From Heartbreak to Joy, 2,000 Years Ago

Christians in America and around the world are poised to celebrate events that took place in Jerusalem nearly 2,000 years ago – life-giving events foretold in the Hebrew scriptures: the death and resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus), the Messiah of Israel and of all mankind.

After Easter Sunday services in churches across America, varying according to denominations, many gather for a festive holiday meal. Children eat their fill of chocolate bunnies, marshmallow chicks and candied eggs. Many churches and community centers hold an Easter egg hunt for the kids.

But on the Jewish Sabbath some 2,000 years earlier, the Lord’s followers were deeply saddened. If they’d gotten any sleep at all, they awoke remembering His lifeless body lay in donated tomb.

Though commanded not to be downtrodden on Shabbat, they had no peace that morning. Brokenhearted, they’d watched Him die on a cross. Their hopes were lost. Some may have pondered how it happened though He had reminded them that’s why He came.

Nearly two millennia later, the Body of Messiah, made up of both Jews and Gentiles, celebrate His resurrection from the dead.

This year, that celebration falls between Purim and Passover.

On Purim, Jews celebrate their miraculous deliverance from a royal decree to annihilate them throughout the Persian Empire’s 127 provinces, stretching from India to Ethiopia.

Passover (Pesach) recounts the Israelites’ deliverance from cruel Egyptian taskmasters. Through Moses, God instructed the Israelites to kill the paschal lamb and sprinkle its blood on the doorposts of their houses. That blood would keep the angel of death at bay.

“He’s Alive and I’m forgiven, heavens’ gates are open wide,” the well-known song by Don Francisco, describes that experience through Peter’s eyes.

Before his suffering, Jesus celebrated the Pesach Seder (Last Supper) with his disciples. He would be the sacrificed Lamb whose blood would cleanse them from their sin. His promise never to leave or forsake them would carry many through horrendous persecution over the centuries – persecution that continues to this day in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan and North Korea, just to name a few places where Christians are tortured and killed for their faith.

But no matter how culturally divergent the celebration of this singularly life-saving event, the Risen Savior is the essence for all.

Many years before, Moses, who led the Israelites on their 40-year desert trek, entreated God this way:

Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.” (Exodus 33:13)

Scripture tells us the moment Yeshua died, the curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the outer court was rent from top to bottom, making it possible to enter into the Holiest of all.

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)