Allow me to get religious for a moment. Easter is this Sunday, and we all know the Bible-based Easter story. Oh, wait, you don’t? Okay, let me tell you about it.
There was this Jesus guy. (You know, the dude born on Christmas?) According to scripture, he grew up to be an awesome preacher/prophet/healer. The chief priests and scribes didn’t care for him much. They thought he was a fraud, so they wanted him dead. They talked Jesus’ pal, Judas, into betraying Jesus for thirty stinkin’ pieces of silver. I’m sure that was a lot of money back in Bible times, but still, how rude. Thanks to Judas, Jesus was arrested.
They accused him of religious treason, since people claimed he was the Messiah. “Messiah” refers to a spiritual savior, redeemer, and in the case of Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus was brought before Pilate—a Roman prefect and judge. Now, Pilate’s wife was a smart lady. She’d had a dream the night before about some Jesus guy, and she warned her husband to steer clear. Of course, being a politician, Pilate just had to get involved. He gave the people a choice: release Jesus or release a psycho murderer named Barabbas. In true angry mob fashion, the crowd chose to release Barabbas and crucify Jesus.
Crucifixion is an ancient method of painful execution in which the condemned person is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead. Uh, gross, right? Jesus being Jesus knew this was coming. He’d prayed about it the night before on the Mount of Olives: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” Thankfully, Jesus was a big picture kind of guy … He was nailed to a cross, yet even in his agony, he said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And the mob didn’t know, did they? They thought they were executing a liar or lunatic. They didn’t realize they were slaughtering the Son of God.
Then, Jesus died. The sky turned black, and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. I imagine the weather resembled those post-nuclear apocalypse skies you see in movies—the clouds black, red, and boiling. I imagine the priests and scribes looked at each other and thought, “Uh-oh,” because I imagine in that moment, they finally got it. They understood what they had done … and that Jesus had already forgiven them for it. But that’s hardly the end of the story.
Days after his death, women came to tend to Jesus’ body and tomb. However, upon their arrival, they found the tomb had been opened. Jesus’ body was gone. In its place were two men in dazzling clothes. No, not drag queens—ANGELS!! Angels were waiting for Jesus’ followers so that they could say, “He is not here, but has risen!” I bet the angels did a little jig when they said it. I wouldn’t have been able to contain my joy. What great news! Jesus appeared to many after his resurrection, showing the nail marks in his hands and performing miracles among the masses. Then, finally, he ascended into Heaven, where he got to hang with good old Dad with a capital “D.”
So what does Easter mean to us? It means we’re saved. Jesus died for you. He died for me. We’re sinners, and we needed His help to get to Heaven. By His blood, we have been redeemed. Today is the day He died. Sunday is the day when He rose from the dead. What will you do in remembrance of Him? You can start by listening to the hippie classic He is Risen. Then, pick up a Bible and read the whole story (I prefer the Book of Luke). Check out your neighborhood church on Sunday. Most of all have a happy and blessed Easter! Celebrate what an ancient dude did for you, out of pure and unconditional love. Hallelujah! Christ is risen, indeed!