Sunday, March 27, 2016

He is risen! (Easter Story 7) (Col 1:18-20, Mark 16:9, John 20:1- 21:31, Mark 16: 9, Luke 24:50-53)

"It is finished!  We are free : )"

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

"18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross."
Col 1:18-20

Peter, John's partner in the fishing trade, was outspoken!  John would often talk to Peter, and let him do the talking to others. In the gospels you'll often find John and Peter with Jesus.  John describes himself as the "disciple that Jesus loved" in many places.  Jesus made people feel loved.  He never forces people to be someone they aren't.  He let John and Peter be themselves.  This is one of the mysteries about Jesus, everyone who knew Him felt loved- no one felt left out.  Those who know Christ today, know His love for them.

1 Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him."
John 20:1-21:19

John outran Peter and got to the tomb first.  But he didn't go in.  It was Peter who jumped in first.  All they found was the burial cloths.   The handkerchief that was around His head was folded neatly.  It's like Jesus appreciated the love people had shown him after death.  I wonder if He smiled when He resurrected.  Although the religious leaders were sure the disciples would steal His body, the disciples never understood what Jesus meant by the resurrection.

3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. 4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. 5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there,  7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.

Mary stayed at the tomb, weeping.  Mark 16:9  "...He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons."  

Jesus had changed Mary's life dramatically.  He freed her from demons.  Now she could think clearly and live a normal life.  He set her free but what would she do without Him?  Would it go back the way it was?

11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white sitting,one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 Then they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?"
She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him."
14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?"
She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, "Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away."
16 Jesus said to her, "Mary!"
She turned and said to Him, "Rabboni!" (which is to say, Teacher).

She knew the Master's voice when He called her name : ) He would be with her always.  Jesus is with us today.

17 Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'"
18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.

Another priceless moment.  The disciples were hiding out in fear of the religious leaders.  The doors are locked; the room is dark.  When suddenly someone appeared in the room with them!  I can only imagine the shock on their faces. 

He showed them His hands and side.  It was Jesus!  Jesus breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit to:  be their Helper, bring to mind all they had heard, and teach them (John 14:26).  

19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you."  20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 
21 So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you."  22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.  23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

Then there was doubting Thomas.  Thomas wasn't with them when Jesus appeared.  When the other disciples told him, he required his own proof.  

So, 8 days later, Jesus appeared again.  This time Thomas was there, He let Thomas touch his side and hands.  Thomas believed.  Jesus made a special promise to those of us who haven't seen Him.  He understands.  
"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." 
John 21:29

24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord."
So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."
26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!"  27 Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing."
28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"
29 Jesus said to him,  "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
John 20:21-31

Jesus promised He would meet up with the disciples in Galilee.  This is one of my favorite stories.  All of the remaining disciples are present.  Peter announces he's going fishing.  Those annoying disciples insisted on going with him.  No privacy!  Peter had seen Jesus, but he still had to come to grips with his denial of Christ.  I understand how it feels to do the wrong thing as a Christian.  I wondered if God could ever use me again.  It filled me with a sorrow I couldn't shake for a long time- I felt worthless.  I learned God's forgiveness in a huge way and was able to jump back into ministry, wiser with more compassion.

After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself:  2 Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing."

Jesus chose regular people to show Himself to.

They said to him, "We are going with you also." They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. 4 But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 
Then Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any food?"
They answered Him, "No."
6 And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.
John 21:1-19 

God is full of surprises for us today too.

John recognized Jesus first.  Peter was so excited, he jumped into the sea and swam to Him!  Jesus had fixed them breakfast.  He had the fire going, bread and fish.  God fixed them breakfast!  He cares about the details of our lives.
7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish. 9 Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. 10Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish which you have just caught." 

11 Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. 12 Jesus said to them, "Come and eat breakfast." Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, "Who are You?" — knowing that it was the Lord. 13Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.

