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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

October View

Blessed Assurance

October is a beautiful month of change.  The weather cools, the leaves begin to turn (some places) and the feeling of Autumn is in the air and at the package stores.  But for us as Lutherans this is a very important month of the year.  It is the month we commemorate perhaps the most important Social and Religious change in modern history (if you consider 501 years modern).  It is the month we celebrate the Reformation of the Church.  October 31, 1517 Martin Luther is said to have posted the Ninety-five theses on the Wittenberg Church Door.

While it may seem like a long time ago, and it was, the factors which drove Luther’s hammer are still very much a reality today.  In Luther’s day, it was the Roman Catholic Church which was the center of the issue.  The Church then believed and taught that Jesus died for sin, but only original sin!  That is the sin that we inherit from our parents and from their parents and so forth from Adam and Eve.  Jesus died to free you from the guilt of sinfulness so that you could add to Christ’s work by your own holiness.  In other words, Jesus only started the work for you, or anyone to be saved, but each individual is responsible to be holy from that point on.  When you sinned, you had to then go through a series of actions including confession to a priest and penance and if necessary restitution of some kind.  This only worked though for venial sins, the much more serious mortal sin was a different matter.  At any rate almost no one, it was taught, made it to heaven immediately, first they had to suffer in purgatory for whatever sin still clung to their souls at death.  This Idea is called works righteousness! 

Luther, being a devout monk of the Augustinian order, took sin seriously and found himself lacking greatly.  He Saw himself in great jeopardy of Judgment from Christ the “Great Law Giver and Judge.”  The other priests and monks accused Luther of making stuff up to confess when they could no longer sit and listen to Luther drone on about how bad he was.  Luther had no Assurance of salvation or forgiveness.  Luther was terrified of God! 

Today you can find very legalistic churches and preachers who will tell you the same kind of message.  “Jesus died for your sin” They’ll say, but you live a holy life as evidence of your commitment to God.  It is believed by many Evangelical Christians that behavior is a way to judge your faith.  In extreme circumstances, there are extra things you should be able to do, like; handle snakes, cast out demons etc.  It can also be that you are not a complete believer if you are not “filled with the Holy Spirit, with evidence of speaking in tongues.”  For these church attenders, alcohol is a great evil, but then there is often also dancing, movies, card playing and gambling that are on the “OFF” list.  It can even be as subtle as just the way the preacher preaches on how a Christian ought to live, or how a successful marriage is made, “ten steps to holiness,” or “how to be a prayer warrior.”  Any myriad of messages that is not centered on the Cross of Jesus Christ for the total forgiveness of all sin, as the answer to the problem of sin.  

October is a month for us to remember that the Gospel is truly BLESSED ASSURANCE, we as believers add nothing to our Salvation nor to our life as a Christian.  If you believe in Jesus, your sin is forgiven in full, you stand righteous because of Christ.   Heaven and all of God’s good gifts are for you and all who believe regardless of condition, sin, station, color, nationality or age.  All God’s gifts are for you.  No one who believes can be condemned!  Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  That’s what the Reformation is all about!  And that is BLESSED ASSURANCE!

Posted by Gary Brown with