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The Easter Code: A 40-Day Journey to the Cross

The Easter Code: A 40-Day Journey to the Cross

by O. S. Hawkins


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Are you looking for a meaningful way to celebrate and share God’s love at Easter? Spend meaningful time with Jesus this Lenten season as you read through The Easter Code, from Ash Wednesday to Easter, written by bestselling author O. S. Hawkins.

In this affordable paperback resource, readers will:

  • embark on a 40-day journey, guided by O. S. Hawkins, to prepare your heart and mind for Easter Sunday
  • engage with a daily reflection accompanied by a Code word for the day, an encouraging Scripture, and a prayer

The booklet is perfect for:

  • church distribution to members during Lent, Bible study groups, and worship groups
  • in-person and virtual discussions during the Lenten season
  • readers to carry in their purse, tote bag, or place on their nightstand

Follow the journey of Christ through the places, people, and events in His life all the way to His resurrection. The Easter Code is a meaningful way to celebrate and share God’s love at Easter.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400211487
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 01/08/2019
Series: The Code Series
Pages: 96
Sales rank: 193,798
Product dimensions: 3.80(w) x 6.00(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

O. S. Hawkins is president and chief executive officer of GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. GuideStone serves more than 250,000 individual participants from churches, missionary organizations, colleges and universities, hospitals, and other nonprofit institutions with their financial and benefit service needs. GuideStone Funds is the largest Christian-based mutual fund in the world with assets under management of over 20 billion dollars. Prior to the beginning of his tenure at GuideStone in 1997, Hawkins served as senior pastor of the historic First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas (1993—1997) and as senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (1978—1993) as well as earlier pastorates in Oklahoma.

Hawkins, a native of Fort Worth, Texas, earned the Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. He also earned the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition, he holds the Doctorate of Literature degree from Liberty University (Hon.) as well as several other honorary doctorate degrees.

He has been married to his wife, the former Susan Cavness of Austin, Texas, since 1970. They have two daughters, Wendy and Holly, both of whom are also graduates of TCU. Wendy is married to Brian Hermes and Holly is married to David Shivers. The Hawkins’s also have six grandchildren.

Dr. Hawkins is the author of over 40 books including the best-selling “Code Series” with over two million in print, including The Joshua Code: 52 Scripture Verses every Believer Should Know, The Jesus Code: 52 Scripture Questions Every Believer Should Answer, and The Bible Code: Finding Jesus in Every Book in the Bible.

Follow O. S. Hawkins on Twitter @OSHawkins. For free videos, podcasts, and book downloads, visit www.oshawkins.com.

Read an Excerpt



As we journey through this day in the normal traffic patterns of our lives, we will see men and women with ashes in the form of a cross on their foreheads. It is a visible reminder on this Ash Wednesday that "dust [we] are, and to dust [we] shall return" (Genesis 3:19). Today begins a period of fasting and self-denial. It is a good reminder that the only way to please God is not by what we do — or refrain from doing — but by accepting His gracious offer of forgiveness made possible through Christ's shed blood on the cross.

Salvation is God's work, not our work. "For by grace you have been saved" (Ephesians 2:8a). Our salvation begins with Jesus — not with us. It is not His response to any good works we may do or evil works from which we've refrained. Salvation is provided for us wholly because of His grace, His unmerited favor toward you and me. The Father did not send His only Son to die for our sins because we kept begging and pleading for Him to do so. It was by His grace alone.

Salvation is God's work in God's way, not our way. It is "through faith ... not of yourselves; it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8b). I want to shout those words on this Ash Wednesday —" Through faith ... not of yourselves ... not of works!" No amount of doing good deeds or abstaining from certain pleasures can earn God's favor. Salvation is wholly by grace, through our faith in Christ alone ... God's gift to us.


No matter what you do or don't do, or what you give or give up, your salvation is not spelled D-O but D-O-N-E! Today remember that Christ paid a huge price to redeem you. It is already done! Your part is to receive this gift by faith.


[It is] not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.

Titus 3:5

Lord, thank You for giving me what I never deserved — grace! And for Your mercy in not giving me what I do deserve. No wonder we call it "amazing grace"! In Jesus' name, amen.


