Easter is the most important Christian holiday. But why? Today, Spotlight finishes the story behind this holiday.
Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Colin Lowther. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.
In today’s Spotlight we tell the second part of the Easter story. In an earlier program we told how a large crowd of people cheered joyfully for Jesus as he entered the city of Jerusalem. They were excited because they had heard about Jesus’ great teaching and miracles. Then Jesus ate a special meal with his followers, called disciples. But one of his disciples betrayed him. The disciple told the religious leaders where they could find Jesus. The religious leaders did not like Jesus’ teachings or his popularity. So they brought him to the governor - the area’s Roman leader. The people demanded that the governor sentence Jesus to death. So, he did. This is where part two of our story begins.
After the governor sentenced Jesus to death, Roman soldiers took him away. They laughed at him. Jesus claimed he was the king of the Jews. Now the soldiers made a crown out of a plant with sharp thorns. They pushed the crown on Jesus’ head and laughed at him.
“Ha! Yes, now you look like a king. Let’s worship our new king!”
“Yes, we honor you, king of the Jews!”
The soldiers spat on him and beat him. Then they made him carry a large cross. It was made of two pieces of wood. And it was extremely heavy. Crowds of people gathered in the streets to watch Jesus carry the cross.
Finally, Jesus and the soldiers arrived at a place called Golgotha. This is where the government often executed criminals. The Roman soldiers nailed Jesus to the cross. They put small, sharp pieces of metal through his hands and feet. The nails held Jesus in place as soldiers lifted the cross to stand. Jesus’ enemies stood under the cross. They laughed at Jesus and mocked him.
“So, are you really a king?”
“Save yourself, then! If you are really the son of God, come down from that cross and save yourself!”
“Yes, come down! Then we will believe in you!”
But Jesus knew that in order to save God’s people, he had to die. He was a perfect man. He had never sinned. But he was not just a man. He was also God. Jesus knew he must suffer to pay for the sins of all humans. If he did, all people would be free from the punishment they deserved – death. He looked at the people below him, laughing at him. He cried out:
“Father God! Forgive them! They do not know what they are doing!”
For hours Jesus hung on the cross. He experienced great torture. But finally, he knew that it was his time to die. He cried out again:
“Father, I give my spirit into your hands.”
After he said this, he died. At this moment miracles happened through the city. There was an earthquake. Rocks split. An important curtain in the temple split. Jesus was dead.
It was almost night time. Jesus’ followers wanted to prepare his body to be buried. A few men and women asked the governor for Jesus’ body. He gave it to them. They covered Jesus’ body in clean cloths. Then they put his body into a stone burial tomb. They rolled a large stone in front of the tomb - to close it. Jesus was buried.
A few days later, two women visited Jesus’ tomb. They were Jesus’ followers, Mary and Mary Magdalene. They had come to mourn. As they walked, they wondered how they would enter the tomb.
“Who will roll away the stone for us? It is much too big for us to move ourselves.”
“Yes, if we cannot move the stone, we cannot see Jesus’ body.”
But when they arrived, they felt the earth shake. They saw that the stone in front of the tomb was gone! They went into the tomb. They looked around. They saw a man, but it was not Jesus. This man looked like he was dressed in light. The women were so afraid that they could not speak. But the man said:
“Do not be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus who died on the cross. He is not here. He is alive - he has risen from the dead! Come look for yourselves.”
The women were afraid, but also filled with joy! The man continued:
“Go! Go quickly and tell his disciples that Jesus is alive! You will see him soon.”
The women immediately left to find the disciples. They ran to where some of the disciples were.
“What are you doing Mary? Why are you running?”
“You look frightened!”
“He... He is alive!”
“What? Who? Who are you talking about?
“Jesus! His tomb is empty. He is gone! Alive! A man was there - a man like I have never seen. He told us that Jesus is alive!”
“This cannot be true!”
Some of the disciples ran to see the empty tomb with their own eyes. They found it empty - just as the women had said.
Over the next weeks Jesus met with all of his disciples. The disciples could not believe what they were seeing. They had seen Jesus die. They had buried him. But he was here now. They felt Jesus’ hands and feet. They felt where the metal nails had gone through his skin into the cross. They ate meals with him. He was alive. Jesus explained everything to them. He said:
“I have done everything that I came to do. Prophets from long ago said that Christ would suffer and then rise again on the third day. And because of this all people on earth can be forgiven of their sins. You are witnesses to everything that I have done.” [Luke 24:46]
After about a month, Jesus returned to heaven. But before he left, he told his disciples to tell everyone about what had happened. He said:
“All authority in heaven and on earth is mine. So go to the people of all nations. Make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Teach them everything I have told you. I will be with you always until the end of time.” [Matthew 28:18]
Since this time, this is what the followers of Jesus do. They spread the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection - the story of how he came to life after death. During Easter, Christians remember this great miracle. Christ Jesus died and rose to life again. He forgave people from their sins. Hallelujah! Praise and thanks to God!
The writer of this program was Liz Waid. The producer was Mark Drenth. This telling of the Easter Story is based on the book of Matthew, in the Christian Bible. You can listen to this program again on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘The Easter Story, Part 2’.
We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.