Peter had denied Christ 3 times.  It would always be branded in his conscience.  Jesus asked him if he loved Him 3 times.  And he replied, "Yes" 3 times back.  It was as though Jesus gave him a chance to receive forgiveness.  He is the God of second chances. I can't count the number of second chances He's given me!  We have all sinned.  Here's how Jesus helped Peter.
15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?"
He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You."
He said to him, "Feed My lambs."
16 He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?"
He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You."
He said to him, "Tend My sheep."
17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?"
And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You."
Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep."  18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish."  19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me." 

Jesus forgave Peter 3 times, the same number he denied Him.  Peter was eventually martyred.  He was to be crucified but asked to be hung upside down.  He felt he didn't deserve to be hung as Jesus was.  Our Savior forgives us and helps us change.  He knows more about us than we do.  I believe we can all relate to Peter, Thomas and Mary, who had a demon.  God is still helping us with our struggles.

It was time for Jesus to return to Heaven.  But, the disciples aren't sad.  They returned to the temple in Jerusalem with great joy!  They were continually praising and blessing God.  The cross couldn't destroy God, a tomb couldn't contain Him.  He is risen!   Hallelujah!  And today, we know Him in our hearts.  One day we will see Him face to face.
50 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into   heaven. 52 And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. 
Luke 24:50-53 NKJV

It's important to note that the same Peter who fell into the water instead of walking on top of it, asked Jesus to wash all of him instead of just his feet, and just couldn't get that demon out of the man, found enough faith to perform miracles. He healed many in Jesus' name, recorded in the book of Acts.  He became a great leader in the Church. And John had a vision on the island of Patmos.  He was chosen to record the Book of Revelation.  If he truly was shy, this would've been the perfect assignment for him- although he did fall on his face a few times during the vision.  God has a plan for us all.  Jesus changes lives.

Happy Easter to you!  May you know the presence of Jesus and experience His love this Easter.

We got to see the movie, "God's Not Dead," it was a great movie if you get to see it. 

Here's a song by the Newsboys, God's NOT Dead (link)

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday (Easter Story 6) (Psalm 139:14, John 1:1-14, Matt 27:57-58, John 19:39, Matt 27:59-66)

It's Friday but Sunday's coming!

I was thinking about why God would be the sacrifice for us.  I remembered He created us in His image.  Here's some things that came to mind:  babies giggle, when we fall in love it takes our breath away, we give Him praise and worship, of all the creatures we enjoy sunsets, the moon, and stars like God does.  We do have a hard time staying out of trouble (at least some of us do [me]) but even in that He still loves us.  He has said that He is our Father. He would do anything for us as long as it doesn't go against His own character.  He is solid that way, no changing His mind- consistent.  God is love.  Through all of our ramblings, and problems, we are a beautiful mess aren't we?  We are created in the image of God.  David said it this way:

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  
Psalm 139:14

The "Word was God." Jesus is God.  He is the light that shines in the darkness.  Though He created the world, the darkness (evil) could not comprehend it.  "In Him is life, the life that is the light of men."
These verses describe Jesus as the Word.  The world was made (created) through Him.

John 1:1-14
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 

When it says that "His own did not receive Him,"  I believe He is describing the religious leaders: Pharisees, Sadducees, priests, scribes, chief priests, and elders.  The 12 disciples were Jewish.  Many Jews believed in Jesus by this time.  Like it says in verse 12, " many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name." 

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 

The Son of man; the Son of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Joseph of Arimathea was a rich man who believed in Jesus.  Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews, who also believed (John 3:1-21).  These are just two names.  We have no idea how many Jews came to believe in Christ.  It was risky for Joseph and Nicodemus to bury Jesus.  They were going against some very angry, irrational, religious leaders.  I understand the feeling.  You get to a point where you give up fear, and do what's right.  Then God's strength gives you the ability to press on.
Matt 27:57-58
57 Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. 58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. 

John 19:39
39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. 

