Some believe Christ to be a great moral teacher, but not the Son of God as He claimed to be. To those I echo the sentiments of C.S. Lewis, who said, "A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -- on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg -- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
Easter week began quietly, a special dinner prepared by Martha, at which the feet of the Lord were anointed with precious oil. The next day Jesus entered Jerusalem to much fanfare, borne upon a donkey, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah. Palm fronds waved in joy and triumph, a tradition associated with the coronation of Israelite kings, evidence that Christ was seen as the promised Messiah. They understood not that He had come at this time to deliver them from spiritual, rather than physical, bondage. Jesus was showered with praise and adoration, which would days later become demands for His death.
As the week progressed Christ cleansed the temple, throwing out the moneychangers and sellers whom He said had made His Father's house a "den of thieves". Christ taught in the temple and was questioned by the Jewish elders, who were furious at His claims of divinity and concerned with His influence over the people which had diminished their own power and influence.
The night before his crucifixion Christ would partake of The Last Supper with his apostles. A Passover supper, this meal was in part symbolic of the ancient Israelites having been spared from the Angel of Death by smearing the blood of an unblemished lamb across the door. Likewise Christ, the Lamb of God, would have His blood spilled to save us all.
Following His offering of the sublime Intercessory Prayer, Christ would proceed to the Garden of Gethsemane to endure His greatest suffering. Leaving Peter and the two sons of Zebedee at the watch, he proceeded alone. Possibly for the first time fully understanding the suffering which He was about to endure, He pleaded with the Father that "if it be possible, let this cup pass from me". Realizing that His suffering was necessary to fulfill the Atonement, he relented, saying "nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt".
Alone in the garden, in a way incomprehensible to mortal minds, the Savior took upon himself the sins of the world to satisfy the demands of justice. So great was the suffering that it caused Him to bleed from every pore. No mortal man could have endured such suffering, yet Christ, He who was without sin and therefore having no cause to be made to suffer, chose to suffer this agony that we might have salvation.
Still weak from the suffering in Gethsemane, there would be no reprieve for the Son of God. Judas Iscariot, one of His apostles, had betrayed Him. He was taken roughly by "a great multitude with swords and staves" to be tried before the chief priests and elders. The approbation He received as He rode into Jerusalem at the beginning of the week had now devolved into the hateful treatment of an angry mob. Jesus was then questioned at the hands of Caiaphas before the scribes and the elders as they attempted to trap Him in His words, giving reason to punish Him by death. Having accused Him of blasphemy for attesting that He was the Christ, they spat upon and mocked Him. Yet the Son of Man held His peace.
The next morning Christ was accused and condemned before Pilate by the Jewish elders, yet Pilate found no fault with Him. Tradition dictated that at the feast Pilate release a prisoner, and Pilate thus saw his way out, offering up a choice between Christ and the criminal Barabbas. The crowd shouted that they wanted Barabbas. Asking what should be done with Jesus the cry from the bloodthirsty crowd rang out, "Crucify Him!" And thus was the sentence of death pronounced.
The rest of the tale is well known. Jesus was scourged, stripped and had a scarlet robe placed upon Him. He was given a reed as a scepter and a crown of thorns, which caused more blood to pour from His tender head. He was spat upon and mockingly hailed as King of the Jews. Stripped again, He was forced, until His strength gave out, to carry the heavy wooden cross upon which He would be crucified; the cross's journey was completed by Simon of Cyrene.
On the hill of Golgotha our Lord was secured to the cross, heavy spikes driven through His hands and feet. A sign was placed above His head which read "THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS". As He hung from the cross His tormentors continued to mock, saying if He was truly the Messiah then let Him remove himself from the cross. Instead, He chose to complete His work, and remained there upon the cross as He looked into the weeping eyes of His beloved mother. Finally, His Father having removed His spirit for a brief time, Jesus cried out in despair, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" which is to say, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" After a final cry of anguish and suffering, He gave up the ghost and died.
Had the story ended here, history would have forgotten Jesus as the charitable but lunatic son of a humble carpenter. Yet the story does not end here...
On the third day following the crucifixion, after the Sabbath had passed, Mary Magdelene, Mary the mother of James and Salome came to the tomb to anoint Jesus' body. As they approached they saw the great stone had been rolled away from the entrance, and entering the sepulcher they saw the body was gone. Confusion and anxiety fell upon them as they wondered what had happened to the body.
Then came the words which bring the greatest hope to all mankind. Appearing before the mourners, two angels asked of them, "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen." And thus was the mission of Christ completed, and the gathered were told to go and spread the "good word", the gospel, that our Lord and Savior had suffered all things, had descended below all things, had been broken and crucified, and as He had promised had arisen the third day, the mortal tabernacle rebuilt and immortal. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Savior and Redeemer, had broken the bonds of death that we might have eternal life.
And so it is that on this Easter morn, Christians throughout the world celebrate the most significant of all events in the history of man, the resurrection of our Lord. It is He that gives us hope in all things. It is He that brings us salvation. It is He that is our advocate with the Father, who pleads for mercy for us as sinners, which is granted because He, the greatest of all, suffered that the demands of justice might be met. In a world wracked with despair and suffering, may we all find hope in our Savior, Jesus Christ. And may we all understand that this is, truly, a Happy Easter.
Louis DeBroux is a Taylorsville resident, married, with eight children. He is chairman of the Bartow County Republican Party. He owns Gatekeeper data backup and recovery. He can be e-mailed at email@example.com.