Tag Archives: cross

Resurrection Sunday- From Rumors and Rabbits to Reality and Relationships

April 12, 2020

While we have celebrated the Empty Tomb and the Resurrection; we find that the disciples didn’t have the reality of the day. We do have scriptural accounts of what happened after the women returned and told the disciples that Jesus’ body was gone. They [peter and John] ran to the tomb and yes they found the tomb empty except for the grave linens. Two places give us insight to the Resurrection day – Luke 24 and John 20.  While we know Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, the disciples discounted her, thinking she was speaking {nonsense}. They hadn’t seen Jesus’ resurrected body yet. They like Thomas needed first hand evidence for themselves. Before we get to the John20 passage; we are given a conversation with two on the road to Emmaus. The two were returning home; the fireworks are over – No Jesus, No overthrow of the Romans, and no hope, the “Messiah” was dead and now missing. The two had heard the reports and conveyed them to Jesus. NOTE: I am amazed that Jesus doesn’t allow himself to be “seen” until He is ready to be seen. The two walking along discussing the last few days trying to make sense out of it all. Suddenly Jesus joins in and ask them what are you talking about. What are these things, What Things? Are you a visitor and don’t know what has happened the last few days? Isn’t it interesting that even though they do not believe the reports of what happened, they are readily willing to pass on the story. The HOPE that Jesus was the Messiah, who would redeem Israel, and now it is even the third day. Relating the visits to the Empty Tomb and yes it was empty – But they didn’t see Jesus – It does make sense that if Jesus was resurrected that He would be seen.  “O Foolish men . . . . ” Then Jesus teaches them what they should have already known from the scriptures. Their hearts and minds were on fire – and their eyes were opened – then Poof Jesus is gone. Now think about this next scene – already home, they turn around and head back to Jerusalem to tell the others. Think about this, the disciples have been in the Upper Room all day; nothing to report other than the women and their “vision”. The two return and start relaying their story to the disciples and yep you got – Jesus shows up. Could it be that Jesus was giving the disciples time to reflect and be ready believe then see? The two from Emmaus  – “He is Risen, the Lord really is risen!” Validation of the testimonies of us who have experienced the REVELATION OF JESUS BEING ALIVE AND OUR RELATIONSHIP TO HIM AS SAVIOR; IS affirmed by His presence in our Lives – Jesus’ resurrection changed the world, changed men and changed eternity forever.

I once heard that seeing isn’t believing – Believing is seeing; we call that FAITH!

I’m not really sure where the Rabbit comes into all of this – but the RUMORS were no more; the stories were TRUE – REALITY was finally settling in to the disciples hearts and minds; when Jesus appears.

John 20 – two different times Jesus appears; I mean walks right into the room, not using the door! And we wonder why they didn’t believe? I’m sure right about then, I would be jumping out of a window or something – this can’t be, Jesus is right here and He is talking to us! I have done nearly 300 funerals in the last 20 plus years. I have never had anyone sit up in the casket!

No more rumors, rabbits don’t have a place in this story. But RESURRECTION AND RELATIONSHIPS DO!

Jesus’ death was necessary for the blood sacrifice for sin; His resurrection was necessary for HIS LIFE IN US.  Salvation relationship is SOMEBODY [Jesus] IN SOMEBODY [Me]

As we close out this day  we have to remember it took all day before the disciples understood that Jesus was Alive. We know how the story ended before we got up this morning, they however had to wait until Jesus REVEALED  Himself to them.  It is my prayer for all of us – don’t lay your head down tonight until Jesus has revealed Himself as risen LORD, not just Jesus on the CROSS!

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Quarantined Easter

April 10, 2020

Stay at Home orders, pandemic issues, quarantined people, drive-in and videoed services, financial upheaval and the list goes on. Obviously this is a different time for all of us. I think it is admirable how so many churches/preachers are making sure that their Easter services and sermons are going to be on the internet. My prayer is that the Lord Jesus Christ will be glorified and honored by what is done. This is serious times, so many are trying to understand the impossible situation the World is experiencing.

