Did You Have An Absolute Crazy Week Before Easter?
Easter, it is a day that most of us associate with candy filled eggs, baskets to collect the surprise treats, bunnies, chicks, and spring. The vibrant pastels of greens, yellows, reds, and oranges highlight each store aisle. Stores right after Valentine’s Day spend their time gearing up for Easter, a holiday worth over $16 billion. Yes, you heard that right, $16 billion! Delicious and often seasonal treats fill the aisles, various baskets await to be purchased for eager Easter egg hunters, and gifts to fill surprise Easter baskets are carefully picked from shelves.
What a Week it Has Been!
The week before Easter Sunday can be hectic. All of the shopping for Easter baskets feels like Christmas all over again! Filing candy/treat eggs for the Easter egg hunts. Coordinating Easter events so they go as smoothly and hassle free as a possible. A whole week preparing for the festivities on this fun day of Easter. You may be scrambling to get out Sunday dresses, suits, and don’t forget the nice shoes for the kids to wear to church. Perhaps you had long work hours this week on top of everything or you take care of kids at home – perhaps you do both. While we sit on the couch trying to get those few hours of sleep in before the fun Easter day, we hardly wind down, to make it a pleasant day for everyone else.
But We So Easily Forget
What is Easter all about? In my opinion, a more appropriate term is Resurrection Sunday. I feel Easter is a completely different holiday than remembering Christ’s resurrection. To me, Easter screams of candy filled eggs, bunnies, and big Easter egg hunts. Resurrection Sunday is remembering when Christ triumphantly arose and an angel of God rolled the stone away from His tomb. He walked out and women nearby ran to spread the good news. In the midst of all the Easter egg hunting, gift baskets, candy, and cook outs with friends and family it is so easy to forget why we should be excited about Easter/Resurrection Sunday. As people, we are forgetful and tend to lose focus when we have other fun distractions before our eyes. In fact, the whole previous week when people were doing Easter shopping has a Biblical, historical meaning as well. There is someone who had a super busy (and what we would probably call totally crazy, scary, intense) week many years ago, and that’s Jesus:
The Warm Welcome
Some 2,000 years ago, Christ rode on a donkey into the great holy city of Jerusalem one week before, on what is known as Palm Sunday. The city was filled with pilgrims coming for the Passover festivals.
8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna[b] to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[c]
“Hosanna[d] in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Jesus was given a warm welcome with people spread their cloaks in front of Him and greeted Him with palm branches.
Anointed at Bethany
The chief priests were already plotting Jesus’ death before the week was out. A woman poured a jar of pure spikenard perfume over Jesus’ head. This would have been an imported product as spikenard is only known to grow in the Himalaya Mountains. Now, this was expensive stuff. A year’s wages in this time was roughly three denarii. Today, this may have been equivalent to tens of thousands of dollars. Think about pouring a whole jar of something that cost you one year’s wages at a full-time job. It would feel almost too precious to use. This humble woman was preparing Jesus’ body for the burial ahead of him.
Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.”
3 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages[a] and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you,[b] and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
An Example to Serve
Christ served in many ways. He performed miracles and healed the sick. Jesus set the example we are to follow when being God’s servant. Some who think the name Jesus think of someone who was high and mighty, but if this was the case, He would not have humbly washed other’s feet. He was not someone who came to Earth to serve himself. Jesus set an example for us to humbly serve others.
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
The Last Supper
Many are familiar with this famous phase and often relate it to Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, “The Last Supper”. We think about Jesus sitting at the table surrounded by His twelve disciples. This is where the practice of communion also comes from as an important Christian practice. The bread Jesus took symbolizes His body, and His cup of wine (even though He did not drink of it) symbolizes the blood He shed for us. Before this, Jesus had announced that one who has dipped his hand in the same bowl as Jesus would betray Him. The man that would betray Jesus is none other than Judas.
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
In the Garden of Gethsemane
Jesus was in a garden, called Gethsemane, and desired to pray to God. As any man would be, He felt troubled. Many times as people, we have our own troubles, and sometimes we don’t think that Jesus actually had troubles. He knew he would be crucified and fulfill the prophecies. Jesus would take on the burden of the entire world and die for our sins. I would be troubled, too. In fact Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophecies! In the garden, Jesus mentioned as is written in Mark 14:34a, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” Imagine being so trouble and feeling a heaviness such as this on your shoulders. It would be nearly unbearable. Jesus prayed:
Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba,[a] Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Even in His troubled state, He wanted to do what God sent Him to do. We are told Jesus’ sweat became like drops of blood in Luke 22:44, “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”
The Great Yet Perfect Sacrifice
Jesus was met by His betrayers that night, his betrayers came to meet Jesus. They took Him in, and if there was any example of “injustice”, this was it. The chief priests broke many laws to accuse Jesus as guilty. Many of which were ignored in all six trials:
Now, here are some of the illegalities of the Jewish trials.
- If a man was arrested for a capital crime, he could never be arrested at night. It had to be in broad daylight. Jesus’ arrest took place between 1 and 2 o’clock at night.
- If a man was arrested for a capital crime, no one cooperating in the arrest could be in any way connected to the one who is accused. No arrest for a capital crime could be made based upon information given by a follower or colleague of the accused. Because they felt if the accused was guilty so were his followers. But the entire plot revolved around Judas, one of the followers. This law was blatantly and openly ignored.
