Happy Easter!

Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


Praying for you, your family, your community, and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the Coronavirus. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.

He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying.  (Matthew 28:6)


Happy Easter to everyone again! It is the day that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead.  Is there any religious leader who has ever risen from the dead and left his or her tomb empty? None. All religions have its most sacred tomb where their prophet or savior is buried. People go there and worship the dead who remained in the sacred tomb. In the tomb, there is no more life, but only death. Even so, people still come and bow down to the dead.


We, Christians, are different. We don’t visit such a tomb and worship the dead. Instead, we celebrate the living Lord, Jesus Christ, Our Savior. Here is the story on the morning of the first Easter Sunday:


Very early on [the first Eater] Sunday morning, just at sunrise, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went to the tomb. The prior Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, they went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body because Jesus died on the cross on Friday, and people buried Jesus in a tomb.


Although the women heard multiple times from Jesus that He would live again after His death, they had never believed what they heard. Why? 


But the people couldn’t believe, for as Isaiah also said,


“The Lord has blinded their eyes

       and hardened their hearts—

so that their eyes cannot see,

       and their hearts cannot understand.  (John 12:39-40a)


Yes, they heard, but they could not understand. What they saw and remembered was Jesus, who died on the cross. Here is why and how Jesus was crucified on the cross.


Jesus was wrongly accused by the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law. The entire high council met and discussed what Jesus did and what’s the impact made by Jesus on them. After the discussion, they decided to kill Jesus because Jesus was the pain in the neck. They could not bear with Jesus anymore.


Jesus’s teaching was completely different from their teaching, and people in Jerusalem all more respected Jesus than the religious leaders. Then the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted, 


“Praise God!

 Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD!

 Hail to the King of Israel!”  (John 12: 13b)


Then the religious leaders said to each other, 


“There’s nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after him!”  (John 12:19b)


As they saw the large crowd who were following Jesus, they found there was nobody with them. The people in Jerusalem used to flock around them, and heard their teaching. Then the people followed them, but no more. Out of envy, insecurity, anger, and fear, they arrested and bound Jesus, led Him away, and took Him to Pilate, the Roman Governor. At that time, religious leaders did not have a right to execute criminals except the Roman Governor. Thus, the only way to get rid of Jesus was to wrongly accuse Jesus as the worst criminal to be executed by the Roman Governor.


However, Pilate, the Roman Governor, soon realized that the leading priests had arrested Jesus out of envy. Thus, Pilate tried to release Jesus, but Pilate did not know the religious leaders’ real motive, which was to kill Jesus. Pilate asked the crowd to set free Jesus. 


But at this point, the leading priests stirred up the crowd to demand Barabbas’ release instead of Jesus. Barabbas was one of the prisoners at that time, a revolutionary who had murdered in an uprising. Pilate asked them, “Then what should I do with this man you call the king of the Jews?”


They shouted back, “Crucify him!”


“Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?”


But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!” (Mark 15:13-14)


The Roman Governor, Pilate, became fearful of the crowd, who did not want any unrest in Jerusalem, which was detrimental to his career. To please the crowd, he released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.


The Roman soldiers bound Jesus out of the Governor’s palace and took Him to their barrack. They mocked, struck, and spit on Jesus. They even dropped to their knees in mock worship. Then they led Jesus away to be crucified. We see sinful human nature. The Roman soldiers mercilessly treated Jesus because He was their prisoner. Some recognized that Jesus was not a criminal who deserved death on a cross, but none spoke up the truth. All together enjoyed their cruelty on the helpless prisoner, Jesus.


Then the soldiers nailed Him to the cross. It was nine o’clock in the morning.


The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Ha! Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, save yourself and come down from the cross!” The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this King of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe him!” Even the men who were crucified with Jesus ridiculed him. The women who headed to the tomb were still hearing the passersby’s mockeries along with the leading priests and the Roman soldiers.


However, it was just a beginning. Crucifixion was the most gruesome execution making a person die in the terrible pain and agony on a cross. It was noon, three hours after Jesus was crucified on a cross. Darkness fell across the whole land. The entire world was dark for three hours.


Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Mark 15:34)


Why did Jesus cry out? Jesus was on the cross to take up all sins of the world on His shoulder as the perfect sacrificial lamb of God. Jesus experienced the enormous weight of all sins on Him, and He took all by Himself. To take all the weights of all sins, Jesus took all by Himself by being completely separated from God, the Father. God, the Father, painfully watched His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross and was dying as the sacrificial lamb for all.


