No. 34 - 16th April 2017
It’s Easter, the most important festival in the Christian calendar. It’s important because the events of this weekend really define what it means to be a Christian. Jesus was in Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish feast of Passover. That was when every family had to bring a lamb to the temple to be sacrificed as a substitute for their own lives and the sins they had committed. Well, the disciples really didn’t want Jesus to go to this festival because they knew that the authorities were out to get him. But Jesus insisted. “We are going up to Jerusalem,” He said, “and everything that was written by the prophets about the Son of Man will happen. He’ll be handed over to the Gentiles who will mock him, and spit on him; they’ll flog him and kill him, and on the third day he will rise again.” Well the disciples hadn’t a clue what he was talking about. He spoke in riddles so much of the time, they never knew quite how to take him. But, the rest, as they say, is history. On the Thursday, Jesus was thrown into prison. On Friday he was handed over to the Romans to be executed, which they did in a particularly barbaric way. Then that evening, they made sure he was well and truly dead, before letting his friends take him down off the cross and bury him.
Jesus knew what was going to happen to him and he refused to run away from it, because this was precisely what he had come for. To be sacrificed for the sins of others. The imagery was all there in the very festival that was being celebrated all around them that weekend. As John the Baptist once said of him, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”.
Today is Easter Sunday. The day Jesus said that he would rise again from the dead, to demonstrate that he really was the Son of God. Years later, the Apostle Paul listed all the people who saw Jesus after the resurrection, including, he wrote, “more than five hundred of his followers all at the same time,” and then he adds, “most of them are still alive,” in other words, if you don’t believe me, go and ask them. They’re still around. Those early Christians used to greet one another on Easter morning with the words, “Christ is risen”. And the other would reply, “He is risen indeed”.Share via email