- No Jewish trial could ever be held at night. The law stated that it must be held in the daytime. Listen to the code, which is taken from the Talmud: “The members of the court may not alertly and intelligently hear the testimony against the accused during the hours of darkness.” But, if you check the record, both before Annas and before Caiaphas, these trials were held in darkness.
- The members of the Jewish court, after hearing the testimony of true witnesses (none of which were ever brought before Jesus) in a capital crime, could not immediately act and judge. They were to go home and remain alone and separate from one another for two days (at the least, one full day), thinking about the testimonies they had heard. During that time, here’s what they were to do. Here’s the language of the code: “Eat like food, drink like wines, sleep well. And once again return and hear the testimony of the accused. Then, and only then, shall you render a vote.” They didn’t do that. They Jewish court never left the presence of Caiaphas!
- In fact, even the method of voting was specified! They never took an “all in favor say I, all opposed say no” kind of vote. Their vote was supposed to be taken from the youngest to the oldest so that the youngest wouldn’t be intimidated or influenced by the older votes. This never happened.
For 30 pounds of silver, Judas betrayed Christ, in essence betraying himself. When Judas tried to take the 30 pounds of silver back, it was too late, and there was no chance they would let Jesus go. Access the rest of the case study responsible from the source above by clicking here.
Jesus, an innocent man, was betrayed, brutally beaten, verbally abused, and spat upon. They nailed his hands and feet upon a crucifix. Jesus was on the cross for a long, estimated and agonizing six hours.
Generally speaking, the cause of death from being crucified was usually asphyxiation (suffocation). This is due to your arms holding your entire weight and pulling up your entire body to breathe. This would be excruciating as it pulls on your hands, arms, and feet from below. Without a doubt, a terrible way to die. If your legs were broken as they broke the criminals legs next to Jesus, you wouldn’t be able to keep pulling yourself up. Jesus already passed as this point and said, “It is finished,” as we are told in John 19:30. This is the day we refer to as Good Friday, because Jesus took on the sins of the world and died for us.
Jesus was buried in the tomb, and the chief priests whom had heard of word of him rising on the third day sought out to secure the tomb with a large boulder and sending a guard to stand watch. His body was in a clean linen and in the tomb until….
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb on what we know as Easter/Resurrection Sunday. An angel of the Lord rolled the stone away from the front of the tomb. The guards were petrified with fear.
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
This reminds me of an absolutely beautiful mural called “The Resurrection” by Ron Dicianni:
We Deserved Those Punishments
It was you and I who deserved to be spat upon, mocked, betrayed, brutally beaten, and hung on a cross to die. We deserved that punishment for the sin we brought into the world. Instead, a completely innocent man came to Earth to set an example as to how Christians should live and died for every person on this planet. Satan lost a lot of his power when Jesus overcame sin because it gives us a choice to stand by God’s side in Heaven for eternity.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.[b]
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises.[c]
4 In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
8 “He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
“let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
15 My mouth[d] is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce[e] my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.
19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
22 I will declare your name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.
25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you[f] I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the Lord will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
and he rules over the nations.
29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!
What Does This Mean For Me?
Ask yourself, have you ever lied? Stolen? Used God’s name as a swear word? If you have done all of those and are guilty, that is only three out of the Ten Commandments. This is God’s moral law, and if you were to die in the next minute and stand before God – would He sentence you to Heaven or Hell based on His laws that you have broken? Hell would be a terrible sentence to be given.
God is a righteous judge, He is not corrupt. This means that He will sentence someone to Hell as a moral judge would sentence someone to prison for their crimes. Does going to Hell concern you? If it doesn’t, perhaps it should. It is eternal suffering that I wouldn’t wish on anyone and it lasts forever – there is no end to the pain or agony.
You Have a Choice
Let’s say you are standing in a courtroom. You committed a horrible crime and you receive a $100,000 fine. This fine must be paid before you are to be released, and there is no way you can afford this even if you sold everything. A person walks into the courtroom and says, “Don’t worry about it! I gave up everything I had! Don’t worry about that fine – I paid it for you!” How would you feel? A complete stranger walks in, pays your fine, and you walk out a free person again? You don’t have any burdens of paying off that large debt and it feels like a new start.
You do have a choice, “Believe in God or don’t believe in God.” there is no halfway in or out. The awesome news is you aren’t doomed to Hell because of what Jesus Christ did for you! He came to Earth as a man, lived a sinless life, faced an unfair trial, and was labeled as guilty even though He was innocent. When Jesus died for your sins, you were given the choice to accept the free gift of Heaven from God. Accepting this gift entails that you do ask Jesus for forgiveness, turn from old and sinful ways, study God’s word daily, obey what God’s word says, and do look for a good church and fellowship with other believers to continue to grow.
Happy Easter/Resurrection Sunday!
All in all, I do pray that everyone has a safe weekend! I do hope that we will all remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. Try to reach out to someone who doesn’t know Christ this upcoming Sunday.
How has your Easter weekend been so far? Share below!
[Image Credit: Aaron Burden on unsplash.com]