Jesus’ death was brutal, tragic, and unjust but He was no martyr – Jesus’ sacrifice was part of God’s redemptive plan. He wasn’t forced into death but beautifully allowed it.
• “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life, only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.” John 10:17-18
• “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit.” Matthew 27:50
• “Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ When He had said this, He breathed His last.” Luke 23:46
Jesus, the eternal Son of God who created life itself (John 1:3), was fully in control of His death from start to finish. God’s redemptive plan that was set in motion before creation itself, now reached its climax. The outcome had already been decided. Jesus, God incarnate, laid down His life a sacrifice for all, was about to demonstrate the power and purpose of His plan.
He Is Risen
Jesus’ body was hastily placed in a tomb on Friday afternoon. There was no time to properly prepare the body for burial with spices and ointments according to Jewish customs. No work could be done on the Sabbath, so that task had to wait until Sunday. Very early on Sunday, a group of women from Galilee entered a garden as the sun’s rays were just beginning to welcome the morning. All of Jerusalem was quite with slumber. The scene was one of tranquility. But for these women, there was no serenity. The events over the previous days had their emotions in chaos. A flood of sorrow, confusion, and fear had filled their minds for two full days. Bearing aromatic spices, they had come to the garden to anoint a dead man.
Suddenly, they saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. They hurried to the tomb and peered inside and found it empty except for the linen burial cloths. The body of their Lord Jesus was gone. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them clothed in dazzling robes. The women were so terrified they bowed their faces to the ground. The angels asked, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how He told you, while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise [from death to life].”
(Luke 24:5-7 AMP).
Upon hearing these words the women remembered what Jesus had said. One of them, Mary Magdalene, rushed to the eleven disciples and exclaimed, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him!” (John 20:2 AMP). Like two Olympic sprinters, Peter and John raced to the grave. John outran Peter but stopped at the entry to the tomb. In true character, Peter rushed into the tomb and John followed and saw the linen wrappings lying there and the face-cloth which had been on Jesus’ head neatly folded in a place by itself. John, the beloved, saw and believed that Jesus had been risen from the dead. Then the disciples went again to their own homes.
Mary Magdalene returned to the garden, her emotions finally spilling over in tears. As she stood there weeping, she noticed a man standing behind her. The man asked, “Woman, why are you crying? For whom are you looking?” Supposing that He was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you are the one who has carried Him away from here, tell me where you have put Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). Jesus said to her, “ Do not hold Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene came, reporting to the disciples that she had seen the Lord and that He had said these things to her.” (JOHN 20:15-18 AMP)
Shortly after, Jesus appeared to the other women at the garden (Matthew 28:9-10), to two disciples on their way to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) and then to ten of His disciples in Jerusalem (Luke 24:36-43).
The cover up
The two temple guards who where charged by the Sanhedrin to secure Jesus’ tomb, had the unfortunate task of reporting to the chief priests the dreaded news. After an emergency meeting was called, it was decided to bribe the guards into spreading the lie that Jesus’ disciples had stolen His body at night as they slept at their post (Matthew 28:11-15).
Jesus Appears to His followers:
• The disciples, including Thomas, a week after the resurrection (John 20:24-29)
• Seven disciples by the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-23)
• The twelve disciples, including the newly appointed Matthias (Acts 1:23; I Corinthians 15:5)
• More than five hundred believers at once (I Corinthians 15:6)
• James, Jesus’ half brother (I Corinthians 15:7)
• “All the apostles” (I Corinthians 15:7)
• The eleven disciples on the Mount of Olives at His ascension (Matthew 28)16-17; Acts 1:6-11)
• Paul no the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9; 1Corinthians 15:8)
The facts are there, but ultimately, it comes down to faith. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” And Hebrews 11:6 adds, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”
Jesus’ resurrection happened two thousand years ago and many hundreds of people saw the risen Lord. But you didn’t. Yet the Savior still calls you to believe. “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
Do you believe in the historicity of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ? More importantly, do you believe what these real events mean? Do you believe that Jesus’ great sacrifice provides salvation from sins and eternal life to all who trust in Him?
Does your hope rest in the risen Savior?
The resurrection changed everything, and gives us hope and peace even today. Celebrate with us on Easter Sunday at BIXBY’S FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH at 10:30 am
More from this Series
The HOPE of Easter Part 1
The History of Easter Part 2
Our Desperate Need for Hope Part 3
Hope Revealed Part 4
A Living Hope Part 5
A Present Hope Part 6
Joshua Cooley, “The Hope of Easter”, Outreach, Inc., 2016
The Broadman Bible Commentary, Volume 9, Broadman Press, 1970.
Author: Shirley Pittenger
Shirley Pittenger has been the Executive Assistant, Office Manager, and Digital Communications & Social Media Manager at Bixby’s First Baptist Church since 2009. Shirley is married to Bob Pittenger who is the Community Groups Pastor at the Church at Battlecreek in the Tulsa Metro area. Shirley holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Baptist College of Florida. She enjoys teaching in the youth group, singing, reading, studying God’s Word, and spending time with her family.