Getting to know the voices of Easter


When you read the story of Easter (see yesterday’s post to read it if you’re not familiar with it), what most stands out to you?

The story of Jesus’ betrayal, death, and resurrection is of course packed with interesting and important elements. But what always jumps out at me is the fascinating array of characters who populate this Easter drama. It’s the people of Easter who make the story come alive—and who add to it the ring of authenticity that you wouldn’t get if it were just another moral fable.

Think about the heroes and villains of the Easter story, and you’ll see that this isn’t the black-and-white morality tale you might expect if it were a piece of comforting religious fiction. Instead, we see a cast of very human characters reacting to the presence of Jesus—the story’s only perfectly good character. Some of the “heroes” don’t behave quite as heroically as they should—think of Jesus’ disciples falling asleep in the Garden, or of Peter disowning Christ rather than risk being associated with him. And the villains aren’t exactly brilliant, cackling evil masterminds—think of weak-willed Pilate, guilt-wracked Judas, and the religious leaders terrified that Jesus’ message will erode their own power and influence.

One of the most vivid ways to get to know the characters of Easter is through The Twelve Voices of Easter, an online audio drama from Back to the Bible that lets each of the twelve characters of Easter speak for him or herself. If you’ve read the Easter so many times that it’s started to lose its punch, this is a great way to approach the events of Holy Week from a different angle—with six days left before Easter Sunday, you could listen to two “voices” per day and be done on the big day. Most of the famous Easter characters are present in the drama (Judas, Pilate, Mary Magdalene), but also some of Easter’s less-well-known players, like the centurion and Cleopas.

I fire up the Twelve Voices every year during Holy Week because they shed some extra light on the human hopes, fears, and motivations that run through Easter week. While the Easter story is primarily about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it’s also the story of ordinary people tainted by sin. They’re everyday sinners like you and me—they’re not diabolically evil; but almost everyone in the Easter story is flawed and broken. Everyone here, hero or villain, needs the salvation Jesus offers. Their presence in the story reminds us that Jesus’ sacrificial death wasn’t carried out just to save humanity on an abstract, cosmic level: Jesus died for the everyday sinners right there around him. The cowardly disciples; the foolish mob; the scheming religious leaders. You and me.

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