1. What Easter Brings
If we asked several people what Christmas brings, we would get many answers. Christmas brings love, peace, joy, hope, family time, gifts, and the list could go on and on. As we approach the Easter season, I thought it would be good to look at some of the things Easter brings. We will travel back to that first Easter and see what it brought to the disciples of Jesus, and continue with our thoughts on what Easter brings to us today.
2. Easter Brings A New Day Of Worship
Today is Sunday, the day of Christian worship. In the Old Testament the Jewish people were commanded to worship God on the Sabbath Day. "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." (Exodus 20:8 & 11) So, why do we worship on the first day of the week? All four of the gospels tell us that Jesus rose on the first day of the week. Here is Matthew's account.
"1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay." (Matthew 28:1-6)
After the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, the early Christians began worshipping on the first day of the week, in celebration of the Lord's resurrection. And still, today, we set aside Sunday to meet together and worship our God and Savior. For the disciples, and the followers yet to come, Easter brings a new day of worship.
3. Easter Brings Choices
On Palm Sunday, the people took palm branches in their hands and welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem shouting, "Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord." (John 12:13) Just a few days later, the people were given a choice, Jesus or Barabbas. "Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?" (Matthew 27:17) And the people chose Barabbas.
"20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.
21 The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.
22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.
23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.
24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.
25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children." (Matthew 27:20-25)
Another choice was made that day. A very important choice. " And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God." (Luke 23:35) Jesus could have saved Himself. He could have come down from the cross, but He chose to save others, and gave up His life for you and me. Oh, the love that held Him to the cross!
Because He died and lives again, we have a choice today. We can choose the world and deny Jesus, or we can let the love of Christ draw us to Him and follow Him.
4. Easter Brings Opened Eyes
Early Easter morning, Mary Madalene and the other Mary carried the spices to the tomb, and found that the stone had been rolled away.
"2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay." (Matthew 28:2-6)
Our attention today is what the angel said in verse six, "Come, see the place where the Lord lay." "Come, see." In our Christmas story, the shepherds went to "see" the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes as the angels had proclaimed. "And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us." (Luke 2:15) I am also reminded of Philip's invitation to Nathanael when Jesus began his ministry. "And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see." (John 1:46) We have the testimony of the woman at the well when she met the Lord. "The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?" (John 4:28-29) After the resurrection, some of the women and apostles saw the empty tomb, and were astonished, but soon believed. One of my favorite portions of scriptures is when Jesus walked and talked with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus .
"30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,
34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon." (Luke 24:30-34
"The Lord is risen indeed!" Their eyes were opened and they could see. Because Christ rose up from the grave, we who were blinded by sin can now see, all because of His amazing grace. Easter brings faith to believe, which opens our eyes to the Light.
5. Easter Brings Joy Over Sorrow
As Jesus and the disciples prepared for the Passover, Jesus tried to prepare them for His death and resurrection. He knew that His words brought joy and sadness to their hearts, but He assured them that their sorrow would be turned to joy. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy... And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you." (John 16:20 & 22) It is very sad to read about the mock trial and the scourging Christ endured as foretold by the Prophet Isaiah. "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." (Isaiah 53:7) But we have an advantage. We can continue in our reading and find joy in the resurrection. Easter brings joy over sorrow, just as the Lord promised.
"6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word." (Matthew 28:6-8)
"50 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen." (Luke 24:50-53)
"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)
6. Easter Brings Peace Over Fear
When our first son was about three years old he started being afraid of the dark when we put him to bed. We explained that Jesus was watching over him and taught him memory verses. I can still hear his little voice say, "What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. Psalm 56 verse 3." Children are not the only ones who experience fear. I remember quoting the same verse in my head the last time I had surgery. There are times when we have fears, but because Jesus lives, He can give us peace over our fear. Jesus taught His disciples that He would give them peace over their fears. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27) Again we see this at the tomb after His resurrection. "And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay." (Matthew 28:5-6) "Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." (Matthew 20:19-21) I close with this blessing and prayer from the writer of Hebrews... "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Hebrews 13:20-21)
7. Easter Brings Forgiveness Over Bitterness
Several years ago before I was laid off from my job, I used to meditate and think about my daily devotionals as I drove to and from work each day. One morning, thinking about devotions for Easter, I heard a rooster crow and my thoughts went to Peter and his denial of Christ. Here is part of the scriptures from Matthew's gospel.
"72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.
73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee.
74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.
75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly." (Matthew 26:72-75)
I kept thinking, "Roosters still crow." Because Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed, Peter wept bitterly when he heard the rooster crow and saw His Lord looking at him. And I think the next morning, when the rooster crowed, Peter wept again. Peter probably remembered the words of Jesus, and his failure every time he heard a rooster crow. Maybe that is why he went fishing. He could not hear the roosters over the sound of the waves. There have been times in my life that I wept bitterly. But, praise the Lord, because Jesus lives and forgives, we can have forgiveness over bitterness. God's Word gives this promise in I John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Sounds we hear, and things we see, may remind us of our sins in the past and bring bitterness to our heart, but we can confess our sins, and the Lord can give us forgiveness, and even help us forgive ourselves. One of the great blessings of Easter is forgiveness over bitterness.
8. Easter Brings Hope For The Hopeless
We talked about the two disciples on the road to Emmaus earlier this week, but I want to share a little more of the story today.
"18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?
19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:
20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.
21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done." (Luke 24:18-21)
Notice the words they use are in the past tense... "which was a prophet..." and "we trusted that it had been he..." The disciples had put their hope in trust in Jesus to be their deliverer. When the religious leaders took Him and crucified Him, they lost their hope. But the resurrection brings hope. We have hope that brings joy and peace. "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." (Romans 15:13) This hope is an "anchor of the soul". (Hebrews 6:19) We have hope of His glorious appearing. "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." (Titus 2:13-14) Yes, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead brings hope to the hopeless!
