Almost 2000 years ago, in the middle of the night, the Lord Jesus Christ stepped into an olive grove and knelt to pray. There, on His knees, He took up the heavy yoke of sin and despair. He had not fashioned the burden with His own hands, nor did it belong to Him . . . but He shouldered it anyway. The incomprehensible weight of it pulled Him down with unspeakable grief and pain, and caused Him to cry out for relief.
An angel came to comfort and strengthen Him.
Several times, Jesus rose and checked on His friends, then returned to the trees. In the daytime, a nearby olive press would bruise and crush fruit until oil would run into collection vats. Here, He too was crushed and pressed. Blood ran freely. Exhausted, He stood and received the men who would deliver Him to wrathful scorn, spitting, and the lash.
“Behold the man!” shouted Pilate as He stood before a crowd. The mob jeered. The mob demanded His death. “Crucify him!” they yelled. Pilate gave the order. Another burden was thrust upon Christ’s back, and He stumbled as he struggled to carry it.
Perhaps, like in the movie Ben-Hur, there was a man who rushed forward in an attempt to bring Him water. Perhaps as their eyes met, a stubborn heart was healed. Perhaps there were many hearts forever changed on that day. Whether there really was a man bringing water or not, my heart was touched by the scene. It brings tears to my eyes every time I see it.
I deserve nothing. I am a beggar. And yet, Christ has brought me water. I have tasted it. I have been refreshed. And like Judah Ben-Hur, my family has been blessed.
I am grateful for religious liberty. I am grateful that I have the right to believe these things, and to talk about them openly. I am grateful for the way the scriptural accounts make me feel when I read them. I am grateful for those who love freedom and defend the right to worship as the heart dictates, whether they be Christian, or Muslim, or Jew.
May religious liberty be protected. May the good people of the world, no matter what their faith or belief system, stand together to stop oppressive governments and leaders who would take away these freedoms. I stand with you. My wish for you is peace and prosperity, and love in your homes. May we all retain those rights if we have them, and if not, may we gain them.
For my Christian brothers and sisters: Have a blessed Easter weekend. May you never forget: The tomb is empty. He Lives!