Did Easter Happen to You?

From Tablet 2 1622 Corinthians 5:17

After a Maundy Thursday communion service, a pastor sat with his small child who was asking what it all meant.  The Thursday meal was described as the last meal Jesus had with His friends.  Good Friday was the day Jesus was killed.  Easter was a wonderful day, because that was the day God raised Jesus from the dead.

Then the boy asked, “Daddy, will Easter ever happen to me?”  What a question:  “Will Easter ever happen to me?”

Great question!  Let me phrase to you in this way:  “Did Easter happen to you?”  I’m not asking if you went to church last Sunday or if you consumed a chocolate bunny or went to a fancy buffet.  I’m not even asking what you did on March 31st of this year.  (2013)  I’m asking:  Have you ever experienced the resurrection that occurs when Jesus becomes the Lord of your life?  Do you have a resurrection story?

Paul says:  “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”  We come to life in Him.

Recently came across the testimony of Nard Pugyao:  “In March of 1956 (when I was about 6), a tall, pale, white man stumbled into my home village of Dibagat in the northern jungles of the Philippine island of Luzon. The man didn’t speak our language, so our elders asked him the best they knew how, “Why are you here?”

“I’ve come to learn your language,” he said. “I’d like to write it down and then give you God’s Word in your language.”

“Who is your God?” the elders asked.

“He’s the God of Heaven and earth,” the man answered. “He’s the Creator of the universe. He created you, too.”

“Is he powerful?” the elders probed. “More powerful than the spirits that have controlled our lives from the beginning of time? Is he more powerful than our ancestors, the head-hunters?”

“Yes, he’s more powerful.”

Hopeful, we started teaching this man, Dick Roe, our language. Maybe his God could free us from the spirits.

When I was about 13, Dick had to return to the United States to raise support for his ministry. But before he went back, he translated the Gospel of Mark and gave me a copy. While he was gone, I started reading the Bible for the first time, beginning with the Easter story and continuing through chapter 16. Sitting on top of a rock, I read the Gospel of Mark in my heart language. It felt like I was actually there, seeing the characters.

But the further I read, the more distressed I felt. A mob of people came to get Jesus out of the Garden of Gethsemane. What did he do wrong? I read as fast as I could. They accused him of all kinds of false things. They mocked him, spat on him, beat him, and took him before Pilate. Then the scourge and the crown of thorns. It was excruciating to read that they forced him to carry a wooden cross and then nailed him to it.

Deep in my heart, a hatred of God swelled. I shook my fist and shouted: “I hate you, God, for being so powerless! Why should I believe in a powerless God like you?” With all my strength I threw the Gospel of Mark down to the rocks and started walking home. I couldn’t understand why God wouldn’t protect his own Son. Our headhunters defended us to the death. Because of them, no one could touch us. I wanted a god like that—someone who would protect me from the spirits that demanded we sacrifice our cows, chickens, pigs, and dogs. This God didn’t even save his own Son.

Suddenly, God reached down into my heart. “Nard, don’t you understand?” I heard him say. “That’s how much I love you. I gave my Son on your behalf.” For the first time, I understood grace. I understood how much God loved me.

“God, if you love me that much,” I prayed, “I want to give you my life, my heart. It’s all yours.” I went back and picked up my Gospel, brushed it off, and sat back on that rock to see what happened next. It was an incredible moment as I read that Jesus rose from the grave on the third day. Nobody in all of Dibagat, nobody from among the Isnag people, had ever risen from the grave. The resurrection story changed my life.  (Nard Pugyao  (“Penetrating Power,” Decision (July-August 2006), p. 18; ©2006 Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, used by permission, all rights reserved)

Don’t throw the Bible when you get to the end of the Gospel.  There is a resurrection coming.  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ… and let Easter happen to you!

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