Matt 27:59-66
59 When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed. 61 And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb. 

There are always good people and bad people in every group.  While Nicodemus provided myrrh and aloes for Jesus' body, other Pharisees went to Pilate to ensure His body stayed in the tomb.  Pilate couldn't understand their anxiety.  As a business woman, it sounds to me like he wanted them out of his office.

62 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, 63 saying, "Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise.'  64 Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead.' So the last deception will be worse than the first." 

65 Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how." 66 So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard. 

And so it was, Jesus' body was placed in a rich man's tomb like the prophecy foretold.  The tomb was made secure with a very large stone.  A guard stood in front of the tomb, so the disciples couldn't go and steal the body.  The chief priests and Pharisees must have breathed a sigh of relief.  It was over.  But the 3 days were not over... Could a tomb really contain God?

The disciples must've been so confused,  "Jesus wasn't supposed to die.  What is this?"

We have times like that today.  We wonder where is God?  In those times the only thing we can do is trust and worship.  When I get totally down and feel done for, I start counting my blessings: my husband, the house, a car, my cats, Church, the Pastors, chocolate and so on...

Dear Heavenly Father, please bless those who are facing persecution, hide them under Your wings of love.  I pray for peace in our hearts and wisdom to know what to do.    You are God nothing is impossible for You.  Please be with those who mourn.  The world is much bigger than me.  I pray You will comfort those in need.  You know all and see all.  Nothing is impossible for You. I trust in Your unfailing love.  Jesus said there'd be days like these.

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
10 Set the world right;
Do what's best––
  as above, so below.
11 Keep us alive with three square meals.
12 Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
13 Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You're in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You're ablaze in beauty!
  Yes. Yes. Yes.
(Matthew 6:9-13 Message)

In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen         

Song by Matt Redman, 10,000 Reasons (link)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

3 days and 2 nights in the tomb (Easter Story 5) (Luke 23:42-43, Jonah 2:1,6, Psalms 16:10-11, Ephes. 4:8-10, 1 Tim 3:16, 1 Peter 3:18-20, Colossians 1:18)

We don't know for sure what happened after Jesus' body was sealed in the tomb.  I can't believe the Son of God would drift into a mindless sleep.  He is God in human form, the trinity, "God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit."  

When Jesus was speaking to the thief on the cross, He said He would be in Paradise with the repentant thief that day.  

42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
(Luke 23:42-43 NKJV)
Jonah's story relates closely to what Jesus did.  Sheol means death (sleep) in the Jewish faith.  It is believed that while Jesus' body lay in the tomb, He actually went in Spirit and delivered the dead to Heaven.

1 “I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction,
And He answered me.
‘Out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
And You heard my voice.'"

6 I went down to the moorings of the mountains;
The earth with its bars closed behind me forever; Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God.
(Jonah 2:1,6 NKJV)

I'd like to meet Moses and David one day : )
10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
11 You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:10-11 NKJV)

This was written by the Apostle Paul,
7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore He says:
“When He ascended on high,
He led captivity captive,
And gave gifts to men.”
9 Now this, “He ascended” —what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.
(Ephesians 4:8-10 NKJV)

Beautiful words.
16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory.
(1 Timothy 3:16 NKJV)

He made it possible for us to dwell with God again.  One day, it will be like Eden (with no serpent or temptation).  Free at last!
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.
(1 Peter 3:18-20 NKJV)

He will never leave us or forsake us.  
10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
11 You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:10-11 NKJV)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Crucifixion (Easter Story 4) (Isaiah 43:4-6, Matt. 27:26, 51-54, 32-39, Mark 15:16-20, Luke 23:39-43, John 19:25-37, Heb. 9:11-12, Acts 17:24, Psalms 34:22)

"Wounded for our transgressions,
the last Passover lamb"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

"4 Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 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.
6 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."
Isaiah 53:4-6

This is the hard part to read and to write.  Who crucified Jesus?  The Romans?  The Jews?  Not just them, it was all of us.  Mankind crucified Jesus.  I did.  He was God's plan for the Passover sacrifice in 33AD.  The final lamb to be slain.  He was without blemish; He never sinned.   If I added up all the things man has done wrong since creation, I would've decided to trash the first batch and start over until I got a world that was perfect. Even after the flood that was sent to bring a new start and a new world, Noah got drunk.  I honestly can't explain why He loves us so much.  Although I do understand how I love others.

