We say the first Easter was over 2,000 years ago. But the need for a Savior goes back 6,000 years.
Almighty God, full of power, formed the earth, set apart the waters, hung the sun, moon, and stars, and made trees and plants–giant sequoias, small fig trees and even onions. When all was ready for him,
God created man, and then woman. He made them in His own image. He gave them creative spirits, the ability to make choices, the faculties for compassion and wisdom, and a drive to survive. Did I mention He gave this wonderful creation the choice to love his Creator or not?
Man and woman messed up early on. They yielded to the temptation of Satan and the whole beautiful, wonderful world went whacky. But God had a plan even as far back as that first huge sin of Adam and Eve to make it possible for humankind again to be in close relationship with Him. He would send His only Son to be our Redeemer, to give us a chance again to make a choice to love Him–because He first loved us.
The Savior came but most did not recognize Him. Even the religious people, priests and scribes, didn’t believe He was the Son of God, though they had the prophecies handed down through the centuries proclaiming God would send a Messiah. Jesus lived a perfect life, was tempted and did not sin, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf. He raised Lazarus and a young girl from the dead. He called disciples, twelve of them, and gently and forcefully led them and taught them for three years. He spoke to crowds who followed Him wherever He went. But when he finally was arrested because the priests said He was blasphemous claiming to be God, the crowds deserted Him as did most of His followers and friends.
When Jesus was on trial Pilate asked Him where He was from. Jesus didn’t answer. Pilate urged Him, telling Him that he, Pilate, had the power to free Him or condemn Him. Then Jesus replied that Pilate had no power except what was given him by the Father. Jesus had already told His followers, “…I lay down my life that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down myself. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it again.” (John 10:17-18)
To me, one of the most stunning events of that dark crucifixion day is when the huge, massively heavy curtain in the temple, the one that separated the people from the “Holy of Holies,” was split down the middle from top to bottom. God split that curtain at the time Jesus drew His last breath. Because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice man could be forgiven of their sins and could talk directly to Him without a priest–as Adam and Eve had done before they sinned.
But the very most stunning event was when the disciples and several women first found the tomb empty and then saw Jesus, nail scarred hands and all, alive and later eating fish with them. Those forty days Jesus spent with His followers (disciples and 500 or more others) after the resurrection until His ascension back to the Father–those days must have been powerful and sweet. Jesus was alive! The timid could be brave. The hopeless could have great hope. The sorrowful could now be filled with joy.
Jesus is alive! And because He lives, so can we!
A favorite hymn by Bill Gaither says: “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future, And life is worth a living just because He lives.”
A very happy Easter to each of you!