"3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." (I Peter 1:3-9)
9. Easter Brings An Empty Tomb!
The main thing that separates Christianity from other religions is the fact that Jesus came from heaven, the Son of God, and lived a life without sin, to give His life as a sacrifice to pay for our sin, then rose up from the grave on the third day. The false man-made gods never lived at all, they were the work of man's hands. And people who claimed to be gods died just as any other man. Jesus Christ is the only true and living God. The first proof was in the empty tomb. Jesus then appeared to many. As we celebrate Easter today, we celebrate the risen Lord, who lives forever in heaven and has promised to come back and receive His children unto Himself where He is preparing us a home in heaven.
"1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.
3 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.
4 So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.
5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.
6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,
7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.
8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed." (John 20:1-8)
The women and apostles saw and believed. We don't have to see the empty tomb to believe. We have the Word of God and the Holy Ghost that lives in our hearts. God has blessed us with saving faith to believe. "Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." (John 20:29)
10. Easter Brings A Comforter
Four times in the book of John Jesus told the disciples that He would send the "Comforter" to them after He went away.
"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;" (John 14:16)
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (John 14:26)
"But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:" (John 15:26)
"Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you." (John 16:7)
There are several more times when Jesus told the disciples of the Holy Spirit who would come to them.
"Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." (John 14:17)
I think the disciples could not fully understand the concept of how the Holy Spirit would fill them and live within them, but these promises of the Lord Jesus came true in the early part of the book of Acts. I never walked and talked with Jesus on earth in the same manner as the people did in Bible days. But because He lives and forgave me of my sins, the Comforter lives in my heart. He comforts me when I am hurting. He gives me peace in the storms. He gives me rest when I am weary. He leads me and guides me in the right path. He gives me joy deep within which the world can't comprehend. He even gives me a common unity with other Christians so that we can fellowship and worship together. I am so thankful for God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and also for the Holy Ghost who is my Comforter.
11. Easter Brings A Torn Veil
In the instructions that God gave Moses for the tabernacle, there was a veil that divided the holy place and the most holy. There was a division between God and man.
"31 And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made:
32 And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver.
33 And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy." (Exodus 26:31-33)
When Jesus died on the cross, the veil of the temple was torn, from top to bottom. "And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;" (Matthew 27:51) The veil of separation between God and man had been torn. Jesus stretched one hand up towards heaven and the other down to fallen man, and He bridged the gap which had been caused by sin. "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (I Timothy 2:5-6) Jesus gave Himself to be our final sacrifice, and great High Priest, so that we don't have to bring our yearly sacrifices to a high priest, but can come "boldly unto the throne of grace" as we read in Hebrews 4:14-16. "Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." We can praise the Lord that the veil of separation between God and mankind was torn down and we have access to the Father through the Son.
"13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father." (Ephesians 2:13-18)
12. Easter Brings A Personal Relationship With Christ
Last week I saw a short video of a large pasture filled with sheep. Three different people went to the fence and called to the sheep, but they kept on eating the grass. When the next person, the shepherd, called to them they stopped grazing, looked up, and came from every direction to the shepherd. This illustrates the lesson that Jesus taught about being the Good Shepherd.
"14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." (John 10:14-18 and 27-28)
Because Jesus died and rose again to save us from our sin, we can accept His gift of salvation and become one of His sheep. Then we can become one of the "other sheep" which He will bring to His fold. When Mary went to the tomb and saw Jesus, she first thought that He was the gardener, but once He spoke her name, she knew Him. "Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master." (John 20:16) Jesus called her by name. He knew her, and she knew Him. Once we believe on Jesus and ask Him to forgive us of our sin and be our Lord and Savior our names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life and we are promised a home in heaven. That is the only way of salvation.
"21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matthew 7:21-23)
13. Easter Brings An Invitation
I feel so blessed when the Lord wakes me with a song. This morning before I opened my eyes, I was singing in my heart, "Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, Calling for you and for me..." Because Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, we have an invitation, "See on the portals He's waiting and watching, Watching for you and for me." We can find His invitation in the scriptures in Matthew 11:28, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." And we can hear it in song, "Come home! come home! Ye who are weary, come home!" His invitation is repeated in the last chapter of the last book, Revelation 22:17. "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Have you heard His call? "Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, Calling, O sinner, come home!" Here is the second verse to this great old hymn, written in 1880, by Will L. Thompson. Please don't tarry to answer His invitation.
"Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading,
pleading for you and for me?
Why should we linger and heed not his mercies,
mercies for you and for me?
Come home, come home;
Ye who are weary come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!"
14. Easter Brings Fulfilled Scriptures And More Promises
There are several instances during the crucifixion and resurrection of fulfilled promises.
"After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst." (John 19:28)
"For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced." (Johm 19:36-37)
"He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words," (Luke 24:6-8)
"Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." (Luke 24:25-27)
"And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures," (Luke 24:44-45)
There are also promises made by Christ which will be fulfilled, just as certain as those were.
"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:1-3)
"... lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matthew 28:20)
"And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1:9-11)
And I close with the most well known promise of all...
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
15. Easter Brings The Great Commission
As we close our devotionals on "Easter Brings..." we are looking today at something that should speak to each heart. After the resurrection Jesus' followers were told to "go" and "tell". "And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you... Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me." (Matthew 28: 7 & 10) "Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." (John 20:21) "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15) We have the Good News, the hope of salvation for a lost and dying world. It is our duty to let our light shine and be witnesses to those around us. We have no earthly possessions that we can take with us to heaven when we die, but we can do our best to help others see the way so that they are not left behind when the Lord calls us home.