Celebrating the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ Jesus

This blogpost is the content of Episode 3 of Season 5 of the Written. Spoken. Podcast, modified for reading. You can hear the episode here.

We are taking a break from the theme of Season 3, “spring cleaning,” to focus on the death, burial and Resurrection of Christ Jesus, the One who is the Word. The One who was in the Beginning and through whom all things were made.  The One who is the Lamb and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. The One who became flesh to redeem us. The One who was a willing sacrifice for our sins and died a brutal, agonizing, substitutionary death in our place and is our High Priest.

We are told in Hebrews 9:11-12, “But when Christ appeared as a High Priest of the good things to come [that is, true spiritual worship], He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not a part of this [material] creation. He went once for all into the Holy Place [the Holy of Holies of heaven, into the presence of God], and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, having obtained and secured eternal redemption [that is, the salvation of all who personally believe in Him as Savior]” (AMP). And 1 Peter 3:18 (AMP) states, “For indeed Christ died for sins once for all, the Just and Righteous for the unjust and unrighteous [the Innocent for the guilty] so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit;” 

I realized several years ago that my celebration of the Resurrection of Christ Jesus did not have the focus, the intentionality as my celebration of His birth. But the truth is, it is the Resurrection of Christ Jesus that gives Christmas its true meaning. As author and podcaster, Lisa Jo Baker, noted years ago, “Christmas makes no sense outside of the context of Easter. Because it was a ransom that was delivered on a dark night, under a stark white star, all those years ago.”

Isaiah chapter 9 verse 6 declares,
“For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (NKJV).

Christ Jesus, the Child who was born and the Son who was given (John 3:16), came to redeem us and our redemption required His brutal death and His glorious Resurrection. We are told in 1 Corinthians 15:14-20 (AMP) that, without His Resurrection, our faith is “vain [imaginary, unfounded, devoid of value and benefit—not based on truth]” and “worthless and powerless [mere delusion].” Furthermore, “ If we who are [abiding] in Christ have hoped only in this life [and this is all there is], then we are of all people most miserable and to be pitied.  But now [as things really are] Christ has in fact been raised from the dead, [and He became] the first fruits [that is, the first to be resurrected with an incorruptible, immortal body, foreshadowing the resurrection] of those who have fallen asleep [in death]. “

I pray that the truth of Christ’s Resurrection will permeate our daily living. That we meet every challenge and celebrate every victory with this truth, “But now [as things really are] Christ has in fact been raised from the dead …” “Christ has in fact been raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20).

What does the Resurrection of Christ Jesus mean? It is a critical question that each person must answer personally because what we believe about the Resurrection of Christ Jesus changes everything.  The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, “For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to [that which] the Scriptures [foretold], and that He was buried, and that He was [bodily] raised on the third day according to [that which] the Scriptures [foretold], and that He appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the Twelve” (1 Corinthians, 15, 3-5, AMP).

When I reflect on what the Resurrection of Christ Jesus means to me, several things come to mind. I will share four of them:
1. The Resurrection means I am redeemed completely and am a dearly beloved child of God.
2. The Resurrection means I am forgiven and His Blood cleanses me from all sin.
3. The Resurrection means I do not have to fear death because He conquered death, hell and the grave.
4. The Resurrection means I have a High Priest.

I find myself dwelling on the fact that I have a High Priest and on all the benefits of this truth, as highlighted in Hebrews 4:14-16 (AMP), “Inasmuch then as we [believers] have a great High Priest who has [already ascended and] passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith and cling tenaciously to our absolute trust in Him as Savior]. For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin. Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment].”

The Resurrection of Christ Jesus, is a historical fact with personal meaning. What does His Resurrection mean to you?

“The Gospel is centered in God’s Son, a descendant of David by human genealogy and patently marked out as the Son of God by the power of that Spirit of holiness which raised him to life again from the dead” (Romans 1:3-4, PHILLIPS).

“For the love of Christ controls and compels us, because we have concluded this, that One died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that all those who live would no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and was raised for their sake” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15, AMP).

Prayer: Father, may the love of Christ control and compel us, so that our lifestyles reflect the fact that we no longer live for ourselves but for Him who died and was raised for our sake. In Jesus name.

Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed!

Saturdays

For Jesus’ disciples, what we now call Good Friday was a horrible, awful day, and the Saturday after, which can be considered the “in-between” day, was not any better. On that day, they woke up to the reality that Jesus was dead. You know how it is… something terrible happens one day, you go to bed, and in the few seconds just after you wake up the following day, all may seem well again … just like a regular day. You may even stretch, then the reality of the loss or whatever made the previous day very difficult, even traumatic, hits you again and you feel the wrenching pain, the loss, the despair as if you are experiencing the loss for the first time.

Good Friday was the worst day of the lives of His disciples and all who loved Jesus, and Saturday must not have been much better.

For us on this side of the Cross, Saturday, the “in-between” day, between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, is different. It is filled with anticipation because we know what they did not know on their “in between” Saturday … We know Sunday, Resurrection Day came! HE AROSE! Yes! Yes! Yes! We anticipate attending church, the anthems of worship and exultation, hearing the Word read once more, celebrating His resurrection with family and/or friends. But, like them, we all have our “Saturdays,” those “in-between” days or seasons when the only thing that looms, dominates our thoughts, is the “Friday,” that is, the loss, the heartbreak, the betrayal, the rejection, whatever devastated us. On our “Saturdays,” we do not know what will happen. We can be unsure if we will survive what we experienced.

On our personal “Saturdays,” it is essential that we remember, it is an “in-between” day or season. Sunday is coming. It always comes for the child of God. Death, whether it is of a person, a dream, a relationship, is never designed by our Father to be our final dwelling place. We really can still say, even with the snot running from our noses, our eyes red from weeping with tears still flowing, through the hiccups and exhaustion, “Sunday is coming. Sunday is coming.”

