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REFLECTIONS

Easter and Jesus


Easter is a Christian festival that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the
most important holy day of the Christian religion. On that day nearly 2000 years ago,
God showed His love to man in a unique and very im-
portant way.

Jesus was born in the ancient Roman prov-


ince of Judea, a land now known as Palestine
and Israel, to Jewish parents. He taught people
about God, healed the sick, and helped people
who were lonely, sad, and downtrodden. In
His life He fulfilled prophecies about the Mes-
siah (meaning “Savior”) that had been spo-
ken of by Jewish prophets, and which were
recorded in what is now The Old Testament
of The Bible.

Many people recognized Jesus as the Savior who


could forgive their sins, and they followed Him.
But others were jealous of Him. The Jewish teach-
ers of the law and a group of priests called
Pharisees complained to the chief priests of
the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. “What will
we do?” they asked. “Look at all the miracles
this Man is performing. If we let Him go on
this way, everyone will believe in Him and
we will lose our power over the people.”

So these enemies of Jesus made plans to


kill Him. Jesus knew of these plans, and one
day He told His twelve closest followers,
who are known as His disciples, “I must go
to Jerusalem and suffer much. I will be put to
death, but three days later, I will be raised to
life.”

At the appointed time, a day before the Jew-


ish festival of Passover, Jesus set out for Jerusa-
lem with His disciples. He sent two of them on
ahead and asked them to find a donkey for Him to
ride as He entered Jerusalem. When the people saw
Him coming, they threw cloaks and palm branches on the ground and shouted, “Praise
God! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
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On the main day of the festival, as Jesus


sat with His disciples at supper, He re-
minded His friends that He would soon
leave them. He asked them to drink wine
and eat bread together in remembrance
of Him, until the day that He would eat
and drink together with them again in
Heaven. When Christians gather together,
they often perform this ceremony, called
communion.

Then Jesus went with His disciples to a garden outside the city to pray before the ordeal
He knew was coming. Knowing that mankind
was separated from God because of their sin,
He willingly went through the pain of death
and separation from God in order to take our
punishment for us. It was hard for Him, but
He did it so that we could all know God and
be close to Him, without our wrongdoing get-
ting in the way. A simple analogy is that we
are like children who have been bad and de-
serve punishment rather than the privilege of
going to Heaven. But Jesus is like our older
brother who, through His death, took our pun-
ishment for us. By accepting His pardon, we can
be forgiven, have the loving and happy lives He
wants us to have, and be with Him in Heaven
in the afterlife.

So before dawn the next morning, the chief


priests, who by this time had finished their plans
to kill Jesus, sent their guards to
the garden where Jesus was pray-
ing and took Him captive. They brought Him to the Roman gover-
nor Pontius Pilate, and there demanded that Jesus be
executed. However, Pilate was reluctant. At the
Passover festival each year, Pilate freed one pris-
oner. Pilate wanted to free Jesus, but under pres-
sure from the religious rulers, he gave the people
who were gathered in the courtyard next to his
palace a choice between Jesus and a murderer
named Barabbas. Jesus’ accusers persuaded the
people to ask for Barabbas and have Jesus cruci-
fied.

“What shall I do with Jesus?” Pilate asked.

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“Crucify Him!” the crowd shouted back.


“But what crime has He committed?” asked Pilate.
They shouted even louder, “Crucify Him!”

So Pilate did as they asked, but symbolically


washed his hands and said, “I am innocent of
the blood of this just person.”

After a group of Roman soldiers had beaten


Jesus, they dressed Him in a purple robe and put
a crown of thorns on His head. Then the soldiers led Jesus out to crucify Him, which meant
nailing Him to a wooden cross to hang there until He died. They made Jesus carry His
huge cross until He fell under the weight of it. A
man named Simon the Cyrenian helped Jesus
carry His cross.

They led Him to the top of a small hill called


Golgotha, and crucified Him there. The sol-
diers then threw dice to decide who would get
His clothes. Pilate had a notice fixed to the
cross saying, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the
Jews.” Two robbers were also crucified at the
same time, one on either side of Him. Jesus
prayed for the Romans who had crucified Him.
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Some of the people watching jeered at Jesus, saying, “If you truly are the Son of God,
come down from the cross and save yourself.” Some of His followers were also there,
watching and weeping. Among them was Mary, Jesus’ mother.

At noon, the country was covered in a strange darkness that lasted for three hours.
About three o’clock, Jesus cried out, “My God, why have You forsaken Me?” God was hav-
ing Jesus experience the lonely death of sinners who feel
they don’t have God’s help.

Jesus said He was thirsty, and someone put a


sponge soaked in vinegar to His lips. Then He
said, “It is finished.” Jesus was dying to take the
punishment for all the sins of mankind. He
cried to God, “Into Your hands I commit My
spirit.” Then He died. To make sure He was
dead, the soldiers pierced His side with a spear,
and blood and water ran out.

Right then the thick curtain in the Jewish temple was ripped from top to bottom, the
earth shook, and rocks split apart. The soldiers at Jesus’ crucifixion were terrified and
said, “Truly this man was the Son of God.”

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In the evening, a man named Joseph of Arimathea


went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Joseph and
others took His body down from the cross,
wrapped it in a linen shroud, and put it in a new
tomb, carved out of solid rock, which Joseph had
bought for himself. A huge stone was rolled
across the entrance to the tomb, and Joseph and
the others went away.

Early Sunday morning, several women who


were followers of Jesus went to the tomb. When
they arrived, they saw that the stone had been
rolled away, so they went in. There they saw a
young man whose face shone and whose clothes
were white as snow. The soldiers who had been
there to guard
the tomb had been afraid and had run away.

The man with the shining face said, “Don’t be


afraid. Jesus is not here, but He has risen as He
said. He has gone to Galilee. You will see Him
there.” For the next forty days, Jesus was seen
by His disciples and hundreds of other people.

From this story comes the tradition of


Easter. It begins with Good Friday, which rep-
resents the day Jesus died on the cross, and
ends on Easter Sunday, which is a day to re-
joice because Jesus rose from the dead. In His
death He took away the barrier of wrongdoing that separates us from God, and in His
resurrection He showed His power to transform us and give us His new life of the Spirit
inside. We just have to ask, and He will do all this for us, because He
suffered, died, and rose again—just for us.

Yes, Jesus lives! And that’s not all. He will live in the heart of
anyone who invites Him in. He will forgive sins and give
a new start in life—a life of love and happiness that
gets better and better the more one learns about
Jesus and His ways through prayer and reading
the Bible, and from other Christians. He said, “I
am come that you might have life,” and “Whom
the Son has set free is free indeed” (John 10:10,
8:36).

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son,
so that all who believe in Him will not perish but have ever-
lasting life (John 3:16).

R120 GP Easter, Jesus, salvation.