He’s not, he’s not, he’s not, he’s not, he’s not, he’s not, he’s not extinguished!
This cry is felt among Christians all over the world. heard among the persecuted and troubles; even among those who are dead. I speak to all those who are alive, and who are in the grave, and even those who are yet born. You know the corruptions that war against our soul. Many of you have faced great tribulation and have encountered death yourself; some are going through the struggles of their live; literally Hell on earth! Hear the words of a man who have been burned beside you; who has been ostracized, rejected, lied on and confused; who’s been thrown into the throes of the grave and tasted the manna from heaven:
ME: All the souls in the grave. ATTENTION!
He’s not extinguished warden. The glory God has prepared for you is greater than all the trinkets, pleasures, and comforts of this world. Greater fellowship is coming that surpasses all the disappointments and betrayals of men. Can’t you sense it? Is this not what the LORD promised for His people? As that day approaches, let yourself dream again. Open your heart to Christ and be enraptured by His love again. And the Divine ecstasy shall join us together in one heart and one soul; singing collectively together in new songs, and psalms; joining together singing familiar hymns like:
He rose triumphantly
In pow’r and majesty
The Savior rose no more to die;
O let us now proclaim
The glory of His name
And tell to all
He lives today
Now Father, establish the works of your people ang give them renewed vigor in you. Amen.
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
John 12:32 ESV