Luke 9:23-24:”Then he [Jesus] said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.'”

One of the tell-tale signs that Jesus’ ministry on Earth was coming to a close were His early predictions of His upcoming arrest. He was on the road to Jerusalem where He knew He’d face certain death. Yet He kept on walking. His mind was made up. Approaching Jerusalem, Jesus addressed the crowd with the following words (Luke 9:24):

“If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it.”

Jesus walked the talk. He did not hang on to His own life; giving up His life He saved it as God resurrected Him on the Third Day; and by freely giving His life He ultimately saved the world.

When we departed from the Garden of Eden we left God and got further and further away from Him; God on the other hand did not leave us. Even though the human situation got really nasty, He still did not drop us like a hot potato. Instead, we experience the goodness of the Lord on any given day when He helps us out and leaves us gifts; He lets the Sun shine on the good and the bad. Some actually take offense to that and say: that’s not fair. Our God does not intend to be fair. Our God is extremely generous and very patient. Thank God that He is!

Our faltering attempts to live a good life on this planet have not gone unnoticed. God came to our rescue. Jesus’s death on the cross is a martyr’s death – He died the death of a criminal and didn’t deserve it. However, there’s more to the story: He died so we can live.

Similar to being caught in quicksand, our failures lead to yet more failures. Jesus broke this vicious cycle. He accepted the consequences of our shortcomings in our stead. The buck stops right there – at the cross. Jesus on the cross lived our pain, breathed in our brokenness and exhaled His last breath in death to save us from the repercussions of all our bad choices. Instead of punishment God’s open arms are wide, ready to receive us back.

Our heavenly Father loves to be gracious! Jesus is a hero in the Father’s eyes because what His heart wants most – extending grace to all His estranged children – is now happening on any given day. People realize one by one that they are loved by God and that the doors to reconciliation are wide open. Reunions take place. People find Heaven or Heaven finds them. Jesus’ sacrificial death enables grace upon grace.

The longer we live the more God’s belief in us strikes us. Yes, this is an astounding fact: God believes in us – so much so that He bet His Son’s life on it. He invests in us by withholding nothing and giving it all! If God so fully invests in us why wouldn’t we take a step of faith and invest in Him?

John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

1 Peter 2:24: “ ‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’”

Healing is in God’s name, and there is a lot in this world that is broken and in need of healing. Healing brings order into chaos. Healing brings peace. Healing breathes the universal sigh of relief.

The Trinity has been working tirelessly to restore sick bodies and repair broken relationships. Like ointment the Holy Spirit was poured out on a hurting world. Jesus spilled His lifeblood for the same reason. And the Father cut through the chase, brought order into chaos and sacrificed everything near and dear to Him, not even withholding His Son. The visible part of the major repair work that has been ongoing ever since mankind messed up, is Jesus’s public ministry during His earth years. Now He is working behind the scenes sitting at the right hand of the Father tirelessly intervening on our behalf while the Holy Spirit tirelessly knocks on human heart doors.

Healing comes at a high cost, and each member of the Trinity believes we are worth every penny. The question is, do we think God is worth every effort on our part? Here is what’s dangerous about this question: it’s a common human error to think somehow and in some ways we have to pay God back for all He has done. I cannot emphasize this enough – no, that’s definitely not what God hopes for in a relationship. If we pay Him back, that puts God in the position of a wage earner, and we’re basically His employer (God forbid) deciding on His wages.

If we want to pay Him back, how much is it going to be? Will it ever be enough? Probably not. And where does our friendship with God go? Out the window I’d say! By paying Him back we have turned our friendship with God into a business relationship. Tit for tat – You gave me this, and I give you that.

So back to the question at hand: The Trinity gave everything to restore peace and bring healing to this world. What do we give in return? Nothing less than our heart! We are the heart of the matter in the Trinity’s passionate pursuit to heal the world. And for us, God becomes the heart of the matter because His love makes everything better; His love kisses us awake from death coma. Thanks to Him there’s eternal life, life beyond this mortal body.

God breathes immortality into mortality. Our relationship with God is built for eternity. God gives everything, and we give everything. Together forever! That’s what God’s healing is all about.

Romans 5:6: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.

God is the author of time. For what it’s worth: He created the space time continuum. In this day and age, with atomic clocks everywhere, we couldn’t help but notice that time passes slower on a Space Shuttle than on Earth. So there’s Earth time, then there’s space time. It’s God’s time. Time is allotted to us, it’s a gift. Time is short, our lifetime is brief; we’ll get the most satisfaction if we use our God-given time wisely.

If we let God into our lives and spend time with the Almighty, time bends according to my experience. It is unbelievable how much meaning can fit in a second, or how much beauty can be created within a day or how much goodness can transpire within a lifetime, with God being in my life.

