It was the Romans who perfected crucifixion. The pain of being executed on a cross was so horrible a new word was coined to describe it, "excruciating," literally "out of the cross." With a nail piercing through the median nerve of both hands, the beam across the shoulders would then be attached to a vertical beam, and then the entire apparatus would be hoisted into the air, wrenching the victim's arms out of their sockets. The strain on the heart from the entire experience often ended in cardiac arrest.

Paul would write, "God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross" (Colossians 2:13-14). In the story of redemption, Jesus laid down his life to reconcile people back to God by taking the consequence of the sin of the world upon himself.

A professor once shared that he was asked why people call the weekend of Easter "Good Friday." As he contemplated the question he concluded that for Jesus it was not a good day, but for the world it was the most amazing day as Jesus sacrificed his life in love for us.

Jerry Lewis used to joke that when his marriage got rough he would view his wedding ceremony on video. He would go into a dark room, close the door and watch it backwards and walk out a free man. Would that we could go back and make changes so easily.

Yet in essence the message that Easter brings does that very thing. In the hope of the cross all our past sins are erased and we become in Isaiah's words clean, whiter than snow.

In the early 1900's young William Borden was given a trip around the world by his wealthy parents. In his travels he saw many hurt and suffering people and decided to give his life to help them. Upon returning home he enrolled at Yale University to become a missionary. He then wrote in his Bible two words, No Reserves.

Upon graduation he was offered a number of high paying positions. He turned each of them down, determined to enter the mission field. As he left Yale he wrote two more words in his Bible, No Retreats.

After more graduate work in seminary, he sailed to China to begin his work as a missionary. Stopping along the way in Egypt, he contracted a fatal case of meningitis, dying just a few weeks later.

As his belongings were collected, the Bible by his bed was found. Under the words No Reserves and No Retreats he had written two more words; No Regrets.

Regardless of where life has taken you, the message that Easter brings is that in the excruciation Jesus experienced, his sacrifice demonstrated the endless love of God for all people. His death and resurrection erase our past failings, offering cleansing and wholeness. And he bids us come and follow him that we might live with no reserves, no retreats and no regrets.

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