Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Easter Story (Max McLean)

Leslie Basham: It’s a day to remember a great sacrifice.

Max McLean: Carrying His own cross, He went out to the Place of the Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. Here, they crucified him.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, March 29.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I love the opportunity to teach God’s Word each day on Revive Our Hearts. I also enjoy getting to interview different guests about how the Word applies to real-life situations. Sometimes it’s good to just let the Word of God speak for itself.

On this Good Friday, I thought it would be appropriate to focus on the story of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of John. When I thought about focusing on the biblical text of Christ’s passion today, my friend Max McLean came to mind. He’s the president of Fellowship for the Performing Arts and also the narrator for The Listener’s Bible.

Max’s reading of the Scripture has blessed me greatly over the years, and it’s helped me hear familiar passages with fresh ears.

Oh Lord, as we listen to Your Word today, I pray that we wouldn’t focus on anything else except on Jesus and the ultimate sacrifice that we observe on this day, Good Friday. I pray, Lord, that you’d open our ears, open our hearts, to receive in a fresh way the message of what You have done for us to save us from our sins, to set us free through Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose name we pray, amen.

Max:  John 18: When Jesus had finished praying, he left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove and he and his disciples went into it. Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.

So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. And Judas, the traitor, was standing there with them. When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?” and they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

“I told you that I’m he,” Jesus answered. “If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled, “I have not lost one of those You gave me.” (see John 6:39)

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

Then the detachment of soldiers, with its commander and the Jewish officials, arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who advised the Jews that it would be good if one man died for the people.

Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard. But Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on duty there and brought Peter in.

“You are not one of Jesus’ disciples, are you?” the girl at the door asked Peter. He replied, “I am not.” It was cold and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.

Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”

When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded. “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas, the high priest.

As Simon Peter stood warming himself, he was asked, “You are not one of Jesus’ disciples, are you?” He denied it, saying, “I am not.”

One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him. “Didn’t I see you with him in the olive grove?” Again Peter denied it. And at that moment a rooster began to crow.

Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning. To avoid ceremonial uncleanness, the Jews did not enter the palace. They wanted to be able to eat the Passover.

So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”

“If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”

Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”

“But we have no right to execute anyone,” the Jews objected. This happened so the words Jesus had spoken, indicating the kind of death he was going to die, would be fulfilled.

Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“Is that your own idea?” Jesus asked. “Or did others talk to you about me?”

“Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You’re right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born. After this, I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” Pilate asked. With this, he went out again to the Jews and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him, but it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”

They shouted back, “No! Not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion.

John 19:  Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they struck him in the face.

Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”

But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”

The Jews insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace.

“Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer.

“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize? I have power to either free you or crucify you.”

Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given you from above. Therefore, the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar! Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar!”

When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as The Stone Pavement, which in Aramaic is Gabbatha. It was the Day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour.

“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.

But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”

“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.

“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. Finally, Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of The Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. Here, they crucified him, and with him two others, one on each side, and Jesus in the middle.

Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read, Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews. Many of the Jews read the sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek.

The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the Scripture might be fulfilled which said, “They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” (see Ps. 22:18) So this is what the soldiers did.

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there and the disciple who he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Later, knowing that all was now completed and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there. So they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.

When he had received of the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Now it was the Day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other, but when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.

These things happened so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, “Not one of his bones will be broken.” (see Ex. 12:46; Num. 9:12; Ps. 34:20) And, as another Scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.” (see Zech. 12:10)

Later Joseph of Arimathaea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.

At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish Day of Preparation, and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

John 20: Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there, but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded by itself, separate from the linen.

Finally, the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went inside. He saw and believed. They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.

Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said. “And I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there. But she did not realize that it was Jesus. “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!”  which means “Teacher.”

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news, “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Now Thomas, called Didymus, one of the twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it!”

A week later, his disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here. See my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blest are those who have not seen, and yet have believed.”

Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing, you may have life in his name.

John 21: Afterward, Jesus appeared again to his disciples by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way . . .  Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat. But that night they caught nothing.

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore. But the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord!” he wrapped his outer garment around him, for he had taken it off, and jumped into the water.

The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore—about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”

Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, a hundred-fifty-three. But even with so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.

Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

When Jesus they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said. “You know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon, son of John, do you truly love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord. You know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time, he said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things. You know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

“I tell you the truth. When you were younger, you dressed yourself and went where you wanted. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.

Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

Peter turned and saw that the disciple Jesus loved was following them. This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die. He only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that this testimony is true.

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

Nancy: We’ve been listening to the amazing story—the true story—of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection as narrated by Max McLean. The recording from the book of John we heard today is from The Listener’s Bible, narrated by Max. If you’d like to have copy for yourself, go to ReviveOurHearts.com and we’ll have a link to The Listener’s Bible.

I hope you have blessed Resurrection Sunday this weekend, and be sure to join us again on Monday for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

Scripture taken from The Listener's Bible.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.