Sometimes I think that this Easter is analogous of that first Easter. The had self-quarantined by this time Friday; Jesus has died on the Cross with the words “It is Finished.” The disciples have all ran for fear, and wound up in a holy huddle in the very Upper Room they had been enjoying the Last Supper only hours ago. Bewildered and shattered to the core, the unbelievable has happened – Jesus is gone! In a mere week, everything changed. For us today it was about three weeks. We find ourselves also asking questions about the UNKNOWN. What do we do now? When will all this end? What will NORMAL look like?

These obviously are not the same questions the Disciples had at the time. But, questions they did have. For them as well as us we have been taking actions of SURVIVAL. As this horrific scene on Golgotha’s Hill settles into their minds, they have become isolated, and dependent on each other. They could at least embrace one another and have the comfort on not being alone.

Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus have taken Jesus’ body down, with the help of the women, His body is laid in the TOMB. The stone is rolled to seal it. The haphazard BURIAL is complete, so they return to the Upper Room. We like they are trying to make the best of the situation. [We have the end of the story and know what is coming then, but we don’t know the end now]

WAITING – none of us like it, most detest it! Our question is HOW LONG? Theirs was restriction because of the SABBATH – 24 hours to think, cry, lament and fear. I don’t now what happened during that SABBATH, but it must have been a very dark time for all of the Believers then. Surely, nothing like they had ever been through before. Besides, the ONE they turned to was JESUS and He was dead. We, believers must turn to Jesus during this time of QUARANTINE – use it to reflect ad think about our lives and the future of the Gospel we are to share. Many unorthodox actions have been taken by the Government and Churches. We must learn from this time – like it or not our NORMAL is no longer ACCEPTABLE. Good Friday changed everything for the WORLD; this GOOD FRIDAY should change OUR world as well.

There was so much the early believers were not in control of at the time; likewise for us. We are not hunted or persecuted, but we are stressed and stretched right now. As we go into a Friday evening into an early Saturday, I pray we will ponder where we are with Christ and renew our HOPE that this unknown – unstable time will grow us stronger in our FAITH.

Just as an additional note: I always wondered WHY IS IT CALLED GOOD FRIDAY? After some research, Good used to mean HOLY. While we might struggle with what happened, when we think of the result of Jesus’ death for SIN and the LAMB of GOD, then we can see that the actions were not accomplished by men, but the loving Heavenly FATHER. Surely, salvation is a GOOD or HOLY thing. We look at the result of something to determine if it is good or not – my opinion while going through something may or may not be accurate. Surely, it was HOLY FRIDAY!

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Mocked, Merciless, Miraculous

In this last readings of Luke we find the Passion week relived. Each Gospel writer wrote from a different perspective and to a different audience. In the Passion Week [which by the way is the goal of Jesus coming to earth in the first place] we are given the events prior to Christ’s arrest, the trials and the crucifixion.  There is a tremendous amount of religious politics being played out by the Chief Priests, Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees. One almost gets the idea that they are suffering for Jesus Envy!

The interesting part about the narratives is the fact that Jesus doesn’t back down, but the opposite, He seems to fuel the fire of anger and hatred for Him by the religious leaders. He speaks parables that are meant for them, to indict them for missing God’s signs and warnings.[Luke 20:9-18] Now Jesus had been falling from public favor for a while because He wouldn’t be the king of King the people wanted. The Jewish leaders knew that they were in trouble because no one could argue with Jesus and win; but also many of the common people loved Him.

Jesus is accused of insurrection and trying to become King, lies and more lies were made about Jesus. The leaders twisted His words to fit their lies. He was accused of refusing to pay taxes, yet Luke 20:19-ff, indicates that Jesus was always observant to the laws.

Moving to The Upper Room, Lord’s Supper meal, we find that Satan has entered into Judas to betray Jesus. The room is a large room, probably because of the many who had been close disciples along the journey. Plus we find that there were 120 in the Upper Room in Acts – I think this is the same room where they ate the meal with Jesus. This blog isn’t the place to debate whether Judas had a choice or not to betray Jesus, but Luke 22:23, seems to indicate that they all thought each other could be the betrayer.

