This is the story of three Easters. Let’s begin in the spring of 1980, forty years ago.
My preschool class listens each week as Miss Corrine Damon tells us about the life of Jesus. He made one child’s lunch feed a huge crowd. He walked on water. He opened the eyes of the blind. (Just imagine the first sunrise!) He touched lepers and they were healed. He even brought a little girl back to life. And when the other men thought a crowd of mothers with their children were nothing but a nuisance, Jesus said, “Don’t send them away. Let them come to me.” We children adore this Jesus!
Then Easter arrives. Miss Damon tells us Jesus was arrested. She stretches out her arms and explains how He was nailed to a cross of wood. I’m in shock. How could anyone hurt another person like this? And why would anyone want to kill Jesus? My eyes brim with tears. This is the worst news I’d ever heard in my four years of life.
Indeed, it was the worst news in all of history.
What she tells us next crushes me. Jesus chose this death. He died as a punishment for sin—for my sin. He did it for everyone. But He did it for me. The Holy Spirit speaks to me, reminding me of a sin. My mom had said, “No cookies.” Then when she left the room, I ate one—just one. Of course, I never told her that I took it. No, I wiped my mouth very carefully to hide the evidence. She trusted me and I deceived her—and this was just one example of my sin habit.
Suddenly my pretty Easter dress seems very unimportant. In that moment, my joy about all the wonderful things Jesus had done is gone. I can only think about one thing: Jesus died. And it was my fault.
Miss Damon doesn’t leave us at the cross. She guides us to the tomb. I’m unfamiliar with cemeteries, as I haven’t lost any family members yet. But there on the flannelgraph board is Jesus’ tomb. A huge stone blocks the entrance. This boulder wasn’t enough for the men who had demanded Jesus’ death. They wanted a government order: “No one in or out!” A “shelter-in-place” order. For Jesus. So they sealed the entrance and even stationed Roman soldiers to guard it. (Imagine getting the assignment of standing guard at a tomb for three days!)
A secret disciple, Joseph of Arimathea, and a few others cared for Christ’s body before He was buried, but there wasn’t time to do all they wanted. So they waited until the three days passed. Finally, the “quarantine” was over. It was Sunday morning. At dawn, several women hurried to the tomb. How did they think they were getting past that boulder? Could they have actually hoped that Roman soldiers would help, like so many boy scouts? It seems their love overcame any doubts.
When the women arrived, the stone had already been moved and Christ’s body was gone. Angels announced that Christ was risen. Then Mary Magdalene saw a man standing there. He asked, “Why are you weeping?” Through her tears she assumed this man was a groundskeeper. She asked where they had put Jesus’ body. Then Jesus spoke her name. “Teacher!” she cried.
So I learned not only the worst news of human history: Jesus died for my sin. I also learned the best news: He paid my debt in full. He took all of my punishment. And because He was God, He rose again. Death could not conquer Him. The grave could not hold Him. Boulders, government orders, and soldiers had no authority over Him! He lived again that Sunday and He lives today.
Here’s where you can read the full story of Christ’s death and resurrection: John 18-20.
That Easter Sunday, I made the single most important decision of my life. I admitted to God that I was a sinner and I needed His forgiveness. I received the free gift of salvation by asking Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. I didn’t know all the theology terms at the age of four, but the Holy Spirit helped me grasp the truths that mattered. I understood that as a sinner, I was standing on the edge of a cliff, God was on the other side of a very wide gulf. Only the cross of Christ could span that huge gap.
So that’s my testimony. Easter 1980 is my spiritual birthday. What a privilege to be a child of God! He guides me and comforts me. He teaches me and refines my character day by day. He sustains me through trials and one day He will lead me home to heaven.
Friend, if you don’t know Jesus personally, isn’t it time to meet Him? No quarantine or social distancing measures can keep you from Him because He is everywhere.
Here are some key verses to help you understand salvation:
The Bad News
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
“The wages (payment) of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23a)
The Good News
“…but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23b)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
How to Respond
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31)
Steps to Take
The words below are just a guide. You should speak from your heart.
1. Repent: “God, I agree with You. I sin because I am a sinner. I deserve punishment. I can never be good enough for your holiness. Please forgive me for my sin.”
2. Accept the free gift of salvation: “I know Jesus fully paid for my sin on the cross and offers me eternal life. I accept this gift.”
3. Submit to God’s authority in your life. “I want Christ to be Lord of my life. Help me follow Him always. Amen.”
Mark 8 records Christ’s words: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Matthew 16 and Luke 9 also record this requirement.
Our culture says, “Don’t let anyone tell you what to do.” The truth is we are all slaves—either to sin or to Christ. Sin is a harsh master, but Christ says,
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.Matthew 11:28-30
I pray you will find this rest. It is better than all the world can offer you!