God is everywhere, but He can be absent too. We have that power. We can exclude God from our daily lives, we can expel His nourishing and life-giving Spirit, and we can reject the Son of God and turn our backs to all that is wholesome and good. Such behavior will backfire and negatively affect our lifetime on Earth. A godless life is an empty life. Time seems to shrink in His absence. It’s what we refer to as wasted time. Choosing a meager diet that excludes generosity, creativity and growth, we do not experience life in its fullness. Life is for learning. We are meant to experience the wonder of life while our hearts are beating; obviously there is an end to it when our hearts stop beating; our lifetime on Earth is a limited edition.

Can a circle be unbroken? I believe so. That’s why Jesus came. He came to restore a connection that what was lost a long, long time ago, when mankind and God separated. It’s an unnatural split. God and mankind belong together. We are only complete when we’re with God. God is the energy that created us. We are most alive in His presence.

We need to return to the Source of all being to be the best version of ourselves. No force of nature can keep us apart from God when we decide to return. God engineered His plan of salvation to welcome us back home. The table is set, the place is prepared, and everything is ready. Reconciliation with the Godhead is within reach for every person on this planet.

God’s timing is impeccable. He sent His Son at just the right time. It’s thought-provoking to imagine what would have happened if God hadn’t sent Jesus at the right time – which is any time other than the time He was born in Bethlehem. What would have happened, let’s say, if Jesus was born in the Stone Age or in this day and age? Just imagine Jesus on the evening news. There is a right time for everything, and there is a wrong time for everything. God who created time never misses a beat.

Where does this leave us? Get reconnected to God and stay connected, my friend, and your horizons continue to expand, your life is full to the brim, and your lifetime on Earth is special.

There’s no such thing as time to kill
Nor time to throw away
So, once for the bright sky, twice for the pig sty
Thrice for another day

Hebrews 1:3: “The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.”

My great grandfather Walter Seelheim was a Jew and he married Augusta, who went to the protestant church. Neither my great grandfather Walter nor my great grandmother Augusta was actively engaged in their respective faith communities. As a result, my family is one of those families that ended up agnostic.

I was a teenager when I started looking for God. My assumption was, there’s a Creator who is responsible for all life forms and who also created me. If that was the case, if this Creator existed, I wanted to get to know Him. So began my quest to find God.

It turned out that God is not dead after all; God spoke to me as I was reading one of the books of King Solomon, the Song of Songs in the Old Testament, and I quote (Song of Songs 1:15):

“How beautiful you are, my darling!
    Oh, how beautiful!
   Your eyes are doves.”

At this very moment I realized that God addressed me with these words; for the first time in my life I felt God’s presence. From then on, I knew He was real. That’s how it went.

Can you imagine my shock when somebody told me a few days later that I wasn’t a believer unless I received Jesus in my heart? I can still recall the confusion over the matter.

I don’t know about you, but I had the hardest time coming to terms with God being Three. When I set out to seek God, I only looked for One not three. For the longest time I simply embraced the Trinity as part of the Christian doctrine even though I could not relate to it. I think my great grandfather wouldn’t have done it – certainly not my grandfather who was known to have shoved a visiting clergyman down the stairs with the advice to never return; and certainly not my mother who still has a deep-seated mistrust against all things “church”.

God compelled me to dig deeper though. This is the beauty of faith: it’s organic and it grows; so does our understanding of God. It took me a while, but I came to appreciate that the Trinity is an essential part of who God is. We call Jesus the Son of God, because that’s a good way to describe the close-knit relationship the Trinity has. We call God the Father of creation, because a parent is what we can relate to. We came from parents and at some point in our lives we fully depended on their parenting skills. We call God the Spirit or the Holy Spirit because we know it took a life-giving Spirit to turn our planet blue and green. And it’s thanks to His Spirit that I heard God speaking to my heart as I was reading King Solomon’s Song of Songs.

For many the hardest thing about God is His invisibility. Jesus solved that problem. He was very visible when He grew up in Nazareth and toured Israel to minister to the people. To this day, His teachings are very tangible because He walked among us.

The greatest hang-up though is probably our distance from God. We are born selfish and we will die selfish unless we accept the gift coming from the Son of God. His sacrifice happened in real time a couple of millennia ago and effectively removed the barrier between humankind and the Godhead. We have access to God’s throne room because Jesus made it happen. We are back to speaking terms with God because Jesus prays on our behalf as He sits in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. That’s the power of the Trinity: Together they make things right for us.

God is truly amazing!

Romans 5:10: “For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”

Nations have always competed against each other by using advanced weaponry to win the war. In this day and age, however, there is no winning the war without completely trashing our planet if we use all the resources we’ve got. Thanks to the invention of the atom bomb, nations keep each other in check by sheer threat of warfare. The goal is to never ever have to push the button!

Just as the atom bomb has changed the face of warfare, the story of the cross has changed the face of human history. Both Jesus’s death and resurrection have profound implications to creation in general and to you and me in particular.

Estranged from God, Heaven had become a faint concept. In our natural minds, we could not relate to the Godhead anymore. God was invisible to us and seemed a million miles away. So much so, that it was easier to explain Him away than trying to find Him.

