It was very still, with just the first faint glimmers of light showing in the sky. The soldiers stood talking quietly, glad that the long night was almost over. Suddenly the ground beneath them began to tremble. Was it an earthquake? The stone in front of the cave they were guarding shook loose. An angel came and rolled the stone back and sat on it. The soldiers were terrified, and fell to the ground as though they were dead. Jesus had risen!
This happened on the first Easter morning, but what happened before that? Do you know?
The Bible says, “When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son” (Galatians 4:4). That means that when the time was right for Jesus to come to this earth, God sent Him. We don’t know just what was said when Jesus left Heaven, but He knew who He was and why He came to earth.
Perhaps God the Father turned to Jesus and said, “It is time now, My Son. According to Our plan, this is when You must leave Heaven and go to live on earth. You will start out as a baby and grow up like any other human being. You will not be the son of a prince. You will not be the son of a rich man. Your parents will be poor. You will be poor all Your life. Some of the people on earth will love You, and listen to Your words. But some will reject You, and then, at the right time, in the chosen place, You will die as a human. When You die, You will take all the sins of the world onto Yourself, and suffer more than any person who will ever live on earth.” Jesus answered, “Yes, Father, I will obey You.” Then God the Son came to earth to live as a human being.
When that tiny Person was born, the angels sang and said there would be peace on earth. When that little Boy grew up He helped people, and loved them, and told them about God. He even told them He was the Son of God—because He was.
Some people believed Him, but others became angry and said He would have to die because He said He was the Son of God.
One night Jesus, the Son of God, went to a garden where He loved to go. But this night He was very sad. He knew the time had come. This was when He would have to take all the sins of everybody on Himself. The burden got heavier and heavier. What agony He went through as He prayed there alone. The Bible tells us that He sweat as it were great drops of blood. He prayed to God, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).
Soon the chief priests and officers of the Jews came and took Jesus to the governor, whose name was Pilate. He said that Jesus would have to die.
The same day, Jesus was taken outside the city and nailed to a wooden cross. All this time the weight of everyone’s sins was on Him. Finally He cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Jesus had the power to come down from the Cross. He didn’t have to endure that. He could have revealed Himself as God at the crucial moment, and His enemies would have fled in terror. He had known all along that this day would come, but He did not run away. He submitted Himself to the divine plan. He never complained or said, “I won’t die on the Cross.”
After Jesus died, some friends put His body into a tomb. The enemies of Jesus asked for soldiers to guard the tomb. They wanted to make sure no one came to steal His body. But on the third day, Jesus came back to life. The angel rolled the stone away and declared, “He is risen!”
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Jesus obeyed, even when it was extremely difficult. If He had decided that He wouldn’t die for us after all, there would be no Easter morning. There would be no salvation from sin. We would have no hope of eternal life.
God had a plan for the earthly life of His Son, Jesus. He has a plan for our lives too.
Jesus found out what His Father wanted Him to do, and He did it. So should we!