Gethsemane is really a special place. It was there that Judas betrayed Jesus. It was there that Jesus decided to lay down his life for you and me, telling his Father: “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me.” In that “cup” was everything that Jesus hated—sin. And yet he said, “Not my will but your will be done.” While Jesus was praying in the garden, the high priest sent for and arrested him. A trial took place in the dark of night, false witnesses testified, and Jesus was condemned to death (Matthew 26:62-68). But since the Jews did not have authority to carry out the death sentence, they sent Jesus to the Roman governor Pilate. Pilate asked, “Don’t you want to respond to these charges?”, but to his amazement, Jesus remained silent, like a lamb before his shearers (Isaiah 53:7).
Truth is, Pilate didn’t want to be involved in all this. He would have preferred that King Herod decide. When Herod sent Jesus back, Pilate hoped to release him through a Passover custom of releasing a criminal of the people’s choice. Pilate was certain that Jesus had done nothing worthy of death. The Jews incited the crowd to cry out: “Away with Jesus, and release for us Barabbas.” Pilate then washed his hands of the matter before the jeering crowd, and Jesus was scourged, mocked, and sent to be crucified. Jesus was crucified in the same place that many years earlier Abraham brought his son Isaac to sacrifice him (at the last moment God provided a lamb to take Isaac’s place). In the same way, God has provided a sacrificial lamb to die for our sins. Jesus drank every last drop of that “cup” of sin that he had asked God in the garden to take away. Seven hundred years earlier the Prophet Isaiah predicted these events (Isaiah 53:3-11).
Today we join together with 2.2 billion believers around the world to celebrate the most important event in the history of mankind, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Two thieves were crucified with Jesus that day. But they responded to Jesus in completely different ways (Luke 23:40-43). They both died that day, but one died all alone in his guilt and in his shame. The other joined Jesus in paradise! The difference was in their response. Each of us likewise will respond to Jesus with either hostility or humility, and our response will determine the rest of our eternity.
Why do some respond to Jesus with hostility? Some respond with anger, others with fear, while others are so embarrassed by their failures that they deflect attention from themselves by blaming others. For example, last Easter, Islamic terrorists bombed churches in Egypt, killing 49 people. A month later they killed 29 more Christians who were traveling to a monastery. These Christians were no threat to anyone. In fact, they are the ones digging wells, running health clinics, setting up orphanages, and establishing schools. One of those criminals cursed Jesus, while the other turned to him in humble faith. Everybody responds to Jesus with either humility or hostility—there’s no third option (Luke 11:23). Jesus says to all: “Choose today hostility or humility.” Sometime in your life you are going to ask three vital questions:
 Does God really care about me? Easter answers that question forever; Jesus’ answer is the cross! When he stretched out his arms on the cross, it was him saying: “This is how much I love you!”
 Can God forgive me? Easter also answers this question. To a criminal who deserved the cross (Luke 23:41), Jesus said, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” To some, such grace is scandalous.
 Can I really change? Again, Easter answers with an empty tomb. The Bible teaches that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to transform us. If you have not yet experienced that power it means that you have not yet submitted yourself to God.
So, how will you respond to Easter?
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- If you’re a Christian, but have gotten distracted and wandered away—come home! We would love to help you with that journey. To learn more about growing in your faith contact us here (connect.tcc.org). After providing your contact information, scroll down to the Ministry Information Request section and mark the Growing My Faith box (or other opportunities, too). You can also email us at: BiblicalHopeAndHelp@gmail.com. We look forward to helping!
- If you’re still considering becoming a Christian, begin reading the Gospel of John. We’d also like to give you a copy of “The Case for Easter.” Just contact us at BiblicalHopeAndHelp@gmailcom.
- Here’s the link to the YouTube presentation of the Case for Easter with Lee Stroebel. (TCC doesn’t manage links to external site resources so if a link is broken we apologize but, please feel free to let us know by sending an email to our Admin Team.)
- If you would like to trust Christ as Savior, contact us here (connect.tcc.org). After providing your contact information, scroll down to the Ministry Information Request section and mark the first or second checkbox. You can also email us at BiblicalHopeAndHelp@gmail.com. We look forward to helping!
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large, that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)