For many people, Easter Sunday is a time for egg hunts, candy-filled baskets, a time to sport that new hat and dress or three-piece suit at church. They are the clock-watchers who anxiously wait for the Pastor to say his closing amen, so they can speed out the door and head to their favorite restaurant for a generous feast. Then, they head back home for either a late-afternoon nap in their favorite recliner or watch a movie or sporting event on the big-screen television.
There is nothing wrong with egg hunts, candy baskets, afternoon dinner, and a relaxing time in front of the television, but for many, that is what Easter is all about. However, Easter, or Resurrection Sunday, means so much more to a Christian, or it should! Easter is a time of remembrance and thankfulness for the resurrection miracle, for the hinge-pin of our hope in the promise of eternal life depends on the resurrection.
Easter Sunday culminates the events of Holy Week that begin with Jesus’s triumphant entry into the city of Jerusalem. Jesus rode in on a donkey, which signified that He came in peace, and the people waved and placed palm branches in His path, saying, “Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord.” It was a time of joy for the people, but a time that quickly faded in the shadow of bitterness, anger, and ultimate rejection. Let us take a quick flyover of some of the events that transpire throughout Holy Week.
On Maundy Thursday, we reflect on the last Passover meal that Jesus shared with His disciples, a time when the Lord instituted the ceremony of communion for all generations to do in His remembrance. The Lord tells His disciples that one of them will betray Him, then sends Judas Iscariot on his way. Jesus teaches His disciples what it means to be a servant-leader by washing their feet. Jesus prays for His disciples and promises the gift of the Holy Spirit, and He gives them a new commandment, to love one another, for that is how the world knows that they, and we, are His disciples. Then, the group proceeds to the Gethsemane garden, where Jesus prays in solitude, saying, “…not my will, Father, but yours be done.”
Have you ever wondered why the day Jesus was crucified is called “Good Friday?” After all, it was anything but a good day for Jesus, nor was it a good day for His mother, Mary, and His disciples. Some even debate that “Good Friday” originated as “God’s Friday.” Early that morning, Jesus was arrested, having been betrayed by Judas Iscariot with a kiss. Jesus then stands before a series of trials, yet all the while, Peter denies Him three times, and the roostercrows. Finally, the people are given a choice to free an innocent Jesus or the criminal Barabbas, and they picked Barabbas. Jesus is sentenced to death by crucifixion.
Still, we call it “Good Friday” because it represents the day when Jesus bore the sins of the world as the ultimate and final sacrifice to satisfy the just penalty for sin– death. It dramatically marks the culmination of God’s redemptive plan for the world He so loves. The was the motivation that drove Jesus to the cross, His love for you, me, and the whole world. The good news of the resurrection would be incomplete without the suffering on the cross, the bad news. In the same way, sharing the gospel is incomplete without sharing the full truth about the good news, being heaven, and the bad news, which is hell.
On the day referred to as “Holy Saturday,” Thomas is nowhere to be found; the other disciples fearfully hide in the upper room. It was a somber silent day of confusion and disappointment, and indeed, a great deal of doubt had ensued. Jesus was dead, His bludgeoned body in a tomb, and there seemed to be no hope for tomorrow and beyond, but God’s redemptive plan was still in motion; the best was yet to come the next day, the third day.
Finally, on the third day, on Easter Sunday, Jesus rises from the dead, an angel of the Lord rolls the stone at the tomb’s entrance away, Jesus emerges as bright as lightning, as white as snow, and those guarding the tomb were like dead men. Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene. She is told to go and tell the others and Peter that the Lord will meet them in Galilee.
It is heartwarming that Jesus would send Peter a special invitation by name because He knew that Peter was in agony over his failure of denying Him three times. He knew the fullness of Peter’s heart, and He knows the fullness of our hearts as well, and He gives us each an open invitation to meet with Him, converse with Him, and be restored by His divine mercy and grace, just as He went on to do for Peter by the Sea of Galilee.
A time later, just before He ascends into heaven to be with our heavenly Father, Jesus instructed His disciples as follows:
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.Matt. 28:18-20
Self-Reflection: Now, knowing to what extent and just how far Jesus went, up to the point of His physical death, to purchase your freedom from sin and certain spiritual death, how far are you willing to go for Jesus and to what extent?
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
© 2022 A Faithful Sower Publishing
A Limited Liability Company
All Rights Reserved