Just a thought: Easter and a man who lived long ago

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I think from time to time, “What if everybody in our community went to church on the same Sunday?” What would that be like? Every seat in every church could be filled and there could be people who would have to stand outside the sanctuaries or be turned away.

This Sunday is Easter Sunday. Across your community, there will be more people in church today than any other Sunday the entire year. Nationally, church attendance will climb an average of 25% on this one day.

What is Easter Sunday all about? It is about a man who lived 2000 years ago in a land far away across the ocean and who was killed and then came back to life. He never traveled more than 200 miles from where he was born. He never journeyed into a big city. This man never held an office or wrote a book.

The man was 33 years old when he was hung on a cross after he was mocked and made fun of in the last days and hours of his life. Individuals who had walked beside him for the final years of his life let him down in his last days on this planet and one of his closest friends even denied knowing him. His closest followers scattered in fear after his death only to reunite days later.

I wonder what it would have been like to have been in Jerusalem the final week of this man’s life and when he rose from the dead. There were many eye witnesses who were amazed at these events and those whose accounts of what happened are still told today.

For example the close friend who denied this man was told ahead of time that he would do so. The man’s name was Peter. Peter responded when informed he would deny this man by assuring his friend that he would never deny knowing him. Amazingly enough, Peter not only denied knowing him once, but he did it three times. Immediately after the third denial, Peter’s eyes met the eyes of his friend who was about to be murdered. I have a hard time absorbing this moment.

Another close friend was paid money to identify this man for the Roman soldiers so he could be arrested. This man’s name was Judas. After walking side by side with this man for about three years helping spread this man’s message, Judas agreed to accept money to turn him over to the soldiers. This also had been prophesied. Judas was so distraught after doing this that he would soon take his own life.

Both his followers and non followers alike gathered together and became possessed with a lynch mob mentality. The people in and around the city he was in became angry and wanted swift justice done on this man; swift justice being the taking of his life.

Much of what happened in the final days of this man’s life was the result of a group of people who didn’t really care about rational justice being done, they just wanted this man dead, however they could get there. Even after he was sentenced to death, because of the Passover season they were in, the crowd was able to choose between him and another prisoner as to whom they wanted to be spared death. The crowd chose to release a rebel and a murderer over releasing this man.

The final days of this man’s life which led to the Easter story was definitely a crazy time in the history of our world.

Amazing as it is, this man is the only one who has walked this earth in the history of mankind who has lived a perfect and sinless life. There was really nothing that he was guilty of doing. Pilate, the Roman governor who tried him, after speaking with this man said to the angry crowd that he found no basis for any charge against him. Nevertheless, the crowd chanted to have him crucified.

This man died an extremely painful death, bleeding from nails piercing his hands while hanging from a cross. With his mother standing at the foot of the cross, this man, in his final hours, was taunted and mocked. Soldiers cast lots for this man’s clothing. What an event this would have been to witness.

As this man died, he prayed a prayer of forgiveness over those who were killing him. His life ended with him dying between two criminals hanging on crosses on either side of him.

As this man died, daylight turned to darkness in the middle of the day. The earth shook, rocks split, and tombs broke open. A curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. If there was any doubt by those around that this man was who he said he was, those doubts were removed by what occurred at the time of his death. A great many people witnessed these events.

But Easter is not about this man’s death, it is about what happened next. The most amazing aspect of this man’s life was that three days after he died, he returned to life as he said he would. He came back and walked and talked with many who knew him and with many who didn’t. At one point he appeared to over 500 individuals at the same time. He walked the earth for another 40 days before ascending to heaven.

I read an account by an unknown author who wrote that this man “had no servants, yet they called him Master. Had no degree, yet they called him Teacher. Had no medicines, yet they called him Healer. He had no army, yet kings feared Him. He won no military battles, yet He conquered the world.

“Nineteen centuries have come and gone and today he is the central figure for much of the human race. All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as this one life.”

Those in power when this man lived, the Romans, would eventually fall, but the impact of this man’s life lives on today.

My challenge to you today is to attend a church of your choice to celebrate Easter. Recognize the impact this man made in the life he lived. Study his teachings. Consider following his teachings on this Easter Sunday.

Oh, by the way, the man’s name is Jesus Christ. The best selling book of all time speaks of this man. I know he lived 2000 years ago because we measure time by his life. Easter is the story of his life, death, and life again.

More than just a thought...

Rick Kraft hopes that you have a blessed Easter Sunday. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to rkraft@kraftlawfirm.org or write to P.O. Box 850, Roswell, NM, 88202-0850.

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