Officially, Easter is over. By that I mean that the day set aside every year to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and another holiday to gather with friends and family over good food has passed. Now what? Do we go back to living a defeated life, as ones without hope? Or do we take time to reflect more on what Christ did for us on the cross? Do we proclaim the good news or keep it quiet? The real question is what will we do with the man they call Jesus?
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He had a great job. He was well respected and wealthy enough to live comfortably. Yet, he ached for something more. He wondered about this man who had created such a fuss in his town. Some called him a prophet, a teacher, or some dared to call Him the Messiah. His coworkers had other names for Him—a rebel, a dirty Nazarene, or even the devil himself. He was curious. Who was this man really? He had done so many great miracles, but was He really the Son of God as he claimed? Could He forgive sins, give new life, and show Nicodemus what He was looking for? Tonight he was going to find out.
Jesus wasn’t anything like he imagined. Nicodemus thought he knew everything about the Scriptures, or at least wise enough to lead others, but this Jesus . . . He spoke with such authority and shed new light on things he had never even fathomed. Could it be true? This was the Messiah, the Promised One?! Nicodemus had a lot to think about.
His friends were angry. They were talking about disposing of Jesus. Nicodemus was afraid. He didn’t want Jesus to die; after all, he was just getting to know Him. But he was afraid to come to his defense so quickly. What would people think? What would they do to him? Maybe if they just heard Him out, then they would know. However, here he was, months later, helping prepare Jesus’ body for burial. He knew the truth now. Truly, he had just seen the most horrific and most wonderful sacrifice ever committed. Jesus was, no is, the Son of God. Nicodemus’ life would never be the same.
He was his companion. Some called him a disciple. He wasn’t sure he liked that title. He wasn’t truly devoted to any one person or cause beside himself. Yet, there had been perks to following Jesus. As the one in charge of the money, he had a few extra coins to pad his pockets. And he would have to admit that it was pretty cool to see Him feed all those thousands of people that day on the side of a hill. Still, there were some things he didn’t get about Jesus. Like, why did he allow that woman to waste such expensive perfume on stinky feet? Imagine the money he could have gleaned from that sale! Why did Jesus have to eat and spend time with such filth anyway? With all His power and charisma, Jesus could become ruler! Just think, Judas in a palace! Why waste such potential on people that couldn’t return the favor?
Now, Jesus was making people really mad. Judas had heard the rumors. They wanted to see Jesus gone, finished, dead. Especially after that thing with Lazarus! Why did He have to make a big show of everything? Why couldn’t He be a little bit nicer to the religious leaders? So what if their motives weren’t pure? The least He could do was pacify them a little, but no, not Jesus. Always wanting to speak truth, always wanting to bring change or “new life” as He called it. Whatever that means. Judas was through with it all. Some of the people in high places offered him money to turn over Jesus, and he was going to take it.
One last meal and then the deed would be done. It was time for the Passover celebration, and it would look strange if he wasn’t there. Jesus was talking strange. What did He mean that His body would be broken and blood spilled out? Did He know what was coming? And what’s this talk about someone betraying him tonight? Had he been found out? Now, Judas was nervous . . . and afraid. When Jesus had gotten on his knees earlier to wash his feet, he thought, If he only knew! There was a nagging sensation in the back of his mind. Was it guilt? Maybe shame? Nah, he wasn’t doing anything that someone else wouldn’t do. After all, if Jesus really was the Messiah then this would be nothing for Him. He could handle it.
It didn’t go like Judas planned. He hadn’t expected for Jesus to go so easily. He hadn’t expected for Jesus to still call him friend. He didn’t know that the soldiers would be so ruthless. They just kept punching and kicking and spitting. Jesus just took it. Why didn’t He fight back? This was too much. The money wasn’t worth it, but they wouldn’t take it back so Judas just threw the money at their feet. He would never be able to live with himself after this night, and certainly God couldn’t forgive what he had done. His life was over; he might as well end it now.
