The Real Easter Story

By Ashlee Price

“Look Mother, is that Jesus?” a little boy called Nathan cried in horror. His mother rushed to his side, and, looking to where he pointed, she saw Jesus walking along a path, carrying a rugged cross, surrounded by a big group of people.

Mother gasped. She grabbed Nathan’s hand and together they ran to see the sight. It was Friday afternoon, and many people had gathered outside the city of Jerusalem to see the crucifixion.

Nathan and his mother stopped behind a group of weeping women, and watched the scene with grief. Nathan saw Jesus fall to the ground under the weight of the heavy cross, and then he turned to see the Roman guards grab a man from out of the crowd and order him to carry Jesus’ cross for Him.

Jesus stumbled along behind the man who carried His cross, and Nathan could see the deep red marks on Jesus’ back from where He had been whipped. He saw the crown of thorns that dug into His head, which caused blood to flow down His face, and He had bruises all over his arms and legs. What on earth has happened to Jesus? Nathan wondered in shock. Who would do this to Him?

Nathan turned to see his mother asking the group of women what had happened to Jesus, and he heard them say that the pharisees wanted to kill Jesus because they were jealous of the attention He was getting from the people. The women explained that Jesus had been awake all night in court, with the religious leaders and Pilate. Apparently the pharisees had stirred up a mob of people to try and get Pilate to crucify Jesus, even though Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent.

“And so Jesus was sentenced to death by crucifixion,” one of the women finished, letting out a loud sob and drying her tears with the sleeve of her dress.

“He was whipped, beaten and spat on by the Roman guards,” another woman said. “He was treated so cruelly that you would have thought He was a terrible murderer.”

“The saddest thing is that He has never done any wrong in His entire life!” a woman with long brown hair cried. “He truly was the Messiah, the Son of God.”

Nathan tried not to cry as he thought back to how Jesus had healed his mother from leprosy just one year ago. Jesus had done so much to help him, yet there was no way that he could help Jesus.

Nathan and his mother made their way further up the path to be closer to Jesus. The group of cruel Roman soldiers leading Jesus and two other criminals with their crosses kept walking down the path until they reached the entrance gate to Jerusalem. They passed through the gate then stopped just outside the city walls.

The man who was carrying Jesus’ cross groaned and set his heavy load on the dry ground, and the soldiers sent him away, then made Jesus lay down on the cross so that His arms were stretched out on the wooden beams. One of the soldiers reached for a hammer, and used it to pound a nail into Jesus’ hand.

Nathan let out a cry as he turned his face away from the sight. He couldn’t bear to see his beloved Jesus get hurt so badly. “Mother, why are they doing this to Jesus? Why does He have to die?” he sobbed.

Mother also turned her face away from the horrible sight. Tears ran freely down her cheeks as she wept. “Nathan, we have all sinned and need forgiveness, so Jesus, the Son of God, came down from heaven to live here on earth to show us how to live holy lives.” She sniffed. “We all deserve to die because of our sins. But so that we do not have to die, the priest kills a lamb during the Passover celebrations. You remember when John the Baptist called Jesus the Lamb of God?”

Nathan nodded.

“Well,” Mother continued, “Jesus must die because He is taking our place, just as the lamb took our place on the alter. Jesus is taking the punishment of our sins.”

Nathan put his hands to his face and cried. “I’m sorry that my sins have made Jesus die on this horrible cross,” he sobbed.

“Me too,” Mother said sadly. “But we can see how much He loves us, that He is even willing to die for us!”

“I love You Jesus,” Nathan whispered through his tears, looking at his Friend lying on the cruel cross.

As the soldier drove a nail into His other hand, Jesus let out a painful moan, but He didn’t get angry with the soldier. Nathan could hardly believe that Jesus still looked peaceful, despite what was happening to Him. Then the most amazing thing happened! Nathan heard Jesus say, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Jesus was praying for the very people who were hurting Him!

The soldier began to hammer a nail into Jesus’ feet, and then the hands and feet of the other criminals on their crosses. But the other criminals were cursing and swearing at the soldiers, they weren’t calm like Jesus was.

Nathan saw the soldiers raise the crosses and put them in holes in the ground so they stood upright. Then the soldiers stepped back and laughed at the suffering men.

