Easter - the saddest and the gladdest story!
by Mrs. Thelma H. Jenkins
Have you ever realised that at Easter time we have the very saddest and the very gladdest stories you could ever hear? You remember how I said that, when the Lord Jesus was only a boy of 12 years, He knew that He had something very special to do for God His Father though I don't think He knew just what it was? By the time He was a grown man and had begun teaching and preaching, He knew very well what that work would be. Several times He told His disciples that He would be captured by wicked men who would mock Him, spit on Him, beat Him and finally crucify Him, because He had come into this world for that very purpose. He had come to die for the sins of all those people, all through the centuries, who would trust Him as their Saviour.
Do you remember, also, that He was the only boy who never, never sinned? It is very wonderful to see how this is made plain to us in these sad and glad Easter stories. Even when His cruel enemies who hated Him so much were plotting and planning His death, they could not find anything wrong that they could charge against Him. In the end, the only thing they could do was to pay bad men to tell lies about Him, and even they could not agree what to say. When Pilate, the Roman Governor, questioned Jesus, he came to the people three times and said, "I can't find anything wrong with this man. Shall I let Him go free?" When Jesus was actually hanging on the cross, there were two very wicked men who were crucified at the same time. One of them repented for his sins; he was truly sorry, and he said, "We deserve the punishment we are getting; but this man has never done anything wrong."
Three times, before Jesus went to the Cross, God Himself spoke from heaven and said, "This is my Beloved Son in Whom I am well-pleased." God could never have said that He was pleased with His Son if He had sinned, even only once. Why is that? Because Adam and Eve only sinned once, yet they had to be turned out of the beautiful Garden of Eden and they could never come into God's Presence again. Just one sin is enough to separate us from God for ever.
What a sad, sad story it was, when Pilate wanted to let the Lord Jesus go free and all the people shouted, "No! We don't want Him, we want Barabbas to be set free!" Yet Barabbas was a murderer and a robber! Fancy choosing him instead of the Lord Jesus, Who had only ever done what was kind and good to the people.
"And those kind hands, that did such good, They nailed them to a cross of wood."
The disciples were broken-hearted. They took the Lord's dead body down from the cross, laid it in a grave, and went back to Jerusalem, the saddest people in the world. Jesus was dead. They had thought that He was the Son of God but they must have been wrong. The Son of God would never have died like that. There was nothing left to live for...
Three days later the saddest people had become the gladdest people in the world! In the dark of Sunday morning, before the day had dawned, there was a great earthquake. The earth shook and a shining angel came down from Heaven, rolled away the great stone (as easily as if it had been a pebble) and sat upon it! The soldiers guarding the grave were so terrified that they became like dead men. The angel did not roll the stone away so that Jesus could come out of the grave - he did it to show that the grave was empty. Jesus had already risen from the dead - He was gone! When the women came to bring sweet spices to put by His body, the angel spoke to them as they stood trembling and astonished and said, "Why are you looking for the Lord here, in the place of the dead? He is not here! He has risen, as He said He would!"
(It is lovely to notice that God sent angels to tell of the birth of the Lord Jesus, Who was born to be the Saviour, and now He had sent an angel to tell everyone that Jesus had finished the work that He came to do, and that He had risen from the dead!)
The women and the disciples were very puzzled and hardly knew what to think. It just seemed too good to be true! But that evening, when they were all gathered together in the Upper Room, Jesus appeared to them in His beautiful risen Body and showed them the wounds in His hands and His side, to prove that He really was the risen Lord Jesus. Then, we are told, they could not believe Him for joy. It was so wonderful and they were so happy. The fact that He had risen from the dead also meant that He had never, never sinned because, if He had sinned, even only once, He could never have risen from the dead.
That is how the saddest, saddest people became the very gladdest people in the world on that first Easter morning long, long ago.
Copyright © Family Matters 1996