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The Easter Story
The historical event known as Easter is the story of Jesus reconciling humankind to God. John 3:16, an often quoted bible verse says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not die, but have eternal life.” Easter is the story of how Christ, God’s son, came to earth because of God’s love for us.
The Jewish Passover was held annually in Jerusalem and Jesus, along with his disciples, made their way with the rest of the Jewish throngs to Jerusalem. When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, to symbolize his authority, the people sat him on a colt. As he rode into the city, they placed their cloaks and branches in front of him and shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”
All the attention he was getting angered the religious leaders of the day. They were determined to kill him. Their plan fell into place when Judas, one of the disciples, agreed to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples in an upper room. During this meal Jesus told the disciples that one of them would betray him. They couldn’t believe it, but later that evening, Judas left to go tell the religious leaders where he was.
After the meal, things happened quickly, Jesus went to a garden to pray and in the garden the religious leaders, led by Judas the betrayer, found him and had him arrested. He then had a series of mock trials, was beaten, flogged, and mocked as a crown of thorns was placed on his head. The following day Jesus was forced to carry his cross to Golgotha, the hill of crucifixion. He was so badly beaten and weakened that he couldn’t carry his cross to the mountain. The Roman soldiers randomly selected Simon, a man in the crowd watching the march to Golgotha, to carry the cross the rest of the way.
After arriving, the soldiers placed Jesus and two common thieves on crosses and drove spikes through their hands and feet. Then with a shocking jolt, the crosses were set upright while the hushed crowd watched. The religious leaders felt a smug satisfaction in their victory, while Jesus’ followers were bewildered and grieving. Although Jesus prophesied that this must happen to him, the disciples still didn’t understand why their Lord was being crucified.
Jesus died on the cross, then was buried in a tomb with a boulder rolled over the opening. The entrance was sealed and guards placed to ensure no one would steal the body. Jesus claimed that he would return to life, so the Jews took every precaution to prevent this from happening.
Three days later, there was a violent earthquake, an angel rolled the stone away, and the linens in which he was buried were neatly left in the tomb. Jesus had come back to life! Over the next 40 days, Jesus appeared to hundreds of his disciples.
Why did Christ have to die? Because we all fall short of God’s original dream for humankind. Jesus’ death opened the pathway to God. By believing this good news, we can have a relationship with God. Christ’s sacrifice was the ultimate expression of love.