It was an endearing cry of a woman, Eve, to ask Adam to join her in eating the ‘Forbidden Fruit’ that caused the fall of mankind and it was the joyful cry of another woman, Mary Magdalene, to the disciples “I have seen the Lord”, that announced the redemption of mankind. If the centre of action focused on a woman in the Garden of Eden, it was again different women that drew the spotlight on to them in the process of salvation. It was Mary who was delivered the ‘Good News’ of the time of Messiah’s arrival as a Man, it was another Mary, Magdalene, who proclaimed the news of the Risen Lord. On both occasions God decided to honor a woman as an agent for changing the history of mankind – one act becoming responsible for the happening of the second. Easter has made every believer immortal for the secret of Jesus’ resurrection is not only that He has risen but also that I shall rise.
What is expected from mankind? – God mane man and woman in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:27) and this equality would translate into equality of the two sexes also, for if both are made in God’s image, one could not be less in that image and likeness than the other. The sin of eating the forbidden fruit and the resultant curse on her “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (Genesis 3:16) reduced her status to such a low that she came to be taken as property of first her father and brothers and later of her husband and finally became subject to her sons. It finally reached its nadir before the arrival of the Messiah on the earth when she could not even bear witness in a case and she virtually had no rights and was considered guilty for every sin. The woman who was allegedly caught in adultery was brought alone before the Son of God while the man was let off, as if the woman alone was the sinner (John 8:3-11).
The Savior’s Mission – God sent His Son to restore the lost glory to mankind and redeem them from the clutches of Satan by paying in full by His sacrifice the price of their sins. The second aspect of His coming was to provide a comparative example to humanity to aspire to become like Him in His image and likeness, for He revealed God to us in His Divine persona. Man was created and restored to the position of a loving, caring and a just person and the process of change is continuous under the urging and guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The third part of the Lord’s work is to help man have total transparency in relationships with God and with each other for “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Darkness is synonymous with hiding something and sin and in God’s presence there can neither sin nor darkness exist. “Adam and Eve were both naked and they felt no shame” (Genesis 2:25) for they had nothing to hide till sin entered their lives and since King David always opened his heart before God, revealing his intense feelings, he is referred to as a “man after God’s own heart”.
Lord Jesus’ mission to restore the lost relationship of mankind with God of a Father and child was restored by the opening of the Holiest of Holies through the torn curtain. The restoration of equality of man and woman was established by God in various ways even before the Lord’s birth. Jews had been waiting for the coming Messiah for centuries and from the period of prophet Malachi the heavens were virtually closed to mankind for more than 400 years and there was no word from God. The Good News of the arrival of His Son was conveyed by Gabriel, the archangel, to a woman and not to the Chief Priests or leaders of Israel (Luke 1:26-38). The Son of God further revealed His identity to a woman and that too to a Samaritan woman on Jacob’s well saying “I who speak to you am He” -the Messiah- Christ (John 4:25-26) and she carried the news to others. The next most important part of the Lord’s ministry on earth about His resurrection is first revealed to Mary Magdalene and not to any of the “chosen twelve or the blessed three” (John 20:16-17). The Savior Lord who fed five thousand families with only five barley loaves and two fish with a bigger quantity as leftovers, allows some of the women followers to “provide for Him from their substance” (Luke 8:2-3). Lord Jesus blessed the women followers in such manner to help them regain their lost status of equality to man.
Effect of the Resurrection – The Chief Priests – All activities of worship and related to worship were directly controlled by the Chief Priests who had even employed Temple Guards to control the crowds entering the temple. It was a hugely beneficial business for them and it is perceived that their actions against the Son of God were guided more by their financial than spiritual interests. Lord Jesus upset this system more than once by chasing out the money-changers, animal sellers and others out of the Temple courts for “He drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who sold doves” (Matthew 21:12). The Chief Priests were aware of the message of the Messiah that He will rise from the dead on the third day and asked for a guard from Pontius Pilate to be posted on the tomb where Lord Jesus was buried “to prevent His disciples from taking His body at night to substantiate this claim” and the tomb was “sealed and made secure” by them (Matthew 27:62-66).
Roman Guards bribed to tell lies – The Chief Priests and the Jewish elders were informed the details of the appearance of the angels at the tomb, the stone being rolled away, the Lord’s resurrection and being seen by them and the tomb being thus empty. Instead of accepting the truth these “guardians of the Jewish religion” conspired together to give “a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, “Tell them, His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept. And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure. So they took the money and did as they were instructed” (Matthew 28:11-15). A Roman soldier caught sleeping on duty and failing to protect what was entrusted to his charge faced death penalty and it is unimaginable that they would let this happen at the Tomb. For details of this ask for our free e-book “The Great Conspiracy”.
