“The Son of Man did not come into the world to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
The story of Easter is a familiar one. Jesus was crucified, buried and rose again on the third day. The message of Easter, however, raises a question — “For whom did that happen, and why?”
Let me tell the story of a woman. Her name is Rahab. You probably have never heard her name mentioned on Easter Sunday. In fact, you may not even recall her place in Scripture.
She appears in the Book of Joshua and the Book of Hebrews. We learn three things about her: she was a prostitute, she lied to her king, and she was a woman of faith. Do you know anyone like her? When Jesus died fourteen hundred years later, did He die for her? Absolutely!
The story is simple. Joshua sent spies into the land that God had promised. They went to Jericho and “came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab.” Let’s not speculate as to why there, just believe that God takes us on some unusual trips!
The king of Jericho heard of the spies and set out to find them. He asked Rahab about them. She said, “I did not know where they were from (and) I don’t know where they went.” But in fact, she hid them. Liar, liar, pants on fire!
She spoke the truth to the spies when she said, “I know” about this God of yours. “He is the God in heaven above and on earth” (v.11). She asked the spies to be as kind to her and her family when they returned to destroy Jericho, as she had been to them. They promised.
She let the spies down from her apartment on wall of the city through a window. They asked her to leave a symbol of a “cord of scarlet” out of her window. That symbol, a red thread, runs from the sacrifice of animals in the Garden of Eden, through the Old Testament, to the cross.
When Joshua “fit the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down,” Rahab and her family were spared. Why? “By faith, Rahab the harlot did not perish” (Hebrews 11:30).
How is that an Easter story? How is it not? A woman who had a sinful past was redeemed because of faith. That’s really what Easter is all about. Is it your story?
All of us have had an undeniable past; maybe not the same as Rahab’s, but sinful nonetheless: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
There’s another interesting point in the story of Rahab. God came to her through the spies and through some unknown messenger who told her about God.
The story of Easter is the story of God’s love. “God so loved (you) that He gave His only begotten Son…” (John 3:16). “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…” (1 Timothy 1:15). “Greater love has no one than this than one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).“Love covers a multitude of sins” (Proverbs 10:12; 1 Peter 4:8).
And those who have been redeemed have made a life-changing choice. “Whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
“Do you know about his past,” someone asked?” I responded, “Do you know about mine?” When I told the person of whom the first had spoken, he said, “I am glad people know about my past, for it makes the story of what God can do more powerful!”
By the way, Rahab was not only a woman with an undeniable past who made a life-changing choice, but she also had a great story in her future.
Not only did she bring about the salvation of her family through her faith- action, but she has a lasting legacy: she had a son named Boaz, who married a woman named Ruth — they had a son name Obed, who had a son named Jesse, who had a son named David, whose descendant was Jesus!
The story of Easter is Jesus’ story, but it’s also yours and mine: it’s a Love Story!
We should “Walk in love, just as Christ loves you” (Ephesians 5:2) and “Through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).
The Rev. JIMMY TOWERS is pastor of Lifeway Fellowship in Killeen.