Nathan wished they would stop insulting Jesus.

The priests and pharisees also began mocking, but they especially laughed at Jesus. “If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross,” they jeered. The two criminals on either side of Jesus did the same thing. They said, “If You were the Son of God, You would save Yourself and us.”

But Jesus didn’t answer their mocking and their nasty words. Nathan looked at the blood running down His gentle face, and his heart ached for poor Jesus.

Most of Jesus’ disciples seemed like they didn’t want to be near Him, which surprised Nathan. Only John, Jesus’ mother and some other women stood there watching the awful events take place. Nathan saw Jesus’ mother faint at the sight of her Son being treated so horribly.

Before long, Nathan heard the criminal on Jesus’ right side speak with a different tone. He wasn’t mocking Jesus anymore. He was saying something … asking something …

He said, “Lord, remember me, when You come into Your kingdom.” He looked sorry for what he had been saying to Jesus, and Nathan heard Jesus’ kind reply, “Truly, I say unto you today; you will be with Me in paradise.”

Nathan once again amazed at Jesus’ forgiveness, and he noticed the look of joy on the face of the sorry criminal at hearing Jesus’ words of comfort.

Time passed slowly. Nathan carefully watched Jesus’ face, and he saw pain and sadness in His eyes. Before long, Jesus looked out over the crowd and saw His mother standing with His faithful disciple John. Jesus said to His mother, “Here is your son,” and to John He said, “Here is your mother.”

Nathan realised that Jesus’ mother had no one to take care of her now that Jesus was going to die, so Jesus was telling His disciple John to look after her in His place.

Suddenly, the sky grew black: so black that it felt like it was midnight. Nathan screamed and felt around in the darkness for his mother’s hand. Once he found it, he held onto it tightly.

When the time reached three o’clock in the afternoon, the darkness faded away, but there was still darkness around the cross where Jesus hung in pain. Nathan blinked. The sun seemed so bright after being in complete darkness for such a long time. Nathan then heard Jesus cry out in agony, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

The priests and religious leaders mocked Jesus once again, and Nathan saw evil written all over their faces as they insulted the Son of God.

Then, Jesus’ voice cried loudly, “It is finished! Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit.”

Nathan saw a light suddenly surround the cross, and he saw Jesus’ beaten and bruised body hanging from the nails. Nathan looked up at his Friend on the cross and saw His face shine like the sun. Then Jesus bowed His head on His chest and Nathan knew that He had died.

Nathan burst into tears. “Nooooooooo!” He put his face in his hands. He could not bear to look at His dear Friend’s lifeless body hanging on the cross.

Mother knelt beside Nathan and put her arm around his shoulders.

There was a loud ripping noise, and Nathan lifted his head just as the gigantic veil in the temple tore in half, from the top to the bottom. Everyone gasped. Then the earth began to tremble and shake, and Nathan’s heart pounded with fear as he saw rocks around the hill of Calvary break into pieces with a great shattering sound.

Nathan heard someone behind him make a shuffling noise on the ground. Nathan turned to see who was behind him. It was a Roman guard, who was looking up at Jesus on the cross. He did not look like he hated Jesus, like the other soldiers did. Instead, he was looking at Jesus in amazement. With conviction in his voice he said,  “Truly this was the Son of God.”

Nathan looked up at his mother with wide eyes. He was surprised that a Roman guard would say such a thing.

Nathan then turned to look at the disciples, who were weeping. Once they had received permission from Pilate, they went over and carefully took Jesus’ body off the cross. They neatly folded Jesus’ hands on His chest, then they gathered some white cloths to wrap His body in. Nathan sobbed as he watched the men gently carry Jesus’ still form to a tomb, where they laid Him to rest. He also saw Mary the mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene and the other women who had been at the cross go and see Jesus’ wrapped body in the tomb. They were weeping and praying together.

It was Friday afternoon, and everyone was beginning to prepare for the Sabbath. Nathan’s mother gently touched his shoulder. “Son, we need to leave so we can prepare tonight’s meal before sundown.”

Nathan didn’t want to leave, he wanted to stay near Jesus, but he agreed, so that he could honour God’s Sabbath day.