At first we may only be able to whisper this truth but we need to hear ourselves say it. Even if there is some doubt. We are not being delusional when we do so because our Father has promised “Saturday” is not all there is and will be. Say it as much as you need to until the truth changes your perspective and, if necessary, restores your hope, strengthens your faith. Sunday is coming! As it was for Jesus, there is a resurrection day in store for you.

Note: The original version of this post was first published in 2011.

“… and Peter”

_... and Peter ..._

A drowning person’s life flashes before his or her eyes.
Or so I have been told.
And if there is truth in this statement,
I wonder if Peter’s life with Jesus flashed before his eyes
as he drowned in an ocean of shame, horror, pain, and disbelief
after doing what he had sworn he never would,
that is, abandon Jesus, the One he had left all to follow.

I wonder if he saw the moment when Jesus called to him and his brother Andrew
as they were casting a net into the Sea of Galilee, and said,
“Come follow me and I will send you to fish for people”?
And when He touched the hand of Peter’s mother-in-law as she was lying in bed with a fever, and the fever left her?

I wonder if remembered vividly the moment his feet touched the water after he asked, “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water,” and Jesus responded, “Come”?
And when he responded to Jesus’ question, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” with the revelation given to him by the Father, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus changed his name from Simon to Peter.

I wonder if he saw the thousands being fed with a little boy’s lunch, and Lazarus coming out of the tomb after he had been dead four days, and Jesus’ transfiguration on the mount?

I do not know but the One Who knew Peter would deny Him, not once but thrice in a short space of time, and loved him still, He made sure that Peter knew that there was forgiveness, and redemption, and restoration for Peter.

First, He sent the message of His resurrection through the angel, “But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
“… tell his disciples and Peter.”
“ … and Peter.”

Later, He would pose a question to him three times, “Do you love Me?”
And by the end of the conversation had commissioned him and, as He had done in their first encounter by the Sea of Galilee, called him to follow Him.

Like Peter, I have been guilty of denying Him,
Sometimes with my words.
At other times with my silence, behavior and choices.
Like Peter, I have been guilty of denying Him.
Perhaps you are too.
Thanks be to God, we can all be certain that,
no matter what we have done,
the same forgiveness,
redemption,
and restoration that Peter was given,
is also available to us.

Five Minute Friday: Empty

empty

Joining Kate Motaung and other members of the Five Minute Friday community for our weekly writing adventure. To learn more about Five Minute Friday, click here. This week’s prompt is, “Empty.”

“He emptied Himself.”
He who is the Word.
He who was in the beginning.
He who has always been God.
He emptied Himself.

He, by whom, all things were created in heaven and on earth.
Visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities.
He emptied Himself.

He, in whom is all the fullness of the Godhead .
He who holds all things together.
He emptied Himself.

He emptied Himself and became flesh.
He emptied Himself.
And allowed Himself to know hunger and be tempted.

He emptied Himself and became the man of sorrows,
intimately acquainted with grief.
To be rejected and despised.
As John notes, He came unto His own but His own did not receive Him.

He emptied Himself and because He did,
we who “were once estranged
and alienated
and hostile-minded toward Him,”
are now reconciled to God through His physical death.
We now “may have and enjoy life,
and have it in abundance,
to the full,
till it overflows.” 
All because He emptied Himself.

Isaiah 53: Redemption in one chapter

Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
And they made His grave with the wicked—
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.

10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53, NKJV)

Monday Vitamins: Living the Resurrection

Gal 2 v 20

Redemption: All His doing

1 John 4 v10

 

Monday Vitamins: “Who is this?”

“When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” (Matthew 21:10, NIV; emphasis added).

“Who is this?” Just three words but when they refer to Jesus, it becomes the most important question of our lives. What is your answer? And what is your answer based on?

 

Five Minute Friday: Morning

WP_20160205_18_15_28_Pro 1Joining Kate Motaung and other members of the caring and encouraging Five Minute Friday community (on a Sunday) for our weekly writing opportunity. This week’s prompt is “Morning.”

Speaking of the morning when Jesus rose from the dead, songwriter, Jim Croegaert, poses a question in the verses of his song, “Was it a morning like this?”

Was it a morning like this
When the Son still hid from Jerusalem
And Mary rose from her bed
To tend the Lord she thought was dead

This songs constantly fills me with joy whenever I hear it. But today, although the joy is present, I am also struck with the awareness of how miraculous things occur in the mist of the ordinary.

On the night that Jesus was born, shepherds were doing what they always did at night while caring for sheep. Innkeepers were likely doing what they always did after seeing to their guests. So it was on the morning He rose from the dead with all power in His hand. It was most likely a morning like many other mornings in Jerusalem. But it was also a morning like no other.

And so it is with our lives, His sacred presence can enter into an ordinary day full of mundane things and transform it into a day we will never forget. He comes into the ordinary and makes it glorious.

 

 

Wednesay evening prayer

It is Wednesday evening and the Cross is on my mind
The Cross and The Lamb and His willing submission to the Father’s will in all forms

It is Wednesday evening and the longing is there to keep His death, burial, and resurrection center place in my heart, mind, and spirit
Center place in my decisions and my interactions with other image bearers
Center place in my secret places
Bringing them to the Light
Causing any idols hidden there to be reduced to ashes
Center place in my broken places
Offering them up for the healing He paid for with His torn flesh

The thing is, Father, You know I have felt these longings before
But they did not translate into sustained action or change
Show me how to make them so, Abba
Show me how

Lead me to the Cross by Hillsong