They mocked him by placing a 'crown' of thorns
on his head and calling him King of the Jews
Time off work, festivity and food, family and friends—Christmas is the big event of the year, celebrated by more of us than anything else: it’s The Big One, isn’t it?
Or so I always thought until, one Good Friday in church, I heard an incredibly loud, sharp bang. It ricocheted around the stone interior, finding nowhere to settle before there came another bang. On and on it went—harsh, and impossible to ignore.
At the back of the church, someone had laid out two huge planks of wood, one over the other, and was hammering them together with giant iron nails. Into the shape of a cross.
It was a horrific sound. It went right through me—physically, emotionally and spiritually. It was a revelation: how could I have been a Christian since I was little, and never fully grasped the relevance of that sound; the immense significance of Easter? I realised at that moment that I’d got it wrong, all these years—the arrival of our Saviour into the world was one thing, but the implication of his departure from it was something much more powerful. Easter is the big event in the Christian calendar.
Unlike Christmas, Easter is a time of mixed emotions. On Good Friday, we mourn Jesus’ slow and agonising death on the cross. We remember that he died to shoulder our sin, because of our insistence on our own will over God’s.
We remember the grief and confusion of Jesus’ family, friends and followers—utterly bewildered, they now had to radically reassess everything they thought they believed. They had thought him a different kind of messiah: one who would lift them out of their political persecution. They couldn’t understand, yet, that Jesus had come to lift all of mankind out of sin—done once, effective forever. Faced with the apparent destruction of their greatest hope, they scattered in fear. Today, many Christian denominations abstain from eating meat (so symbolic of Jesus’ body) on Good Friday.
However, for every Good Friday there is the joy of an Easter Sunday—sure as eggs is eggs. But while the chocolate egg may be part of the way many of us celebrate Easter, let it not distract from the extraordinary truth of God on Earth.
Having lived most of his life as the most ordinary and humble of men, Jesus’ short but miraculous three years of ministry were but a slight lifting of the veil upon who he really was, and what he was about to do. He took his crucifixion like a man, but arose from the dead in proof of his absolute divinity and his conquest over death—offering to each of us the chance of that same victory.
How incredible that God would stoop to be with us; to gnarl his hands as a carpenter among us; give us a model of how life should be lived; and then free us up to enjoy it forever through his own death. Yes—Easter’s the big one!
Pray: Lord, help me to appreciate the significance of Easter, so that I can begin to live my life accordingly. Thank you that even though you are God, you accepted a horrible human death so that we could be forgiven. I know that none of us deserve what you did, but you did it anyway. Thank you. Amen.
Quote: “In its favour as living truth there exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true.” (Lord Darling, former Lord Chief Justice of England)
Watch the clip A Man Fell in a Hole
Watch a video clip of Jesus' last hours
Watch an animation clip about the resurrection
Find out more about Why did Jesus die? at the BBC website
Look up the Easter story: start in Matthew (NT) (use the buttons at the top to move between chapters)
Listen to the song When I Survey the Wondrous Cross and read the lyric
See a clip of what people think of Easter
Read a poem (click on ‘12 Poems’, and then choose The Crucifixion)
Read the book Dead or Alive by Daniel Clark
Read the book He Chose the Nails: What God Did To Win Your Heart by Max Lucado
Read the book The Case for Easter: A Journalist Investigates the Evidence for the Resurrection by Lee Strobel
Read the book Chronicles of the Cross: No Wonder They Call Him the Savior/Six Hours One Friday/And the Angels Were Silent by Max Lucado
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