The God of Eternity, pt 2: The Triune God, pt 1: God, the Father

Welcome, I am glad you are here to join us today! Today we continue a series that we started last week. Today’s sermon is going to focus on the concept of the Triune God. Meaning three in one.

In last week’s message, we covered God’s law and grace and how they are not contradicting and rather are complementary to each other. I also introduced two parts of the total concept of what God is. I introduced God, the Father and God, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the one part of God I did not hit on was God, the Spirit. Today, I want to talk to you about this God the Holy Triune concept. That God is three figures in one. Not to confuse you and say that there are 3 gods, but rather God acts in three different forms to accomplish different tasks as He sees fit. All three parts are equally the same God, just like a fraction. They are all the same God just three different ways God unveils Himself.

However, before I go too deep on the three in one metaphor, I want to explain each part individually in their own sermon and then at the end explain thoroughly how all of them interact and are one. Today’s sermon will be focusing on God, the Father, who He is and what He does in the Bible.

In the most basic sense, God, the Father is seen as the Creator of everything. The origin or epicenter of all that is. Starting in the very beginning of time, God created everything, now the exact and precise way that looks to us is a little hard to describe, but Genesis 1 gives us a picture of God, the Father’s capabilities:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. (Genesis 1:1-5, New King James Version)

Here we see God literally create matter, time, and space. As I once heard it put, a trinity of trinities. God, the Triune Himself, creates 3 things that are comprised of three other things. Matter is made up of solid, liquids, and gasses, Time is made of past, present, and future, and then space, is made up of length, width (or depth), and height. And this creates the world and the universe that we live in! God comes from before time itself, has the power and domain above all things as He created it. Even over man, does God have dominion, for He created us out of the dust of the earth, from the most meaningless creation came God’s most important creation: us. “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being,” (Genesis 2:7, NKJV). God demonstrates His power of creation in 2 ways here, creation from nothing, as in from nothing can come anything, and then the ability to make something new out of what He already has made. This shows us that God, the Father is beyond our laws of physics and understanding of sciences. If He can create everything from nothing, that completely ruins our concept of the law of conservation of mass, or energy. Both of these states there must be equal amounts of mass or energy before and after a reaction, and then with God’s creation of everything, there is no balanced equation which is why science as we know it today cannot explain the powers and possibilities of God.

Primarily, we see God, the Father as the acting proponent in the Old Testament, not to say He is not active in the New Testament and beyond. Rather, God acts in the form of the Father more in the Old Testament to be more steadily recognized throughout early history when man was not capable of written verse recording until the time of Moses. Then Moses is the first recorded author of the Bible having written the first 5 books of the Old Testament, known to the Jews as the Torah. God, the Father can be seen more as the one who sets the rules and terms, the one who makes the plans for eternity, and the sustainer of His people.

Last week, I went and discussed the Salvation plan, and how God, the Father, had a plan for our salvation from the beginning of our sin. Just along the way to our salvation, we had lessons we had to learn. Such as the way to live, how to treat others, and what our position is in the grand scheme of the everything. Most of this done through God’s guiding in the Old Testament, through prophets, and agents of His will. Some men such as Malachi, or Jeremiah receive direct messages for the people of God and how to guide them back into God’s graces, while others are sent to rule His people, such as Solomon, and David, even still God uses other agents that we call judges, people who saw over the Jewish people and kept order, like Gideon.

Additionally, another way to think about God, the Father is that He is the promise maker. He creates a plan and makes a promise to His people as with Abram (Abraham), Moses, or David, and then He keeps it and sustains His people through various ways. Let us look to the story of Moses. Let us start in Exodus chapter 2, in the 23rd verse.

Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them. (Exodus 2:23-25, New King James Version)

So, God made a promise to deliver His people to a Promised Land with Abraham and his sons. He had promised to make Abraham a father of a nation and God intended to keep His promise so long as people were faithful. Now, let us look at how God reveals Himself to Moses in chapter 3.

And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God. (Exodus 3:3-6, NKJV)

Here God reveals Himself indirectly, using an angel to draw the attention of Moses and then He speaks to Moses directly. Identifying Himself as the God of the fathers of the Israelites, He shows His everlasting nature to have lived beyond the generations of Israelites. God tells Moses that He has heard the cries of His people and that He wanted to use Moses to be His agent in their release. Moses is understandably hesitant, but God gives him ways to show God’s might and power in the staff and lets Moses take his brother as a speaker for him. Eventually, Pharaoh lets the people of God go after enduring 10 plaques that wreaked havoc on the nation of Egypt. I am going to fast forward a bit in the narrative to show another example of God, the Father being the source of life. Let us go to Exodus chapter 13.

So they took their journey from Succoth and camped in Etham at the edge of the wilderness. And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people. (Exodus 13:20-22, NKJV)

Here God literally acts as a guide for His people, showing them the way to the Promised Land. Showing them the way lest they get lost in the wilderness. Additionally, when the army of Egypt came to seek them, God shielded them.

And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them.  So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night. (Exodus 14:19-20, NKJV)

We see here yet more ways that God seeks to preserve the lives of those He made a promise to. And one more point to make about God being the provider of life. In Exodus 16, the Israelites are hungry and starved from their travels to the Promised Land and so they complain and gripe at Moses. In which Moses tells them that their complaints are not against him, but God. And God unveils himself once again unto His people.

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. And you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’ ” So it was that quail came up at evening and covered the camp, and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp. And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground. So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat. This is the thing which the Lord has commanded: ‘Let every man gather it according to each one’s need, one omer for each person, according to the number of persons; let every man take for those who are in his tent.’ ” (Exodus 16:11-16, NKJV)

Here God literally creates sustenance for thousands, upon thousands of people. He just makes food from the dew of the morning and makes it sustain His people. This is commonly referred to as the manna of God.

