Archives For Easter

It is Sunday. Easter. The day we celebrate the empty tomb – a symbol of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Friday, He was crucified unjustly by the Roman government; died hanging on an Roman cross and was buried in a grave owned by a family friend.

Dead. As in not breathing. No synaptic activity whatsoever. Some have theorized that he wasn’t really dead, just mostly dead and somehow got better in the confines of a stone tomb without any medical assistance. First – that’s just silly. Second (and most importantly), if the Romans felt the need to crucify you, they made darn sure you were dead before they took you down from the cross.

Given the pressure from the Jewish religious leaders that put Christ up there to begin with, this would certainly be true in this situation. You see, the Romans designed crucifixion to be the most horrible form of capital punishment ever conceived and they were very good at making sure everyone knew how effective it was. So, their reputation was on the line to make sure those that hung on a cross came down good and dead.

Jesus was surely dead before He was laid in the tomb. Loosely prepared with burial wraps as was surely customary – both culturally and religiously. The Bible allows us to see what happened on that first Easter morning as Mary came to the tomb to finish the burial preparations:

1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb.4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in.6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there,7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.10 Then the disciples went back to their homes. [John 20:1-9]

Mary went to the tomb, saw that it was empty and ran back to tell the others – the same group that has been in complete despair for the past 36 hours. Then Peter and John came to investigate and they confirmed what Mary had seen.

There’s a saying Christians say on Easter. One person will say, “He is risen!” and then another would reply, “He is risen indeed!” I can just imagine that this came from this very account. I can just see Mary saying, “He is risen! Go and see.” And then Peter and John coming back and saying, “He is risen indeed!”

How wonderful is that news! It meant that their Lord wasn’t dead any longer – that He had indeed conquered death…just like He said He would and His promise of eternal life with Him could now be possible.

So, I have one thing left to say:

H E   I S   R I S E N !

Easter: It’s Saturday

Steve —  4.3.2010 — 1 Comment

The day between. Probably a day of grief for Jesus’ disciples. The events of the past 24 hours must have seemed like a whirlwind. From feasting together in the Upper Room to the hours of praying in the middle of the night to one of their own betraying their rabbi for the measly sum of 21 pieces of silver to the sham trial of the century to the labored trek up the mountain and then the crucifixion and death of the man who changed their lives with a word.

I’ve tried to think of a modern-day analogy to help put this in terms we might understand better – but there isn’t one. The whole thing is so absurd and would leave anyone (especially the disciples) with a ton of questions and no answers. What’s worse, the fear of similar treatment kept His closest friends and relatives from investigating.

So they sat.

Scared.

Bewildered.

Exhausted.

Huddled together desperately trying to wrap their minds around what happened and what the future would (and should) look like. What a sad day Saturday must have been.

We don’t think much about the day between Good Friday and Easter – it doesn’t have a fancy name and there are no fancy events to attend. I just hangs out there on the way to Sunday.

I think it is a powerful day of reflection if you will let yourself be taken back and put in the disciples’ shoes for just a bit. The tendency is to look toward Sunday and the Resurrection and how all of the dots were about to be connected for these devout followers.

I’ve enjoyed resisting that tendency and staying in “Sad Saturday” all day – for some reason I’ve really wanted to make this Easter season more “real”. It’s been good.

I love Fridays – the traffic to work seems lighter, the hours in the day move quicker and the anticipation of uninterrupted time with my family is looming large out the front viewport. Today; however, I ‘m reminded of what was happening to Jesus in His day and this Friday takes on a much more sober tone.

The following video sums up what is going through my mind and heart this morning:


What are you feelings today as you remember what the only Son of God was going through on this Good (“Holy”) Friday?

One thing that should be in your heart and mind is that Jesus was motivated to willingly put Himself in harms way by LOVE. He passionately desired to ensure that all of mankind could be reconciled to our Father God for eternity through His death.

His death on Friday paid the price for our independence from God and His resurrection on Sunday ensured that God’s power was made complete in overcoming death itself. We can be assured that we are both forgiven and that there’s more to life than simply time on the planet. Eternity awaits – will you experience it with God by accepting Jesus’ gift of the Cross? I hope so.

If you have questions about how this works, I’d love to talk to you about it – steve[at]manattweb[dot]com

Easter: It’s Thursday

Steve —  4.1.2010 — 1 Comment

The week leading up to Easter is filled with some very significant history – especially Thursday.

It is today that Jesus and the disciples have their Passover meal together – an annual tradition.

It is today that Jesus washes the feet of all 12 disciples

It is today that Jesus spells out what will happen to Him in the next 72-96 hours

It is today that Jesus’ betrayer is identified and called out in public

It is today that Jesus tidies up things with His closest followers

From the disciples’ perspective, I’m sure some were clueless and others were thinking the worst, but one thing is for sure – not one of them “got it” because we see none of them helping Jesus explain the plan to the others.

Heck, I wouldn’t have gotten it either and it is only because we know what happens on Sunday that we are able to even grasp Thursday at any level.

So, it’s Easter week and like any good Christian, I heard about something cool regarding Jesus from my wife and decided to blog about it. She was reading the account of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane before He is to be crucified.

So, it was probably late Thursday night or early Friday morning and Jesus had taken His boys into the garden while He got away to speak to His Father. During His prayer time, a visitor arrives:

41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed,42 saying, Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (color added) [Luke 22:41]

An angel from heaven comes to STRENGTHEN Him while he prays. Have you ever prayed so hard that you needed heavenly help to continue?

The account in Mark [Mark 14:32] shows Jesus praying in three distinct sessions before Judas came and John’s account states that Jesus would come to this particular garden often to pray [John 18:2].

Matthew’s account states that Jesus was praying the same thing – “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done. ~ Matthew 26:36” – in each of the three sessions and states that at least one of them was for an hour.

Putting all of these together, we see several things:

  1. Jesus wanted his closest disciples with him to help ensure that he wouldn’t be disturbed and to witness what would happen afterward.
  2. Jesus earnestly prayed to see the Father’s will be done and not His. This is interesting because Jesus IS God – why such a conflict? Two thoughts on this:
    • Jesus knew that in order to pay for humankind’s sin, He would have to be completely separated from His Father and the thought of that was gut wrenching
    • Jesus also knew how hard it would be for His disciples to watch what was about to happen – empathy and compassion can be incredibly hard emotions
  3. Jesus’ prayers were so important and intense that God had to send an angel to strengthen Him.
  4. Jesus confidently marches toward His death after His time of prayer. This signifies that He has complete peace about the process that is about to happen.

May we all understand fully that this time of year is a reminder of the most important decision a man has ever made in the history of this world and how our lives have been changed because of it.

And he was parted from them about a stone’s cast; and he kneeled down and prayed,42 saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.43 And there appeared unto him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became as it were great drops of blood falling down upon the ground.