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Today is Easter; and we celebrate Jesus rising from the dead to save us all from our sins and, through God’s Grace, give us, through our faith, Eternal Life. Jesus was the perfect Passover Pascal sacrificial Lamb on Good Friday. The events of Holy Week changed the world with His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Not only did Jesus arise from the dead 2000 years ago, He is alive today and seeking a relationship with us!
The message of Palm Sunday, of Holy Week, is that the Passover Lamb, Jesus, has entered the city of Jerusalem, just as prophesied in Zachariah 9:9 more than five hundred years before Jesus’ birth: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.". The lambs brought into the city for Passover would be inspected, for any blemishes, by the Levites so that the perfect lambs for the celebration of Passover could be selected. At the same time, Jesus was being “inspected” by the various Jewish and Roman “inspectors”, including the Levites and Pharisees, during the week leading up to the Jewish Passover celebration. As prophesied, Jesus was the perfect Passover Lamb, the Lamb of God, to be sacrificed for the sins of the world.
On the Monday of Holy Week, Jesus reentered Jerusalem and cleansed the Temple. As told in Mark 11:17, Jesus drove from the Temple the sacrificial animal vendors who had booths in Temple’s Courtyard. Tuesday and Wednesday, of Holy Week, were days of both doctrinal challenges and teaching for Jesus – further “inspections” for the perfect Passover Lamb, Jesus. Thursday, of Holy Week, is the day which Jesus washes the Apostles’ feet and eats the Passover meal, which is when Jesus institutes our Sacrament of the Communion. Also, this is the day that Jesus gives the new commandment of “Love one another”. The Apostle John expresses Jesus’ love and His role on our behalf in John 15:12-14: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.". On Thursday, Jesus has His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed to God to have the responsibility of His Crucifixion, death, and His separation from God to take on the sins of the world, be taken from Him. Additionally, Judas betrays Jesus; and Jesus is arrested.
Friday was the day the Apostle Peter denies Jesus three times; and Jesus has three trials. Also, on Friday of Holy Week, Jesus was mocked; and He was beaten and tortured almost to His death. After the beatings Jesus was forced to carry His cross to the mountain on which He was executed; and the Romans crucified Jesus until His death on the cross. While dying on the cross, Jesus asked God to forgive His executioners; and then all the sins of humanity, for all times, were placed on Jesus. As bad as Jesus’ physical pain from torture and crucifixion, Jesus spiritual and emotional pain, from His separation from God for us, is unimaginable. After His death, Jesus was buried; and His tomb was sealed and guarded by the Roman soldiers. On the Saturday of Holy Week – the day of rest, the Jewish Sabbath – Jesus is bound by death and in the grave; and Jesus Apostles are consumed by grief and fear – their leader and friend, the man they believed was the Messiah, was actually dead. If Jesus was the Messiah, how could He be dead?
On the Sunday of Holy Week, some of the women go to Jesus’ tomb; but they find the stone seal rolled away and the tomb empty. An Angel in the tomb tells the women that Jesus is no longer dead; He has risen. Over next weeks, Jesus appears to hundreds of people. His appearances to people, after His death and Resurrection, proved to these people that He was who Jesus said He was – the Son of God and the Messiah. On Sunday, the day of Jesus’ Resurrection, Jesus arises from death as the Passover Lamb, “the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world!”.
Jesus is alive today to walk with us through the Holy Spirit. During Holy Week, Jesus left us a pattern for how to live an abundant Christian life today – 1) to die in ourselves; 2) to take up His Cross in our lives; and 3) to follow Him.
In John 12:24-26, Jesus told His Apostles what they must do have Him in their lives: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.". Also, Jesus tells us that we must daily “take up our cross and follow Him”. In Galatians 2:20, Paul tells us that: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.".
We have been programmed by our culture to live for “me, myself, and I”. Do you know love, joy, kindness, and peace in your life? The reason that we do not have these life-lifting experiences in our lives is that we have not been, like Paul, crucified with Christ. To live outside of “me, myself, and I”, we must have a daily Good Friday – self must be dead; our “self” must stay on the cross. Once our “self” has been crucified, Jesus comes and lives in us. Susana Wesley, the wife of an Anglican minister and the mother of nineteen children, including two Anglican ministers – John Wesley and Charles Wesley, died to “self” and changed the world.
It is Easter and Christ is risen; therefore, it is time for us to die to self so that we can live in Christ. Jesus has died and risen not only to save us from our sins: also, He has died and risen to give us the Resurrection power of the cross in our lives so that we can follow Jesus daily.
He has risen! He has risen indeed!!
Today’s Affirmation: Because of who I am in Jesus Christ, I will not be driven by Fear. Rather, I will abide in the Lord’s Faithfulness. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5).
Scripture Reference (ESV): Matthew 16:24-26; 1 Peter 4:1-2,6; John 12:24-26; Mark 8:34-38; Galatians 2:20. (Click the blue below to read the full Bible text for these scripture references.).
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