Now I have used the failure of the Apostles to stay awake while Jesus was praying in a very negative way in the past. However, something that we fail to understand is the wording “sleeping from sorrow” in verse 46. The word sorrow here, does not mean sadness, but overcome by stress and anxiety. The disciples felt that the coronation of Jesus was imminent, and were so excited, like a child at Christmas time, but were overcome and tired because anticipation of what was about to happen.

The trials come after the arrest of Jesus, now they had eaten in the city, walked to the Garden of Gethsemane, now are being taken back across the Kidron Valley in the middle of the night. The Mock trials before Caiaphas, Herod and at daybreak before Pilate were all illegal. The 70 – Sanhedrin couldn’t meet at night, but did so anyway. Where is Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus?  In the other Gospels we find how that many were brought to bring false accusations against Jesus – didn’t work.

Through mocking and beating [Luke 22:63] and constant quizzing – “Are you the Son of God?”  This is a dumb question, for Nicodemus has already told us that they knew Jesus was from God. [John 3] Jesus says “I am” – familiar – Exodus 3! After they Beat the confession out of Jesus – they head to Pilate, at daybreak, don’t want to get on the bad side right off – Pilate questions and finds no fault with Him. Oh, He is a Galilean, send Him to Herod. Herod and Pilate become friends that night. Again, the mocking and beating, humiliation with the robe and stick. On the way back to Pilate. Trying to see through the jealousy and plot of the Jewish leaders, Pilate tries to release Jesus – to no avail, Jesus is scourged and led out to the crucified.

Meanwhile, Peter is having his own problems, Jesus told Peter he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed. Luke 22:61 is a very sad verse – the third denial, Jesus looks at Peter, I cannot imagine what that look appeared like, but I can imagine what it did to Peter!

Jesus, Isaiah 52:14, describes for us the extent of the beating he took.  He was so marred, he was unrecognizable as a man – the Movie “The Passion of the Christ” is the best depiction I have ever seen portraying the merciless beating and scourging Jesus withstood. How did Jesus keep going, any other man would have died under such punishment. Yet Jesus made it to the Cross, that was the goal – Get to the Cross; earlier Satan had tried to get Jesus to accept “a” crown without the cross. I think is a weird way, Jesus embraced His crucifixion. I think He said to himself – I made it!! Hence He could say “it is finished.” Even through all the pain, agony and horror of the day, Jesus still had compassion on a guilty criminal – It might as well been me hanging there that day, for this is how He – King Jesus purchased My Salvation!

In all the unlawful acts to get Jesus killed, the religious leaders still wanted to be sure they were not defiled from the Passover Meal. Oh the hypocrisy of religious people!

A hasty burial by Joseph of Arimathea, the women watching on,; quickly get him into the tomb and get inside before the Sabbath. The long lonely hours of waiting for the Sabbath day to end, early in the morning, the women go running to the tomb with more spices to finish the job. Only to find, the stone rolled away and grave-clothes inside. What has happened? “I thought the stone would be our problem; but we don’t have a body to finishing burying!”

That empty tomb the seal of our salvation in that as Jesus was the first fruits of the resurrection, so we too will join Him. Just as sin could not keep Him in the Tomb, neither can Satan and sin prevent our reunion with our Lord Jesus. That was a great day; greater than the greatest healing day Jesus ever had in His 3 years of ministry.

The take away – people will mock you, treat you merciless and humiliate you like they did Jesus. If you live out your faith, the same thing will happen to us. Expect it, get ready for it, and embrace it – for you are being fashioned into the image of you Savior – rejoice Matthew 5:11-12!

You are not of this world, don’t try to act like it, there is enough people already doing that!

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The Jesus Ministry

The chapters of Luke 9-13 are filled with so many kinds of topics, it is difficult to settle on one theme. Our reading begins with the “Call, power and sending out ” of the disciples. They after having watched Jesus for approximately 18 months now get to engage in the work He was doing. The work of the disciples becomes so known, that even Herod that “old Fox” feels conviction, fearing that John the Baptist has been reincarnated. Yes Jews believed in reincarnation to some degree [see Luke 9:18-19]. When the disciples return they explain the results to Jesus. He takes them away, but the crowds follow. In these high popularity years Jesus does a lot of healing, and crowd gathering. His message shifts to the Kingdom of God and the task that is before Him. Remember the Jews are looking for a Messiah, albeit a faulty expectation from the real Messiah that Jesus would be at that time.