Repentance has become one of the forgotten words in our English vocabulary. Yet it was the message of all the prophets. It was the message John the Baptist preached in the Jordan Valley. It was the message of Jesus as He commenced His ministry, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17). It was the message that birthed the church at Pentecost and the message of all the apostles. The Lenten season begins with a call to repent for each of us.

But what really is behind this word? Repentance is not remorse, being sorry for our sin. The rich young ruler went away "sorrowful" but didn't repent (Matthew 19:16–22). It is not simply regret, wishing that some moment could be lived over again. Pilate washed his hands, regretting his evil deed, but he didn't repent (Matthew 27:24). Repentance is not reform, that is, trying to turn over a new leaf. Judas reformed by returning the silver coins of betrayal but didn't repent (Matthew 27:3).

Repentance emerges from a Greek word meaning "to change one's mind," which results in a change of will, which in turn results in a change of action. While repentance begins with a change of mind, the real proof will be found in a change of attitude and action.


Begin today to change your mind about your sin. It is not some vice to be laughed off. Sin is so serious it necessitated the cross. Also change your mind about your self. You cannot please God through self-righteousness. Finally, change your mind about your Savior. Jesus is not just some teacher or prophet, but He is God, who clothed Himself in human flesh and gave Himself for you.


Repent ..., that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.

Acts 3:16

Lord, I can't excuse my sin by claiming everyone else is doing it, nor can I minimize it by asserting it is not as bad as someone else's. I confess: I have sinned against You, and I am wholly dependent on Your grace and mercy. In Jesus' name, amen.


The essence of biblical repentance is beautifully embedded in the old and often-repeated story of the prodigal son. The young man found himself not only broke — having left his family home and spent his inheritance — but broken. While feeding swine in a pigpen, he actually longed for the husks they were eating, and he "came to himself" (Luke 15:17). This first step in the repentance process, this change of mind, brought about the second step, a change in his will, his volition. In the next verse he exclaimed, "I will arise and go to my father." Once his mind and will were changed, his actions were sure to follow. Thus we read, "He arose and came to his father" (v. 20).

Repentance is a change of mind. That is it! And how do we know that we have truly changed our minds? Our volition will be changed as well, and our changed actions — resulting in a new life direction — will follow as naturally as water running downhill.

Repentance and faith are inseparable, born at the same time. They are two sides of the same coin. Repentance alone will not get you to heaven, but you can't get there without it. No wonder Jesus said, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17).


Ask God today to bring to the surface of your heart and mind that thing that displeases Him and for which you need to repent. Then change your mind about it, and your will and actions will follow.


Search me, O God, and know my heart ... See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23–24

Lord, I am willing; I am willing to be made willing! Grant to me repentance and faith today. I throw myself upon Your mercy and stand in Your grace. In Jesus' name, amen.


I love the way the apostle Paul framed the subject of repentance: "The goodness of God leads you to repentance" (Romans 2:4). Once, when our daughters were small, my wife and I rented a vacation home deep in the Smoky Mountains. That first night in that strange place was, as author and educator James Weldon Johnson put it, "blacker than a hundred midnights down in a cypress swamp"!

I was awakened in the middle of the night by the cries of our little seven-year-old at the top of the stairs. I bounded up the stairs to find her disoriented and scared in the darkness. I took her by the hand and led her down the stairs into the security of our own bed, where she soundly slept the rest of the night away.

And so it is that our dear Lord finds us in the night, often disoriented by the issues of life. He takes us by the hand, and, as the Bible says, His own goodness "leads [us] to repentance."

When all is said and done, what difference will it make if we drive luxury cars, eat vitamin-enriched foods, live in palatial homes, and are buried in mahogany caskets if we rise up in judgment to meet a God we do not know? Let His goodness take you by the hand today. He will lead you to repentance.


It may be that for too long you have called all the shots. Put your hand in His hand today. Go ahead, do it. He will lead you to repentance.


The goodness of God leads you to repentance.

Romans 2:4

Lord, I am amazed at Your love for me. You are a good God, and I put my hand in Yours today. Lead me in the way I should go. In Jesus' name, amen.


