I remember when the crosses started showing up along the highways. The man who started this project was Bernard Coffindaffer and He was from Craigsville, West Virginia. Not too far from my home. He was certainly a man on a mission. My understanding is that the Spirit of God spoke to him and gave him a commission for the work that needed to be done. He was a six year veteran of the Pacific Theater in World War Two and as a Former Marine nothing was going to stand in his way.
I never met him personally that I can remember but I remember the talk in the county. He had a lot support from his brothers and sisters in Christ but he also faced a lot criticisms and laughter. He didn’t let negative opinions get in the way. He just stood for what he believed in and continued to work anyway. I have read that the project never ended even though Bernard passed away in 1993. I have also read that some of crosses have been planted in the Philippines and Africa. It just shows that when God gives you some inspiration you should go with it. You might not realize how far it will go or how many lives will be touched.
“And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.” Mark 16:6
We have a tendency to think of Mary and her companions walking mournfully through a beautiful garden to meet the angel. But I think it was much bleaker than that.
The morning had finally arrived. The small party of four people walked along the dusty road carrying the supplies needed to care for the body which was in the borrowed tomb. It had to be the worst weekend in history. They had lost a son, brother, teacher and friend to an angry mob. The murder was brutal and carried out in full view of the public. The landscape they passed through had suffered earthquakes and unnatural darkness. The main temple was in ruins. The vail that protects the holiest of holies was utterly destroyed and the sacred place violated. If you have lived through a natural disaster then you have an idea of the shock and fear. There’s such a sense of instability that it’s overwhelming. This was so much worse. They would have passed by families who were beginning the clean up process. Families would have been huddled around those who needed comfort. The men would be trying to rebuild while on the lookout for looters. The Roman soldiers would be trying to keep order while offering assistance.
As they arrived at the tomb and saw the stone removed it would have at first seemed like the earthquake had shaken it loose. The next thought would have been of Vandals. But then the angel spoke and hope returns to the world like the morning sunshine. The dark clouds are burned away and light washes through the land.
“And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.”
The day after the Crucifixion of The Lord Jesus Christ had to be the most depressing day in history. The Messiah was dead. Hope, healing and restoration was gone. The disciples were scattered. The Roman Empire had placed guards at the door of the tomb. I can’t imagine the despair of those who walked with Jesus and helped feed the multitude, listened to the teachings and saw the miracles. Hope wasn’t just lost. It was taken by force. The twelve apostles were being hunted down and it’s a safe assumption that a similar fate was planned for them.
When I face dark times in my life and my own faith is being tested I try to put myself in the shoes of the twelve apostles on day two. Even though they had been told what the future held they couldn’t see the outcome. We know how the story ends. We know that victory is on the way. But sometimes our human nature blinds our faith and our perception is a world in darkness. Hold on. Daybreak is on the way.
And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. – Mark 15:25
Easter. Where do I start? Forget bunnies and ancient origins of modern Easter eggs. As a child I didn’t care about what shape the chocolate was. And that’s really all I cared for was the candy and the toys. I grew up in a Baptist church. The preacher and Sunday School teachers reinforced my parents teachings of the Passion of Christ. But the impact of the story really didn’t effect me until later in life. It wasn’t until I realized that I was in eternal debt that I began to appreciate the Sacrifice of Christ. I had to develop pride before I could understand the humility of the creator who would turn himself into a human being and suffer mortality. I had to learn what it means to be in debt before I could understand what it means to be free.
My Lord Jesus Christ was beaten beyond recognition and executed for a crime that he didn’t commit but that I was guilty of. The healing hands were pierced for my thievery. The life that flowed through his veins was spilled out so that I could live. His gift was for all of humanity and available to all who believe. What we have come to call Easter is to a Christian a time of remembrance to contemplate our faith. It’s a time of fellowship and brotherhood among believers. Long after the chocolate has been eaten, long after the last colorful egg has been removed from behind the couch cushion and the last of the fake grass has been swept away the real gift of the holiday remains deep within our hearts. It is the gift of the Sacrifice that brought salvation.