God the Son, born as a human, was crucified on a cross and died a sacrificial death to pay the sin debt of all mankind. Three days later, he rose bodily from the grave and was seen by as many as 500 people.
We all know the highlights, but when was the last time you read the story?
Not watched a movie about it, or sat through a sermon about it, or read a contemporary author’s take on it.
When is the last time you turned to the gospels and read, verse-by-verse, about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
Maybe you read it when you were a child or young adult. Maybe you’ve recently read portions of it – the statements Jesus made from the cross, his arrest in the garden, his trial by Pilate. But maybe it’s been a while since you read it all – from his Triumphal Entry to his Triumphant Exit.
Here’s a suggestion: Read it again.
Do you remember that there were weeping women who followed him as he carried the cross to the outskirts of Jerusalem?
But in his grace, Jesus said, “weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.”
There’s compassion at the cross.
Do you remember that Jesus was crucified between two thieves? And when onlookers mocked him, he said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
There’s forgiveness at the cross.
Do you remember that one of the condemned thieves challenged Jesus to come down from the cross and save himself and them also ... if he was truly the Christ? But Jesus stayed on the cross, realizing, for our sake, that it was better for him to come up from the grave than come down from the cross.
There’s sacrifice at the cross.
Do you remember how the other thief chastised the first, reminding him that they deserved their punishment, but that Jesus was innocent? He then, by faith, acknowledged Jesus as Lord, and simply asked Jesus to remember him when he entered into his kingdom. Jesus said, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
There’s salvation at the cross.
Betrayal, anguish, fear, pain, suffering, life, death and victory over death ... it’s all there, woven faithfully through those chapters and verses.
After all these years, the words haven’t changed.
They still convict.
They still save.
Read it again.
Pick any one of the four gospels, or read them all. But don’t forget to turn to Isaiah 53 (you gotta read Isaiah 53), and keep in mind that it was written more than a thousand years before Jesus was born.
Then turn to the gospels and read it again.
Before you dye eggs or iron your clothes or head off to bed tonight so you can get up in time for sunrise service, find a quiet spot, turn in your Bible to the New Testament book of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, and take half an hour to read it again.
Before you recognize Resurrection Day on Sunday, read it again.
Read it again ...
Managing editor Anthony Cook is pastor at Christian Fellowship Bible Church. Reach him at email@example.com or 256-235-3558. On Twitter @Acook_Star.
'By the Book'
Anthony Cook, managing editor of the Anniston Star, has published a collection of his columns on faith, along with sermon notes and speeches.
‘By the Book’ (WestBow Press, 418 pages, $30.95) is available at LifeWay Christian store at Oxford Exchange, at Family Christian Stores at Quintard Mall, or online at booksamillion.com or at bookstore.westbowpress.com.