Over time God delivers His people from the wilderness and to the Promised Land and He establishes His law and shows His people what He expects from them. Then thousands of years pass and Jesus comes as the Son of God to free us. I want to draw a parallel. From the time of the manna feeding to another situation in which thousands are suddenly fed. In John 6, we see Jesus do the same thing, well in a similar manner.

Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased. And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples. Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.” One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. (John 6:2-13, New King James Version)

Jesus turns to God and gives thanks for what God is going to do to feed and sustain His people. In Mark 6:41 we get another view of this: “And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fish He divided among them all,” (NKJV). Christ acknowledges the Father as the provider of life and the sustainer of it.

In the New Testament, we see further acknowledgement by the Apostles that God, the Father is the provider of Christ and that it was His, the Father’s will to bring salvation to man. Let us look at 1 Peter 1:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5, New King James Version)

Saying that God’s acceptance of us because of His Son is our way to heaven, should we keep true faith. God, the Father is the architect to salvation, His Son Jesus even shows us this when we look at the prayers He utters before His betrayal by Judas.

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. (Matthew 26:36-44, NKJV)

Jesus asks for strength to take up the will of His Father. This shows how these two parts of God interacted. With God, the Father, being the sustainer of life and the things eternal, Christ turns to His Father when He needs strength for His human body to fulfill the will of His Father.

In closing, God, the Father, is the Creator, Provider, and Sustainer of Life. He planned a way to redeem us and gave us His Son as the means of salvation. He is the promise maker and keeper, the deliverer and the one in control of it all.  Next week, I will discuss God, the Son specifically, then the following week will be on the Spirit of God. And the last part of this subsection will tie the three together. Thank you for joining me, I hope you have a blessed day.

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The God of Eternity: Part 1 The Salvation Plan

The God of Eternity

 

Welcome, I am glad you are here to join us today! Today we begin a new series that has been placed on my heart and I hope you will join me for the rest of the series as well.

Today’s sermon is entitled the God of Eternity, because we are here to look at one of the common arguments as to why not to believe in the Christian God. A great many atheists and agnostics, like to argue that the God of the Old Testament is completely different from the way God of the New Testament and that the change in characteristics is unbelievable. As put by renowned atheist Richard Dawkins in his book The God Delusion (2006), Dawkins describes the God of Old Testament as “arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully,” (p. 51) while the God of the New Testament is ascribed as being the most loving and gentle mannered entity known to mankind dedicated to the ideals of love, compassion, and mercy. Seemingly those 2 descriptions cannot coincide and must be of two beings, right? Actually, wrong! The God of the Christian faith has always been the same, and unwavering.

Today’s sermon is going to begin a series of arguments as to why this claim of dual entities is not true. In this series I will do a superfluous amount of extrapolating on lesser known stories in the Bible and give context to almost every situation many bring up out of context. I will do this in hopes of bringing to light just how much God has never changed, just the way mankind has changed and altered their relationship with God.

First and foremost, I want to address probably the most important supposed contradiction. How does God’s absolute law and God’s covenant of Grace coincide? People like to point that God in the Old testament ruled the world, and specifically the Jews, with an iron fist while letting the Christians in the New Testament and modern era have complete free reign. What if I told you that this notion of God’s law limiting His people was not actually His purpose? And that there was a plan for our salvation even before the establishment of His law. In fact, the plan for our Salvation began in the Garden of Eden. As noted by Christian scholar Dr. Creech in an article entitled: Old Testament vs. New Testament: A Tale of Two Gods? (2017), our understanding of God is like that of a “sunrise allows one to see steadily more and more of what a room contains, so God’s progressive revelation has permitted human beings to understand increasingly God’s nature, will, and ways. The truth was there all along,” (p.7).

In the telling of the original sin we have an important detail come into play where most people just look at the curses laid upon Adam and Eve rather the serpent who was cursed first for his tempting of Eve and Adam. In Genesis 3:15 (NKJV) we read God’s curse laid upon the serpent (Satan), “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Here, God refers to the coming of the Son of God and man. That one of the descendants would come and destroy Satan, while all Satan can do is hurt Him. Already, from here we can see the fact that God is going to send Christ as a sacrifice and as a bringer of justice: His 2 comings. It is good to note that God has a plan for redemption already in the narrative of the Bible, just 3 chapters into the Old Testament where God is supposed to be unforgiving and unmerciful.

To continue the Salvation plan, let’s look at how the New Testament literally starts. The book of Matthew begins with the genealogy of Christ from Abraham to David and down to Joseph. Now, why would the genealogy begin with Abraham? Let’s take a look for ourselves. In Genesis 17 God establishes a covenant with Abram, who now becomes Abraham, that God will “establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you,” (Genesis 17:7, New King James Version). Here we see God tell Abraham that God will be with His sons and family forever to be the God of the Jewish people as we know them to be. And among his descendants is David, a man that God loved and trusted for his faithfulness. As you read the story of David in 1st and 2nd Samuel you will get to the point in 2nd Samuel where God sends His prophet Nathan to David to establish His covenant with David. The covenant God bestows on David reads as “your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever,” (2 Samuel 7:16, NKJV). With these two covenants, God establishes with whom He shall have the Son of God born unto and when you correlate back with the genealogy provided in Matthew, you can see God’s consistency to provide for the future of His people. That despite thousands of years of His people betraying and turning their backs on God, He never lost sight of what He promised to His people all that time ago in the Garden of Eden.

