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The Best $900 Ever Spent This Easter

April 11, 2022

A man and his ever-nagging wife went on vacation in Jerusalem. While they were there, the wife passed away. The undertaker told the husband, “You can have her buried here in the Holy Land for $150, or we can have her shipped back home for $5000. The husband thought about it and told the undertaker he would have her shipped back home.

The undertaker asked him, “Why would you spend $5000 to have her shipped home when you could have a beautiful burial here in the Holy Land, and it would only cost $150?" The husband replied, "Long ago, a man died here, was buried here, and rose from the dead three days later. I just can't take that chance!" 

Isn’t it interesting how many people these days who say they don't believe in Jesus' birth, life, death, and resurrection still act as if they do? Put someone who says they don't believe in God in a crisis and watch how that improves their prayer life in a hurry. Unbelief can be expensive. It could cost us dearly. But for whatever reason, I have realized that some people just can't take that chance.   

Years ago, I was in San Nicolas, Argentina. I spoke at a city-wide series of meetings leading up to Resurrection Day or Easter. It was exciting to be surrounded by an atmosphere of anticipation and celebration surrounding the resurrection of Christ. To them, Easter is a reality, not just some religious ceremony or something to be tolerated. They're not surrounded by the skepticism that reigns in many parts of the world against Easter. They know Good Friday was OK, but Easter will be glorious. 

Do you recall those two thieves on the crosses with Jesus? Even though they both saw the same thing, one recognized the divinity of Jesus, and the other didn’t. The thief who recognized Jesus and the meaning of Easter changed a lifetime of failure into an eternity of success. Two people with the same culture, country, language, and reason for being where they were, looked at Jesus and had two completely different outcomes. That's still true today.  

The story of Zacchaeus, the unpopular tax collector, illustrates my point. He recognized the divinity of Jesus. Jesus responded to that respect by having a meal in his home and changing his life from earth to 'on earth as it is in heaven,' forever. 

Jesus transforms all people from the inside out and turns them right side up. Jesus separates the person from their problem and a person's essence from their behavior. He honors the person yet fixes their situation at the same time. He recognizes our worth. Now can we recognize His worth?

This story, written by an unknown author, perfectly captures the Easter story's worth. 

Three guys were found guilty of crimes against humanity. Two guys committed crimes. One guy didn't. Three guys were given government trials. Two guys had fair trials. One guy didn't. Three guys were whipped and beaten. Two guys had it coming. One guy didn't. Three guys were given crosses to carry. Two guys earned their crosses. One guy didn't. Three guys were mocked and spit at along the way. Two guys cursed and spit back. One guy didn't. 

Three guys were nailed to crosses. Two guys deserved it. One guy didn't. Three guys agonized over their abandonment. Two guys had reason to be abandoned. One guy didn't. Three guys talked while hanging on their crosses. One guy argued. This time two guys didn't. Three guys knew death was coming. One guy resisted. Two guys didn't.

Three guys died on three crosses and were buried. Three days later. Two bodies remained in their graves. One body didn’t. 

Easter is knowing there is a God in heaven, knowing that there is first the earthly life, then the second life, which is eternal life. God raised Jesus from the dead to show us the 'way' to 'life' is the 'truth' of the resurrection. If the living knew what the dead know, the whole world would follow Christ. 

Here’s another Easter lesson within a story. 

Chris received a bill from the hospital for his recent surgery. He was astonished to see a $900 fee for the anesthesiologist. He called the doctor’s office for an explanation. "Is this some kind of mistake?" "No, not at all," the doctor said calmly. "Well," said Chris, "that's awfully costly for knocking someone out." "Not at all," replied the doctor. "I knock you out for free. The nine hundred dollars is for bringing you back around." 

This Resurrection Day weekend, let's stop and think of the price God paid to save every one of us. Let’s shift our focus from what we are doing to what God has done for us. God redeems and then lifts. The price God paid for resurrecting and restoring us is higher than condemning us. God gave us the gift of eternal life rather than the debt of a funeral. God paid the ultimate price, Jesus, to "bring us back around."

Remember, we can't understand Easter through our natural minds, vast education, experience, or accomplishments. So instead, we come to Jesus by faith. That doesn't mean that we throw our brains away. It means that we don't let our brains throw our faith away.

Maybe that $900 fee wasn’t so expensive after all.

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Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
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