Sunday, March 31, 2013

He is Risen

John 19:38-42-----John 20:1-31
38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.[e] 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Crucifixion

 John 19:16-37
So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”
22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.
24 “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”
This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,
“They divided my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.”
So this is what the soldiers did.
25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman,  here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,”  37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Jesus on Trial

When Jesus was arrested he was taken before several high ranking officials as the Jews were seeking support for their claims that he had committed violations of their laws and traditions.  Remember, Jesus was aware of every event that had happened, and he knew of his impending death on the cross.
We might wonder what was happening with his followers. Were they going to do anything to try and rescue him from this fate? We noticed yesterday that Peter tried to come to the Lord's defense by attacking the servant of the high priest. Jesus had stopped Peter by reminding him that all these happenings were in the plan of God. 

Before long we see Peter doing exactly what Jesus said he would do. He was denying that he even knew Jesus. Human nature back then was a lot like today, when the heat gets turned up, people grow weak in their allegiance to the Lord.  So while Peter is denying his association with Jesus, and listening to a rooster crow, Jesus was having his initial encounter with the government officials. From John 18;

12 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.

So Jesus went before Annas, and from there was taken before Caiaphas the high priest. Still bound with shackles, he was then taken to the palace of the Roman governor. Verses 29 and 30 show the shallow charges which are brought against him. 

"29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?” 30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”

Pilate reminded them of the custom of releasing a prisoner during Passover, and suggested that Jesus be the one that was released. Pilate himself confessed that he had found nothing to support the charges the Jews were bringing. However, since the crowd asked for the release of Barabbas, and overwhelmingly chose to crucify Jesus, Pilate went along with the desires of the crowd. 

The story of these events even includes description of the way Pilate even tried to release Jesus, but the Jews kept up their insistence that he be crucified. These people would not give up. Their cries of "Crucify him, Crucify him," were answered by Pilate with these words from John 19:16, "Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified."

In looking through the four gospel accounts, the details of the crucifixion are gruesome, humiliating, painful,  and filled with sorrow. Tomorrow, we shall look specifically at John's account of the crucifixion experience.  Hopefully you will read these words and appreciate the seriousness of the event. This is the basis for your hope of eternal life. This is the greatest demonstration of God's love for you. Jesus is about to take the entire load of guilt and punishment which belongs to all mankind, and face the punishment alone. So when we read these truths, may we all realize Jesus is dying and shedding his blood for us. 


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

All in God's Plan

When Jesus had finished praying, John tells us that he left with his disciples. They crossed the Kidron Valley and came to an olive grove where Jesus and his disciples had met before. It was here that Judas continued in his betrayal of the Lord by leading an arrest party to where Jesus was. There were soldiers, officials from the chief priests and some Pharisees, all carrying torches and lanterns and weapons. 

John 18 tells the story and there are couple of verses in particular we need to think about.  The first one comes immediately after Jesus has been confronted by those who came to arrest him.  Verse 4 says, "Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, 'Who is it you seek?'"
When they said they were looking for Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus speaks again, "I am he." The exchange in conversation continued and Peter on impulse, drew out his sword and struck a servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. Jesus commanded Peter to put away his sword. Then comes the second verse  we want to examine.  In verse 11 Jesus asks Peter, "Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?"

Peter, in coming to the defense of Jesus, was actually interfering in the plans of the Lord. Scripture already has told us Jesus knew all that was happening. The events leading up to his death on the cross had been carefully planned since before creation. Those events will include his arrest and trials. Peter, or anyone else, who tried to stop those events would find themselves going against the divine plan.
This part of the story causes us to stop and think for a moment, to see if we, like Peter, get in the way of God.  I have heard Christians say if they had been present when someone came to arrest Jesus, they would have fought to keep it from happening. 

Let's remind ourselves of several things. Jesus is in the process of giving himself for our sins. He is taking our place in an execution we deserve. Scripture describes him as the one "slain from the foundation of the world."  That means that Jesus, the creative power of the universe, has been spending his earthly life to fulfill God's plan for saving man. I wish there was another way and Jesus wouldn't have to go to the cross. The very thought of someone belonging to spiritual royalty subjecting himself to such pain and torture and ridicule goes against our grain. But we must remember, "God shows his love for us in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us."

God's way is obviously the right way. Any time we try to improve on His way, we make a big mistake. Perhaps this is why in the scheme of things we are continually called up to empty ourselves of self, and take up our cross, and follow Jesus. That is a call for total and absolute surrender to Him.

This week, more than any other time, we devote ourselves to the Lord, we place our trust in Him, we welcome his presence within us.