Christian Calendar: Easter

Growing in Christ

"He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures." Luke 24:45

(Right: "The Resurrection of Christ" (also called The Kinnaird Resurrection after a former owner of the painting, Lord Kinnaird), is an oil painting on wood by the Italian Renaissance master Raphael Santi. The work is one the earliest known painting by the artist, completed between 1499 and 1502. (Original  size: 52 cm 44 cm (20.47 in 17.32 in)

By Charles Kelley (a friend an co-worker in Latvia)

The Bible presents the amazing story behind Easter. There's no need to prolong it. Or complicate it. Or improve it. I want to simply summarize it for you.
 

Jesus predicted his own death. He said he would be "in the heart of the earth" three days and nights.
 

Jesus predicted his resurrection. Later he said that He would "suffer many things, be killed, and raised up on the third day."
 

Jesus was unjustly sentenced to death. Betrayed by Judas, he was seized, placed under arrest, rushed through seven illegal trials and declared "GUILTY" . . . first of blasphemy, then of treason.
 

Jesus was abandoned. Those who knew him best left him and fled.
 

Jesus was tortured. Alone and forsaken, he endured the torture of scourging, the humiliation of insults and mockery; and the agony of the walk to an execution hill that resembled a skull.
 

Jesus was crucified. The horrors of crucifixion followed, leaving him suspended, stark naked, for six excruciating hours . . . the last three of which were spent in eerie darkness that fell over the whole land.
 

Jesus carefully spoke his last words: "Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit."
 

Then . . . he died.
 

Jesus was buried. Two bold friends took Him down from the cross, prepared His body for burial, and placed it in a new garden tomb
 

His tomb was guarded by Roman soldiers. Because he had predicted ". . . after three days I will rise again," the tomb was secured by a large, circular-shaped stone. The stone was sealed and a 24-hour watch established.
 

The tomb was silent. Guarded and sealed, Jesus remained lifeless, untouched, and unseen until the early hours of Sunday morning.
 

He AROSE! Before dawn, a miracle occurred. Bodily. Silently. Victoriously. He came back from the dead. In resurrected form, He passed through the stone, leaving the mummy-like wrappings still intact.
 

His resurrection was witnessed by many. More than 500 people, many of whom were not associated with Jesus prior to that first Easter, saw him, touched him, heard him . . . and in the process were forever changed themselves.
 

Because Jesus has risen, death has been defeated . . . life has been given meaning. Sound amazing? It is. Does it provide hope for those who face death? Absolutely. If Jesus Christ conquered his own death, he's more than able to help us prepare for and face our own deaths. Further, more than any other event in human history, the resurrection provides a foundation for living.
 

So, throughout Easter week and beyond, reflect on the amazing story behind Easter. What Jesus did - and what it means to you, to your family to the world today. It's amazing!