Matthew 28:1-10 (NIV)
Do not be afraid. Twice spoken. Once by the angel and once by Jesus. But how could one not be afraid? Jesus died on the cross, right? A leader to them all, but now He was gone. All the marvelous things He’d done were now over.
Then the words, “He is not here.” Oh my, I can’t even imagine the first thought that would go through my mind. Where is He, maybe? The angel followed up those terrifying words with, “He has risen.”
I’m sure Mary Magdalene and the other Mary must have looked at one another with total disbelief at first. Until the angel followed up those words with “just as He said.” Why is it that as humans we hear but we don’t listen? Jesus told them this would all happen. Nevertheless, the angel tells them to go check for themselves by saying, “Come and see the place where He lay.”
Then the angel instructs them to go quickly and tell His disciples. So Mary Magdalene and the other Mary rush from the tomb to tell the disciples when they run right into Jesus. Can you even imagine? You’d witnessed Jesus’ death. Now here He is right in front of you. Never mind He’d told you this would happen. The scene plays out like this: “Greetings,” He said. They came to Him, clasped His feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” The women go. But the disciples kinda don’t believe them at first. Why would the women lie about something like this? Finally, they gathered together with the disciples and wanted to know what they would do now. They decide to go to Galilee and there they see and hear Jesus telling them, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.”
Easter is about the hope of the world. The resurrection changes everything. It’s the never-ending story of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And no matter how people try to wipe it out they simply can’t. For Christians, the resurrection is by far the greatest event—the greatest story ever told. If you remember Paul’s words, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” Well, I believe. I not only believe, I know it. It means everything to me and should mean everything to every single person.
If we remember the follow-up to the crucifixion and the resurrection, we see that the chief priests and Pharisees never thought Jesus would resurrect. When He did, they’d believed all along that the disciples would go and steal the body and then claim that Jesus rose again. There were guards placed everywhere. Some were assigned to the temple area to keep folks in check. The tomb, owned by Joseph, had a gigantic stone in front of it. Plus, the guards sealed the stone and even put guards in front of the tomb. Didn’t work.
So this earthquake happens and then that’s when the angel descended from heaven, rolled back the stone, and then proceeded to sit on it. If you look at this gesture by the angel it probably wasn’t necessary. The resurrection had already occurred. The rolling away of the stone allowed people to enter the tomb and view for themselves that Jesus had risen. He no longer laid dead inside the tomb.
Photo by Pisit Heng on Unsplash
Some might ask what did Jesus do during His time on earth. If we look at the four Gospels, we’ll find thirty-seven miracles performed by Jesus. Don’t think for a moment that each of these miracles didn’t serve some specific purpose in God’s plan for us. We learn in the New Testament about these miracles. We see that three words refer to them. Power, sign, and wonder. Luke 7:22 tells us: “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” Jesus never gave into idleness.
There you have it. Jesus did so many things while He walked this earth. But the most important, the most life and soul-saving unfolded on the cross. The crucifix and then death. Jesus’ final words on the cross, “It is finished.” Then the resurrection.
As it pertains to the Easter Bunny. It’s a fact that the Easter Bunny has nothing to do with Jesus directly. Nothing shows up in the Bible or the Christian tradition that might link the Easter Bunny to Jesus. However, over the past two hundred years, this holy day known as Easter has become more of a secular folk holiday. All we need to do is look back over history to see how Easter has been commercially exploited in America. We buy new clothes, we hold parades, we purchase candy by the tons, and we hold egg hunts. I have no problem with the Easter Bunny or the baskets that I fill to the brim for my grandkids along with the photos of them and the Easter Bunny.
I do, however, put a lot more emphasis on the reason we celebrate Easter and that’s that my Lord and my Savior, Jesus Christ, conquered death. Meaning that He died for my sins and now I have the opportunity to be with Him in Paradise.
Photo by Bruno van der Kraan on Unsplash
And that’s what I learned in Church……see ya next time!