The Bible says, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14). Who is this "Word"? It is God Himself, stepping out of heaven, clothing Himself in human flesh, and physically invading human history. John leaves no doubt concerning this identity: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1, emphasis added).

Jesus came down to where we are so that we could one day go to where He is! He came not clinging to the brightness of His glory, not shunning us for our sinful condition, but humbling Himself and taking on a garment of flesh. By doing so He can say to you and me, no matter our emotional condition, temptations, or pain, "I understand."

He "dwelt among us, ... full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). Jesus is full of grace. Because of His sacrifice, we don't get what we deserve, and that is called grace. And He is full of truth. It is only when His grace leads us to know the truth that we are truly free.

But that is not all. "We beheld His glory" (John 1:14). Paul said it like this: "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27). Have you personally beheld His glory in you?


When Jesus came and took on flesh, it was one of the most amazing acts of condescension to be found anywhere at any time. As you think of this code word today, marvel at how much you mean to Him.


"I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you."

John 14:18 KJV

Lord, You humbled Yourself in coming to earth so I could go to heaven. And one day, because of Your marvelous grace, I can go to where You are because You came to where I am. In Jesus' name, amen.


We had a really good start. Life began in a perfect paradise. The climate was never too warm and never too cold. We had no heartaches, no worries. We felt no aches or pains. We were doing wonderfully well — until we disobeyed and ate the forbidden fruit and were expelled from the garden.

The first evidence of this demise came when Adam and Eve saw "that they were naked" (Genesis 3:7). They had been naked all along, but not until sin came did they take their eyes off God and put them on themselves. This is always what sin does. Before, God had been the center of their attention and devotion. Sin entered the picture, and their focus became centered squarely upon themselves.

Their first impulse? Grab some fig leaves and cover their nakedness. But God in His grace intervened because all the human mechanisms we use to try and cover our sin never suffice. He took an innocent little animal, killed it, and covered Adam and Eve with its skin. When that animal breathed its last breath, it became the first to know the expensive toll that sin takes on one's life.

God placed our first parents in a perfect paradise. We fell. God drove us out. And you and I have been trying to get back into His presence ever since. The account begins with paradise lost in Genesis and ends with paradise regained in Revelation. Right now we are exiles from Eden. But we are making our way back home through the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ.


"Without [the] shedding of blood there is no remission [of sin]" (Hebrews 9:22). Just as a sacrificial animal covered the sins of Adam and Eve, so the sacrifice of Christ on the cross is the only covering for our own sin.


"The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out."

John 6:37

Lord, I come to You now admitting I can do nothing in and of myself to cleanse my sin. I trust today in Your shed blood to cover me and cleanse me. Hosanna!


The Old Testament conceals Christ. The New Testament reveals Him! And there is no more vivid and visual foreshadowing of His substitutionary sacrifice for your sin than is found in the account of Abraham's sacrifice of his own son Isaac (Genesis 22:1–14).

God had promised Abraham he would be the father of a great nation. There was only one problem: he and his wife were old, beyond childbearing age, and his wife, Sarah, had spent a lifetime unable to conceive (see Genesis 17). And then they got their miracle: Isaac was born!

This was all too quickly followed by a time of testing: "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love ... and offer him ... as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you" (Genesis 22:2).

Along the journey up Mount Moriah, the lad asked, "Father, where is the lamb for the sacrifice?" Abraham responded in faith, "The Lord will provide the lamb" (paraphrase of Genesis 22:7–8)

In obedience to God, Abraham built the altar and placed his son upon it. And just at the right time God was faithful to His word: "Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day" (vv. 13–14).


Today as you look at a picture on your desk or on your phone, let it be a reminder to you of this beautiful picture of Christ taking your place, dying your death, so you can live His life today!


But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Hebrews 11:6

Lord, what You promise You are faithful to provide. Like Abraham, I wait in faith, believing You to do "exceeding abundantly above all" I might ask or think. In Jesus' name, amen.


On our journey to Jerusalem, we find another poignant picture of our coming Savior when we arrive at Exodus 12. One of the most important dates on the calendar of our Jewish friends is the evening they celebrate the Passover seder meal commemorating their freedom from death and deliverance from Egyptian bondage. God had sent a series of plagues on Egypt, where God's people were enslaved. The most devastating plague came on the night the death angel passed over every home in Egypt, bringing death to the firstborn of every family.

