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The Joy of Easter

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John 20:1-18

                Day 6 - Friday – Jesus died on the cross. He did not deny that He was the Christ, the Son of God. The leaders of the community were afraid of Him and what He taught. Because it was just before sundown on Friday and Saturday was the Sabbath day of rest, His body could not be properly prepared for burial.

                Day 7 - Saturday – The day of rest per the scriptures.

                Day 1 - Sunday – The third day. Jesus had said, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” Lk 24:46-47. Several people, including Mary Magdalene, Simon Peter, and another disciple went to the tomb where He was laid, only to find there was nobody. There was great consternation when all that was seen by Mary Magdalene (the first person to the tomb), Simon Peter, and the disciple that Jesus loved was the linen cloths in which Jesus was wrapped and the face cloth, which was placed in a separate location.

                Simon Peter and the other disciple returned to their homes, not sure what was happening. They didn’t understand what Jesus said in Lk 24:46-47.

                Mary Magdalene went back to the tomb and saw two angels inside. She asked where the body was. She turned around and saw Jesus but did not recognize Him. He asked her why she was crying and who she was seeking. He said her name and she recognized Him. How great was her joy! She wanted to cling to Him! However, Jesus said it wasn’t time for that yet. She went to tell the disciples that she had seen Him, and what He had said to her.

                As we approach Easter and the forty days following, we, too, should rejoice in the rising of Jesus. Because He rose as He said He would, He fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament. Jesus also told us of His resurrection when he told the parable of the Prodigal Son. There was great joy in Heaven, and among the disciples, when Jesus rose from the dead.

                Jesus spent the next forty days after the resurrection with the disciples. He talked about His return to Heaven, but that He would come again “at the end of the age”. The disciples did not know when that would be. They only knew that Jesus gave them instructions to spread the word of His teachings, death and resurrection.

                When Jesus was alive, He committed no sins. When He went to the cross, He took the sins of all people who had lived, were living, and were still to be born. He told them, and us, that all we needed for salvation was to believe that He is the Christ, the Son of God. We could not earn our salvation by what we did, nor could we lose our salvation by what we did not do.

                This is a time for us to rejoice, as did the disciples. While we may not see Jesus in the flesh, we see Him in other people. For Jesus lives within each of us. All we need do is believe.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” Jn 3:16-18

in Faith

Holy Week

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Holy Week

Holy Week is the last week of Lent. It starts with Palm Sunday, reminding us of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Many churches celebrate Palm Sunday with a procession and palm crosses for the congregation.

Jesus was hailed as a great prophet of God by the people of Jerusalem. Word had spread of His teaching and many people believed what He taught, and that He spoke with the authority of God.

Jesus continued to preach while in Jerusalem. However, the religious leaders were not pleased with many of His actions and teachings. He threw the money changers and vendors out of the temple courtyard, saying that His father’s house was to be a house of prayer.

The chief priests and elders became increasingly angry with Jesus’ teaching. They worked together to come up with a plan to destroy Jesus. What they didn’t understand was that God was in control and they were playing a major role in the salvation of the world.

Jesus, understanding what was being asked of Him, prayed. He knew that His death on the cross was the only way for our salvation. He did not try to run from God. This may have been His greatest temptation. However, His final prayer was “…your will be done.” MT 26:43

Jesus was betrayed by one of His disciples. He rebuked another disciple who cut off the ear of one of the temple guards, and healed the guard, showing His great compassion.

At the time of His death, He was laughed at and mocked. People yelled at Him that if He was the Son of God, He should take Himself off the cross. If He had done that, though, He would not have followed the plan that God had.

It took about three hours for Jesus to die. At His death, there was a great earthquake. The temple curtain was ripped in two, from top to bottom. Tombs were opened and bodies were resurrected, according to the Gospel of Matthew.

Jesus’ body was removed from the cross prior to sundown, the beginning of the Sabbath. The women who were to prepare the body for burial were not able to complete those preparations, and would have to finish them on Sunday, the first day of the week.

Jesus had no tomb of His own. A man named Joseph, of Arimathea, provided a tomb, and rolled a stone in front of the opening. There was great sadness at the death of Jesus.

The disciples were afraid of the people of Jerusalem, including the religious leaders. They had been with Jesus for the entirety of His ministry. They were concerned that they would suffer the same fate as Jesus. They hid during the Sabbath, waiting for the first day of the week, Sunday, so that the final burial rites could be conducted.

Pontius Pilate, the government ruler for the area, ordered that a guard should be set around the tomb. Since Jesus had taught that He would be raised on the “third day”, Pilate and the religious leaders did not want the disciples to steal the body and claim a resurrection.

And so, we wait…

Posted by Stephanie Fuller with