Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Matthew 27: 32-54
As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means ‘the place of the skull’). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!’ In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, “I am the Son of God.”’ In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’).
When some of those standing there heard this, they said, ‘He’s calling Elijah.’
Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, ‘Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.’
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the Son of God!’
The day that we now call ‘Good Friday’ was anything but good for the first followers of Jesus. As He bled and breathed His last on the cross, their hopes and dreams died with Him.
Just a few days before everything had looked so promising. The crowds shouting ‘hosanna’ and waving palm branches as He rode into Jerusalem indicated that Jesus might soon accomplish what they believed He was here to do, that is, overthrow the Roman oppressors and liberate Israel. How could it all have turned around so terribly, so quickly? The darkness over the land matched the despair and discouragement in the hearts of Jesus’ friends, family and followers.
Yet, as preacher Tony Campolo used to say, “That was Friday, but Sunday’s comin’!”
On that first Easter Sunday morning those despairing disciples found the stone rolled away as the angel pronounced perhaps the most significant declaration in human history: “He has risen!” (Mk 16: 6)
The grave had been defeated, death had been destroyed and hope was now restored. As Jesus came alive, so He now offers resurrection life to every single person. Through a relationship with Jesus, we can come alive this Easter!
Most of you reading this will already have personally experienced this life and transformation Jesus brings. However, just imagine for a moment if you hadn’t. What if no one had ever told you about Jesus? What if you hadn’t been invited to that meeting where you understood the Gospel for the very first time? What if someone hadn’t taken time to share their world with you? I don’t even want to contemplate what my own life would be like without Jesus.
This Easter you can be part of helping others experience the resurrection life of Jesus. As you share your world, you can also share your Saviour. Today and tomorrow let's try to be really intentional about contacting family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues to remind them about our Easter celebrations. Why not offer to give them a lift to church?
The team at CCV will do everything to make our Easter worship celebrations as welcoming, engaging, uplifiting and powerful as possible. We just need you to help us reach the people in your world. Who would you love to see coming alive this Easter?
Our Easter schedule of events is as follows:
Good Friday 14 April @ 7.00 pm
A creative one hour service taking time and space to reflect on Easter and what it means for us today.
Easter Sunday 16 April @ 9:30 am, 11:30 am & 7.00 pm
'Come Alive this Easter' celebrations with baptisms at evening service.
Easter Monday 17 April @ 10:30 am
Easter Egg Hunt at Downhill Forest : A fantastic day for all the family on Easter Monday. Gather with others from across the community as we search for eggs hidden in the forest.