Easter-The Central Event in God’s Plan

by G. Lee Southard, PhD | April 6, 2020

Easter is the time that we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the most important event in human history but mourns the suffering He had to endure. It is also a time to remember that this was the work of a sovereign God who would love his people so much that before He created everything that exists, He would establish a plan of salvation so that man could live eternally with Him. He would carry out that plan on earth by working supernaturally, physically and spiritually utilizing all of his creation. The Bible tells that story. The following story demonstrating this sovereignty is delivered in verbatim scripture taken from the Living Bible translation. It is knitted together to provide the central message to be considered by those who genuinely seek to understand and reason for themselves why they should be in a personal relationship with the sovereign God, the creator of all there is.

Before Creation – Eternity Past

Before anything else existed, there was Christ, with God. He has always been alive and is himself God. He created everything there is—nothing exists that he didn’t make. Eternal life is in him, and this life gives light to all mankind. His life is the light that shines through the darkness—and the darkness can never extinguish it. a

Long ago, even before he made the world, God chose us to be his very own through what Christ would do for us; he decided then to make us holy in his eyes, without a single fault—we who stand before him covered with his love.  His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for us. And he did this because he wanted to!…  God has told us his secret reason for sending Christ, a plan he decided on in mercy long ago;  and this was his purpose: that when the time is ripe he will gather us all together from wherever we are—in heaven or on earth—to be with him in Christ forever. b 

Creation – The Beginning of Time

When God began creating the heavens and the earth, the earth was a shapeless, chaotic mass, with the Spirit of God brooding over the dark gaseous mass. Then God said, “Let there be light.” And light appeared.  And God was pleased with it and divided the light from the darkness. He called the light “daytime,” and the darkness “nighttime.” Together they formed the first day. c

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness to be the master of all life upon the earth and in the skies and in the seas.” So, God made man like his Maker. Like God did God make man; Man and maid did he make them. And God blessed them and told them, “Multiply and fill the earth and subdue it; you are masters of the fish and birds and all the animals. And look! I have given you the seed-bearing plants throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food.  And I’ve given all the grass and plants to the animals and birds for their food.” d

Man’s Disobedience and Death

But the Lord God gave the man this warning: “You may eat any fruit in the garden except fruit from the Tree of Conscience—for its fruit will open your eyes to make you aware of right and wrong, good and bad. If you eat its fruit, you will be doomed to die.” e

“That’s a lie!” the serpent hissed. “You will not die! 5 God knows very well that the instant you eat it you will become like him, for your eyes will be opened—you will be able to distinguish good from evil!” The woman was convinced. How lovely and fresh looking it was! And it would make her so wise! So, she ate some of the fruit and gave some to her husband, and he ate it too. f

The Lord God asked, “Have you eaten fruit from the tree I warned you about?”  “Yes,” Adam admitted, “but it was the woman you gave me who brought me some, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God asked the woman, “How could you do such a thing?” “The serpent tricked me” she replied. g

Then the Lord said, “Now that the man has become as we are, knowing good from bad, what if he eats the fruit of the Tree of Life and lives forever?” So, the Lord God banished him forever from the Garden of Eden and sent him out to farm the ground from which he had been taken. h

When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race. His sin spread death throughout all the world, so everything began to grow old and die, for all sinned. i Yes, all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious ideal; j For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. k

Man’s Salvation for Eternity Future

 For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.  “There is no eternal doom awaiting those who trust him to save them. But those who don’t trust him have already been tried and condemned for not believing in the only Son of God. Their sentence is based on this fact: that the Light from heaven came into the world, but they loved the darkness more than the Light, for their deeds were evil.” l

Jesus Born

 … God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin, Mary, engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David.  Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Congratulations, favored lady! The Lord is with you!”

 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be frightened, Mary,” the angel told her, “for God has decided to wonderfully bless you!  Very soon now, you will become pregnant and have a baby boy, and you are to name him ‘Jesus.’ 

Mary asked the angel, “But how can I have a baby? I am a virgin.”  The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of God shall overshadow you; so, the baby born to you will be utterly holy—the Son of God. m

Jesus’ Public Ministry

 … Jesus grew both tall and wise and was loved by God and man.n … one day, after the crowds had been baptized, Jesus himself was baptized; and as he was praying, the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove settled upon him, and a voice from heaven said, “You are my much loved Son, yes, my delight.”  Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his public ministry.o

…. Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” p … Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. q

… Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me.  And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.  I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.  The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.  For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.  And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” r

This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.  Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. s

Jesus’ Suffering and Death

 Then the chief priests and Pharisees convened a council to discuss the situation. “What are we going to do?” they asked each other. “For this man certainly does miracles. If we let him alone the whole nation will follow him—and then the Roman army will come and kill us and take over the Jewish government. t So, the Jewish police, with the soldiers and their lieutenant, arrested Jesus and tied him. u 