At home that evening, Nathan and Mother sat and ate their dinner in silence. They were both thinking about all that had happened that day. As Nathan went to sleep that night, he cried into his pillow, sad that he would never see Jesus again. I wish Jesus was still alive, so that I could go and sit on His lap and bring Him flowers like I used to, Nathan thought. I want Him to put His hand on my head and ask God to bless me. I want to see Him smile at me and tell me stories about His Kingdom like He always did. How I wish He was still here.

Nathan finally drifted off to sleep, feeling very sad and lonely.

The next day, he and his mother went to the temple for the Passover service. Nathan saw the high priest put the lamb on the altar like he always did, but something was not quite right. All day, he wished that Jesus was there, so that he could spend time with Him and ask Him questions like he always did.

Sunday morning came just like any other day. Nathan got out of bed, knelt down to say his prayers, then went to eat his breakfast. Then he went to help Mother with the house chores.

Lunchtime came, and as the two of them sat at the table, ready to eat their food, Mother spoke. “Nathan, this afternoon I need to go and help prepare some food for the disciples’ dinner tonight in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. You can come if you like: maybe one of the disciples can tell you a story about Jesus’ Kingdom.”

“I will come,” Nathan agreed.

So they finished their meal and then they got up and made their way to Jerusalem. When they reached the house the disciples were going to eat in, Nathan followed his mother up the long flight of stairs to the top floor. When they entered the room, they met other women who were rushing about in the kitchen, beginning to make the food for the evening meal. Mother went to join them, and Nathan walked across the room to sit next to the window, where he gazed out at the setting sun, feeling sorry for himself. He was so sad that he thought his heart might break. He wondered if he would ever be happy again since Jesus had died. The disciples soon began to fill the room, and Nathan watched as they each took their places on the floor and the benches. They all looked sad and tired. When everyone had arrived, the last person closed the door and made sure it was locked. Soon, Mother and some of the other women brought the food out on big round dishes, and set them on the low table in the middle of the room.

Nathan spotted a tall stack of bread rolls, some fish and some honeycomb pieces. Nathan liked the look of the food, but he knew he couldn’t eat any of it until all the disciples had eaten.

Suddenly, a Person appeared out of nowhere and stood in the middle of the room. The doors had been locked and the windows were too high up for anyone to climb through. Nathan blinked. Was that who he thought it was? No, I must be dreaming, he thought. He rubbed his eyes and then looked again. No, it can’t be … Nathan told himself. But yet, it was! Jesus was the Person who appeared out of nowhere, and who now stood in front of the stunned disciples.

“Peace be unto you,” He said in His gentle, familiar voice.

Nathan looked at the disciples, whose eyes were wide with terror. Their faces were pale white and they shrank back in their seats, too scared to be near Jesus.

“It’s a ghost!” they cried.

“Why are you afraid?” Jesus smiled. “Look at My hands and My feet. Touch the marks from the nails. A ghost does not have skin and bones like I do.”

He held out His hands to them, and Nathan stared in amazement at the holes that the nails made. He looked down at Jesus’ feet, and sure enough, there were nail marks there too.

Slowly, one by one, the disciples got up from the ground and gently ran their fingers over the spot where the nails had once held Jesus to the cross.

Nathan’s heart thumped with joy. Jesus is alive! He told himself happily, over and over again.

He couldn’t wait to give Jesus the hug he had wanted to give Him for so long.

After Jesus and the disciples had finished their meal, the disciples chatted excitedly among themselves, and Jesus looked around the room, as if He was searching for someone. Nathan watched Jesus closely, earnestly hoping that Jesus would see him. When Jesus saw Nathan, He smiled, and Nathan realised that Jesus had been looking for him! He could no longer contain his excitement, and he ran to Jesus and threw himself into His open arms. He hugged Jesus tightly, as if to stop Jesus from ever leaving him again. “Jesus,” Nathan whispered. “Its really You!”

“Yes Nathan,” Jesus replied kindly. “It’s really Me.”

And Nathan closed his eyes and smiled. As he leant his head on Jesus, he decided that there was no one in the world that he loved more than the One who had died for him.

PICTURE CREDIT -Good News Productions International and College Press Publishing – Free Bible Images

PICTURE CREDIT -Sweet Publishing – Free Bible Images

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