So, all of this to just now discuss the actual intent of God’s law. Just quickly look back at what we have covered, from the beginning of man’s sin He had a plan to redeem us, and then through Abraham and David He established whom He would send the Redeemer through. But what do we need redemption from? I mean certainly the one sin of Adam and Eve cannot have been that bad? And this is where the law of God comes into play. Let us go back in time to when Moses climbs mount Sinai and receives the laws of God and establishes the Mosaic Covenant or as we commonly refer to it as the Mosaic Law. In Exodus we have the story of God’s people being delivered to the Promised Land, as was promised unto Abraham, and the establishment of God’s law. Starting with the 10 Commandments that most everyone knows or recognizes, but then they ignore the next three chapters of Exodus that give a full perspective of what God’s law is. The law is established in Exodus 20-23, where the first 10 commandments are given in chapter 20 and the rest of God’s laws for His people are laid out and He gives instructions to His people on how they are to conduct themselves. He establishes punishments and justice that His people are to carryout to show just how vile it is to Him when we sin. In this we are as a young child beginning to learn what it means to know what is wrong and right, and how are we to know if we are not taught and instructed. As Dr. Creech (2017) points out in his article again is that:

Progressive revelation can also be understood in terms of humanity becoming more and more responsible to God for our actions. A parent might permit a younger child to behave in a certain way—even when that behavior is not ultimately the parent’s will—because the child simply doesn’t know better. Later, however, as the child grows and becomes more responsible, higher standards are imposed.

 

In the same way, many practices permitted in the Old Testament (polygamy, for example) are later regarded as outside of God’s will for his people. As God’s people grow, so do God’s expectations. (p. 9-10)

Here we have the first set of refinement really brought to bear on the people of God, as He establishes clear cut rules and laws for His people. An important detail to note here, is that God required His people to love, and love their enemies long before Jesus’ commandments given in Matthew 22. If we look at Exodus 23, we see this in His law:

If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under its burden, and you would refrain from helping it, you shall surely help him with it you shall not pervert the judgment of your poor in his dispute. Keep yourself far from a false matter; do not kill the innocent and righteous. For I will not justify the wicked. And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the discerning and perverts the words of the righteous. Also, you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 23:4-9, NKJV)

I do not know about you, but if I saw my enemy’s livestock I might take it for my own or slaughter it, but here God says we are to rightly return it to them. Less we be called poor in judgement by God and unjustified in the eyes of God. This is the very love that Jesus talks of in His ministry in the New Testament. Though, that is another sermon for later in the series, it is just important to note the consistencies between the Mosaic Covenant (Law) and the Covenant of Grace (Salvation).

Now, let’s finally begin to look at the Covenant of Grace, the supposed New Testament contradiction to the Law of God in the Old Testament. In Luke we see Jesus directly acknowledge His purpose when He talks with Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus admits his sin “And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost,” (Luke 19:9-10, NKJV). So, He has come to those who are lost, and He says that He has come as salvation to the house of Abraham, meaning the Jews and the Gentiles. Both sets of peoples are lost, but how are the Jews lost if they have the law? The answer is because they have the law that they are lost! The apostle Paul speaks heavily on this subject of being lost in the law throughout the book of Romans. Instead of trying to rewrite all of that which Paul wrote, let us look at his words together starting in Romans 7:4 and ending in 8:4:

Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. | There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 7:4-8:4, NKJV)

So, in essence, the purpose of God’s law was to highlight our faults and why we needed to be saved and redeemed. For each one of us has sinned, and we fall short of perfection, and no matter what we do we cannot possibly undo all of our sins. And so the sacrifices once required to be of lambs and other livestock now is replaced by the Holy Son of God and He fulfills the law that we may have a chance at eternal salvation should we choose to accept it. God gave us the sacrifice and taught us the error of our ways. Now all that remains to us is to choose the gift of Grace. It is no longer what is forced upon those born in a bloodline but is something that any man, woman, or child can attain. God’s law showed us the error in our ways, and the Son showed us the way to live, there is no contradiction in these two fashions of teaching us, His people. To say that God’s law is in contradiction of God’s grace is to show ignorance of His plans and methods. In summary, God’s law is just a stepping stone to God’s grace and Salvation plan.

Thank you for your time and for joining us. I pray that you were able to learn from today’s study and I pray that you will join me in parts to come.

 

 

It’s No April Fool’s! He is Risen!

Today we gather to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and let me be the first to tell you, it’s no April Fool’s joke! Society today would have you believe that Jesus was just “a good man,” a “crazed philosopher,” a “delusional Jew,” but never the Son of God. I am here today to give you ammo to fight for what you believe and lay to rest three of the most common or profound theories about how the resurrection did not happen.

First, let us go through what is recorded in scripture as to what happened from crucifixion to resurrection. I will go through all of the gospels to give a full view of the events that unfolded during Christ’s time away from earth. First Matthew 27:50-28:8

50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. 54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. 55 And many women were there beholding afar off,  which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: 56 Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children. 57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple: 58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. 59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. 61 And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre. 62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, 63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. 64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. 65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. 66 So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch. 1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. 2 And, behold, there was a great   earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow 4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead  men.5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the  place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. 8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. (King James Version)

A key detail to note here is the establishment of a watch by the Roman Guard. Now Mark’s recount from Mark 15:39-16:8

39 And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and  gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God. 40 There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; 41 (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem. 42 And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the  kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. 44   And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked  him whether he had been any while dead. 45 And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre. 47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid. And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. 2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. 3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. 5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were  affrighted. 6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which  was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. 7 But go  your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye  see him, as he said unto you. 8 And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid. (KJV)

Here, it is important to note, that they are said to come at the rising of the sun. Around the first hour of the Jewish day to anoint Christ’s body which is how they embalmed in their time. Now in Luke 23:50-24:12

50 And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just: 51 (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. 53 And he took it down, and wrapped  it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. 54 And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on. 55 And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. 56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment. 1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. 3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: 5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, 7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. 8 And they remembered his words, 9 And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. 12  Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass. (KJV)

A key note here is that the other disciples had no clue and no belief in what the women had professed to them and Peter, said to be the most loyal disciple had to go check for himself what was reported. And lastly the account from John’s gospel John 19:30-20:10

30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. 31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already,   they brake not his legs: 34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. 35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. 36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. 37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced. 38 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. 39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. 40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. 42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at   hand. 1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. 2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they   have laid him. 3 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. 4 So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. 5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. 6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, 7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. 8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. 9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. (KJV)

Here we get details of the tomb, unlike the other accounts of what happened. Note that the napkin that was used to cover the face was not just thrown aside like the rest of the raiment, but neatly folded and placed aside.

