Read: John 20:1-21
The news was too good to be true—such joy after such despair! The women learned of it first: The tomb was empty. When Peter and John investigated, the burial cloth was folded neatly, ruling out grave robbery. Then Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, who bubbled over with her report. The disciples still weren’t sure—maybe she’d seen a vision. When Jesus appeared to them Sunday evening, they were overjoyed. Their hearts were comforted with his words: “Peace be with you!” He directed them, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” His peace filled them up to the brim. Jesus had risen from the dead! Everything seemed possible now.
How does Easter bring God’s peace to your heart? How is he sending you to share his peace with others?
Read: John 19:38-42
Nicodemus wasn’t an average Pharisee. He loved the laws of God, and enjoyed power and wealth like the others. But he had questions the laws couldn’t answer. He went to Jesus under the cover of night. He was the first person to hear the most famous of Jesus’ sayings, John 3:16. Nicodemus isn’t mentioned again until Jesus’ burial in John 19. He supplied a large, expensive quantity of burial spices. He and Joseph of Arimathea prepared the body according to Jewish custom, carefully wrapping the bruised and beaten limbs with linen. Nicodemus had changed. He willingly put his reputation on the line and considered the messy, challenging, and costly burial a privilege. He did what he could to honor Jesus because the words of John 3:16 had come to life before his eyes.
Have the words of John 3:16 changed you, as they changed Nicodemus?
Read: Matthew 27:46
This cry of Jesus has long resonated with me: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus had never been separated from his Father. In taking sin’s curse upon himself on the cross, Jesus had to accept that terrible punishment. His cry resonates with me as a child of divorce who often felt forsaken. I take comfort knowing Jesus understands my pain. I take comfort knowing God never leaves me nor forsakes me (Hebrews 13:5). I take comfort that on this Good Friday, Jesus removed the barrier between us once and for all, and I can live in his presence forever.
Have you ever felt forsaken? How can you find comfort in Jesus’ suffering?
Read: Matthew 26:20-25
Judas had arranged a plan with the Pharisees. The plan would go into action in a few hours. His heart beat rapidly, but he kept his gaze low at the table so no one would suspect a change. But he nearly choked on his food when Jesus brought it up, saying one of the disciples would betray him. He struggled to hide his shock, then felt relieved when all the others said, “Surely not I, Lord?” Judas played along. He dipped his bread in the sauce and took his turn—“Surely not I?” Jesus gazed at him intently, and Judas was surprised to see such hurt in his eyes. He realized, too late, that Jesus had been a better friend to him than he had ever dared to be. Then Jesus said in front of all the others, “Yes, it is you.” No hiding anymore, Judas thought.
Have you ever been betrayed, or have you ever betrayed someone? Take a moment to ask for God’s healing or forgiveness.
Read: Matthew 26:14-16
Judas Iscariot remembered the day Jesus called him. He gave up everything to follow this Rabbi, who told the disciples he was the Messiah. How privileged Judas thought he would be among the Messiah’s inner circle. The Messiah had been promised long ago to deliver God’s people. Judas longed to be part of that mission, new wave, and power surge. He longed for the restoration of King Solomon’s reign, when every Jew was safe, free from oppression, and prosperous. He had truly believed Jesus might be the one who restored power. But Judas was tired of waiting—tired of crowds, parables, and living on the provision of others. The itinerant life, not a prosperous one. The last straw was the woman who had provocatively anointed Jesus. He couldn’t handle Jesus’ praise of her waste. Judas was finished with this path that led to nowhere. He knew right where to go next–to the Pharisees, the powerful Jews. (Story continued here.)
Judas followed Jesus for three years, yet betrayed him. How can you guard your heart against falling away from the Lord?