Jesus begins to tell the disciples how he will go to the cross, He shows them His glory on the mount of Transfiguration; and all they do is asked for “priority seating” in the Kingdom of God [Luke 9:46-48]. The disciples were very sympathetic or discerning of what Jesus was really all about. Before we chastise them, we aren’t much better today. Before Jesus goes to Jerusalem there is one last major evangelistic thrust, and open revelation of who He is; He sends out 70 ahead, to prepare the people by way of announcement.

The are times when I hear that sometimes my preaching is a bit too harsh or in your face. Yet when I look at the preaching of Jesus and the Apostles, I find not a wimpy preaching approach, but one that is bold and truthful about the judgment and the condemnation on the unrepentant cities and communities. Even the cities of Bethsaida and Capernaum are chastised for their unbelief.

It always follows that when God has done a great work [the return of the 70’s report] that evil wants to discount and destroy the testimony of the work. In chapter 10, the lawyer bent on discrediting Jesus puts Him to the test with a question that the lawyer already knows the answer to. Such as it is, Jesus does His best teaching through great illustrations ans stories – in this case the Good Samaritan story. In the end, the lawyer is corrected in his thinking about neighbors, but unmoved in his prejudice against Samaritans, all he could reply to Jesus was “the one who showed mercy.” [Luke 10:37]

I have studied Luke 11:1-13 extensively, it is a very good passage about prayer. I pondered why the Disciples would ask Jesus to teach them to pray, when every good Jew prayed 3 times a day. The secret is they were missing the “power” behind the prayers. When Jesus prayed, things happened! This is not the case for many believers; we know we should pray, want our prayers heard, but find great difficulty in maintaining a prayer life.  The secret is not “saying prayers” but communicating with the person to whom we are praying too. We forget that prayer in its simplest form is just dialog with Jesus.  Prayer is not so much about asking for things as it is about know Jesus.

As with ministry today, there are varied reactions to the Gospel. Jesus is considered to be Beelzebub or Satan doing the works that He does. The Jews really don’t appear to be too smart at times – as Jesus dismisses the remark by “house divided against itself” giving truth that if Jesus was Satan, He is destroying Satan’s own work. Jesus will continue to have opposition from here on to the Cross. One of the thought we must come to understand; as we profess and live out the believer’s life, there will be times of great opposition. We are no better than out Master!

A funny passage is Luke 10:37-53; I title it “What a Lunch!” Jesus was asked to lunch by a Pharisee, from there things went downhill fast. Jesus pronounces Woes on the Pharisees and condemns the religious rulers for their part in killing the prophets and apostles. Needless, after the lunch, they are ready to kill him; and will from now on seek to do just that.

Jesus preaching has become more intense; no longer is He trying to present evidence that He is the Messiah, but is bringing the message of how people will be judged at the End of the Age. Warnings are given to those who have ears to hear.  Please note that the Gospel is Offensive! Chapter 12:49-53 explains how that families will be divided over who Jesus and the Gospel. I have seen this happen in families and it is so sad.  The Cross looms in front of Christ; He is resolved to embrace His “baptism” of agony and trial, for this is His reason for coming – to seek and to save that which is lost, and to give His life as a ransom for many.

Through all the teaching, miracles and healing, Jesus focus has always been “get to the Cross.” He did not come for popularity, self glory or create a following. He came to be the Savior of the world; delivering us from sin and wrath.

