I believe in the power of stories – it’s why I write. The last few years at church on Easter I’ve been disappointed when the most powerful story of all time has not been read. Reference is made to it – but the actual story, in the simplest of terms, hasn’t been shared.
Not wanting it forgotten I read a very simple version to my kids and every year something different stands out. This year, I thought about all the ways the message of the Gospel is so easily buried in our lives simply because we’re distracted from it. All the good things we’re doing take center stage over why we are doing them. Something has to happen before our consciousness turns back to the why in order to put the how into perspective. It’s a simple as remembering we love because He first loved us. We serve because He first served us and we have stories because His life told the greatest one.
Long ago in the land of Judea, an amazing man named Jesus walked through the countryside and went to the Temple for worship. Along with his disciples, Jesus preached about God’s great love for all people. He told the people that he was God’s Son – his only son. He said that he was the one sent by God – The Messiah, the Christ who would bring a sinful people back to God. He also healed the sick and performed many miracles. Soon crowds followed him everywhere he went.
The religious leaders in Jerusalem quickly became concerned as they heard of Jesus’ growing popularity. One day, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey as crowds called him the King of kings and threw palm branches in his path.
On that very day, the religious leaders decided Jesus had to be stopped at all costs. Later that week, he was arrested. Liars said bad things about him and said he had to die. The next day, Jesus was crucified between two thieves. His enemies rejoiced. They felt they had silenced his voice forever.
Jesus’ disciples and close friends were very sad. They could not believe that their great leader was dead. Carefully, they took his body down from the cross, wrapped it in grave cloth, and placed it in a tomb. Then they stood watching with tear-stained faces as Roman soldiers sealed the tomb with an enormous boulder and placed guards nearby.
That might have been the end of this story – a good and gentle man, lied about and sent to his death. But it was not! Three days after Jesus was crucified, a few of his followers went to the tomb and found the big rock rolled away. The body of Jesus was gone! They saw the grave cloth that had encircled his body lying undisturbed, and angels said Jesus had risen from the grave! Now it was Jesus’ followers who rejoiced!
Throughout history, there have been many good and gentle men who have died for the message they preached. But, unlike Jesus, the stones that were placed over their graves continue to lock them in death. Only Jesus has risen! Only Jesus is the mighty only begotten Son of God!