You might have missed a few things in the Easter story.
Growing up, I heard the story about Jesus coming back to life after being crucified on a cross and buried several times. But later in life, I’ve discovered there are a few really cool things about the story that are often skipped over on Easter Sunday.
I’ve come to love these little tidbits about the story of Jesus’ resurrection and I find that they really enhance the depth and meaning of this time of year for me, so here are a few things you might have missed from the Easter story that are awesome.
Sweating blood is a real thing
When I read that Jesus sweat blood as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane the night he was betrayed, I guess I always thought that was a little extra something to add drama to the story. Jesus knows he’s about to be crucified and he’s so worried about it he even sweats blood. But that was really just to scare the kids, right?
Turns out, there’s an actual medical condition called hematidrosis in which a person under extreme stress can have their capillaries burst and blood seeps out of the sweat glands. Wait, you weren’t eating or anything just now, were you? That’s a little gross, so my bad.
The torn veil in the Temple was a big deal
In Matthew 27:51, the veil of the Temple tears in two from top to bottom. This is important for two reasons:
First, tearing from top to bottom means that it couldn’t have been done by a person. They would have torn this giant curtain from the bottom to the top since the top was likely out of reach. Tearing it from top to bottom meant God did it himself.
Second, the veil actually protected the priests and people from the area of the Temple called the “Holy of Holies,” where God’s presence actually dwelled. Only the priests could enter it. Anyone else, and they were struck dead. Only those who were the most righteous could enter there.
But now that the veil had been torn, everyone was exposed, but they didn’t die. This signifies that a new way of approaching God had begun. When the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost (50 days after Passover), God then made his home inside our hearts, not outside in a temple.
Communion is connected to Passover and slavery in Egypt
Jesus takes the bread and the wine from the Passover meal to symbolize the new covenant with those who put their faith in Him. It’s no coincidence, however, that these elements come from the Passover meal, a bitter-tasting meal designed to remind the Jews of how they once were in bondage but God rescued them by sending Moses to lead them to the Promised Land.
Now, Jesus takes two elements to represent a new covenant with anyone who believes in Him (not just the Jews) because we are in bondage to sin and God is rescuing us by sending Jesus to lead us to a relationship with God that leads to Heaven, our new Promised Land. Sound familiar? I know, weird, right?
Joseph of Arimathea was on the council that killed Jesus
When Jesus died, a guy named Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate to ask for Jesus’ body to bury it. He then took Jesus, prepared him for burial as much as he could before the Sabbath started, and sealed him up in his own family’s tomb.
In Luke 23:50, it says that Joseph was a 1) rich man, 2) on the Council, and 3) a disciple of Jesus. Usually, someone described as rich or on the Council was one of the “bad guys” in the story but this guy actually voted against crucifying Jesus.
So, yes, I’m telling you that not all Pharisees hated Jesus. Weird, right? It just goes to show you that labeling an entire group of people with generalities has never been a very accurate method of understanding one another.
God didn’t forsake Jesus
Something Jesus says from the cross bothered me for years until I had a seminary professor explain it in more depth. Now it’s my favorite part of the whole story.
When Jesus says “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” in Aramaic while on the cross, I had a hard time thinking that God could do such a thing to his son.
Pastors would try to explain it away with things like “Oh, well, when Jesus took the sin of the world on his shoulders, God couldn’t look at him.” Meh….then why did Jesus ask him out loud about it? Didn’t he know what was going on? Didn’t God? Isn’t Jesus God and he should know the 411 on the salvation plan?
Open up Psalm 22 and read the first line. The book of Psalms was commonly noted as a place for not only music, but prophecy, and this one comes straight from King Dave himself (Jesus’ great to the tenth power grandfather, btw).
Any Jewish male leader in the crowd would have memorized this Psalm along with much of the Scriptures as a boy and would immediately recognize its opening line. Then they would begin to see the parallels of this prophetic Psalm and the moments unfolding before their eyes right then. Here are just a few parallels from the passage:
- Psalm 22:7-8 says “All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. “He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” That happened in Matthew 27:39,43-44.
- Psalm 22:14-15 says “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me. My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.” That happened in John 19:28.
- Psalm 22:16-18 says “Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” That happened in Matthew 27:35 and every account says that he was nailed to the cross through his hands and feet.
I imagine there was a serious case of deja-vu going on in the crowd at that moment. To a Jew, it would have set off alarm bells everywhere. That last one is pretty hard to ignore. Not to mention that first-century Jews would have recognized Psalm 22 as a Messianic Prophecy Psalm, so the meaning of this Psalm and what they were witnessing would have been pretty obvious to them.
The Easter story is a rich and powerful story of God’s love for the world motivating Him to give up his only son so that whoever believes in Jesus could be saved from sin. We hope you and your family are blessed as you celebrate the resurrection of Jesus!
Seth Muse is the Communications Director at Hope Fellowship. He’s married with two kids and lives in Little Elm. He got his Masters in Media and Communications from Dallas Theological Seminary and loves Star Wars, social media, and The Office.