So now that we have the tale of what happened in-between His death and resurrection as according to the Gospels, let us look at what some of the popular theories are about why the resurrection never happened.

  1. Jesus Was Not Dead
  2. The Disciples Moved the Body
  3. The Jewish Leaders or the Romans Moved the Body

Let me start with the last one. Let’s just think about this for one moment. The very people that worked so hard to not only kill Christ, but wanted to snuff out all remembrance of him, would they in all reality try to remove his body and help perpetuate the ‘myth’ as they called it? Also, why would they hold onto the body when the Romans began the largest manhunt in history for a corpse? Where people literally started losing their lives for not knowing what happened to the body, this preposition is pretty much literally ludicrous. The High Priest himself is the very one who made a request to the Governor to seal the tomb and post a guard, so why go through all that trouble to just help those you are trying to squander? Quite frankly, this theory just raises more questions than answers. Maybe the Romans took the body and not the Jews… hmm wait a minute… if the Romans launched the largest manhunt for a dead body that they already had, then why waist all the forces that could be keeping order and reinforcing the laws? What purpose does causing so much trouble do you when Caesar himself is coming to inspect the way your territory is being run? All this does is help push forward the idea of Christ is risen and cause more disorder. Again, neither side of this coin makes any sense. I rest my case against this theory.

Secondly, the Disciples moved the body. Now, let’s think about this for a moment. 11 men just watched the Son of God die, after being brutally and savagely beaten and flogged. These men were in fear for their own lives, most of them fled the moment Christ was taken by the Sanhedrin. Even Simon-Peter, his most loyal follower denied him 3 times the night of Christ’s arrest. Even after Jesus comes back to life, they still hid in fear, and did so until the day of Pentecost. What makes someone think they had the courage to even approach the tomb? Also, the tomb was guarded by a squad of Romans. And Romans, like modern militaries, take their guard duties extremely serious. In fact, more so than we do. If you were caught in dereliction of duty (not following orders), you would at the very least be imprisoned, and commonly beaten, and often times put to death or exile. So, what are the chances that an entire squad of legionnaires decided to just let 11 men walk up, remove the stone, and take off with the body of Christ? Just to show you how serious Romans took guarding anything, let’s look at Acts 16:23-30

23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: 24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. 25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. 26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. 27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. 29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? (KJV)

This guard knew the price of failure, so he had just as soon take his own life than suffer as he knew he would. All that to say this, I doubt very highly that they would fail on the vital task of keeping anyone out of the tomb.

Lastly, they say that Christ never died in the first place. Well, let’s just look at all that Christ suffered through. First he went through beatings at the hands of the Chief Priests (John 18:22, Luke 22:63-64, Mark 14:65, Matthew 26:67), which was pretty much the easiest He got. Then He was flogged before His sentencing, and beaten after (Mark 15:15, Luke 23:16, John 19:1-5). The tool of the flogging is known as the cat-of-nine-tails. A cruel whip with 9 leather strips with bone, metal, and whatever was left over from the last victim. This whip was designed to shred flesh and rip skin from muscle. The flogging would last until the victim could hardly stand or died. In this case, it was to the point of near death. Afterwards, the Romans took him back inside, beat and mocked him some more before Christ was set with His crossbar. So, after suffering tremendous blood loss and muscular damage, Christ is given a 75-pound crossbar and has to carry it 650 yards up the hill called Mt. Calvary. Already weakened by dehydration, hunger, and blood loss, Christ falls 3 times on His journey and each delay more than likely earned Him more lashes. Most normal people have died at this point, but Christ preserves himself long enough to accomplish what His father had set out for Him to do.

Now, the actual crucifixion. Probably the worst thing to endure, a form of torture that was designed to kill slowly, with some victims lasting days while struggling to survive. Once laid into place, Christ would have had a nail driven in each wrist, securing his arms outstretched on the bar. Next, his legs would have been bent slightly, and his feet nailed in place. Once Christ is nailed in, He is then lifted up on the cross and left to hang, choosing between breathing and the pain of his arms or feet. His outstretched arms and suspended body slowly suffocating him as He has to use His feet to push himself up to breath, tearing at his feet from the nails in them. At around 3pm, Christ dies. The Romans verify His death and pierced his lungs with a spear and out came water and blood (John 19:34). Water only comes from lungs in the 2 situations of death, drowning (which can be safely ruled out), and asphyxiation. The trapped air in your lungs condensates and becomes water. So, Christ is verified dead, safely ruling out this theory.

And here is the good news! Christ arose on the 3rd day just as he said he would. Our God is not dead and “The ultimate proof of the resurrection though is provided in the testimony of his early disciples.  Jesus was seen by over 500 witnesses over a period of 40 days. Acts 1:3 says that, “After His suffering, He showed Himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a period of 40 days and spoke about the kingdom of God.”

The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:3-6: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.”

