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Summary: You cannot fully understand Jesus and Easter until first you have been to the cross. You cannot understand this day until you have been in a dark place, experienced tragedy or seen the supposed triumph of evil and sin and even the triumph of death. Once y

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V is for Victory

Mark 15:1-8

You cannot fully understand Jesus and Easter until first you have been to the cross. You cannot understand this day until you have been in a dark place, experienced tragedy or seen the supposed triumph of evil and sin and even the triumph of death. Once you fully understand the power of evil, sin and darkness in this world, only then can you experience the power and joy of Easter. We as Christians understand Jesus’ death and resurrection like this: God, the author of all creation, chose to visit our planet. He came to walk among us, disguised as one of us. He was born into the world just like us, grew up, learned a trade and then at the age of 30 began his teaching ministry, proclaiming the good news that God’s kingdom was upon us so we should repent and believe the Good News. Jesus taught what God was like, showed us God’s heart and God’s desires for us and called us to live a life worthy of following Him. He healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind and even raised the dead. He loved sinners and broken people, the outcast, eating with them and spending time with them; people like drunks, drug dealers, prostitutes and lepers. No matter how far they had strayed, God longed for him to come back to Him. This is the picture Jesus painted for the people.

But he also challenged the believers of his day to live for something more, to choose a different, more holy path. Hundreds if not thousands came to hear the new rabbi. Some who heard Jesus thought he was so radical that he was a lunatic. Others thought he was liar and blasphemed, spoke untruths about God. But there were many who heard him teach with an authority that no other religious leader, prophet or teacher had of his day. Picture: Sanhedrin And the religious leaders began to feel threatened by his growing popularity and they determined that he had to die. Picture of Judas One of his disciples betrayed him, allowing him to be arrested. Another denied him and every one of them fell away from him that night. Picture: witnesses against Jesus Jesus was given an illegal trial, had false witnesses brought against him and was charged with blasphemy, (what a joke, God speaking untruths about himself!) and then given the death penalty. Picture: Barrabas freed. The crowd had a chance to save him but they chose to free a murderer instead. Picture: Pilate washing hands Pontius Pilate knew he was innocent but he sent him to die nonetheless to satisfy the crowd. Picture: Jesus whipped He was beaten, had the flesh ripped from his back, legs and buttocks, was brought to an inch of his life. He was mocked and spit upon. Picture: Jesus mocked Then they forced him to carry his own cross and Picture: Jesus crucified then crucified him, God became man, the very one who had come to save them from themselves. Do you see the violence, the hate, the insecurity, the fear, the ugliness and the sin that is the cross? You can’t understand the resurrection without it. All the things we associate with evil were embodied in Jesus’ beating, crucifixion and death.

Image: Jesus burial. When someone died on the cross, they were left up for days as animals picked at their flesh until the bodies or bones were finally heaped on a trash dump. But Joseph and Nicodemus, two wealthy men who had been afraid to speak up for Jesus at his trial, asked Pilate for his body so that he might have a descent burial. They wrapped it in linens, placed it in the tomb and rolled a stone in front of it. Do you know how many people attended the funeral of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Four: Two women and these two men, Joseph and Nicodemus. The rest of the disciples were hiding in fear for lives that someone would come arrest and crucify them too. And for them, this next two days was a very dark time. All of their hopes dreams had been penned on Jesus. They had heard him teach, seen him heal and spent 3 years with him and everything inside them told them that he was the one, the Messiah, the long awaited Savior. But now was it all a fraud or worse, maybe there was no God after all? Slide: C.H. Dodd, New Testament scholar says, “Anyone standing there watching the things unfold at the cross would have been tempted to say there cannot be a God when things like this happens. Perhaps that was what the disciples were thinking. They were afraid, left in an utter state of shock, questioning everything they had known and experienced.Their lives were threatened, their Messiah was gone, their hopes were dashed and their faith was crushed.” This is what they were experiencing from the moment of Jesus death to Sunday morning before sunrise.

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