Why did God endure His pain? God loved us so much and gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to save all. Are there any parents who do not feel pain when their children suffer and die like Jesus on a cross? Yes, God, the Father, experienced this unimaginable pain while watching His own Son, Jesus Christ, dying, in agony, crucified on a cross to forgive our sins. The wage of sin is death. Yes, Jesus was paying off the wages of all our sins on the cross on that day.


Jesus was dying in extreme agony. He knew that he had completed on earth, and to fulfill Scripture, He said, “I am thirsty.” He was in complete separation with God, the Father, due to our sins. His soul became extremely thirst spiritually. A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. Jesus had tasted it, but it could not quince the spiritual thirst.


He said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.  (John 19:30b)


When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, 


he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39b)


The Roman officer was the head of one hundred Roman soldiers and was called a centurion. His job was executing criminals on crosses. He could not count how many criminals he killed on crosses. He watched and knew how people die on a cross. None was like Jesus. Painfully hung on the cross, Jesus asked for forgiveness for the people who wrongly accused Him and. The Roman centurion officer had never seen such a person who kept giving out his forgiveness and mercy to all, even including the robber right next to Him. He did not curse, blame, beg, and cry out for pains. Jesus was different. The Roman officer could not stop watching Jesus’ face again and again who was dying on the cross, although he knew his soldiers were carefully watching him. As soon as Jesus died on the cross, he confessed his heart — “This man truly was the Son of God!”  


Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James, were there. They saw how Jesus died, and they also heard the surprising confession of the Roman officer. However, their hearts were still dull. They were just busy following Joseph of Arimathea, who took a risk and went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Joseph was an honored member of the high council, and he was waiting for the Kingdom of God to come. 


Pilate couldn’t believe that Jesus was already dead, so he called for the Roman officer and asked if he had died yet. The officer confirmed that Jesus was dead, so Pilate told Joseph he could have the body. Joseph bought a long sheet of linen cloth. Then he took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it in the cloth, and laid it in a tomb carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone in front of the entrance. Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James, saw where Jesus’ body was laid. To the women, it was the end of the story because Jesus died, Jesus’ body was laid in the tomb, and a large stone was rolled back in front of the tomb’s entrance.


Indeed, before Jesus’ crucifixion, they heard many times from Jesus.


Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” (John 2:19)


Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;  (John 11:25)


Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.   (John 12:23-24)


However, they did recall none of what Jesus said about His death and resurrection. Instead, they only remembered the sad scenes that they helplessly watched as Jesus died on the cross and Jesus was burial in the tomb. Although they did not want to remember what they saw, they could not. Jesus’ death on the cross was gruesome, and there was no word to describe it  


On the way to the tomb, the women were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” Without rolling away the big stone blocking the tomb’s entrance, they could not get to Jesus’ body lying in the tomb.

Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards of Jesus’ tomb shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.

Here was the reason why there were guards for Jesus’ tomb. The next day after Jesus was buried, on the Sabbath, leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate, the Roman Governor. They told him,

“Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days, I will rise from the dead.’ So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.”  (Matthew 27:63b-64)

Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.” So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it.


Fear also fell on the women, and they could not move at all in fear. Then the angel spoke to the women. 


“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. 


Come, see where his body was lying. 


And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”  (Matthew 28:5b-7)


The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to Jesus, grasped His feet, and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, 


“Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.” (Matthew 28:10b)


The women and the disciples went to Galilee to meet Jesus again. The women initially could not believe Jesus’ resurrection on the first Easter Sunday morning. Only after they saw Jesus, the risen Lord, they believed, and they remembered what Jesus told about His death and resurrection. They saw and touched Jesus as the risen Lord. It is the reason why we celebrate Easter, which is the day that Jesus rose again from the dead.  Jesus became the first fruit of resurrection for all who believe Jesus as one’s savior. Surely, we will all be like Him, which is our faith as His eternal children in Jesus.


However, today, we cannot physically see Jesus, Our risen Lord, now, but here is the encouragement. 


Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” (John 22:29)


The above is what Jesus told to Thomas, one of His disciples. Thomas was not there when Jesus appeared after His resurrection. All the other disciples saw Jesus except Thomas. Later, Jesus came to Thomas and showed Himself. Let Thomas touch Him. Then Jesus told Thomas the above verse, which is the origin of “Doubting Thomas.”


Surely, we believe Jesus’ resurrection and have hope to be like Jesus, which is our faith. Today, we invite all who read this message. Please join us to receive this unfathomable gift of God — God’s salvation and our future resurrection in Jesus. Please open heart today to receive Jesus as savior. Then experience the joy of resurrection on this blessed Easter Sunday.   

Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, for we will see him as He really is. (1 John 3:2)

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