Devotional: The Hope of Easter

Did you know that Jesus understands what it feels like to be lonely, abandoned, and misunderstood? He also knows how pain, sorrow and abandonment feel. How? Jesus experienced every condition, pain and feeling we could possibly feel today when He was on this earth. Scripture tells us in Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are yet he did not sin.” Jesus experienced everything we could face today. Even better news is that the next verse says we can approach God with confidence knowing we will receive mercy and find grace in our time of need. Jesus knows how to extend grace and mercy because His Father extended it to Him while on this earth.

Jesus agonized at Gethsemane. It was there at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem that Jesus prayed with His disciples the night before His crucifixion. It was there that Jesus experienced sorrow unlike any He had ever faced. Isaiah 53:3 tells us Jesus was a man of great sorrow who was very acquainted with the deepest kind of grief. But Jesus didn’t stay in grief and sorrow, He triumphed victoriously over it by resurrecting from death. He defeated death, sin and the grave! Gethsemane means “olive press.” In Gethsemane, olives were pressed to make oil. It is interesting that Jesus was being “pressed” at this time here as well. He endured this and the cross so that we may have life and freedom. Jesus’ torturous trials brought us salvation. Now, we can call on Him and know He hears us because He endured more than we ever could imagine.

Are you being pressed from all sides? Jesus understands. When Jesus was praying at Gethsemane He was in such agony that he sweated drops of blood. Luke the physician wrote this (Luke 22:44) and the condition is called “hematidrosis.” Under extreme stress blood vessels around the sweat glands constrict and blood can be pushed through them. Sure, Jesus was in agony thinking about the horrible trauma He would soon face on the cross. But more than that, He thought about the weight of the guilt of all the sin of all humanity that He would bear. Could He have avoided it? As powerful as Jesus is, I’m sure He could have disappeared or summoned a legion of angels to protect Him. But He chose to be wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus said, “not my will but Yours (God the Father) be done” (Luke 22:42). The purpose of the suffering was to willingly lay down His life so you and I could have eternal life in Heaven and victorious life on this earth.

Jesus understands your sorrow and suffering. But more than that, He understands your sinful state. Jesus didn’t just die to take care of your earthly stress and pain. He died to bring you eternal peace and salvation as well. Easter brings hope. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, even though he may die, shall live” (John 11:25). Placing your faith in the risen Jesus means you will live forever in God’s presence. Let Easter mean more than eggs, bunnies and family dinners. Let it be a personal experience of worshiping the risen Savior who brings you eternal life and peace in the midst of trials.

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Stephen Harrison is associate pastor of Family Church at White Hall.

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