If we were born like robots, programmed to love God and never mess up, would God consider that true love?  Probably not.  It would be like a self-help book that says to repeat the words, "I am wonderful" every morning and night.  You think you're wonderful, but no one else does, kind of lonely.  He gave us a free will instead- the choice to either love Him or not.  Like a Father, He longs for us to sincerely love Him- so much He sacrificed Himself for us. 
" His stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:5

Matt 27:26
26 Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.
After Pilate released Barabbas, he had Jesus scourged.  Scourging was done with a whip.  It had several leather thongs weighted with pieces of lead or sharp metal.  The victim was stripped to the waist, then bound, in a bent-over position, to a post, and beaten on the bare back with the scourge until the flesh was torn open.

"The chastisement for our peace was upon Him..." Isaiah 53:5

Mark 15:16-20
16 Then the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Praetorium, and they called together the whole garrison. 17 And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head, 18 and began to salute Him, "Hail, King of the Jews!" 19 Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him. 20 And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him. 
Purple was the color of royalty, the crown symbolized a king.  They mocked Him.  To hit the crown of thorns on His head, with a reed, must have been excruciating.  That along with the scourging, must have left Him barely able to stand.  He lost a lot of blood.  The cruelty He experienced was clearly satanic.  He had been proven innocent.  This was God's sacrifice for man.

Jesus was unable to carry the cross.  He didn't want to drink wine to numb the pain.  He had work to do from the cross.
Matt 27:32-38
32 Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross. 33 And when they had come to a place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of a Skull, 34they gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink. 

35 Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet:
"They divided My garments among them,   And for My clothing they cast lots."  Psalms 22:18
36 Sitting down, they kept watch over Him there. 37 And they put up over His head the accusation written against Him:

The Roman soldiers had no idea who Jesus really was.  It was just  another criminal to crucify for them.  
38 Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left. 

Luke 23:39-43
39 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying,  "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us." 

40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." 42 Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom."
This is the attitude I have seen the most in street ministry.  Most people have a fear of God.  But this robber chose to believe Jesus, and found forgiveness of his sins.  He confessed his sins, and received salvation.

43 And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." 

If He chose to jump down from the cross healthy it would have been a miracle.  But He would've only saved one generation.  He died so He could save all of mankind.  The final sacrifice; He died so we could live today.  
Matthew 27:39 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, "You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross." 
And He did save Himself, and us. If we are willing.

41 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, 42 "He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.  43 He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, 'I am the Son of God.'" 

As the Son of man, Jesus loved His Mother, they had experienced much together.  As the Son of God, He wanted her to be safe and well cared for.  So He chose John to be her son- and Mary to be John's Mother.  After His death, they could talk about Jesus and remember all they had seen and experienced.  Jesus would no longer walk on earth as a man, soon He would return to God's throne.
John 19:25-37
25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold your son!"  27 Then He said to the disciple, "Behold your mother!" And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. 

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, "I thirst!"  29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. 

31 Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. 35 And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. 36 For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, 
"Not one of His bones shall be broken." (Psalms 34:20)  37 And again another Scripture says, "They shall look on Him whom they pierced." (Zechariah 12:10)
And then what happened...

