EASTER AT CALVARY CHAPEL
Day 1 - A Coming Kingdom
Monday, April 11th. Written by Pastor Ryan Marr.
Scripture: John 18:28-36
The scene of Jesus, the Jews and Pilate is a conversation about kingdoms, worship and kings. The amazement lies in how Jesus challenges each of these groups of people. Jesus’ charge to be the Son of Man and the Messiah (Matthew 26:63-63) demanded worship from the Jews, but they issued a decree of death instead. The Jews were deeply worshipful and cared very much about their external worship (v.28), but Jesus proved to be a conflict for their worship and, with that, it meant removing him. On the other side Pilate (who was not a Jew) was concerned about kingdoms and kings. That is what Pilate did- he ruled a part of the kingdom on behalf of the emperor of Rome. Jesus’ claim of a kingdom was met with Pilate’s question of power, “You are king, then!” So, where is your kingdom? Pilate was curious about a king whose kingdom was not of this world, but how could this be? Power and Worship came together in the person of Jesus. He externally didn’t receive worship, but yet laid down his power instead.
The irony of this scene is that it seems that Jesus is seen as a failed king, since he was without a kingdom. The reality is that Jesus laid down his power as a king to install his kingdom in a way that no one expected – through his resurrection over death. The Jews (and Pilate’s) approach to Jesus is no different today. Jesus’ invitation as a king is off-putting and controversial to some, but seeing Jesus here shows us the depth of his love and commitment to establish his rule which welcomes us in. The resurrection of Jesus was the moment to prove that his kingdom, rule and power were true and real.
I am thankful that you care enough for us that you welcome us in. Jesus, your road was marked with suffering, but joy was set before you. Help me today to treasure, rejoice and appreciate your care for me. Jesus, thank you for bringing me into your kingdom through the forgiveness of my failed attempts at being a human. Thank you for allowing me to experience what it means to walk with you. You are the true and lasting king. Amen!
Day 2 - King of the Jews
Tuesday, April 12th. Written by Pastor Dave Dodge.
Scripture: John 18:37-40
Pilate’s question to Jesus is a probing one. His king was Caesar. The Caesars of that day also claimed to be divine. Pilate is very aware of the intrigue and power-plays that Roman Emperors have employed to become kings. They were hardly divine. Pilate wants to know if this man named Jesus bears any threat to his position as Governor of Judea or to Rome.
Jesus’ answer to Pilate belays some of His fear, especially when Jesus describes truth as His rallying cry for supporters. The truth doesn’t mean all that much to this Governor. His mindset is when truth versus power, truth is dropped like a hot rock. Pilate’s sarcastic response reinforces the idea that truth to him is easily compromised, countered, contradicted, and ultimately crushed. This man in front of him might be a brave fool, but he is no real threat. He would prefer to let Him go. Pilate is very familiar with trumped up charges from the Jewish Leadership that already has him under the watchful eye of Rome. He knows what Kings are, what kingdoms are, where they come from, and how they are maintained. In his frame of reference he only sees a poor, pathetic man, whose small band of followers are not even present.
As Jesus does so many times, He answers Pilate’s question with another question. Pilate arrogantly waves this off and though perplexed by Him, is at the same time relieved to know that, in his mind, Jesus is certainly not a King. His language is preposterous and Pilate writes him off as an articulate lunatic.
But Pilate is also blinded. He does not see that Jesus is armed with so much more than truth, as Pilate knows it. In Jn 8:31, Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him, “If you really want to be my disciples you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”. Unfortunately these Jewish followers didn’t truly believe Him either. They couldn’t see that their blindness to His truth was actually the Sin that Jesus came to set them free from. This group just got angry and retorted, “Set free! We’ve never been enslaved to anyone”. When in reality they had been enslaved by many warring nations to the north and to the south of them. Unfortunately, this happens all too often to followers who are not yet true disciples. The great commission in Matthew 28, commands disciples to go and make more disciples. To find those who have been called by the Father, to receive Jesus righteousness that He secured for all who would believe the truth of His finished work on the Cross. That truth, not only redeems us, and makes us fit for heaven, but continues to set us free from our brokenness as we mature into true disciples. Jesus will pose questions to our obvious sin pursuits. He will draw us deeper and deeper into His sin freeing truth and the love that he displayed in his death, burial, and resurrection.
Free us to respond to your loving inquiries as you seek only to transform us from glory to glory more into your image, through the process of sanctification. Instruct our hearts to humbly seek your life giving wisdom even when it is difficult, and in view of your great mercy offer ourselves as living sacrifices in our worship of You.
Day 3 - A King Handed Over
Wednesday, April 13th. Written by Elder Mike Wilsbach.