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Woes to Wow

This weeks blog encompasses Matthew 23-27. The last week of Jesus life is filled with controversy and conflict. The previous  3 years while marked with high popularity and miracles, gives over to a riotous crowd of religious hypocrites. In Matthew 23 Jesus seems to let all of the “hypocritical behavior” to the forefront. No longer will Jesus be quiet about who/what the Jewish religious leaders are, and their intention to kill him to preserve their institution – wow that sounds familiar for anyone ever been in ministry! Pharisim is exposed, no less than 8 times Jesus issues a “Woe unto scribes, pharisees and chief priests, hypocrites.” The primary point of Jesus’ exposure is more about what they do behind the scenes or under the auspices of serving God.  Another phrase that has a lot of weight in this chapter is “blind guides.” Obviously if someone cannot see, then how can they think they can lead others? Which is interesting, because their intention is not to honor God or the faith, but to secure their own positions and reproduce people like themselves.  Jesus came to his own and his own knew him not, [John 1:11] The way they treated the son of the Master of the Vineyard, [ Matt 21:33-41] is their indictment to punishment and the wrath of God.

After Jesus pretty much seals the deal with the Jewish leaders desire to eliminate Him, he begins to focus on the future things of the Kingdom of God. Everyone is interested in the future and the disciples were no different. Jesus answers more than a “when is the 2nd coming” question. He uses the Olivet Discourse as it is called to outline [albeit cryptic] the Fall of Jerusalem, the treatment of the disciples and the signs of His return. Jesus uses parables about known cultural life to explain, the conditions of the world, the lack of preparedness and about judgments and rewards. Jesus does give great warning, many will come pretending to be Him. Times will get bad with persecution and natural/man-made disasters. We live in a day when most church people [notice I didn’t say Christians] are trying to promote a soon return of Jesus to poor His wrath out on all the ungodliness and immorality. If that were really believed, wouldn’t it make sense that all of us would be trying to share the Gospel with great intensity?

I am going to fast forward to Matthew 26-27. A lot happens in one week.  From the Passover/Last Supper to the Gethsemane scene to the mock trials and illegal courts, Jesus is betrayed, forsaken, denied, condemned, scourged, mocked and finally crucified on the Cross at Golgotha. I was particularly moved by Matthew 27:31, I have overlooked this verse until recently. The phrase “they put His garments back on Him.” You may be confused at this point. Remember Matt 26:6-13?; a woman anoints Jesus’ body for burial. Another passage helps John 12:1-3, the anointing perfume was poured over His head, on to His clothes. The fragrance was so intoxicating it “filled” the room. My thought was this, how in such a horrid situation to find a breath of resolve. I think Jesus could still smell through the sweat and blood that fragrance of love!

Still moving forward, I want to talk of the veil that was torn in the Temple. The Temple was reconstructed according to the specifications of Solomon’s Temple. There is the courts, outer [Gentile], Women’s and Men’s courts. Then there is the inner room of the Sanctuary, then behind the veil is the Holy of Holies; where the High Priest goes only once a year. The Veil was to keep people out of the presence of God, except by appropriate sacrifice and atonement rituals. Thinking of the Veil – it was the width of a man’s hand or about 4 inches thick. Matthew 27:51, when Jesus dies, the veil is torn; torn from top to bottom. This means that God opened the access to Himself through the Flesh of Jesus. Jesus as the High Priest [after the Order of Melchizedek] enters on the basis of His own Flesh, through the Veil to offer His own blood as covenant obedience and forgiveness. [Heb. 6:19; 9:3 and 10:20] All this being said, Jesus’ death was God’s doing not man’s. Jesus’ flesh [Veil] was torn to give access to us to the presence of God. We have entrance through Jesus’ flesh and access to the throne based upon His blood sacrifice. Behind the death of Jesus [flesh] is the torn veil. His body was the veil, by which the blood was brought. Before, the High Priest had to make sacrifice for himself, then only once a year go beyond the veil to make atonement for the people. But the veil always remained in place year after year, after Jesus death, [the veil] all have access. With this in mind we “Have Confidence to come before the Throne [Hebrews 10:19-25]

The WOW for the week comes from all that happened when Jesus resurrects; Earthquakes, tombs opening up, spirits walking around, not your average Sunday – even though maybe it should be! The Roman soldier got it right when Jesus “gave up His spirit” he said “Truly this was the Son of God!”

Next Week we start reading the Magnum Opus of Paul, the Book of Romans!


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