I would've loved to see the reaction of the scribes and chief priests, when the events after Jesus' death happened.  The only recorded reaction in the Bible I found, was that of the Centurion.  The veil of the temple has been estimated to be 60 feet high and 4 inches thick.  It was the curtain that divided man from the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant rested, the place God's presence dwelt.  It is the place where animal sacrifices were made.  Only the High Priest was allowed to enter one time a year.  When Jesus died, the veil was torn and God's presence left the temple.  His blood became the sacrifice for all of man's sin: Jew and Gentile.  The earth quaked and rocks were split!  How could you not notice?  Again, I would've loved to see Caiaphas' (the High Priest) face when the dead started rising : )  
Matt 27:51-54
51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

54 So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God!"
Indeed, He is : )

Other verses that help explain what happened:
Hebrews 9:11-12
11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
Jesus no longer dwells in a building built with human hands.  For those who allow Him, He dwells in the hearts of men and women.

Acts 17:24
God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.

Psalms 34:22
22 The Lord redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned. 

And now!  We have direct access to Him any day, any time.  We don't have to wait for a year and a High Priest to offer our sacrifices anymore!  I am so glad He didn't give up on us.  In Heaven, we will finally be able to understand His great and wonderful love, without doubt, or question.

Dear Heavenly Father, 
I am looking forward to Your return, for peace.  Like the disciples who saw Jesus crucified and thought there was no hope; we feel that way too at times.  Guess that's what faith is, the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1).  You are God nothing is impossible for You.  Please be with those who mourn.  The world is much bigger than me.  I pray You will comfort those in need.  Bless our leaders with good things, stamina, and words to say. 

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
10 Set the world right;
Do what's best––
  as above, so below.
11 Keep us alive with three square meals.
12 Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
13 Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You're in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You're ablaze in beauty!
  Yes. Yes. Yes.
(Matthew 6:9-13 Message)

In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen       

1Halley's Bible Handbook

Here's a song by Big Daddy Weave, Redeemed (link).

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Jesus' Trial (Easter Story 3) (Isaiah 53:7, Matt 26:57-68, 69-75, Matt 27:1-10, 11-15, Luke 23:6-25, Romans 11:16-18)

"The lamb of God to take away the sins of the world."
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

This part of the Easter Story is about all the legal battles Jesus and the disciples faced.  Each group of people from Romans to Jewish leaders, and more had an agenda.  Don't be deceived though, it was no surprise to God.  His agenda was to give us a Savior so we could live with Him in peace.  The only way God can forgive is by a sacrifice, so He sacrificed Himself.

Isaiah 53:7
"7 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."

Jesus' trial before the High Priest, Caiaphas

Matt 26:57-68
57 And those who had laid hold of Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled...

The chief priests and elders tried to find a reason to convict Jesus according to their interpretation of the law.  They found false witnesses to testify against Him, but nothing that would require His death. 

60...But at last two false witnesses came forward 61 and said, "This fellow said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.'" 

62 And the high priest arose and said to Him, "Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?" 63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, "I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!" 

64 Jesus said to him, "It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." 

65 Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, "He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! 66 What do you think?"

They answered and said, "He is deserving of death." 

67 Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, 68 saying, "Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?" 

Peter's trial

Peter experienced his trial.  He swore before the disciples and Jesus that he would never deny Christ at the Last Supper.  My heart breaks for Peter at this moment.  His sorrow must have been so overwhelming, he was confused and scared.  But, Jesus has a very special way of restoring Peter after His Resurrection.  He still waits to restore us today when we ask Him too.

69 Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, "You also were with Jesus of Galilee." 
70 But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you are saying." 

71 And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, "This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth." 

72 But again he denied with an oath, "I do not know the Man!"

73 And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, "Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you."

74 Then he began to curse and swear, saying, "I do not know the Man!"
Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." So he went out and wept bitterly. 
Matt 26:69-75 NKJV

Jesus' trial before Pontius Pilate

Next Jesus was taken to the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate. The Chief Priests wanted Jesus to be crucified by Romans, so they wouldn't look bad in front of the Jewish people during Passover.  Pilate saw this as a religious squabble and didn't want to get involved.

