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Friday, April 14, 2017

THE GIFT OF EASTER
 
The angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus, the one who was killed on the cross. But he is not here. He has risen from death as he said he would. Come and see the place where his body was. And go quickly and tell his followers. Say to them: ‘Jesus has risen from death.’  Matthew 28:5-7a
 
Bobby loved Easter. He even enjoyed all the extra time at church that his family spent during this special time of year. Just last week they had the Procession of the Palms and for the first time, he was old enough to participate. He felt very special as he walked into the sanctuary carrying his own palm.
 
Mom always planned a very special Easter dinner and Grandma and Grandpa drove in from the farm to join them, bringing Grandma’s special Easter cake baked in the shape of a cross. There were the usual Easter baskets stuffed with peanut butter eggs and those gooey marshmallow chickens. But his favorite part had always been the hunt for eggs hidden in the back yard. The eggs sometimes had coins in them, sometimes candy, and sometimes special small toys. He and his younger brother always competed to see who could get the most eggs. Bobby usually lost to his little brother but this year was going to be different. He could feel it.
 
Easter service was nice and the choir sang some beautiful songs. But Bobby’s mind was on that egg hunt so he only halfway listened to what the Pastor was talking about. He heard something about an empty tomb and how that empty tomb was the promise that Easter brought. It was the real gift of Easter. Bobby fidgeted in his seat, anxious for service to be over so they could get home and start the egg hunt.
 
Grandma and Grandpa were there as Mom drove the old van into the garage. They always went to sunrise service, while Bobby, Mom and his little brother waited until later in the morning. The tantalizing smells of ham and green bean casserole and candied yams drifted from the open doorway as Grandma came out to greet the boys. The food smelled wonderful but his mind was still on the egg hunt and the strategy that he had mapped out.
 
Finally it was time and he and his little brother were set free in the backyard. Bobby scored the first egg but then his little brother found three in a row. For several fun minutes, they raced around the backyard, scooping up eggs and placing them in their little plastic buckets. Finally, Mom called a halt and said it was time to count eggs. When all was said and done, Bobby had one more egg than his little brother. He had finally beaten him. They emptied the eggs and all the special prizes spilled out. Bobby got to the last egg, the one that had put him on the winning side. When he opened it, he realized the egg was empty.
 
“Oh,” Grandma exclaimed. “Bobby got the real Easter prize!”
 
“But it’s empty, Grandma,” Bobby whined. “How can that be the real Easter prize?”
 
“Did you listen to the sermon this morning, Bobby?” Grandma asked. “Do you remember what the Pastor said about the empty tomb? When the women went to anoint Jesus’ body, they saw that the tomb was empty. And the angel told them not to look for Jesus there; that He had risen, just like He said He would. The scripture had been fulfilled and the promise had been sealed. Jesus rose from the dead so that boys and girls and moms and dads could have the hope for eternal life. He went through all that pain and suffering, even death, just to save us. That’s how much He loves us, Bobby.”
 

Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead.  Mark 8:31 (NLT)
 
Bobby remembered a little about what the Pastor had said. How the real gift of Easter was the empty tomb. And he remembered how the Pastor had said because Jesus was alive, we now could have the gift of new life. Bobby guessed this was a pretty good thing. That someone would love him and his Mom and Dad and Grandma and Grandpa and all his friends so much that He would give His life just so we could have life. Bobby put the little plastic egg back together and placed it beside his plate at the table. It would always be a reminder to him of what Jesus did for him and for the people he loved. It really was the best Easter gift of all.
 

But Mary stood outside the tomb, crying. While she was still crying, she bent down and looked inside the tomb…she turned around and saw Jesus standing there. But she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Whom are you looking for?” Mary thought he was the gardener. So she said to him, “Did you take him away, sir? Tell me where you put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” Mary turned toward Jesus and said in the Jewish language, “Rabboni.” (This means Teacher.)… Mary Magdalene went and said to the followers, “I saw the Lord!” And she told them what Jesus had said to her.  John 20:11,14-16, 18 (ICB)
God bless, 

Kim, a stander in Nebraska

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Pompano Beach, FL 33061

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