The temple was finally destroyed in A.D. 70 and worship services terminated thus ending the Chief Priest’s spiritual control over the Jews. The Chief Priests were afraid of the fact of Lord Jesus’ resurrection for this is the key and proof of the Lord’s claim to be the Son of God. They were greatly alarmed at finding Peter and John taught “the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead” and they wanted to stop them (Acts 4:1-3). Their lies were exposed and they greatly feared people’s reaction for resurrection proved that Lord Jesus is “the truth, the way (to God) and life” for He leads us to the Father ending the separation and death. This singular event amply proves that Jesus was and is God from eternity to eternity and God the Father declared Him “to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). Apostle Paul further clarifies this “if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty” and still further “if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:14 & 17). Resurrection proves Lord Jesus’ claim of being in control over His death “to take it up again” as per His choice dictated by the Father in Heaven (John 10:17-18).
Resurrection assures the mankind that Lord Jesus has the power and authority to fulfill what He has promised and when we ‘ask in faith’ He will answer. We are sure of our faith and the torn curtain takes us into God’s Divine presence in this life and the empty tomb shows us the way to heaven by following the Lord and Savior. He has forgiven our past, assured us of our present and guaranteed our future with His sacrifice and resurrection. Since by His sacrifice He has restored our broken relationship with God, we are also blessed by His resurrection with this promise that “He did not suffer corruption” and I also will not. This truth was anathema to the Chief Priests and they stooped so low to attempt to prove God to be a liar.
Effect of the Resurrection – The Centurion – When the Centurion, commander of the troop deployed in Jerusalem to maintain peace, was asked by the Chief Priests to help the Temple guards in catching a “rabble rouser” bent upon rebellion, he would never have expected how this event in itself would affect his life. But as the following events unfolded and truth was revealed to him, the little respect that he probably had for the Chief Priests due to their spiritual status was totally lost. He witnessed the Messiah facing an illegal trial at night in the temple, then hesitation of Pilate to convict Him and reaction of the mob led by the Jewish elders to seek release of Barabbas, a known criminal. And all through this ordeal the “alleged offender” stayed calm, totally at peace and even blessing the perpetrators of this heinous crime by “seeking forgiveness for them from God”. The Centurion was further convinced of Lord Jesus’ innocence through the reaction of nature as the events unfolded- darkness at noon lasting for the final three hours of His suffering on the cross- warning of a calamitous happening not in conformity with God’s laws – punishment to a righteous man while sinners escape. He witnessed the tender care that the crucified Christ showed for His mother and the reaction of the silent, weeping crowd around the site as compared to the Temple mob. The natural, the unnatural and the supernatural events that unfolded before his eyes finally convinced the Centurion to exclaim “Certainly this was a righteous man!” (Luke 23:47) The Centurion would then learn about the love and compassion shown by the same Lord Jesus to another Centurion sometime ago to heal his favorite servant of an incurable sickness.
But there was more to follow – his probable surprise at a guard being positioned at the tomb and then the supernatural scene of the angels, great illumination in and outside the tomb, rolling of the stone on its own and the risen Lord Jesus; putting great fear into their hearts. And then the gentle reminder to the woman called Mary Magdalene to go and tell others while they were all present without any harm coming to them. The surprising hut expected reaction of the Chief Priests to give them “a large sum of money” to tell a lie to deny His resurrection. The Centurion and the guards took the illicit money, told the story to others anyway to clear their consciences and moved on with their lives.
Effect of the Resurrection – Barabbas – It is ironic that the man whom the crowds chose to be released in place of the Savior has a name that means – Bar meaning son and Abbas meaning of father or Abba. Thus the Son of Father God releases another son of the father and dies for him. There are thirty two verses on Judas Iscariot while thirty eight on Barabbas in the whole Bible, showing the importance this man gains in the Scripture. He is described as a “notorious prisoner” (Matthew 27:16); “murderer in a rebellion” (Mark 15:17 & Luke 23:19) and “a robber” (John 18:40). This ‘son of father’ must have heard the commotion outside and the other two criminals being taken out for punishment and naturally waited for the door to his cell being opened anytime. And suddenly he is set free!
Barabbas would be present at Calvary to see the Man who became his substitute on the cross and seen the quiet serenity in His demeanor. The news of His having risen from the dead would have definitely sffected the psyche of this man to know more about Him that would probably change his life.
Pontius Pilate “washed his hands off the matter” and Barabbas walked out free from certain death for another BARABBAS – Son of Father God – took his place on the cross. We are all somewhat like Barabbas, replaced by the Lord on the cross of punishment that is rightly our due and saved from the hell fires that are never quenched (Mark 9:47-49). Lord Jesus commands us to seek our Barabbas and suffer for him.
Are we willing to take this challenge and “take up our cross”!!