“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.”
–Romans 10:9-10 (NLT)
Here’s a question for you to ponder today: What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Easter? If it is bunnies or colored eggs, you might want to reexamine your view of this holiday by taking a trip back in time with me. While Easter trinkets are associated with short-term fun, there is only one event in history that brings lasting joy. But in order to gain a true understanding of what I am saying, I will need your cooperation.
You might think I sound like one of those mad scientists in old movies, or someone who’s selling capsules that can project you into the future. But I assure you that I am doing neither, and I’m quite serious.
The trip we’re about to take goes back centuries, but before we set out on our journey, the first thing we need to do is set the stage.
Imagine that you are an important and prestigious businessman, and you own Jerusalem Jewelers. You are on the town council, conveniently located in the heart of the downtown area.
The reports you have been following about this mysterious man named Jesus are certainly outrageous. Why, there are stories about how he performed miraculous feats, culminating in raising a dead man. You haven’t seen Him personally, and you’re quite skeptical, to say the least. In any case, the town square is buzzing, and that has made you curious.
Scratching your head, you return to your shop, thinking about some new information you have just heard. “If the rumors are true,” you mutter, turning your key in the lock, “Jesus is going to declare Himself a king. I may not have met Him personally, but I have it on good athority that he’s just a homeless peasant.”
as you open the door, you think about how important you are by contrast and you sneer, whistling to yourself. “I’ll find out the truth, but He doesn’t have a chance.
“Wait just a minute! Next week is Passover, and people are already coming into the city. I have the beginnings of a brilliant idea! Just let me think.
“Of course!” you say out loud as you enter the shop. “This plan is really taking shape. Why didn’t I think of it before?”
“Think of what?” asks the man coming from the back room.
“Why, Joseph, you’re just the man I wanted to see! Sit down here.”
Before your employee can question you, you forge on ahead. “You know that family reunion in Hawaii you have been talking to me about? I’ve decided to let you go.”
“Wow! What changed your mind, boss?”
“I’m getting to that. Before the reunion happens,” you say, rubbing your hands together, “you are going to make us all rich. I want you to track down that Jesus character before passover starts next week, and arrange a meeting with Him. Tell Him I’ll take Him out for a good meal, or put Him up in a hotel for the week. Money is no object–just get Him here.”
“But boss, have you lost your mind? We don’t have that kind of money!”
“We will! Don’t you see? Passover draws huge crowds, and so does this Jesus guy! We’ll make an anouncement that right after passover week, we’ll have a big sale where Jesus will be signing autographs. The people who would otherwise go back home after the celebration will stay for that sale. We’ll make a mint!”
“That sounds great, boss except for one thing. What about the Sadducees and Pharisees? They hate Jesus.”
“Yes, I have to admit they do make me nervous, but let me take care of that. If everything goes as planned, they’ll be eating out of the palm of my hand.”
A few days later, Joseph picks up the phone. “Hi boss, I’m glad you called.”
“Yes, Joseph–what have you learned? Make it snappy! We haven’t got much time.”
“Here’s the scoop, boss,” Joseph whispers. “My sources tell me that Jesus’ disciples are preparing the way for Him to announce His kingship tomorrow.”
“Those losers? Why, they’re only a ragged lot! They’re always hanging around the shop. I hate the Romans as much as anyone, but the way Jesus is stirring up the crowds might not be good for business either. Unless …” he pauses. “… we can turn this whole thing to our advantage. Jesus won’t make His announcement until 10 or 11 tomorrow morning, so I’ll call a meeting and have my employees circulate flyers among the people. Meet me here promptly at 9, and I’ll give you further instructions.”
The following day finds you pacing the floor when Joseph breathlessly rushes in. “What kept you? We’re behind schedule here!”
“I’m sorry, boss. Traffic is terrible! There’s a riot out there, and I couldn’t get through. Everyone who’s anyone wants to get good seats.”
“Enough excuses–get to work!”
The next week goes by in a whirlwind, except for the fact that things seem to grow worse and worse. There are two more riots once Jesus has arrived. One occurs when Jesus cleanses the temple, and the other takes place at His crucifixion. Business is terrible, and discouragement hangs over your jewelry shop like a thick cloud.
On the third day after Jesus’ death, you come to a painful decision. You’ll have to lay off a few people, so you hold a meeting.
“You all know what has happened, but you may not know that all Jesus’ disciples have fled. So instead of making us all rich, they will make us paupers by leaving the city in further chaos. I’m afraid I have some bad news.”
Before he can continue, the door suddenly flies open. Hearing the bell, you groan. “Not more bad news, I hope.”
A smiling group of people has arrived. “Have you heard the great news?” they shout.
Their faces are joyful, but you are afraid to hope. “What is it? I’m in the middle of a meeting.”
“This will just take a minute, but it’s the best news that anyone could bring!”
They tell you the story of how Jesus miraculously rose from the dead.
“That’s preposterous!” you scoff. “Do you really expect me to believe your story, just because some women went to the tomb and said they found it empty? You know how emotional they are! Now let me get back to my meeting!”
“Please give us a minute! We felt the same way, so we sent Peter and John, and we found out it was all true! We are no longer afraid of the religious rulers, and you don’t have to be either!”
“Oh, yes. You once claimed to be His followers, and you hung around my shop. You really have changed. Why, a few days ago, reports had it that you were scared of your own shadows.”
“Yes, but that’s not the case anymore.”
One of the disciples stepped up. “Do you remember me, sir?”
“Weren’t you the one I almost hired?” you ask. “Before all this Jesus stuff started, I thought you’d be able to give me some inside news. But if what you say is true now, I think I’d like to find out more about who this Jesus is.”
“Everything He said came true,” the would-be applicant replies. “We should never have doubted Him.”
While this is a fictional story, it holds a valuable truth. Because of the resurrection of Christ, we no longer need to be afraid of what life hands us, whether we live in Jerusalem or in the 21st century. If you have never asked Christ into your life, there is no better time than right now. I encourage you to follow the example of your character in the story, and allow Jesus to change your life today!
On the other hand, perhaps you have fears about your life, or you have some questions for Jesus. If you need prayer about anything, please call 507-369-6861.
Happy Resurrection Day!
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Tuesday night Bible study. These studies are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 712-432-6498. When prompted, press 1 for live chat rooms, and we’ll be waiting in room 31. You can press pound to bypass our friend Sharon’s intro message once you’ve entered room 31. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.