Peter who, denied Jesus, later preached in the heart of Jerusalem and proclaimed in Acts 2:32: “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.” Peter later wrote a letter reaffirming that the resurrection was not a tale made up by the disciples, He explained in 2 Peter 1:16: “We did not follow cleverly devised tales when we make known to you the power and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”

People who saw Jesus after his resurrection had changed lives.  All of the original 12 disciples to include Paul were imprisoned, beaten, tortured, and died for their testimony.  All left friends, family, and even homes to let others know about the truth of Jesus’ resurrection.  They all overcame their fear of death.  People telling a lie, seldom die for it.  Listen to how they died and see if it sounds like they were just making up the Resurrection:

•Matthew was killed in Ethiopia
•Mark was dragged through the streets until he was dead
•Peter, Simeon, Andrew, and Philip were crucified
•James was beheaded
•Bartholomew was flayed alive
•Thomas was pierced with lances
•James, the less, was thrown from the temple and stoned to death
•Jude was shot to death with arrows
•Paul was boiled in hot oil and beheaded

*John was poisoned and then exiled to Patmos where he wrote the Revelation of Jesus
None of these men ever recanted their testimony of the resurrection. As I mentioned when I opened that we are commanded by Jesus to tell what we know.  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.” Matthew 28:20” -Harvey Smith (Case for the Resurrection, 2017)

 

So go forth and be merry! Spread the good news of the gospel to all that will hear your words! God bless you and keep you.

 

Maundy Thursday and Good Friday

Thank you for joining me today on this special week in our faith! Maybe you are still learning about Christianity and want to know what all the craze is about this week for us, well I am glad you joined in for this. Today, I am going to give a recount, through scripture and historical records, of what happened the last 30 hours before Christ died on the cross for our sins.

The year is 30 AD, around 14 Nisan in the Jewish calendar, or 6 April in the modern American calendar. It is a Thursday night like most others, save it is the night of the Passover feast. Jesus has been in Jerusalem for only 5 days since His arrival on Sunday. Christ has spent the day ministering to the people of Jerusalem and the day draws close to an end when one of his 12 apostles leaves his side to entreat the Chief Jewish priests. Please join me in reading Matthew 26:14-16:

14Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 15 And said     unto them, ‘What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you?’ And they covenanted  with him for thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray  him. (King James Version)

Here we have Judas named as the assailant that is to betray Christ for 30 pieces of silver. One of Christ’s most loyal followers and he still betrays Christ for a relatively small price. It is estimated that each silver piece would be worth $20 today, so in total, Judas betrays one of his most beloved friends for $600. Granted with that amount he could do a lot of good in that time, he still settles for a pitiful amount to betray a friend. The answer as to why Judas actually turns to betray Jesus is found in Luke 22:3-6:

Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. 4  And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them. 5 And they were glad and covenanted to give him money. 6 And he promised and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude. (KJV)

So, Judas is possessed by Satan to covenant against the Son of God. He is lost to his ignorance and blinded by Satan’s grip on him.

After the covenant of betrayal, Peter and John inquire as to where they should partake of the Passover Feast. As we read in Luke 22:7-14

            Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the Passover must be killed. 8 And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the Passover, that we may eat. 9 And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? 10 And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow  him into the house where he entereth in. 11 And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the    Passover with my disciples? 12 And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. 13 And they went and found as he had said unto them: and they made  ready the Passover. 14 And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.

This feast that they are about to partake in is what will later be referred to as the Lord’s Supper or the Last Supper and is where we get act of Communion from. The significance of the Lord’s Supper is beyond measure. It helps us see that Jesus is God as He demonstrates his omniscient and omnipresent capabilities by revealing that He knows the actions of Judas and the future actions of Peter. This revelation of His abilities helps to ferment in the minds of His apostles that He is the One true God and the Son of God. Let’s continue reading on: Luke 22:15-24:

15 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer: 16 For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. 17 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, take this, and divide it among yourselves: 18 For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. 19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. 20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.21 But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. 22 And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed! 23 And they began to enquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing. 24 And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. (KJV)

Here we see the apostles choosing once again to ignore what Christ has revealed to them, something we all do. I know I have done this in my life before, but here Christ literally tells them that this is His last meal and they ignore that and go on about who among them will betray Him and who is the greatest apostle amongst them. To which Christ replies in His usual parable mannerisms: Luke 22:25-30:

            25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. 27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. 28 Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. 29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; 30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (KJV)

In one of Christ’s last parables before the crucifixion He talks of servitude above all. Reminding them that the Son of God came not to be served but to serve. Christ truly lived out each commandment He gave unto His apostles, letting no hint of hypocrisy into His life or ministry. Then Jesus gets personal with His address and singles out His most trusted apostle Simon-Peter, Luke 22:31-34

31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. 33 And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. 34 And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me. (KJV)

Following Christ’s foreboding words to Peter, they leave for the Garden of Gethsemane. Once there, Christ separates Himself from the apostles and makes a prayer on our behalf. This prayer would become known as the Prayer of Intercession. John 17:1-26:

1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: 2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. 3  And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. 4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which  thou gavest me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. 6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. 7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. 8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. 9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. 10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. 11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. 12 While I was with them in  the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of  them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. 20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art  in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. 24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. 26 And I have declared unto them thy name and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

The prayer of intercession is one of the most overlooked parts of Christ’s ministry, and is probably one of the most important, second to the sacrifice He makes on the cross. This prayer shows us exactly why Christ came to earth and lived the life He did when He didn’t have to. In this prayer, He secures our salvation and opportunity to go to Heaven, without His prayer here to make us one spirit with His, there would be no way we could have our sins forgiven without our own sacrifice. But when Christ takes our sins here from out spirits, He enables himself to carry our sins to hell and sets us free from eternal damnation. Following this passionate prayer, Christ asks for the strength to enact the will of His father. And then His final hours begin with a kiss of betrayal from Judas. Matthew 26: 47-56

