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Jesus, Barabbas and The Easter Bunny


What a beautiful morning it is today! I quietly crawled out of bed at 6:25AM this morning, as I had to sneak past my 7-year-old son who was lying on me (he snuck in sometime in the night)! I excitedly gathered my Bible, hot tea, devotional books and my laptop and went out to my porch to cuddle up with Jesus. I’m certain many of you know today is the day we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. For me, this is the most exciting, best news we will ever hear of. I couldn’t wait to just come sit out here in silence and listen to the birds, watch the sky change as the sun came up, and just be alone with my God – my God who loved me enough, and loved you enough, to send his only son Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins. I know the story may be so redundant – we’ve heard it all our lives. But I wander, how is it that this story that we know so well, doesn’t stir us inside to go and follow Jesus? To truly follow him and carry out the commands he gave in Scripture. No doubt if this were a close friend of ours we would be outraged by the way he was treated and the type of death he suffered. We would carry our friend’s name with us everywhere we went, vouching for their honor and go the lengths to stand up for them. Yet when it comes to Jesus, we fall into the category of disbelief, indifference, or passion. This may rub some shoulders the wrong way a bit, but if we profess to be Christians who love and follow Jesus, how is it possible we approach such a day without fervent passion blazing in our hearts – to go and tell the good news to all our friends, and to live in such a way that honors him with our speech, our decisions on the shows we watch, our parenting, our friendships, the way we interact at work, and every intricate detail of our lives? Please know, I am 100% speaking to myself in all of this. The life of a Christian dedicated to serving Jesus is a constant working out of our salvation until the day we meet our Savior face to face. Let’s re-tell the story and reignite our passion!

The gospels walk us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Here are some key points that just stand out to me, and honestly, it’s hard to wrap my head around how his own friends, his very disciples failed him.

Betrayed by Judas:

Jesus was arrested by the betrayal of one of his own disciples, Judas. Matthew 26:48-50 states, “Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: ‘The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.’ Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him. Jesus replied, ‘Do what you came for, friend.’ Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.”

Betrayed by Peter:

Matthew 26:33-35 Jesus tells Peter he will deny him three times before the rooster crows and Peter responds to Jesus that he would rather die with him than ever disown him. Just verses later in Matthew 26:69-75 Peter denies even knowing the man three times saying, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” (verse 70); “I don’t know the man!” (verse 72); and finally in verse 74 he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”

Matthew 27:15-26 tells of Jesus before Pilate. In my paraphrase, Pilate offered to the crowd a well-known prisoner - Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah. The crowd shouted for Pilate to release Barabbas and to crucify Jesus. So, he released Barabbas to them and had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

In verses 27-31 the governor’s soldiers mocked him with a scarlet robe and a crown of thorns, making a skeptical out of his throne and spitting on him.

Finally in verses 32-56 they crucified him, nailing his hands and feet onto the cross with the written charge against him above his head: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Verse 50 tells us that Jesus cried out in a loud voice, and he gave up his spirit.

*DAY THREE*

Matthew 28:5-7 says, “The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” Verse 9 states that Jesus suddenly met them and they came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.

The infamous verse in John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Matthew 28:18-20 ends with Jesus giving the great commission. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Friends, if you profess to follow Jesus as your Lord and Savior, we can no longer be indifferent to what we know. We hold in our hearts the truth that sets us free, that ensures salvation of eternity in Heaven with Christ our Savior. This is something to be excited about! Jesus is alive! He has risen! Our Savior lives! Oh death, where is your sting?

If you are reading this blog, and you’re not sure what you believe in, I can assure you in my own life, I don’t follow Jesus just because I was raised in the church, or because it’s a routine practice I’ve adopted to go to church on Sundays. I follow Jesus because he is living water for my soul, because he is who he says he is, because he keeps his promises, because when I’ve been in the pit of despair, he was the only rock to cling to. I can testify the same God I serve is the same God you will find if you seek him with all your heart. I serve a God who longs to be in relationship with us, who loves us far beyond we can fathom, and who blesses us beyond our wildest imagination. And you know what’s even greater? You don’t have to do a thing to deserve him. You don’t have to work towards earning his love or salvation. He's already given up his life for you. He’s already finished what God called him to fulfill on our behalf. It is simply a gift that we must only open our hands and our hearts to receive him. Please reach out to me if you have questions about following Jesus. I promise you; it will be the best decision you will ever make.

Oh, and have fun with all the Easter bunny festivities with your friends and family today! Easter is such a fun holiday for kids with the egg hunts, egg dying, egg eating and ham, fixin’s and things. But let’s not forget, it is so, so much more.

Be blessed my friends!

Your beloved sister in Christ,

Mandy

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