Then Pilate laid open Jesus’ back with a leaded whip and the soldiers made a crown of thorns and placed it on his head and robed him in royal purple.  “Hail, ‘King of the Jews’!” they mocked, and struck him with their fists. Pilate went outside again and said to the Jews, “I am going to bring him out to you now but understand clearly that I find him not guilty.” Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said, “Behold the man!” At sight of him the chief priests and Jewish officials began yelling, “Crucify! Crucify!” v

You crucify him,” Pilate said. “I find him not guilty.” They replied, “By our laws he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God.” Then Pilate tried to release him, but the Jewish leaders told him, “If you release this man, you are no friend of Caesar’s. Anyone who declares himself a king is a rebel against Caesar.” At these words Pilate brought Jesus out to them again and sat down at the judgment bench on the stone-paved platform. It was now about noon of the day before Passover. And Pilate said to the Jews, “Here is your king!” “Away with him,” they yelled. “Away with him—crucify him!”  Then Pilate gave Jesus to them to be crucified.  So, they had him at last, and he was taken out of the city, carrying his cross to the place known as “The Skull,” in Hebrew, “Golgotha.”  There they crucified him and two others with him, one on either side, with Jesus between them. w

Afterwards Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jewish leaders, boldly asked Pilate for permission to take Jesus’ body down; and Pilate told him to go ahead. So, he came and took it away.  Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night came too, bringing a hundred pounds of embalming ointment made from myrrh and aloes. Together they wrapped Jesus’ body in a long linen cloth saturated with the spices, as is the Jewish custom of burial. The place of crucifixion was near a grove of trees, where there was a new tomb, never used before. And so, because of the need for haste before the Sabbath, and because the tomb was close at hand, they laid him there. x

Jesus’ Resurrection

Suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and rolled aside the stone and sat on it. His face shone like lightning and his clothing was a brilliant white.  The guards shook with fear when they saw him and fell into a dead faint. Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be frightened!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified, but he isn’t here! For he has come back to life again, just as he said he would. Come in and see where his body was lying…” q Then the men asked, “Why are you looking in a tomb for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He has come back to life again! Don’t you remember what he told you back in Galilee—that the Messiah must be betrayed into the power of evil men and be crucified and that he would rise again the third day?”  Then they remembered. y

Jesus’ Command to Us

Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had said they would find him. There they met him and worshiped him—but some of them weren’t sure it really was Jesus!

He told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and earth. Therefore go and make disciples in all the nations baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and then teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this—that I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” z

The End of Time and Eternity Future

 “When will this happen?” the disciples asked him later, as he sat on the slopes of the Mount of Olives. “What events will signal your return and the end of the world?”

Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone fool you.  For many will come claiming to be the Messiah and will lead many astray. When you hear of wars beginning, this does not signal my return; these must come, but the end is not yet.  The nations and kingdoms of the earth will rise against each other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in many places.  But all this will be only the beginning of the horrors to come.  “Then you will be tortured and killed and hated all over the world because you are mine, and many of you shall fall back into sin and betray and hate each other.  And many false prophets will appear and lead many astray.  Sin will be rampant everywhere and will cool the love of many.  But those enduring to the end shall be saved and the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it, and then, finally, the end will come.” aa

… I want you to know what happens to a Christian when he dies so that when it happens, you will not be full of sorrow, as those are who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and then came back to life again, we can also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him all the Christians who have died.  I can tell you this directly from the Lord: that we who are still living when the Lord returns will not rise to meet him ahead of those who are in their graves.  For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a mighty shout and with the soul-stirring cry of the archangel and the great trumpet-call of God. And the believers who are dead will be the first to rise to meet the Lord. Then we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with him forever. So, comfort and encourage each other with this news .bb

 “… I am coming soon, and my reward is with me, to repay everyone according to the deeds he has done.  I am the A and the Z, the Beginning and the End, the First and Last. cc

References (Living Bible)

a – John 1:1-5
b – Ephesians 1:4-5, 9-10 
c – Genesis 1:1-5
d – Genesis 1:26-30
e – Genesis 2:16-17
f – Genesis 3:4-6
g – Genesis 3: 11-13
h – Genesis 3:22-23
i – Romans 5: 12
j – Romans 3: 23
k -Romans 6:23
l – John 3:16-19
m – Luke 1: 26-35
n – Luke 2: 52
o – Luke 3: 21-23
p – Mark 1:14-15
q – Luke 7: 20-23
r – John 12: 44-50
s – John 21: 24-5m
t – John 11: 47-53
u – John 18:12
v – John 19: 1-7, 12-18
w – John 18: 38-42
x – Matthew 28: 2-6
y – Luke 24: 7-8
z – Mathew 28: 16-20
aa- Mathew 24: 3-14
bb – 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18
cc – Revelation 22: 12-13

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