There was a ruckus in the streets. At such a late hour? Pilate wondered, What now? The people were crying out for justice. Couldn’t it wait until morning? Who was this criminal? What had He done that was so terrible? Someone said it was Jesus. Oh, that Jewish rebel that had created such a following. Pilate chuckled thinking about how Jesus had really caused a stir among the religious lot. He didn’t really care one way or another, but he knew he had to do something. If a riot broke out, Caesar would be furious. So he sent him to Herod. Let him deal with it.
But Herod sent him back. Oh, what a headache this was all becoming. Maybe if he just punished Jesus that would be enough. So he sentenced Him to the whipping post. In the meantime, he wondered why Jesus had been so quiet. He had heard about the miracles. Why not do something now? To make matters worse, his wife had been having nightmares again. She wanted Pilate to have nothing to do with harming Jesus. Ugh, what a terrible mess!
They beat Him up pretty bad. When He returned wearing a makeshift crown of thorns, He barely looked human. Still, the people cried for blood. They wanted Him crucified. Pilate had to speak with Jesus himself. What had He said that had made them so venomous? But Pilate didn’t get a straight answer. It seemed like Jesus was always talking in riddles. Then he mentioned something about truth. What was truth anyway? Was there even such a thing as an absolute truth? If there was, he didn’t know it.
Maybe if he threatened to release the thieving Barabbas, the people would quiet down. No! That didn’t work either. Oh well, he would just give the people what they wanted and wash his hands clean of this whole mess. After all, Jesus was just a man. . . . . Right??
Jesus was her friend. He was her redeemer. Her Savior. No one would even come close to her for so long. If they did, it was usually because they wanted something from her. They took of advantage of her and left her with nothing but scars. She was tormented by her own shame. But Jesus . . . oh, but Jesus. He had found her—as though He was looking for her all along. He reached out to her. His touch was so gentle and so loving, but it was His voice that brought Mary to her knees. When He said her name, she heard overwhelming compassion in His voice. He loved her. He healed her with just one word spoken from His lips.
Now, they had taken her Jesus. She stood just outside the temple, but she could hear the screaming mob. They wanted Him to die. They had already beaten Him to a bloody pulp. What was left? She stood next to His mother as the crowd cried out “Crucify Him!” She wrapped her arms around the family of the Savior, but she could barely stand herself. Why? Why did they have to do this to such a great man? Not just any man, but the Messiah! She followed the path as He walked to Golgotha. She didn’t want to see, but she couldn’t look away. She couldn’t leave Him. Not now, not when He had been there for her. When they drove the nails into his hands and feet, she felt as if someone had driven a dagger right through her heart. Her Savior was dying.
After two days of mourning, it is time to go and honor His body. She left early in the morning; she didn’t want to be caught. His followers were all afraid that they were next. On the way to the tomb, the ground started shaking, but she couldn’t turn back. She had to see Him one more time. Not sure how she would get past the guards and the solid rock closing the opening, she was surprised to have seen the tomb unguarded and the stone rolled away. She began to weep when she looked inside and saw His body is missing! They stole it! They couldn’t even leave Him alone in death!
Mary turned away and stood trembling in the garden that morning. Her heart broken all over again. A man approached her and questioned why she was crying. Blinded by her tears, she recounted the terrible crime. Then she heard music, freedom, hope. She heard Him say her name, “Mary.” It was Him! Her Savior was alive!! She had to tell the others!!
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Nicodemus. Judas. Pilate. Mary. (Insert your name here.) What will YOU do with Jesus? Sunday has passed, and Monday has come. If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, He has been merciful and given you another day to learn what Pilate never figured out—what is truth. If you are searching like Nicodemus, today is the day to find satisfaction. Don’t believe the lie that Judas did that you can’t be forgiven. Live and proclaim the truth that Mary experienced that glorious day—He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!
“After this many of the disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to Twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.’”
*Image courtesy of Google.