            47 And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great  multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.48 Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. 49 And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.  50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid  hands on Jesus, and took him. 51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. 52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. 53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? 55 In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords  and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no  hold on me. 56 But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled. (KJV)

To finish the events of Maundy Thursday, Christ is taken to the house of the High Priest of the Sanhedrin and Peter denies Christ thrice before the cock announces the new day and the beginning of Good Friday. And in the midnight hours, an illegal trail began by the Sanhedrin to convict Jesus Christ of blasphemy. Two false witnesses are brought forward and bring forward their fictitious and construed stories of Christ’s ministry. The priests ask what Jesus has to say, in which He simply replies “Thou hast said: Nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 22:64 KJV). As the priests strike and mock Christ, Peter sits outside and is forced to confess whether or not he knew Jesus, to which he denies any association with Christ 3 times. As the priests finish their beatings and mocking they take Christ to Pilate, the military governor from Rome. Matthew 27:11-26

11 And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest. 12 And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. 13 Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? 14 And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly. 15 Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. 16 And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. 17 Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? 18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. 19 When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. 20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. 22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. 23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. 24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. 25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. 26 Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. (KJV)

It was custom to flog a prisoner before crucifixion. Here is a description of what is believed what happened to Christ during his:

Many scholars believe that Pilate originally ordered Jesus scourged as his full punishment and that the death sentence by crucifixion came only in response to the taunt by the mob that the Procurator was not properly defending Caesar against this pretender who allegedly claimed to be the King of the Jews.  Preparations for the scourging were carried out when the Prisoner was stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above His head. It is doubtful the Romans would have made any attempt to follow the Jewish law in this matter, but the Jews had an ancient law prohibiting more than forty lashes.  The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagrum (or flagellum) in his hand. This is a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each. The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back, and legs.

At first the thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continue, they cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin, and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles.  The small balls of lead first produce large, deep bruises which are broken open by subsequent blows. Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is near death, the beating is finally stopped.

The Roman soldiers see a great joke in this provincial Jew claiming to be king. They throw a robe across His shoulders and place a stick in His hand for a scepter. They still need a crown to make their travesty complete. Flexible branches covered with long thorns (commonly used in bundles for firewood) are plaited into the shape of a crown and this is  pressed into His scalp. Again there is copious bleeding, the scalp being one of the most  vascular areas of the body.

After mocking Him and striking Him across the face, the soldiers take the stick from His hand and strike Him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into His scalp. Finally, they tire of their sadistic sport and the robe is torn from His back. Already having adhered to the clots of blood and serum in the wounds, its removal causes excruciating  pain just as in the careless removal of a surgical bandage, and almost as though He were again being whipped the wounds once more begin to bleed. (Dr. C. Truman Davis, 2018)

This is all before the painful event of the crucifixion. The amount of suffering there kills most humans before they even get to the cross. Following this beating, Christ carried the cross to Mount Calvary a staggering 650 yard journey with a 75 lbs weight affixed to His back. Pushing his muscles beyond the point of failure, Christ is recorded to have stumbled 3 times before the Centurion loses his patience and orders a denizen to help Christ with the weight. And around 9 am they reach the site of the main posts for the crucifixion. Mark 15:25-39

25 And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. 26 And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 27 And with him they crucify  two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. 28 And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors. 29 And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the    temple, and buildest it in three days, 30 Save thyself, and come down from the cross. 31 Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. 32 Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from   the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled  him. 33 And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 35 And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias. 36 And one ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down. 37 And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. 38 And the veil of the temple  was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. 39 And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man  was the Son of God. (KJV)

It is 3 pm at the time of his death, and, upon Christ’s death, the veil in the temple is torn, meaning that there is no longer anything between man and God. That Christ’s sacrifice was enough to cover our sins, offered up as the ultimate sacrificial lamb. God, the Son died to take our sins to hell and pay the price that we all deserve to pay. And that is where I leave you today, as the apostles were, left with questions, an unfinished story that the answers were already revealed, all you have to do is believe with all of your heart and profess that which is true, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He lived, and died to take away your sins, that you may have ever lasting life.

 

For additional events during the Holy Week in a timeline format please see this website:

http://www.jesus.org/death-and-resurrection/holy-week-and-passion/a-time-line-of-the-passion-week.html

 

 

Reference

Davis, C. T. (2018, March 29). A Physician’s View of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Retrieved March 30, 2018, from https://www1.cbn.com/medical-view-of-the-crucifixion-of-jesus-christ

Romans 1: The Purpose of the Gospel

Welcome back, I am glad to see you here and want to thank you for joining me again today. Today we will be back in Romans 1 starting in verse 13, but before we do, let us pray. Here we will be reading about the Gospel and how its purpose has been revealed through Paul. Now, who knows what the definition of the word gospel is? The word simply means good news, or to have news worth celebration. So, when we read have that in mind. Romans 1:13-16

13 Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but I was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.14 I am debtor both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. 15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of  God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (King James Version)

Paul reveals a few things here, and chiefly is that he is not ashamed of his belief in the gospel of Christ. This state of boldness in the gospel is something that needs to be developed in all who believe. It is not easy to stand up before all that around you and admit that you are a Christian. Now, for some this is not a challenge, but let’s put up a scenario and see then how your answer stands: you are out with your friends, some of which are known atheists, or other faiths, and they begin to discuss how unreal and outlandish sounding some aspects of Christianity are, and then they turn to you and ask your thoughts, what then is the reply? I would love to say that I would stand up and defend my faith, but to be honest, it is hard especially when they provide good logical arguments. So, what do you do? You go to church, attend Bible Studies with people more knowledgeable than you and you pray. Here is an example of Paul, that he is so confident that no matter whom he debates he has sufficient knowledge to rebuke them. This, this, is the reason you go to church and read studies, to have steadfast knowledge and this is one of the purposes of the gospel: to give knowledge and power to the believer.

