Easter

A Very Personal Encounter

A Very Personal Encounter

This Sunday we celebrate the day that Jesus arose from the grave. It was a very busy day for Jesus – He covered a lot of ground that day. It was an emotional day for all of His followers – they experienced the full range of emotions. But it was also a very personal day for at least one of His followers.

Mark and Luke tell us that early in the morning Mary Magdalene, Mary (the wife of Clopas), Salome (the wife of Zebedee), Joanna (the wife of Chuza) and at least one other woman arrived at the tomb with their ointments and spices planning to complete the burial preparations of the body of Jesus. They were the first to discover the empty tomb. Without even stepping into the tomb, Mary Magdalene immediately set off to find Peter and John to tell them that Jesus’ body had been taken. She left before the two angels announced to the other women that Jesus had risen from the dead. 

Having found Peter and John, Mary Magdalene returned with them to the tomb. John and Peter ran ahead to see for themselves. Neither Peter nor John appeared to be running toward the tomb expecting that Jesus had risen. Rather, they were questioning the accuracy of Mary Magdalene’s report and wanted to confirm whether or not His body was still in the tomb. Upon their arrival, they too confirmed that His body was gone. John tells us in His Gospel that it was then that he believed that Jesus had in fact risen from the dead. The Gospels do not tell us that Peter had that same conviction. As a matter of fact, whether it was because he was still devastated over his denial of Jesus or he was still so overcome by sorrow, he appears to have left the tomb with his heart being even heavier now that Jesus’ body had apparently been taken.

Why Simon?

Why Simon?

Simon was a popular name among first century Jews. We see a number of men by the name of Simon mentioned in the Gospels. To name a few: Simon, the fisherman who Jesus renamed Peter; Simon, the zealot who also became a disciple; Simon, the Pharisee who hosted Jesus for dinner; Simon, the healed leper who also hosted Jesus for dinner (who John may have called Lazarus); and Simon, from Cyrene who was forced to carry Jesus’ cross. Let’s look at this last Simon – and what all of us can learn from him.

Mark records, “A passerby named Simon, who was from Cyrene, was coming in from the countryside just then, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. (Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus.)” (Mark 15:21)

According to Roman law, one who was found guilty and condemned to death was required to carry his cross, or at least the cross beam, to the place of his crucifixion. Jesus left the Praetorium bearing His cross, but along the way the Roman soldiers conscripted Simon the Cyrene to carry Jesus’ cross.

Let’s look at why …

Friends

Friends

This week i have had several reminders of life-long friendships. This week is the seventy-fifth anniversary of my parents’ marriage. Though they have both now been in heaven for a number of years, the impact of their “lifelong-friendship” continues through the lives of their children, their grandchildren and their great grandchildren. Also, today i had lunch with a friend whose wife suddenly and unexpectedly passed a few weeks ago. The fruit of their life-long friendship will also continue. True friendship lives on. True friendship has purpose. True friendship has lasting impact.

It was a Thursday night, two thousand years ago. Jesus would be arrested in just a matter of hours. The disciples would all abandon Him and scatter before the night was out. At that moment He was the only One who knew what was about to occur, as He and His disciples made their journey across the Kidron Valley from the upper room to the Garden of Gethsemane. Earlier that night, He showed them that He was their Servant as He knelt before them and washed their feet. Then He explained that He was their Savior as He broke the bread and passed it together with the cup representing His body and blood that would be broken and shed. Though the disciples did not realize it, Jesus was sharing His “last words” with them. They would see Him a few more times after He arose from the grave, but this was His last time to pour into them as their Master and Teacher. For three years He had been their Teacher. Earlier He had shown them that He is their Servant. Tomorrow He would demonstrate that He is their Savior. On Sunday He would show them that He is their Risen Lord. But for now, He wanted them to know that they are His friends. Even though they would abandon Him, He still called them His friends. Jesus said, “ I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are My friends, since I have told you everything the Father told Me.You didn’t choose Me. I chose you” (John 15:15-16).

Which Son Are You?

Which Son Are You?

Since we are in the midst of the forty days of Lent (March 6 – April 18), i thought it would be timely to look at four truths that Jesus taught His disciples and those who crowded around Him during that final week leading up to His crucifixion. i plan to look at one truth each week for the next four weeks, starting with today.

It was Tuesday, the third day of the week leading up to His crucifixion. Jesus had arrived in the temple to teach as was His practice. The religious leaders were irate over Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple the day before. Through that action, He had clearly challenged their authority and they were attempting to dispute His. The problem was that they were ill-equipped for the challenge. They exerted their authority over the people through the pretense of their outward piety. There was not any real substance to their relationship with God. They were just going through the motions – speaking one way and acting in another. So Jesus confronted them with this parable: