empty tomb

Easter Weekend Devotionals

Our Easter Weekend Devotionals include scripture, meditations, and directed introspection for Good Friday, Silent Saturday, and Resurrection Sunday. Use them to draw closer to our Lord and experience the power, mercy, and grace of the greatest gift ever given: redemption through the blood of Jesus. Easter Weekend Devotional: Good Friday Remembering the Cost The crowds cheered and shouted Hosanna. Palm branches lined the path. The King for whom they waited finally arrived. Their shouts echoed through the streets of Jerusalem. They were the first voices of the week, but they weren’t the last. (John 12:12-13) Jesus heard so many voices that week. Praise. Love. Arguments. Pride. Betrayal. Condemnation. Denial. Fear. Sorrow. Those who loved Him most failed Him in scandalous ways. Their voices were the worst of the lot. “How much will you pay me?” “Give me the best seat.” “I never knew Him.” Let’s ponder a moment… If we’d been there, what would our voices say? Would we beg for the best seat next to Him or let fear drive us to deny Him? Might we join the crowd in condemnation and cries to crucify Him? Yes. Any of that. Possibly all of it. We were at fault and to blame. We all sinned, all fell short of His glory, His standard, and His love. (Romans 3:23) The problem isn’t an ancient “them,” it’s us. Every single one of us is a sinner and, together, we drove Him to the cross. God had two choices in response to our mountain of sin – annihilate us or redeem us for all eternity. We deserved judgment and condemnation because of our sin. He chose mercy and grace instead. (Romans 8:23) Love prevailed. Good Friday is good because of the redemption bought with the holy blood that was spilled. There was nothing good about the way it was purchased. The pain, suffering, grief, darkness, and torment were vital in the total defeat of sin and death. For today let’s use these Easter weekend devotionals to help us embrace His pain in order to understand, as much as humanly possible, the price of our salvation. It wasn’t bought by a bent knee at an altar or by a heartfelt confession. Our freedom was purchased with blood, agony, death, and tears from the One who loved us most. Let today inform tomorrow. If memory served us, we’d be reminded of His price every time we’re tempted to sin, to betray Him with our choices, to indulge our will instead of His. Today, let’s allow memory to do its work and flood us with the dreadful depths of God’s love. Soak in the sorrow. Ponder the pain. Hold the hope at bay for just a bit and linger in the loss long enough to remember the price love paid. Sunday’s sweetness comes only after the sorrow of today. Stay here for a while and let the truth of that horrific Friday drive us to our knees and cleanse our hearts again. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 nasb Easter Weekend Devotionals Suggested Reading for today: Isaiah 53:1-12 Matthew 26:47-27:50 Easter Weekend Devotional: Silent Saturday The Saturday When Silence Reigned Jesus’ body was removed from the cross and transferred to the borrowed tomb of Joseph of Arimathea shortly after his death. Because the Sabbath was imminent, Joseph and Nicodemus quickly wrapped His body with seventy-five pounds of spices and strips of linen. Myrrh, the spice used to prepare His body for burial is the resin of a Commiphora tree. A “wound” (or piercing) is inflicted on the tree, which “bleeds” myrrh resin. This resin can be used as an antiseptic and for the healing of wounds, just as the precious blood of Jesus, spilled on the cross, cleanses and heals the wounds sin has inflicted. (You can read more here.) Saturday, the Sabbath, was a day of rest, waiting,  silence. No work was allowed. Scripture tells us very little about this day, but I imagine the disciples huddled together, likely in shock, grief, and fear. Jesus was dead. No one expected Him to die, much less endure the torture and horror of crucifixion. The disciples reeled from the events of the night before and probably feared for their own lives. Would they be next? No one knew. What now? It was the question in everyone’s mind. Everything depended on the coming day. Three days, Jesus said. Would He rise? Was it possible? Yes, of course, it was, they must’ve reminded each other. Jesus raised Lazarus less than a week before. He could raise Himself, or so they hoped. Surely they remembered His words, but maybe not. Maybe it felt as if the God-silence of four centuries, broken by a brief interlude of three beautiful years, had begun again. How could they live without Jesus? Could they return to boats and nets rather than fishing for men? Silence reigned and earth waited, as our Savior waged war with darkness. Hope hung in the balance. Redemption. Eternity. It all depended on Jesus’ victory in the unseen war He waged. It’s easy to forget the time before we knew Jesus when His voice was seemingly silent. For most people in our dark and perishing world, their experience is one continual Silent Saturday. They have no hope of seeing Jesus. They live life without comfort from His presence or direction from His wise leadership. Trapped in silence. These are the people to whom we are sent, and they wait for someone to share the good news of Jesus with them. Will we speak or allow them to perish in the silent darkness? Let’s spend a portion of our day in silence, remembering the quiet as a world waited and the silence of those who do not know Him. Consider life without Christ and ask ourselves: Why do I allow the silence to persist? What should I do about it? Devotionals for Easter Weekend suggested reading: Mark 15:42-47 Matthew

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What’s Good About Good Friday?

If you wonder what’s good about Good Friday, is Good Friday really good, or why do we call Good Friday good, you’re not alone. On the first “Good Friday,” the day Jesus was crucified, only His enemies viewed it as a good day. Keep reading to learn how the joy of Sunday’s empty tomb changed everything. What’s good about Good Friday? The Biggest Miracle Ever Seen Sin was the problem, but Jesus was the solution. God’s Son, fully God yet fully man, wrapped Himself in flesh, snuggled in a teenager’s womb, then made His arrival in the most unexpected way. Everyone expected a king, a conquering redeemer. Instead, Jesus was born in a stable, laid in a manger, and raised by a carpenter and his young wife in a tiny town in Israel. His public ministry lasted only three years and was marked by controversy and strife. He preached love and redemption at a time when the leaders wanted rules and the status quo. Jesus lived simply, without a home of his own, although His people expected the pomp and splendor of a mighty king. Those best prepared to welcome Him, the religious leaders, never recognized Him. When Jesus came back to life and stepped out of the empty tomb, it was the biggest miracle ever seen on this earth. It will only be topped when He steps off His throne and onto Mount Zion again. (Revelation 14:1) That day will be awesome and wonderful but it will also be terrible and devastating, just as the events of Holy Week were both marvelous and horrific. What’s good about Good Friday? There would be no Easter Sunday without the nightmare of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Silent Saturday so we do well to remember the last week of Jesus’ pre-crucifixion life. (John’s account of Thursday/Friday of Holy Week) Why do we call Good Friday good? Unmet Expectations became reality. Fresh off the miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection, (John 11) Jesus rode through a palm-branch-waving, hosannah-shouting, crowd-lined street. He stepped off the never-ridden-colt in Jerusalem to celebration, acclaim, joy, and great anticipation.  They wanted a Messiah who would free them from Roman oppression. Even the ones who opposed Jesus expected He would soon break the stronghold of the Romans, overthrow their government, and establish His own Kingdom. (John 11:47-53) Imagine for a moment how the disciples felt after three years of dusty roads, raw wheat eaten in the fields like beggars, rough sleeping conditions, and the scorn and ridicule of the religious leaders who held considerable power over society and everyday life. As the palm branches waved, visions of thrones, power, and riches probably danced in their heads. Not one of the disciples likely expected their dreams would crumble and die at their feet in less than a week’s time. They didn’t call the events of Friday good because, despite all Jesus’ warnings, they didn’t understand. Why do we call Good Friday good? Because we know what happened two days later. Is Good Friday Really Good? God’s purpose God is love. He is patient. Kind. Generous. Forgiving. He is good, but He is also righteous and just. His rightness demanded payment for the sin of the world but His goodness and His love knew we could never remit. (Romans 5:6-8) Jesus’ payment for our sin seems scandalous and outrageous. Would we sacrifice our beloved son for a world full of arrogant, selfish, rebellious people who treated us as if our rules for life were absurd? Certainly not. Would we ask our precious son to leave the glory, beauty, and perfection of heaven to suffer a horrific death in order to redeem people who would rather worship a piece of wood, a scrap of gold, or a temporary pleasure than our own goodness and holiness? Not in ten million years. We wouldn’t ask one of our sons to make such sacrifices for ourselves, let alone for a rebellious and horrifically sinful world. If the redeeming sacrifice was up to us, everyone would go to hell. The sacrifice God devised is not one we would make—not even with resurrection on the horizon. But God is not a man, nor does he deal with us as a man would. He is not willing for any to perish but wants everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9) What’s Good about Good Friday? The Triune response to sin Our Triune God not only devised this outrageous plan for redemption, but He also wrapped Himself in the ill-fitting garb of flesh and accomplished it. He came in obscurity, lived in righteousness, sacrificed without limit, died alone and rejected, and rose again in triumph. (John 1:14, Philippians 2:7) The week we call holy was one of the most unholy of weeks. One of His closest friends betrayed Our Lord. Another denied Him three times. Soldiers arrested Him on trumped-up charges so absurd no one who knew Him could imagine a conviction, but the night of terror continued. Beaten so badly He was nearly unrecognizable, Jesus endured a night designed by and sent from hell. Literally. Before the nightmare ended, Jesus was convicted and sentenced to the most heinous of deaths—crucifixion. Nothing about the day we call Good Friday was good except the willingness of our flesh-wrapped Jesus, the perfect and holy Son of God, to take our place. He could have refused. Could have called for a rescue. He could have rained down fire from heaven and destroyed His enemies. It would’ve been entirely understandable if He did. But He didn’t. And that’s what’s good about Good Friday. Why Do We Call Good Friday Good? Jesus’ Willing Sacrifice Jesus left the glory of Isaiah 6 to suffer the indignities of Isaiah 53. He stayed the course. Made the sacrifice. Fought the battle. Won the war. It seemed as if all hope was gone until the scrape of stone on stone began. The silence of Saturday shattered as the stone rolled away from the mouth of the tomb. A

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