Additionally, Paul reveals that the gospel is not just for the Jews, God’s chosen people. The purpose of the gospel of Christ is to provide redemption for all who believe (Romans 1:16, John 3:16). The message of Jesus Christ and his death, burial, resurrection, and transcendence into heaven are the way to bring salvation to those who have no hope. Jesus preached that anyone could be saved provided he walked in after the likeness of Christ and believed on him (John 14:5-17). For we all are slaves to sin and have fallen short of the glory of God and his laws, so we needed deliverance and a way to gain transcendence ourselves (Romans 8:1-11). And that, my friends, is the good news, the glorious gospel! That no matter who you are the lame, the wise, the slow, the agile, the freak, the saint, the rich, the poor, and any one who is on this earth! The gospel empowers believers, because it lets us know that what we do is not in vain and will forever be rewarded. Read with me; Romans 1: 17-20

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The     just shall live by faith. 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all   ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19    Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:   (KJV)

The drawback written here, is that the gospel makes all accountable for it is revealed throughout all creation, and all of nature. It is impossible to see all that God has made and claim that there is no higher power. One of my closest battle buddies in the Army who struggles with belief himself, cannot deny the presence of a higher power and a will throughout all nature. He even goes as far as to say that there is something that pushes everything to go, and what it is he believes it not. Due to the gospel of Christ, it has been revealed to all that this “will or force” that acts upon all of the world is God and his Holy Spirit that guide and move all things according to His will. God has made it so that ignorance is no longer an excuse for disbelief by the unveiling of His son Jesus Christ. And once the gospel has been preached unto all that are in the world, this ignorance of “I just don’t know” will cease to be valid for anyone. As with the American government, ignorance is no excuse, because the answer is there for as to what the law is, all you have to do is look or ask and it will be shown and revealed to you. In Acts 17:22-25, Paul is in Athens and finds the people worshiping a multitude of idols, images, and gods. He stumbles upon one that says “To the unknown God” and Paul gives them the gospel on who that is. Here in is proof that people are always aware through creation itself that there is a God and that no matter where you are you know God is real. The purpose of the gospel is to address who is God and reveal unto the world who and what God is.

No matter who you are, the Gospel unifies the body of believers. It sets down one way, one message, and one belief for us all. And this is the most important purpose of the Gospel, that we be unified under the Gospel of Christ for it is the one thing that makes us Christians as opposed to any heathenistic ways. For there are an infinite number of false reasoning provided by this world that attempt to answer this question of how the world is the way it is, and none can even come close to providing a stable answer to the question. Now that you are equipped with this knowledge and wisdom, go forth and do what you have been called to do. Go in peace and may God be with you until we meet again.

Romans 1: A Lesson in Fellowship

Welcome, I am glad you are here. Today, I want to talk to you about, the fellowship of Christianity. What does it look like to be in a community of Christians, to be in a trove of believers?

The readings today will be in Romans chapter 1. As we read, I would ask that you look how Paul speaks to the people of the church of Rome. Romans 1:1-6:

1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, 2 (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) 3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the    spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: 5 By whom we have received grace  and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: 6 Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ. (King James Version)

Firstly, we notice Paul introduces himself as a servant of Christ, first and foremost. He humbles himself before those of Rome who are new in faith. And if you are a Christian in Rome at this time, there is no way in which you do not know who Paul is. Everyone knew Paul, the famous Roman Jew who took to the East and the Holy Land to persecute the Christians and then came unto faith on the road to Damascus. By this point Paul had been well known for both his persecutions and missionary works, being in the midst of his 3rd missionary trip through Corinth. So, the true lesson in that is that despite his fame and infamy, he does not think he is any greater than anyone else who also believes as he proceeds to outline in the next few verses. He then proceeds to outline by what authority he has been given to preach unto them and by what accord he means to tell them about. What becomes clear is that he does all of this to establish a common ground with the believers in Rome.

Next Paul begins to notate who he is talking to. Romans 1:7-9:

7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. 8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers. (KJV)

Paul now tells us who he is talking to, he says it is to those who are “beloved of God,” so he is not talking to those who are faithless. Then he begins to make mention of several blessings he wishes to bestow upon them. He says “Grace to you and peace from God our Father”, and this is really what we should do when we say God bless you. Sure, it is well meaning, however when you are trying to bless someone you should make specific utterance as to what you are requesting God to do for them. Here, Paul’s generic blessing is still specific, he asks for God’s grace to be felt upon them and he wants them also to receive peace that they might not fear the unknown future. Then he proceeds to thank God for them, establishing that he does know and recognize them and their faithfulness. This is where I want to bog down a little. How many times do you look or think upon a fellow believer and just be thankful for who and what they are? I challenge you over the next week to think of someone who helped you in your walk and then come back and let them know that you were grateful to know them and that their memory means something to you. In this manner you can make someone’s day, and be the blessing for them in return. It truly means a lot to some people to just be remembered for something that may seem insignificant, but when it is brought up to them as a cherished memory, it will fill them with joy. This is a part of fellowship, bonding together through memory and uplifting. Sharing fond memories with another believer is key to growth as a member of the body of Christ. We cannot lose sight of the past, it was once told to me before I left for basic training, by my father, that God gives us these good memories to reflect on for when hardships of this life seem to be endless. And also when someone of old reaches out to you and you hear that fond memory they will bless your day by bring joy to your heart during hardship or will further enhance your present moments.