And yet, without God, all we’ve got are our five senses. Without God, we’re the only ones in charge of our destiny. It’s up to us to determine what is best for us. We’re on our own navigating through the maze and trip-falls of life. Without our connection to God, the biggest challenge is loneliness. At the end of the day, we’ll find that our connection with other human beings is no substitute for knowing our Creator.

Then Easter happened, and with that our entire outlook on life has dramatically changed. Jesus’s death and resurrection removed the threat of being hopelessly lost. His death on the cross spells forgiveness for everything that went wrong cancelling the entire load of guilt and shame accumulated over the years and giving us a new chance to live life connected to God. Heaven is wide open!

In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote about the wonder of Jesus’s death and resurrection. He basically said, if Jesus’s death brings blessing to mankind, how much more will His life! Dying on the cross, Jesus satisfied the Law. Rising from the grave, He conquered death once and for all. These are two major accomplishments by the Son of God: the former freeing us from guilt, the latter setting us up for eternal life – which Paul thinks is the best gift of all. The opportunities arising from our friendship with God are limitless!

No one is happier about the results of the cross than God Himself. He loves us so much! What a treasure trove to discover His heart and to dig deeper every day! More and more we’ll get to know Him, and one day we will see Him face to face.

Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Change of ID – this actually happened twice in the history of mankind. When God invented a new life form – us – we were inherently good. Things turned around with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We got involved with that knowledge, and we came under the law. With that, our ID changed. No longer inherently good, things got really messy. Creation around us also changed its ID.

The age of the law ran its course, and at the right time Jesus came with the purpose of reclaiming our original ID. Jesus lived the life of a human being the way it was originally intended by our Creator. Jesus, the Son of God, is inherently good, just as we once had been. At the cost of His life He both satisfied the law and freed us from it.

We are now free to reclaim our original ID. We can leave the life under the law and instead live by faith in the Son of God, by believing in His sacrifice, in the power of the cross.

It’s easy to believe and it’s hard to believe. Unfortunately, the symbol of the cross has its hang-ups. We can get distracted by human history. There has been abuse of the name of Jesus – people claiming to do things in the name of Jesus, and Jesus never authorized it.

Still, it’s not impossible to get past all that and meet with Jesus, the original, not Jesus the counterfeit. Cutting through the chase of misconceptions and misinterpretations, we get to the bottom of the message of the cross when we turn our eyes to Jesus and understand why He did what He did. He dearly loves us. He didn’t die on the cross because He had to, He died because He wanted to. He wants us to be free. God missed us. In our prior life, in the Garden of Eden, we had a close relationship. The incredible gift of the cross is our opportunity of regaining that closeness.

The very first step in reclaiming our original ID is seeking Jesus out. When the message of the cross becomes tangible the core of our being changes. Praise the Lord! Let the healing begin!

1 John 3:16: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

The ABC of love is to care. Jesus laying down His life for us shows that He cares.

It’s a beautiful revelation to realize that Jesus exists. It’s wonderful to experience His vibrant love. And yes, that’s worth celebrating! Heaven throws a party every time a human being gets the message and joins the kingdom of God. But this is not a Happy End. The beauty of the story of salvation is that the story never ends. The love we receive we give away, and then it multiplies. And on and on it goes, like a domino effect.

God’s love has been brought to light when the mystery of His salvation was unearthed with Jesus’s appearance here on planet Earth. How God saved the world is His privilege to choose. Our privilege is to choose whether or not we accept His salvation. If we do, our life story takes an important turn. We’re no longer on the sidelines watching or on the fast lane beating our competition. We’re on the road to Heaven, and we share this road with people we call our brothers and sisters. We’re coming from all walks of life, but we are all headed in the same direction.

The trip to Heaven is a one way trip – there’s no turning back. If we choose to go back, we will find that our old life is not the way we remembered it.

The trip to Heaven is a group effort. We will always see others in various stages of the journey. We can learn from them, we can share our joy and pain, and we can be an encouragement.

We’re all in the same boat, and Jesus is our captain.

Approaching Easter season, we celebrate the sacrifice Jesus made, and rightly so! Heaven remembers. Creation remembers. What Jesus has done is astounding, and we get to celebrate His life every Easter!

If we had an interview with Jesus, and we would ask Him what accomplishment He is most excited about, I think He would talk about the wonderful results of the cross.

While His death on the cross rattled the universe, and the shock waves of His resurrection are still in motion, I don’t believe that Jesus wants us to stop there. If Heaven gets excited about every single person embracing Jesus for the first time, then why would it be strange to think that our Savior is most interested in the people He saved? Heaven rejoices when our Savior finds one of His lost sheep. Maybe Heaven realizes more than we do how profoundly every child of God changes this world making the whole universe a better place.

Hallelujah, Jesus laid down His life for us! As we come under His umbrella, now we begin to look at the world around us with different eyes. Laying down our lives for our brothers and sisters is a direct result from the cross: Jesus’s love multiplied.