Without going into an extensive Bible study, allow me to give an overview of the events of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.
- After supper together (the Last Supper) Jesus and the disciples went to a garden they had used often, for prayer. Judas, simultaneously, went off the finalize plans to betray Jesus to the Jewish leaders.
- After praying off by Himself in the agony of the moment, Jesus committed Himself to God’s will and woke the sleeping disciples.
- Judas showed up with a small mob of people carrying weapons and gave the fatal sign to Jesus’ enemies – a kiss.
- Jesus was carried off for a mock trial. He had to actually help the Jewish leaders to convict Him. He was sentenced to die for blasphemy.
- The Jews didn’t have the authority to carry out His death, so they were forced to take Jesus to Pilot the governor, needing to persuade him to condemn Jesus. Pilot wanted to free Jesus, recognizing His innocence, but feared the crowd who were crying, “Crucify him!”, and send Jesus off to receive a Roman scourging.
- Jesus was tied to a post, His back exposed, and beaten 39 times with a whip – but not just any whip! This one had pieces of bone and such that tore at the flesh, ripping away chunks of skin, probably even exposing bones and organs. Isaiah’s prophecy tells us that after this beating it was hard to tell that Jesus was a man – a human.
- Jesus was forced to carry His cross toward the place of crucifixion. He did so till it was more than He could bear. The soldiers then picked a man out of the crowd to carry His cross to Golgotha.
- On a hill overlooking Jerusalem Jesus was crucified. It was nicknamed “the place of the skull”. Crucifixion was the Roman means of the death penalty. He would have been laid out on the cross, then huge nails would have been driven through His wrists and into the rough-hewn wood. A nail would have been driven into His crossed ankles. After He was secured in this manner, the cross would have been raised up vertically and dropped into a hole dug for that purpose. The condemned would hang like this until, after hours of agony, they died.
- The Bible says that the sun grew dark as Jesus was raised up on that cross. And it remained dark for three hours, from noon till 3 PM.
- Jesus made seven important statements from the cross, but probably the most important as far we’re concerned was, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” At this juncture Jesus had all the sin of mankind placed on Him. “He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities.” Jesus paid our debt for us at the price of His life.
- Because the Passover holiday was at hand the Jewish leaders pressed to get Jesus dead and buried quickly. The soldiers were about to brake His legs, making death come quicker, but Jesus commended His spirit to God His Father and cried out with a loud voice, “It is finished!” as He “gave up the ghost” (died).
- A local rich man asked for the privilege of burying Jesus in his own tomb. With the help of Nicodemus he took the body off the cross, performed some hasty burial preparations, and placed it in his tomb. In order to keep the body of Jesus from being stolen, a huge stone was rolled over the mouth of the tomb and soldiers were placed on guard.
- So, here is Jesus’ body in the tomb, but where is Jesus? Jesus’ spirit and soul left His body as He cried out in a loud voice and gave up the ghost. Scripture indicates to me that Jesus would have been carried off to hell and torment because of the sin of all mankind placed on Him. He had to trust the Father to rescue Him from there by sending the Holy Spirit to raise Him from death.
- Jesus also took a quick trip to heaven to present His blood sacrifice in the Holy of Holies in heaven. Adam’s sin had even affected heaven, but Jesus’ sacrifice made all right again.
- Then, early on a Sunday morning, Jesus returned into His body, still scarred by whip marks and nail prints, and began presenting Himself to those who had believed in Him.
There’s much, much more to say about the resurrection, but time and space press me to move on. So I’ll close with the lyrics to an old Easter hymn:
Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes.
He arose the Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah Christ arose!
Well, it has been a confusing winter – warm then cold – a lot of snow to no snow at all. March has certainly been windy. Even the birds at our feeders seem bewildered. But hey, “Spring has sprung!” [I’m tempted, but I’ll refrain from posting my long-standing “Spring has Sprung” poem here.] It’s now ‘officially’ Spring!
The “Big Event” for April is … (drum roll please) EASTER! Now I know that not everyone likes the use of the “Easter.” Some prefer the more scriptural title of “Resurrection Day.” Unger’s Bible Dictionary says, “The word Easter is of Saxon origin, Eastra, the goddess of spring, in whose honour sacrifices were offered about Passover time each year. By the eighth century Anglo–Saxons had adopted the name to designate the celebration of Christ’s resurrection.” That sort of explains how Easter became the holiday [Holy Day?] as we know it today. [There are scholars who believe that Spring isn’t even the right season for Easter!]
I think the most important thing is not the name it goes by but what it means to us personally. We celebrate Easter at our church with “Easter Celebration” aimed especially at the kids. We use egg hunts, games and animals to bring them in, but our object is get them – parents and children alike – to see and experience God’s love, demonstrated amazingly in the Resurrection.
Here are a few scriptural examples of the love and power that resonates from the Resurrection:
Jesus was informed of His friend Lazarus’ sickness, and waited awhile before coming to Bethany to see him. I believe it was because Jesus knew that by the time He was told of Lazarus’ sickness, Lazarus was already dead. [No Uber service back in those days] On His way Jesus met Martha, who was only seeing an “end of days resurrection.” Jesus responded:
John 11:25, 26 – Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
After the actual event – the Resurrection – Jesus breathed on His disciples, introducing them to the Holy Spirit, and sent them out to minister. Those rag tag bunch of guys became the force through which God changed the world! And what did they preach? The Resurrection.
Consider this verse from Early Church history:
Acts 4:33 – And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.
So, Easter – Resurrection Day – whatever you call it, celebrates the most important event in all history. Someone said, “History is His Story.” The only negatives about the holiday are focusing merely on bunnies and candy, or that resurrection is only celebrated once a year. But we can each overcome these on our own and make sure that we build our lives on the power of the Resurrection!