The crucifixion and death of our Lord Jesus at Calvary on that first Good Friday effectually destroyed the hopes of His believing followers. Their anticipation of His ruling and reigning over them and removing the Roman occupation which had terrorized them had filled their hearts with anticipation. But His death changed all that! The couple on their way home to Emmaus on that Easter Sunday morning (Luke.24:13-27) expressed their broken dreams to Jesus Who had joined them on the road, though they had not recognized Him. Death had brought defeat, hopelessness, and a despair they would not fathom. So many, like the couple in Luke 24, headed away from Jerusalem that day as far and as fast as they could. But His crucifixion was only part of the story.
It was three days later, early on that first Easter Sunday morning that news began to filter out that the tomb into which Jesus had been placed was empty, from Mary Magdalene then Peter and John. Yet upon hearing it, most assumed it was simply the wishful thinking of devoted heartbroken disciples. How could someone who had died live again? For the next 40 days, beginning that very Easter morning, Jesus began to show Himself to His own. The resurrection became the proof of His claims to be God. All His words were verified by His having risen from the grave. Then, 40 days later Jesus would ascend into heaven before the eyes of His disciples telling them to wait for the promise of the Father to send the Holy Spirit upon them. They would not have long to wait as 10 days later the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the saints.
On that Pentecost morning, Peter was led by the Holy Spirit to stand before a very large crowd and preach the Good News of Jesus who had come to die for the sins of the world, offering eternal life and forgiveness of sin to anyone who will look to His sacrifice on their behalf. The proof of His promise was again in the resurrection. Peter, in his sermon, declared in Acts 2:22-24: “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; God raised up, having loosed the pains of death,because it was not possible that He should be held by it.” That day, as a result of hearing the Gospel, some 3,000 men, women, and children gave their hearts and lives to Jesus. On Sunday, we celebrate the empty tomb and Jesus’ victory over death for each one of us. His free gift of eternal life is still available to anyone who will turn and trust in Him. Because death could not hold Him, we in Him are freed from it as well!
Pastor Jack Abeelen and the body at Morningstar Christian Chapel