One of my favorite Easter sermons of all time was by our former pastor and still dear friend, Skip Ryan. He took us to Matthew 27:15-26 https://www.bible.com/bible/111/MAT.27.15-26.niv when the arrested Jesus is being questioned by Pontius Pilate. He make it clear the charges made against Jesus were bogus and wanted nothing to do with sentencing him to death. As the Governor, he had the authority to release a prisoner during the festival. He chose the most heinous criminal Barabbas to offer to the crowd versus Jesus. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Barabbas-biblical-figure He was convinced that the large crowd that had gathered would certainly want Jesus saved over this insurgent rebel. He was wrong!
Skip had us imagine Barabbas in the jail waiting to be sentenced to death. He shared that in those open window cells he could probably hear the chants of the stirred up crowds. He wouldn’t have been able to hear Pilate questioning or Jesus answering but he could definitely hear the shouts from those who had gathered; some who had been paid to https://www.gotquestions.org/Crucify-Him.html work the people into a frenzy. All he could do was hear what the throngs in the street were shouting. First he heard his name called out. Barabbas! Barabbas! and then…..Crucify him! Crucify him! When the jailers came to his cell door, he was stunned to hear, “you are free to go”. But wait, “I heard my name being called out to be crucified. What happened?” The answer. “The crowds chose Jesus to be crucified in your place”. You have to imagine that Barabbas immediately went out to find out who was this man Jesus.
Barabbas personifies each and every one of us. We may not have done the things deserving of death that he did but as it says in Romans, “We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” https://biblehub.com/romans/3-23.htm Like Barabbas, Jesus came to this world to live a human life and die on our behalf. Today, we celebrate that He rose from that death so that we might enter in to a relationship with His Father.
Easter is about God making it possible for you to be in a relationship with Him. Revelation 3:20 says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” It’s up to you to open the door of your heart to him. He died for Barabbas and He died for you and me. Why not open the door and find out your life will be changed when you allow Him to be present in your life?
Happy Easter. Hallelujah! He is Risen! Thanks for reading this blog. If you haven’t already, please subscribe so that you can receive email notifications when new content is posted. I can be reached by email at [email protected]
Charles Stanley reminds us that we need to be mindful of our priorities. Where do you invest our time and energy? What or who occupies our thoughts? “As important as our earthly pursuits, responsibilities, and relationships may be, they cannot compare to the value of a life spent seeking the Lord.” The beginning of the year brings New Year resolutions? Easter brings the hope of a new life and the promise that our lives can be made new when we look to Him. How did you seek the Lord during the Easter season? I hope it was a time of refreshment and led you to a renewed desire to reorient your priorities so that life can be all God intends for it to be.
What does it mean to be renewed/refreshed? Why is it important? It is getting warmer outside again. As you walk by a pond, stop and look at it. It may look fine but in fact, it may be stagnant which can lead to fish kills and the rapid growth of floating green organic matter. It happens when there isn’t a constant exchange of living water that keeps a pond environment alive and healthy. Water comes in and fills a stagnant pond during a rain or a snow melt. But there is no outlet to keep the pond water fresh. The same can be said for how we live. Our lives can become stagnant because we are set in our ways which keeps us from receiving the fresh ideas and living water God wants to give us. https://www.biblestudytools.com/john/4-14.html Like a pond, we have to have an outlet to get rid of the stuff that holds us back from being a better version of ourselves so God has room to intervene and make us better.
Easter gives us that outlet. It comes in two ways. Confession and Forgiveness. 1 John 1;9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” This becomes the outlet that takes away the toxicity from our hearts. Forgiveness does the same thing. Buddha says it this way, ““Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” That is why Jesus teaches us in the Lord’s prayer to ask God for forgiveness and then do the same thing to others.
So let’s remember that Easter is not just a one Sunday deal but an event that happened which changed the world forever. Let knowing God sent His Son to die be the living water that brings hope to your life every day. How awesome is it that gives us the outlet through confession and forgiveness to let go of the old so that we can be continually be refreshed and molded into the people for which God created us.
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I write this on The Saturday after The Friday and before The Sunday. The day in the middle after Christ died and before He left the tomb empty and appeared to the two men on the road to Emmaus and then to the disciples who should have known better than to fear. A little over a year ago I waited in a hospital bed for my body to respond to the plasmapherisis treatment that would hopefully allow my body to start functioning again. As I have written in a previous blog, I can’t explain why but I did not ask “Why me?” Once I knew I would not be put on a ventilator (little did I know what that would mean a year later) I never was afraid because I had been told by those I trusted that I would get better; That my paralyzed body would once again function properly. I also never doubted God was with me even though it took longer for the treatment to work and in the darkest of nights when I couldn’t sleep. Psalm 91;5 “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day” I chose instead to focus on Isaiah 40;31 “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.“
Just as we are doing now, the disciples waited. John 20: 19 “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.”As we wait on this Saturday for Sunday, the difference now vs then, is we know how it ends. As we wait for this Covid-19 to lessen its grip, don’t wait in fear like the disciples did locked up in that room. Had they listened, the you would remember that Jesus told them what was going to happen. Mark 10: 33.34 “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” Once they saw that He had conquered death, they went out proclaiming the Good News that he is not dead at all. Are we waiting in fear because of Covid-19? Or will we too go out bringing Hope and Light into our part of the world trusting knowing Sunday is coming and when it does we will celebrate that He has Risen. Hallelujah.