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Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 107:1

Sunday, April 8, 2012

What Does Easter Really Mean

John 19:1-3  Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged.  The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head.  They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying "Hail, king of the Jews!" And they struck him in his face.

To grasp the full picture of Jesus' crucifixion, read John's perspective along with the other three accounts in Matthew 27, Mark 15, and Luke 23.  Each writer adds meaningful details, but each has the same message-Jesus died on the cross, in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy, so that we could be saved from our sins and given eternal life!
Flogging could have killed Jesus.  The usual procedure was to bare the upper half of the victim's body and tie his hands to a pillar before whipping him with a three-pronged whip.  The number of lashes was determined by the severity of the crime; up to 40 were permitted under Jewish law (Deuteronomy 25:3).  After being flogged, Jesus also endured other agonies recorded here and in the other Gospels.

John 19:28-30  Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty."  A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips.  When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished."  With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Jesus came to finish God's work of salvation, to pay the full penalty for our sins.  With his death, the complex sacrificial system ended because Jesus took all sin upon himself.  Now we can freely approach God because of what Jesus did for us.  Those who believe in Jesus' death and resurrection can live eternally with God and escape the penalty that comes from sin.

John 20:10-18  Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying.  As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?"
"They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him."  At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
"Woman", he said, "why are you crying?  Who is it you are looking for?"
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him."
Jesus said to her, "Mary".
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher)
Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Farther.  Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news:  "I have seen the Lord!"  And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Mary didn't recognize Jesus at first.  Her grief had blinded her; she couldn't see him because she didn't expect to see him.  Then he spoke her name, and immediately she recognized him.  Imagine the love that flooded her heart when she heard her Savior saying her name.  Jesus is near you, and he is calling your name. 
Can you, like Mary, regard him as your Lord?

Acts 1:7-11  He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.  "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky?  This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."

After 40 days with his disciples (1:3), Jesus returned to heaven.  The two men dressed in white were angels who proclaimed to the disciples that one day Jesus would return in the same way he went - bodily and visibly.  History is not haphazard or cyclical; it is moving toward a specific point-the return of Jesus to judge and rule over the earth.  We should be ready for his sudden return (1 Thessalonians 5:2), not by standing around "looking into the sky," but by working hard to share the gospel so that others will be able to share in God's great blessings.

Today, let us reflect on what Easter really means. 
I love His story and today I will celebrate it and all that Jesus did for us.
Do you believe in Easter?
(Taken from the Life Application Bible -NIV)

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