He Is Risen!

I’m sure you’ve all heard the story behind Easter. As much as you may enjoy Easter eggs, bright colored baskets, and chocolate bunnies, we know that that’s not really the point of Easter. A lot of people pick Christmas and Easter to be their two times a year to attend church because of this. Easter feels important because it is the day we celebrate the success of the plan that God has been working out all along to save us for the simple fact that He loves us so much. Imagine, He arranged all of history to work out just so.
One of the first times we really begin to notice this plan being worked out is when a young, engaged virgin turns up pregnant. The birth of her Son, Jesus Christ, fulfills all of the prophecies regarding the Messiah that was to come. As time goes on, Jesus grows up and begins His ministry (when He is about thirty years old). The religious leaders are enraged over Jesus pointing out that they are still sinners and making them look bad. Add to that His claim to be God and the Messiah and you get motive to kill . . . also part of God’s plan of redemption. The religious leaders finally devise a plan to get Him killed which takes getting the Roman government involved since they can’t condemn someone to death anymore (that power was taken from them).
They finally get Him condemned and He is beaten and then crucified. Everyone is mocking Him, but a few of those who love Him are still there. In particular, John and Mary, who gave birth to and raised this Man who is now being killed in the worst possible way. They are all yelling at Him and mocking Him. This was outside the gates of the city, so people would pass by and insult those being crucified. The point of crucifixion was public humiliation and death and it was to be a warning to anyone who wanted to rebel against Rome. Jesus was nailed to the cross and rather than hurling insults back at all around, He prayed that God would forgive them because they didn’t understand what they were doing. Even the other thieves were insulting Him until one of them realized who He really was (Luke 23) and that they were condemned just like He was. That criminal even went as far as to ask Jesus to remember him when He came into His Kingdom and Jesus told Him that he would go to Paradise with Him. Heaven!
The thing that was different about Jesus dying was that He had the power to decide when He would die. The Bible tells us that He yielded up His Spirit. It was prophesied that not one of His legs would be broken. When you were crucified, you had to push up on your feet to breathe and you could only continue to breathe as long as you had the strength to bear the pain and push up on your feet (which were nailed into the wood). Really, in crucifixion, you die by suffocating. What the soldiers would do at the end of the day when they were ready to head home was to break the legs of all of those being crucified so that they could no longer continue this laborious process of breathing. But Jesus had already decided when He was ready to die and committed His spirit to God and then He died. So when the guards got to Him, they plunged a sword into His side and blood and water came out (which we know now is a medical condition that occurs regarding the heart which proves that He was dead).
Another thing is that darkness set in over the whole area in the middle of the day. When Jesus died, there was a great earthquake that was causing rocks to break open, graves were opened, and many people who had been faithful to God were raised and were seen by many. The veil in the temple that was eighteen inches thick was torn from the top to the bottom. This veil separated the inner temple, signifying where God’s presence was, from the outer. But Jesus died so that we could have a personal relationship with God and not be kept from entering His presence.
So after all this, some believers who, up until then hadn’t wanted anyone to know they believed in Jesus’ claims, went forward and asked for His body. One of the guys, Joseph of Arimathea gave his own tomb to be used and Jesus was buried there. They prepared the body and put Jesus’ dead body in the tomb.
At the same time, the religious leaders went to Pilate and reminded him that Jesus had promised to rise again and asked for round the clock protection. Pilate granted it, but that didn’t stop Jesus from rising again. The funny part is that the religious leaders remembered Jesus’ claims, but His disciples had forgotten them and were in deep sorrow and misery over His death. When the women came on the third day to Jesus’ tomb, there was an earthquake, an angel came down from Heaven and rolled the stone away (that was covering the tomb), and then sat on it. He told them that Jesus had risen just like He promised and was not there. The guards shook with fear and it says they became like dead men.
The women run to tell the disciples that He had risen and at the same time, the report gets to the religious leaders from the guards. The religious leaders pay off the guards, promise them protection (since falling asleep on their post was punishable by death) and concoct a story to explain away the fact that Jesus really had resurrected. It’s sad that they sold out just to cover up something that really did happen.
So anyway, Jesus appears to the women who were at His tomb, to His disciples, and for a period of time after, continues to appear to them; even to groups as large as five hundred men.
One really awesome thing to remember is that though many people have made claims, Jesus backed up His claim to be God and His claim of having all authority in Heaven and on earth by defeating death and coming back to life. Then more than that, He ascended into Heaven having already told His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them and that He would come back.
Jesus died for us so that the separation of sin could be removed if we are willing to admit that we need Him. Jesus didn’t come to earth as a baby, do miracles, die on the cross, and resurrect so that we could have a day to eat ham and dye Easter eggs. He didn’t teach what He did and do what He did so that we could say “Yeah, I think He did really live and that He was a good guy and taught some good stuff like not killing people.” That wasn’t the option He left us. He died so that we could be allowed to enter into a relationship with Christ.
So what are you doing with Jesus Christ? Maybe you already know this or maybe you are having it all spelled out for the first time, but what are you going to do about it? If you haven’t already, I encourage you to tell God from your heart that you realize that you are not good enough to be accepted into Heaven. Tell Him that you are sorry for the things that you have done and ask Him for forgiveness. Tell Him that you believe in Jesus and thank Him for loving you as much as He did. Romans 10:9 says “That if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved.” That’s what you can do about Jesus if you have never started a relationship with Him.
If you have already done that, you need to be spending time reading your Bible and getting close to Him every day. Pray and talk to Him. Go to a church that really teaches the Bible, not because it’s required, but because Jesus has done everything for you and now you want to get to know Him and learn about Him. You guys should definitely go back through and read Matthew 26-28 and see the full account of what I summarized here.
If you have already accepted Christ in your heart, I want to ask you if you are really taking full advantage of what He did for you. Yes, your sins are forgiven and you are going to Heaven. But a relationship with Jesus is more than just a get-out-of-Hell-free card. Romans 5:1-2 says “1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”. Hebrews 4:16 says “16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Are you really entering into His presence or are you just hanging back but just far enough in to get by? Don’t get by with just enough. Press in and experience true life in Christ. We are told in Luke 9:24 that “24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” Give up your life and your desires and your goals and everything you want for Jesus and live the true life that the One who resurrected and defeated death and sin died to give you. Fall in love with Him and discover the reason you are alive and share it with others.
Happy Resurrection Day!!!

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