Summary: Looking at the Easter story from our point of view.
Lessons Learned From The Easter Story
What does the celebration of Easter mean to you? Is it about the Easter eggs hunt for the kids? Is it about the new clothes that we go out and purchase just for that special Sunday? When you think about Easter, what comes to your mind? When I was growing up, we had sunrise services every Easter. We had to be at Church by 6 a.m. We would have an Easter program and after Church we would have an Easter egg hunt and breakfast. By 9:30 in the morning, we would be back at home taking a nap. In my early memories of Easter, I understood what it was about, but my memories consists of the sunrise services, the Easter program, egg hunt and breakfast. I do not remember any sermons that were preached on Easter. It was not until I got older that I fully understood what Easter was about – I mean besides the knowledge that Christ rose from the dead giving us the right to be adopted as children of God.
In this message this morning and next Sunday, I want to take you on a short journey of the lessons I have learned from the Easter story. I will point to several things that happened during Christ last week that I did not understand as a child or teenager, but came to know as an adult. This knowledge that I gained opened my eyes not only to why Christ’s resurrection is so very important, but also lessons that I needed to remember today as a Christian. So let me start with the beginning, Jesus arriving in Jerusalem.
I. Jesus Arriving In Jerusalem
In the book of Matthew, the 21st chapter, we find Jesus coming into Jerusalem riding on the back of a donkey. Matthew 21:8-9 records this:
“A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cur branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that we ahead of Him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
This crowd, many of whom were disciples of Jesus, escorted Him into the city crying out His praise. They were coming into the city triumphant, victorious, shouting to all who could hear that the Savior had come. Yet a few days later, this same crowd and many of His disciples would desert Him. People in the crowd who were not His disciples yet had joined in the praise of Him when He entered Jerusalem would be the same people who a few days later would cry out to kill Him. One minute they were supporting Him, the next, they were ready to kill Him. Lesson learned: Don’t let the praise remove your focus off God and what He has called you to do. Not everyone who sings your praise during the good times will be with you when the times get tough. Always focus your attention on doing what God has called you to do regardless of the praise. People can change based on the moment and what is happening around them. They may love you one moment and hate you the next. If you try to keep the praise of people, you will never reach your objective. Seek only the praise of your Heavenly Father instead. When Jesus saw Jerusalem, He began to cry because He knew what would shortly take place – He remained focused on His ministry.
II. Christ Friend Betrays Him
Matthew 26:14-16 records the following:
“Then one of the Twelve – the one called Judas Iscariot – went to the chief priests and asked, ‘What are you willing to give me if I hand Him over to you?’ So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand Him over.”
Judas walked with Christ, ate with Christ, laughed and cried with Christ. Judas was Christ friend, yet he betrayed Him. I have always wondered how he could have chosen to do that. Betrayal is something that has happened to people since the beginning of time and it hurts as much today as it did back then. Judas betrayal was so bad that even today when people are betrayed they call the person “Judas”. Let’s review Judas’ history in order to gain an understanding of who he was and why he possibly did what he did. In John chapter 12, Mary had purchased some expensive perfume and poured it on Jesus feet. Judas did not like this and objected stating it could have been sold and the money given to the poor, not because he cared about the poor, but because he cared about the money and he was a thief. Judas had been stealing from the money bag, the ministry funds, from the beginning. When Jesus told him to leave Mary alone, many believed that he was so offended that Satan used his offense to take control of him and influenced him to betray Jesus. What we do know is that shortly after this incident, Judas betrayed Jesus. He sold him out for thirty pieces of silver. Through this incident, I learned two lessons. Lesson One: Be very careful when offenses come because when we are offended, Satan will attempt to use us for his will. We must be very careful when we are offended that we do not yield to Satan devices. Lesson Two: God is willing to forgive and to use us even in our worst state. John records that Judas was a thief and was stealing from the money bag. Jesus knew this, yet He did not put Judas out of the ministry. Judas performed miracles with the other disciples being used of the Holy Spirit, yet he was still a thief. Jesus allowed Judas to remain a part of the ministry, even with his flawed personality, in what I believe was an effort to truly save Judas. All Judas had to do was repent, get over the offense and all would have been fine, yet he chose another route. Even those who are not “perfect” can be used of God so we need to be careful of the judgment we hand out to people.