A man and his wife went on vacation to Jerusalem. While they were there, the woman died.
The undertaker told the husband, “You can have her buried here in the Holy Land for $150, or we can have her sent home for $5,000.” The husband thought about it and told the undertaker that he would send her home.
The undertaker asked him, “Why would you spend $5,000 to have her repatriated when you could have a nice funeral here in the Holy Land, and it would only cost $150?” The husband replied, “A long time ago a man died here, was buried here, and rose from the dead three days later. I just can’t take that risk.
Isn’t it interesting how many people these days who say they don’t believe in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus still act like they do? Put someone who says they don’t believe in God in a crisis and watch how it quickly improves their prayer life. Disbelief can be expensive. It could cost us dearly. But for some reason, I’ve realized that some people just can’t take that risk.
Years ago I was in San Nicolas, Argentina. I spoke at a series of citywide meetings leading up to Resurrection Day, or Easter. It was exciting to be surrounded by the atmosphere of anticipation and celebration and the resurrection of Christ.
For them, Easter is a reality, not just a religious ceremony or something to be tolerated. They are not surrounded by the skepticism that reigns in many parts of the world against Easter. They know Good Friday was OK, but Easter will be glorious.
Do you remember those two thieves on the crosses with Jesus? Even though they both saw the same thing, one recognized the divinity of Jesus, and the other did not. The thief who recognized Jesus and the meaning of Easter changed a life of failure into an eternity of success. Two people with the same culture, same country, same language and same purpose where they looked at Jesus and had two completely different results. It is still true today.
The story of Zacchaeus, the unpopular tax collector, illustrates my point. He recognized the divinity of Jesus. Jesus responded to this respect by having a meal in his home and changing his life from earth to “on earth as it is in heaven” forever.
Jesus transforms all people from within and straightens them out. Jesus separates the person from his problem and the essence of a person from his behavior. It honors the person while correcting their situation at the same time. He recognizes our value. Can we now recognize its value?
This story, written by an unknown author, perfectly captures the value of the Easter story.
Three guys were found guilty of crimes against humanity. Two guys have committed crimes. One guy didn’t. Three guys were put on trial by the government. Two guys had fair trials. One guy didn’t. Three guys were whipped and beaten. Two guys had brought him here. One guy didn’t. Three guys were given crosses to bear. Two guys earned their crosses. One guy didn’t. Three guys scoffed and spat on along the way. Two guys swore and spat back. One guy didn’t.
Three guys were nailed to crosses. Two guys deserved it. One guy didn’t. Three guys agonized over their abandonment. Two guys had reason to be abandoned. One guy didn’t. Three guys were talking while clinging to their crosses. A guy argued. This time two guys didn’t. Three guys knew death was coming. A guy resisted. Two guys didn’t.
Three guys died on three crosses and were buried. Three days later, two bodies remained in their graves. A body did not.
Easter is knowing that there is a God in heaven, knowing that there is earthly life first, then the second life, which is eternal life. God raised Jesus from the dead to show us the “way” of “life” is the “truth” of the resurrection. If the living knew what the dead know, the whole world would follow Christ.
Here is another Easter lesson in a story.
Chris received a bill from the hospital for his recent operation. He was surprised to see a $900 fee for the anesthesiologist. He called the doctor’s office for an explanation. “Is that some kind of mistake?” “No, not at all,” said the doctor calmly. “Well,” Chris said, “it’s terribly expensive to knock someone out.” “Not at all,” replies the doctor. “I knock you out for free. The $900 is to bring you back.
This Resurrection Day weekend, let’s stop and think about the price God paid to save each of us. Let’s shift our focus from what we do to what God has done for us. God redeems and then lifts up. The price God paid to resurrect and restore us is greater than condemning us. God gave us the gift of eternal life rather than the debt of a funeral. God paid the ultimate price, Jesus, to “bring us back”.
Remember that we cannot understand Easter through our natural minds, broad education, experience, or accomplishments. So, instead, we come to Jesus by faith. It doesn’t mean that we throw away our brains. It means that we don’t let our brain throw away our faith.
Maybe that $900 fee wasn’t so bad after all.