Do you know the greatest love story ever told? No, I am not talking about Romeo and Juliet. No, it’s not Jack and Rose from the Titanic either. In fact, it’s not even Noah and Allie from the Notebook.
What if I told you it was between the people of the world and Jesus Christ? What if I told you it was even more personal than that? Because Easter is really the love story of Jesus and you. That’s right – Easter isn’t just a holiday where you get endless amounts of chocolates and eat hot cross buns. It’s so important to understand the story behind Easter because those 3 days changed the world forever.
Long ago, (approximately 2,000 years ago) in a land called Jerusalem, Jesus and his disciples were preparing for the special Passover meal. At the same time, the officials were scheming and coming up with plans to kill Jesus because they didn’t like how he was so popular with everyone he encountered. Judas (one of Jesus’ disciples) made a deal with the officials to betray Jesus…
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On the evening of the Passover, Jesus broke bread with his disciples and said: “Take this and eat it, for this is my body, which I am giving for you.” (Matthew 26:26) Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. (Matthew 26:27) Then he said, “one of you will betray me.” Judas knew it was going to be him. Not only that, Jesus knew Peter (who supposedly was his most loyal friend) was going to deny him 3 times.
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Jesus knew the heavy weight and sacrifice he was about to make. He asked the disciples to stay put while he went to an olive grove called Gethsemane. There he knelt down and began to pray. He prayed “Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want Your will, not mine.” Jesus went back to pray 2 more times after that asking for the burden to be taken away but accepting God’s will over everything.
Judas gave the officials a prearranged signal: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” After Judas gave Jesus a kiss, the officials arrested him. At the same time, every single one of Jesus’ disciples ran and deserted him.
When Peter was questioned whether or not he knew Jesus, he denied him 3 times. Once Peter remembered that Jesus mentioned he would deny him, he went outside and cried.
Can you imagine what Jesus must be feeling at this point? Every single person he loved, taught and trusted just betrayed him and ran away at the sight of trouble. He was about to be crucified for no reason and felt completely alone.
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Pilate had Jesus arrested, whipped and mocked. It was torture for Jesus in all aspects – physically, mentally and emotionally. He was made to carry his own cross for kilometers to Calvary Hill where he would be crucified. Officials nailed Jesus to the cross and people continued to spit on Jesus and mock him. During sundown, on that fateful Friday, Jesus died.
Pilate couldn’t believe Jesus was finally dead. The officials buried Jesus, wrapped his body in white linen cloth and placed him in his tomb. Then they rolled a large stone in front of the entrance.
Even though, it seems like a dark and sorrowful day – it makes you wonder why it’s called “Good Friday”. Jesus didn’t deserve to die, he willingly sacrificed His life for our sins. The world and the people were corrupt, selfish and headed for destruction. The suffering and sacrifice of Jesus, as horrible as it was, made the dramatic execution of God’s plan to save his people from their sins.
“Good Friday marks the day when wrath and mercy met at the cross. That’s why Good Friday is so dark and so Good.”
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Very early Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary (mother of James) went to visit the tomb to place burial spices over Jesus. But when they approached the tomb, the large stone had been rolled aside. So when they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe. The angel told the shocked women “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
So Mary went to tell the disciples (who were still in mourning) that Jesus is alive, they didn’t believe her at first. But Jesus appeared to them and said “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in My name, and they will speak new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick and heal them.”
40 days after Jesus rose from the dead, he got the disciples together and prayed for them. As he was praying, he was carried back up into Heaven. From that day, the disciples were led by the Holy Spirit to share the powerful story of Jesus to all people. Over 3,000 people become Christians on that day. People have been telling others about Jesus ever since.
Jesus died especially for you so that you may have eternal life. He defeated death just for you! He saved you from your sins and gave you the gift of grace.
Jesus is the true Saviour of the world who made a great sacrifice because of true, genuine, authentic love. Now that’s the greatest love story ever told…
*If you’d like to read the full story of Easter from the Bible, read Mark 14-16.