Next, Paul also says in verse 9 that he never ceases to make mention of them in his prayers. This my friends should most certainly be the case when we are of one family, one accord, and one likeness in Christ. We should never cease to fail in our prayers and supplications for one another. If you want to see the body of Christ at work see how much will begin to happen when you make earnest and honest prayers daily and nightly for those around you in common faith, and even those not of common faith. Truly, I have seen it already at work when I made the dedication to present the Word of God daily and make my supplications every morn and eve. Now these cannot be empty, give unto them action and meaning that when you pray you act. You cannot always simply pray when you have the chance to make a difference, because you are what you have prayed for that person. God answers prayers sometimes by allowing you to be His agent and will allow you to make intercessions with those around you. Keep this in mind as you go about your week and let me know the differences you begin to notice.

And for our last bit that I will cover in this sermon, I turn to Romans 1:10-12,

10 Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by   the will of God to come unto you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; 12 That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. (KJV)

This last bit here of his introduction, he makes mention that he long desires to see those believers that he has never met. Who here walks into a church full of people you have never met, excited to meet them, purely for the fact that they are believers? Now, I will be honest, I never have and this will be a challenge for me. I love meeting Chaplains, sure, however just meeting a “run of the mill” believer tends to unnerve me for some reason. Meeting new people is not my forte, I generally come off as stuck up or completely antisocial. Truly, I work on this and make prayers that I will become better at social graces as time wanes on me. But we all must learn to have jovial outlook at meeting new believers, for we share a common struggle with them in that we share this common faith and burden to preach unto the ends of the world. So, let us learn to rejoice in meeting those who are of a common faith. Thank you and may God be with you and guide you until we meet again.

Psalm 13 A Lesson in Trust

Trials will, undoubtedly come, for some sooner than others, but they will come. At times, you will look to heaven as David does here and wonder whether or not God is there. Let us dive into the Word.

Psalm 13:

“1 How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? 2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? 3 Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; 4 Lest mine enemy say, I have  prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved. 5 But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. 6 I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.” (King James Version)

David’s Psalm here is clearly written in one of his many low points in life. Even though many people know David as King of Israel and one “after God’s own heart,” he knew many more struggles and perils than most of us will ever know. Let’s break the short Psalm up into 3 parts; the first shall be verses 1 and 2, we will call it the question or the need, then verses 3 and 4 will be the second and we will call it the plea, or the prayer, and the last two verses we shall call song of faith.

So firstly, we have David wondering how long God is going to abandon him. Now this is the same David that faced down Goliath by having faith that God would protect him, so needless to say we can assume that whatever plight he might be going through is a mighty one. It is assumed here that this Psalm was written about his feelings of isolation in the world, in that no matter what he did or where he was, he felt alone, separated from everyone and everything and so it added to his separation anxiety from God. He felt almost as if being alone in the world meant God was not there for him. And at this point in life David was a captive of Babylon, the Persian King Cyrus. For all intents, and purposes, David was alone, he had no one to turn to and suffered greatly day by day as a captive of war from 598 through 586 BC. He would have felt isolation to no end until his deliverance year’s later. This also explains why the Psalm is so short, as a prisoner, he would have had little time and ability to write, it is truly a wonder the psalm  exists for us to read today. David asks how long will he have his enemy exalted over him, and how long will he be sorrowful, how long will God not speak to him, and how long God will forget him. Here, David presents his need to hear from God in all this isolation, that despite being captive and alone, that God is still there for him.

In David’s 3rd and 4th verses we see David’s plea, he asks God for 2 things. First, he says “lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.” Which, to be fair sounds pretty melodramatic, but when you look into the meaning of what he asks, you see the reality of the need. Here David is asking for rest, He pleads with God to lighten his eyes, for his eyes are heavy with sleeplessness. How many of us have had those weeks or months, where you just come home tired and restless, and you just cannot fall asleep? This is what David went through for years as a prisoner, he is worked hard and ruthlessly for long periods of time and very little sleep is there to be found. The second request David makes a little less sense, at least it made less sense to me, “Lest my enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.” Now, we have to put ourselves in David’s shoes a little here, he is a slave and servant to Persians. How many of us have seen Man of Steel? There is a scene in there where Clark Kent is working at a bar and this man is harassing one of the waitresses, Clark being the hero he is, stands up for her and the man gets a little high and mighty. After pouring his drink on Kent, Clark looks up at him fuming, and the man is further empowered and especially when the waitress tells Clark that it isn’t worth it. Seeing Superman’s resignation, he takes one last shot at him throwing a can at his back to mock him. Of course, we all know the trucker gets his comeuppance later. However, this sadistic satisfaction is the same kind of thing David has grown to loathe during his captivity. Anytime he might try to resist they had gotten a rise out of it, so David actually asks here to be humbled lest he gives rise once more to their satisfaction.

In the last part of this Psalm, we see David give praise, despite not receiving an immediate response. He even says that his heart shall rejoice in his current situation because he knows that God will deliver him. Now we all know that David would later become King of Israel and heir to the lineage of Christ. It was his faithfulness during trying times like this that he became chosen for the incomparable blessing as that! God rewarded his faithfulness in the small and large trials of life, and no matter how bleak things looked, David honoured God in the best and worst of times. It is impossible to find a psalm written by David that does not give God glory or praise in spite of, or because of his current situations. And this is a lesson that we should keep with us as we begin this journey, that in all things we can trust God for He has promised: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, KJV). Now, keep in mind that as with David, we will not always see the things that God has chosen to bless us with for sometimes it is in our lineage that we will be blessed. Others, it is the simple reward that we be called home to heaven with Christ, others it is the joy that we will see on others faces as they are blessed. The road is long, but God is greater than anything that can come our way. ourouraway.ways