That is What Easter Means!
April 22 2011 by D.E. Parkerson

Three Roman crosses stood silhouetted against a darkening sky. Three men dying in such agony made it a grim scene indeed. After six agonizing hours of suffering, the Roman soldiers examined the three men. One of them pierced Jesus’ side with a spear. When they were certain that He was dead, they went back to their barracks.

The enemies of Jesus even asked Pilate to set a watch of soldiers at the tomb for at least three days. “He had said He would rise again after three days,” they kept reminding one another. Pilate granted their request, and the grave was sealed.

Then, on the first day of the week, the word began to spread throughout the city: “Jesus has risen from the grave. He is alive! He is alive just as He said!” This news was not accepted without some evidence. The disciples at first refused to believe.

Then, a few days later, Jesus suddenly appeared in their midst. They were filled with hope again. Despair was quickly swept aside by unwavering conviction. Their hearts began to overflow with an unconquerable joy.

The resurrection of Jesus is a historical event! It is the only thing that could have transformed a band of discouraged and defeated disciples into men who went out to tell the Good News to a waiting world. In the nearly two thousand years since that day those who have believed the good news have had the shattered pieces of their lives put together again. Sin no longer has the power to separate anyone from God.

The message of Easter is simply this: God chooses to love us regardless of the thoughts of our minds, the deeds of our hands, and the attitudes of our hearts. Our sins, no matter how black or numerous, can be absolved as we bring them to God in a spirit of penitence. Old things pass away, and all things become new.

On the night before Jesus was crucified He had met with His disciples in the upper room to celebrate the Passover Feast. It was here that He revealed to them the shocking news that one of them would betray Him. They all, with puzzled looks on their faces, began to ask, “Lord, is it I?” (Matt. 26:22).

Before the last rays of a crimson horizon had given way to the darkness of night, Jesus had said to them, “All of you shall fall away because of me this night” (v. 31). Jesus, in His gentle way, said to Peter, “before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times” (v. 34). Peter, not wanting to believe this, compounded his problems by saying, “Though I should die with you, yet I will not deny you” (v. 35).

Later, after he had denied Jesus three times, he heard the cock crow. He immediately remembered what his Lord had said, felt the anguish that comes with guilt, slipped away to a private place, buried his face in his hands, and wept bitterly.

“Look what an awful mess I’ve made!” Peter cried to himself. “Will He forgive me for what I’ve done? Can I ever look Him in His face again? What can I do to make this up to Him?” As you already know, Jesus did forgive him!

Have you ever denied Jesus? If so, know this: your past deeds may have been ugly — and they may trouble you deeply — but Christ will forgive you (1 Jn. 1:9). His forgiveness has always been available to those who seek it. It still is!

That is what Easter means!

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Parkerson is a native of Georgia, a graduate of Mercer University [B.A.], Southeastern Seminary [M. Div. and Th.M.], and Campbell University [D.D.]. He has served as pastor of one church in Georgia and five churches in North Carolina. Following retirement as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Sanford on Sept. 30, 1996, he has served 10 North Carolina churches as interim pastor. His column, The Paper Pulpit, has appeared weekly in a few newspapers and other publications since 1958. He and his wife, Jessie, live in Wilmington near their daughter and family.)

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4/22/2011 8:59:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 0 comments

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