The Easter Story

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood before them. Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he is risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again." Luke 24:1-7

The women came. The stone was rolled away. They entered and found an empty tomb. Just like He said. Jesus Christ was gone.

Gone.

Two men appeared, probably angels. He's not here, just like He said.

He's not here. He is risen.

The takeaway from this little story is simple: "The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again."

That's what happened. That's the Good News.

Be encouraged as you celebrate the Risen Lord this Easter.

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They Were Terrified

When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!" Matthew 27:54

Was it the earthquake that terrified the centurion and his men? Hard to tell. But the combination of the earthquake and Jesus dying had to put a fear into these otherwise brave soldiers.

Was it too late for those men to repent of their ways? No. It's never too late. In fact, you could easily make a case that Jesus had to die first and the earthquake occur before those men would be 'true believers.'

Things happen for a reason all the time, we know that. Seldom, though, do we realize that those things happen for our benefit. I know that it's not about us all the time (as I've stated elsewhere in this space), but occasionally it is.

Take the crucifixion, for example. It was about us.

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Silent Again

Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?"
"Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied.
When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, "Don't you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?" But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single chargeā€”to the great amazement of the governor.
Matthew 27:11-14

Two times in one evening Jesus was silent when accused: once before the high priest (Matthew 26:63), and the other before Pilate (and the chief priests and elders). He had every reason in the world to lay out neatly how and why he was innocent, but didn't. He was completely innocent of charges and he remained silent. Jesus Christ showed amazing restraint, when only a week before he was overturning tables in the temple with the money changers. It could have been much worse for Pilate and the religious leaders, but Jesus restrained himself.

How many of us jump at the first opportunity to defend ourselves when we're wronged? And very very few of us have ever been at a point where a good defense could have saved our lives. Nobody likes to be falsely accused, nobody. I'm sure Jesus didn't like to be falsely accused. Obviously Jesus knew the end to the story (both His and theirs) and acted accordingly.

He knows when you're falsely accused. He knows when you've been wronged.

And He knows the end to my story and your story.

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Silent No More

Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, "Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you? But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, "I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. "But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." Matthew 26:62-64

Even to the end, Jesus knew just the right words to say and when to say them. He knew his silence would stir them. He knew that talking about heaven and "at the right hand of the Mighty One" would cause them to go ballistic. He knew all things. He knows all things.

I read this story and others later in the Gospels, and can't help but think that at any point during those very difficult times, he could have called it off, called down a million angels, and went straight home to be with the Father. He had just gone through the Garden of Gethsemane, told Peter that he would deny Him, and watched as His closest followers fled when He was arrested. And now it was about to turn bad for Him!

As we consider the crucifixion and the days leading up to it, consider this: He knows your needs. He knows your hurts. He is waiting, patiently waiting for you to come to Him. Even when you think He's silent, he's thinking of ways to bless you and encourage you and draw you closer to Him.

Read straight through one of the Gospel accounts of his crucifixion this week and think of ways you can draw closer to Him.

Matthew 26:17 – 28:20
Mark 14:12 – 16:20
Luke 22:7 – 24:53
John 13:1 – 21:6

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What If?

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned. Hebrews 11:29

There are actually two miracles here. First, when Moses arrived at the Red Sea, he had to know that the Egyptians were near. The Red Sea parts, the Israelites stare at the spectacle in amazement, then bolt across the river bed. But even as they're crossing, they've got to have the nagging thought in their heads, "what if the river bed stays dry for the Egyptians too?" It didn't matter because they were scurrying across and didn't have a long time to answer a lot of "what if" questions. God provided a way out of their current situation and it would be foolish to lament what hadn't even happened yet! Of course we have the benefit of being able to read a few verses ahead, but they didn't have that luxury.

Instead, we have a book that's being written about our own lives. What are you trusting God for right now? Have you turned around to see the "what if" questions: what if the economy collapses, what if I lose my job, what if I can't find a spouse, what if, what if, what if. Living in the present enables us to take in every second with only a rare thought about any of the what if questions.

'What if' we eliminated those two words from our vocabularies and our thought patterns? Would it make a difference?

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