He was born of a virgin.
He spent forty days and nights in the desert with no food, no water, and Satan tempting Him repeatedly – yet never caved, never waivered.
He turned water into wine.
He healed many of a wide range of afflictions.
He gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf.
He fed 5000 men (add women and children and you easily triple that number) with five small loaves of bread and two small fish. And had leftovers!
He provided a miraculous catch of fish, nearly capsizing the apostles’ boat with the weight of net.
He calmed a violent storm on the water.
He walked on the water.
He appeared to four of his disciples with Moses and Elijah.
He raised Lazarus from the dead, waiting until “he stinketh” to do so (thus eliminating claims of pulling off a parlor trick).
He healed the ear Peter cut off the high priest’s servant in the garden of Gethsemane.
He quite completely showed the world His command over all that man cannot do. (And, think about it, without God we can do nothing.)
He did it all without credit, without pomp. He gave all glory and honor to His Father.
And today, we celebrate Jesus’ greatest miracle. After a night of brutal beatings and kangaroo court proceedings, Jesus was forced to lug a heavy wooden cross through the streets of Jerusalem and up the hill called Golgotha, where He was nailed to a cross, hung to die a long and painful death by suffocation.
45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”
48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and[e] went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. – Matthew 27:45-56 [ESV]
Three days later, Jesus performed His greatest miracle.
He rose from the dead.
He took the time to fold His burial garments.
He pushed open the massive, sealed stone from the entryway.
And He walked out.
Scarred yet healed (the scars proof of what He endured on the cross).
And He did it all by His Father’s will.
Jesus lived a perfect life, died a humiliating and horrific death, and came back from the dead. For us. He conquered death for us. He provided the perfect sacrifice for us.
His death and resurrection are a gift of love for us, for all who believe in Him. None of us can save ourselves, nor can we purchase our salvation. It is only through the free gift offered by God through Jesus, in the act we commemorate each year through Holy Week, culminating on Easter Sunday, that we are saved.
He is risen indeed.
Today, celebrate! Thumb your noses at those Pharisees by pigging out on ham at dinner or feasting on bacon and sausage after Sunrise Service. Mostly, embrace the great love God has for we, His children. After all, He first revealed His plan for our salvation around 700 years before the first Easter:
Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors. – Isaiah 53 [ESV]