Scripture: John 19:1-16
Pilate gave the crowd a choice. Who should he release: Jesus, the king of the Jews, in whom he found no guilt or Barabbas, a violent revolutionary? In trying to keep peace with the Jewish leaders, Pilate at first only saw Jesus as a man. Pilate’s attitude was about to change. The Jewish leaders pushed Pilate to order the death penalty so he hurried into the judgment hall to speak to Jesus, the words that Pilate heard change his mind, was Jesus only a man or was he the son of God?
Pilate stated several times that he had found no basis for a charge against Jesus after he heard that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. What changed his mind?
Pilate now sought to have Jesus released, but the Jews threatened to accuse him before Caesar, saying, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar.” The Jewish mob cried out, “Crucify Him.” Pilate seemingly gave in to pressure from the Jewish leaders and in order to avoid possible unrest, handed Jesus over to be crucified.
Who is Jesus? Who is Jesus to each of us? Is he just a man or is he the Son of God? These are questions that we cannot ignore. Do we ever feel pressure to serve the world rather than the Jesus Son of God? Unfortunately, that is a part of living in this world. The true question is: how do you respond?
Why would He do such a thing? Jesus gave up His life for sinners such as us. We cannot comprehend such love from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus poured out His life that we might have eternal life with Him forever!
The more I think about the cross, the more I begin to understand the immensity of what the Lord Jesus did for me and for the entire world. Thank you that I have come to an understanding of who Jesus is and what He has done for me so that, by faith in Him, I am free from all condemnation, forgiven of my sins and eternally secure in Christ. May I never ever forget what Jesus has done for me through time and into eternity – in Jesus name I pray.
Day 4 - A King on a Cross
Thursday, April 14th. Written by Elder Tim Thompson.
Scripture: John 19:17-27
The inscription reads “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” A simple title with the real truth being not just a King was nailed to a cross. He is:
- The King of Righteousness
- The King of Holiness
- The King of Glory
The Lord our God did not just make a simple sacrifice for you and me. No, The Lord our God took His greatest love, His precious grace, His valuable mercy—His only Son—and nailed a King on a Cross for us the ungodly, the undeserving, the guilty to reconcile us to the Lord our God. No other way but for a King on a Cross to redeem our broken relationship with the Lord our God.
- The King of Righteousness, to put us in that perfect relationship with the Lord God almighty. No other way but for a King on a Cross.
- The King of Holiness, to sanctify us and make us holy. No other way but for a King on a Cross.
- The King of Glory, to be our glorification, the final removal of sin from our life. No other way but for a King on a Cross.
Righteousness is being in that faithful, pure, and justified relation to the Lord our God. We are declared righteous because of a King on a Cross. We can now live in a faithful, pure, justified and righteous relationship to the Lord our God. Let us endeavor to live a life that is respectful to our King. Live a life that honors Jesus Christ, the King on a Cross.
Holiness, to be set apart in purity for the Lord’s purpose. The Lord our God, through His work of sanctification, is at work in us and through us to make us into the image of Jesus Christ, pure and holy. Let us allow the Holy Spirit within our life to continue to purify us into the image of Jesus Christ. Yield to the guiding of the Holy Spirit working in your life because of Jesus Christ, the King on a Cross.
Glorification is when our earthly bodies will be transformed into our heavenly bodies. We will be like the resurrected Jesus Christ, free from sin and its consequences in your new body. You are a citizen of Heaven, therefore live as a “citizen of heaven”. We believers of the gospel are ambassadors of the Lord our God, a living witness on the earth to those around us. Live to represent Jesus Christ, the King on a Cross.
Dear Heavenly Father,
All honor and glory belongs to you because you are here in our midst with our failures and disobedience. You are the one true God who made a way for us to be reconciled to you when no way existed. Your death payment for my sins, for my selfishness, is a debit I can never pay back. You are honored above all creation. I repent of my disobedience to you and receive your forgiveness. Continue to make me into your holy perfection and I give myself to your glory and service. You must increase in my life and I must decrease.
Day 5 - The True King's Death
Friday, April 15th. Written by Pastor Niles Parker.
Scripture: John 19:28-37
“It is finished.”
It is hard to imagine the pain and sadness that filled the air on this day. For Jesus, as he willingly walked through an excruciatingly physical and emotional experience, taking our place on the cross. Knowing that his father would turn his face from his son for the first time. For the disciples and followers, watching their lord and savior being beaten, crucified and mocked while they could only stand by to watch and pray. Praying that what Jesus had told them, what he had promised, what he had taught them would indeed be true. They must have thought of his past words and teachings to them as he promised that His life would be laid down for them, that he would fall (John 12:23-24), but in doing so, he would secure for them eternal life and break the curse of sin forever. A day that should make us feel sad, defeated and lost, but as you look closer we get to see the hope filled words as Jesus completed his mission and secured our freedom from death forever.
