from the pen of Jeff Joyner
I had just transitioned into the position of Worship Pastor at a large church in Southern California. The church had a long tradition of presenting elaborate Easter musical dramas depicting the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Although I had traveled for many years with a contemporary Christian band and had written a lot of music, I had never really conducted a large choir and orchestra. It would be a very steep learning curve.
Out of necessity, I began preparing for Easter several months ahead of time. As I started contemplating which direction I should go for that special Sunday, I began to feel extremely stressed. Easter had traditionally been the church’s largest event, and 3,000 people would be attending. The pressure continued to mount. One day while praying, I thought about the old hymn “Man of Sorrows.” Unable to remember all the words, I grabbed a hymnal to refresh my memory.
“Man of Sorrows what a name
For the Son of God who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim
Hallelujah, what a Savior.”
By the end of the day, I had decided to write an original Easter musical, which would combine songs I had written, along with “Man of Sorrows” and other hymns of the faith. In the weeks that followed, though the songs would come to me, peace did not. It seemed the closer to Easter I got, the more stress I experienced. I literally felt crushed by the pressure to “perform.”
Easter finally arrived. All the songs were written. All the rehearsals were done. Yet I still wondered why I had never experienced peace in the process. Then in the midst of the musical, the answer finally came. As we began one of the songs I had written, I began to watch as a spectator. Directly in front of me, I could see Jesus on the cross. I began to envision the agony he went through on my behalf. I was reminded of his sacrifice which forever bought my pardon. Up to that moment I had only thought of “performance.” But performance could never buy my pardon. Jesus did. As we transitioned into “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus”, I’m sure the choir could see the tears rolling down my face. But it didn’t matter. I was free. Below is a short video clip of that special moment when the peace of God finally returned to my tired, weary soul.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5