It’s Holy week. It starts with Palm Sunday. Jesus rides triumphantly into the city of Jerusalem. (Matthew 21) His followers are convinced this is the BIG moment. Jesus will overthrow their oppressors, take possession of the city, and rule as king. The disciples are already arguing over who gets to be Jesus’ right hand man.
By mid-week things aren’t looking so rosy. Jesus joins His disciples to celebrate the Passover. He breaks bread and speaks of His body being broken (Luke 22:19). He pours wine and speaks of His blood being poured out (Luke 22:20). The disciples are confused and even repelled. He talks of betrayal and death. The disciples are adamant they will stay with Jesus to the end.
When Judas enters the scene things get darker still. He turns Jesus over to the chief priests and Pharisees of the temple who have been looking for an opportune moment to seize Jesus. (Mark 14:41-46)
Jesus is betrayed, captured, and abandoned by his disciples; those He has called friends. He is convicted and put to a bloody painful, humiliating death by crucifixion. (John 18 and 19)
The Pharisees, afraid that Jesus’ supporters will steal the body and make up a crazy story about His resurrection, seal the body in a tomb and post guards outside.
“…the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir we remember how that imposter said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first. Pilate said to them “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.” (Matthew 27:62-66)
Jesus’ followers, afraid of suffering the same fate as their leader scatter like frightened rabbits.
Friday is a dark day.
But it’s not the end!
It’s Sunday morning. Women come to prepare the body for proper burial but the body that was in a sealed, secured tomb is gone. All four gospel accounts testify to the fact that Jesus is no longer in the grave! (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20)
Where is He?
He’s alive, walking, talking, eating, and teaching His followers once again. He ascends to Heaven and the Holy Spirit comes to earth in His place to live in our hearts.
That’s the whole story from celebration to doubt to betrayal to death to victory!
Christ is victorious over death and when we choose to believe in His sacrifice as the Son of God we’re forgiven of all our sins.
We’re given a new start, a “do over” in God’s eyes. We can let go of our guilt and the self defeating thoughts that suck us down in a pit of despair every day. We can start living in the light and joy of Christ’s victory.
All four gospels testify to this saving act of Jesus. Some things can’t be explained. Some things you just believe. In the memory verse for this week Paul says it this way...
“…that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore on Christ’s behalf; be reconciled to God. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (NIV)
John says it this way…
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NLT)
It’s confusing. It’s mind boggling. It’s hard to understand. And it’s true.
That’s the Easter story!