The Jews were instructed to take a little lamb, perfect and without blemish, slay it, and spread the blood over the doorposts of their homes so that when the death angel came, he would "see the blood" and "pass over" that particular residence (Exodus 12:13). The firstborn in those homes would be saved by the blood of the sacrificed lamb.

It is no wonder that fifteen hundred years later, when Jesus burst forth from the obscurity of the carpenter's shop and appeared in the Jordan Valley, John the Baptist pointed an index finger in His direction and shouted, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). Would you, today, take a moment and behold the Lamb for yourself?


The sacrifice of the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus, is what brings true freedom to your soul. Freedom is never free. It is always bought with blood. Rejoice today in the freedom Christ brings. God is not looking for human effort. He is looking to see if you have applied the blood of Christ to the door of your heart.


The blood of Jesus Christ [God's] Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 1:7

"Dear dying Lamb, Your precious blood shall never lose its power, till all the ransomed church of God be saved, to sin no more." Hallelujah!


Many of the recorded psalms of David point to the coming Messiah. There is a strong messianic appeal in his probing question in Psalm 24: "Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or, who may stand in His holy place?" (v. 3). Quick comes the answer: "He who has clean hands and a pure heart" (v. 4). That leaves me out, and I am pretty sure you as well.

My hands, representing my outward life, are not clean. And my inner life, my heart, is far from being pure. Like everyone's, my "heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9).

How will we ever be able to ascend this hill, much less stand in God's holy place? There is only one who has walked this way and meets these two criteria: the Lord Jesus, the King of glory. His hands were clean and His heart was pure. Thus, knowing we were without hope, He came and His hands became dirty with the sin of the world, your sin and mine. And His pure heart became sin for us. Why? His clean hands became dirty so my dirty hands could become clean. His pure heart took my sin so my impure heart could become pure.

One day we will hear again the words from this psalm saying, "Lift up your heads, O you gates" (Psalm 24:7), and a multitude that no one can number will arrive with our King at the gate of heaven ... and the King of glory will come in, accompanied by everyone who looked to Him in faith for their eternal salvation.


Today when you see or pass through a gate, let it remind you that the only way you will enter into the gate of heaven is through the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the door through which we enter in.


"Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God."

Matthew 5:8

Lord, I open wide the gate of my heart to You today. "Come in. Come in today. Come in to stay. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus." Amen.


Excerpted from "The Easter Code"
by .
Copyright © 2019 O. S. Hawkins.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

'O. S. Hawkins has 'broken the code' to bringing practical and powerful insights into the patterns and principles of Scripture. There's a reason that more than a million of his devotionals have been embraced by those who have discovered this insightful series.' — Mike Huckabee, television commentator and former governor of Arkansas

'True devotion to Christ draws us into the Bible and increases our love for the Word of God. That's what makes the Code series so powerful. Deeply biblical, relevant, and faithful—this series will greatly bless you, your friends, and your church.' — R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

'Too many devotionals are long on the thoughts of men and short on the wisdom of God. I endorse the entire Code series of devotionals from my friend O. S. Hawkins because they start with Scripture and keep the focus on the Lord.' — Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship

'Whether on the football field or the field of life, you need a playbook. The entire Code series of devotionals is a great resource for my own spiritual growth. I read one of the Code books regularly in my own devotions and enthusiastically recommend them to my family, friends, and fans.' — Roger Staubach, Hall of Fame quarterback and real estate developer 

'In my forty-five years in ministry, I have never seen a more desperate need for truly biblically wise counsel. Unfortunately, most of the books available are man-centered, which do not even provide temporary help. That is why I am so thankful that Dr. O. S. Hawkins penned the Code series. The questions that are asked in the Bible are the questions everyone is asking, and thank God the Code series gives us truly sustaining and uplifting answers. This book is a must for everyone. Read and reread it, and be eternally blessed.' — Dr. Michael Youssef, senior pastor, Church of the Apostles, Atlanta, Georgia

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