Rob here. It was a big night in Hamilton, New Zealand on Saturday. It was the annual Balloons over Waikato Nightglow held at the University grounds. This event attracted approximately 88000 people. It’s either a brilliantly run event or there really isn’t that much to do in Hamilton on a Saturday Night! It’s a bit of both for sure, but it was an amazing event for adults and children alike.
Mostly, it was a wonderful spectacle and well-staged drama. The countdown, the atmospheric music, the flames shooting high in the air and incredibly large intricate balloons (including two kangaroos and a kiwi!) led to a feeling of awe, reverence and yes, even worship. That’s right, and once you added a spectacular fireworks display, the feeling was that we had witnessed something transcendent. Our lives had been given meaning by being there.
OK, now I’m moving into hyperbole, but I’m pointing out that the organisers had done a great job at moving us from detached spectators to awe-struck participants, through their use of music, anticipation and spectacle. It was like being at a well run mega-church! I do thank God for a good night, for fun and friends, for volunteers and for a great spectacle. But it did get me thinking about the kind of spectacle that God offers to us at Easter.
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Colossians 2:13-15
Jesus chose a cross as his statement to the world. He was sinless; he died condemned. He was the beloved Son; he died alone. He was clothed with majesty from on high; he died naked. He disarmed the powers and authorities by submitting to their cruellest means of execution. There was no background music; no hype; no cheering. People “beat their breasts and went away” Luke tells us.
From an earthly point of view, this was a tragedy of the highest order. But from a heavenly point of view, Paul tells us that Jesus’ crucifixion was a triumph. In 1 Corinthians 1:24 he calls Christ crucified “the power of God and the wisdom of God.” It was also the ultimate demonstration of love in action: “You see at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)
So, what specatacle will we look at this Easter? Will we gaze at great sporting events, wonderful movies or political drama? Or will we gaze at Jesus?
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1b-3)
Have a great Easter everyone.