A story from the Child Evangelism Fellowship is told of the Cree First Nations in Southern Saskatchewan. There was a shortage of meat and it seemed the buffalo had migrated south.
In assessing the need and finding a solution, a young chieftain suggested that the band go south of the Canadian border into enemy territory to go after the buffalo.
Another chief countered this suggestion with the warning that this would certainly bring on the wrath of the tribe to the south. To which the young chieftain replied that either way, they could expect some to die.
If they stayed, they could expect death by starvation; if they went into enemy territory, there would be a deadly battle. Finally it was agreed that going after the buffalo was the better choice.
Taking their families with them, the Cree warriors went south after the buffalo. It did not take long to see that their expedition would not be in vain.
Sighting the buffalo, the chase was on, ending in a great kill.
Having skinned the animals and placed the meat on their horse-drawn “A” frames, they set up camp intending to leave in the early morning for home up north.
Tired out from their great day, they were feasting around the fire, when suddenly a scout shouted that the enemy warriors were seen silhouetted against the distant prairie sky.
Realizing that the enemy would certainly attack at dawn, a meeting of the Cree chiefs was quickly called. What should be done? How could they escape?
Finally an old woman made this offer. Since death was certain, she would be willing to stay behind.
The whole tribe should leave immediately in the cover of the night. She would stay behind in the camp with the teepees still up and the smoke of the fires still rising to the sky. Sadly, this plan seemed the only way to save the tribe.
Each of the chiefs came to the old woman to thank her for her sacrifice. Quietly all the tribe left into the darkness.
The next morning, when the enemy arrived in the dim morning light, all they found was this old woman in the camp. Knowing that the Cree tribe was too far advanced back into their own territory, all they could do was kill this Cree woman and return to their camp.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Cree First Nation arrived safely at their own territory, grateful to have enough meat for the long winter but never forgetting the old woman who gave her life for them.
Easter is a similar story.
It is the account of one person in history who gave his life for others, actually for the whole human race.
The Bible says, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.”
It also says “all we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned every one to his own way. And God has laid on him the sins of us all… He was wounded for our transgressions. He has bruised for our iniquities and by his stripes we are healed.”
So the story of Easter is the story of this one man, Jesus Christ, who died not for his own sins —he was innocent of any crime; people rejected his claim to be the Son of God and succeeded in getting a Roman crucifixion — the worst death sentence — because they did not like the truth that he spoke.
Then God raised his son from the dead after three days in the grave. Over 500 witnesses saw Jesus’ new body, ate with him, touched him and saw him rise in the clouds after 40 days.
Easter is a celebration of this true story. It is the occasion to remember what Jesus did for us and to renew our worship of this great god-man who saved us from our certain doom. So may I invite you to find a church to celebrate the true meaning of Easter?
– John Siemens is the pastor at the First Baptist Church in Grand Forks