“It is finished.”
Words that set-in stone the truth of our salvation and eternal hope, secured by Jesus’ sacrificial death. He completed a task that no other person would be able to achieve. He climbed a mountain too high for us to overcome. He carried a weight too heavy for us to carry on our own. As he “gave up his spirit” (vs 30), being alone for the first time, experiencing the weight of God’s wrath barreling down on his shoulders, looking out to the people he was giving his own life for, Jesus knew what he was doing was exactly God’s will and design. He has fulfilled his mission; a mission of redemption and rescue that was only possible because of his sinless life and sacrificial death.
“It is finished.”
The reality of Jesus’ complete work is not only something to see in this passage but a reality every day of our lives and for all eternity. Of all people ever born under God’s law, only Jesus was perfect, sinless and held to it completely. Though he was “tempted”, no pride was ever in his heart and mind, no anger ever shot at another person, no envy or greed clouding his judgment, no selfishness. Only contentment, humility, love and joy as he lived to do his father’s will. Not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17) – setting us free from the debt that stood against us, canceling it and “nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14).
“It is finished.”
Jesus’ sacrifice not only sets us free from the law, but also sets us free from the enemy that wants to destroy us. As the ancient promise to the serpent that “he would crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15) is fulfilled and complete. The enemy, the accuser, has lost his fight and his “works are destroyed” (1 John 3:8). Jesus’ death on the cross heals any brokenness and frustration that the enemy would create, as He opens our blind eyes, regenerates our dead hearts, clears our clouded minds and secures our eternal bodies forever. The enemy is defeated and silenced as the words “it is finished” is amplified from Jesus’ dying breath.
I pray that we would be able to see the reality of the cross every day in our lives. That it would impact us in every thought, every action, every word, every hope and in all things. Thank you that when we come to you, when we seek you, when we call to you, we know you listen and see us because of what your Son did on the cross. Thank you that we can worship you and live for you in pure joy and peace for all eternity.
Day 6 - Burying a King
Saturday, April 16th. Written by Elder Phil Dickhaus.
Scripture: John 19:38-42
Both Joseph and Nicodemus were members of the highly regarded Sanhedrin, the ruling council of the Jews. Up until this point, they also had both kept secret their willingness to accept Jesus’ claims to be their long-awaited Messiah. But now, they were willing to pay the cost. This request to bury Jesus most likely cost them their place on the council. It would also cost them their friends and standing in the community. Scholars estimate the cost of these burying spices, in today’s dollars, would be at least $150,000. Perhaps Joseph had been saving these spices for his own burial. Another cost to them would have been the ability to participate in the Passover that week, which was prohibited for someone coming in close contact with a dead body. However, they were now willing to pay those costs when they measured them against the cost that Jesus had just paid on their behalf. Sadly, it took His death for them to admit that He was the One they had been waiting for all along.
For months, perhaps years, Nicodemus and Joseph held themselves back from identifying with Jesus Christ. Did they fear what it would cost them in terms of their careers, financially, or with relationships? How about us? Where do we hold back, for fear of what it will cost us to be identified as a “Jesus follower”? Do we hesitate to share what He’s done in our lives, with others, out of fear of being bold, or of concern of what they’ll think about us? Do we hold back financially, and “save it for a rainy day” versus invest it in kingdom work today? And, if we are holding back, what does that reflect as to our appreciation (or lack thereof) of His life, sacrifice, and death on our behalf? What change in our lives needs to happen, today, to show the Lord that identifying with Him comes before anything that would impact us? No doubt, in preparing the body of Jesus Christ for burial that day, both Joseph and Nicodemus went home with His blood now showing on their clothes. When others look at us, do they see us through the blood of Christ shed for our benefit?
As we look forward to celebrating your Resurrection, help us to not forget what it took to get there. You didn’t hold back. You gave it all. Would you allow us to do the same… to not hold back in terms of our recognition of what you mean to us… to not hold back in our devotion to you, in our service for you, in the giving of our time, our energy, our talents, and our finances? May this Easter be one that we look back on, and see it as the beginning of a new life for each one of us, one that would give you the honor, attention, respect and appreciation that you deserve. Joseph and Nicodemus had the honor of burying not just a body, but the King of Kings. We have the privilege of knowing the same. And, we ask this in the name above all names, our risen Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Jesus’ story doesn’t end in burial, but with His resurrection! Join us for our Easter services on Sunday, April 17 to learn how Jesus conquered death and how He saves from eternal separation from God!