1 When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death. 2 And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor. 
11 Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, "Are You the King of the Jews?"
Jesus said to him, "It is as you say."  12 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing. 
13 Then Pilate said to Him, "Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?" 14 But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly. 
Matt 27:1-2, 11-14

Judas' trial

Judas faced his trial.  As I read his reaction, I became more convinced he was a thief and sincerely didn't realize the consequences of his actions- he was overwhelmed by greed.  He may have admired the way Jesus slipped through crowds, and avoided danger.  Jesus handled Himself well, He'd be fine.  But this time was different, Jesus was condemned!  There is an honor among thieves.  It's ok to steal and cheat other thieves.  But it's not ok to hurt or betray another thief.  When in danger or harm, thieves will protect each other.  Judas became convicted of his sin, thinking if he gave the money back he would be forgiven.  He was looking in the wrong place for forgiveness.  Money can't buy it.  Only a sacrifice with grace and mercy can.

Matt 27:3-10
3 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood."
And they said, "What is that to us? You see to it!" 
5 Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself. 

Chief Priest's trial

A bizarre interpretation of the law.  It's ok to purchase and trick a person into betraying Jesus.  But it's not ok to put the money back into the treasury?  God was not deceived by any of it.

6 But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, "It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood." 7 And they consulted together and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. 8 Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 

9 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, "And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, 10 and gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord directed me." 

Jesus' trial before Herod

Next Jesus was taken to Herod.  Herod Antipas was the ruler over Galilee and Perea, a client state of the Roman Empire.  He was the grandson of Herod the Great.  Herod the Great ordered the massacre of all Jewish babies after Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, seeking to destroy Him.  Like Pilate, Herod Antipas also saw this as a religious squabble of little importance.  I'm sure the Jews' reputation dropped substantially after each encounter with the Roman rulers.  But God had a bigger plan for the Passover sacrifice this year.

6 When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked if the Man were a Galilean. 7 And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. 8 Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him. 9 Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing. 10 And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him. 11 Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate. 12 That very day, Pilate and Herod became friends with each other, for previously they had been at enmity with each other. 
Luke 23:6-12 NKJV

Jesus' Sentence

Pilate was faced with what to do with Jesus again.  He had a policy of releasing one prisoner during Passover for the Jews.  It was a kind of peacemaking gesture to the Jews.  I believe he meant to show the people their foolishness by offering Barabbas instead of crucifying Jesus.  But they would not give in.  God had plans for the Passover sacrifice.

Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to releasing to the multitude one prisoner whom they wished. 
Matt 27:15

Luke 23:13-25
13 Then Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, 14 said to them, "You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him; 15 no, neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him. 16 I will therefore chastise Him and release Him" 17 (for it was necessary for him to release one to them at the feast). 
18 And they all cried out at once, saying, "Away with this Man, and release to us Barabbas" —  19 who had been thrown into prison for a certain rebellion made in the city, and for murder.

20 Pilate, therefore, wishing to release Jesus, again called out to them. 21 But they shouted, saying, "Crucify Him, crucify Him!" 

22 Then he said to them the third time, "Why, what evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go." 
23 But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed.  24 So Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they requested. 25 And he released to them the one they requested, who for rebellion and murder had been thrown into prison; but he delivered Jesus to their will.

Jesus came for the Jews first, and then for those of us who are Gentiles.  The Apostle Paul, one of the first  Jews for Jesus, said that the root is Jesus.  The firstfruit are the Jews, the Gentiles (us) have been grafted in.  God still has a plan for Israel.  The names of the twelve tribes of Israel are written on the gates into the New Jerusalem in Heaven.  God still loves His people.  Paul's Hebrew name was, "Saul."

Romans 11:16-18
16 For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. 

Dear Heavenly Father, 
I continue to pray for peace in Jerusalem, Europe and the middleast.  Please protect those who are in harms way facing persecution.  Let Your love surround them with hope and strength.  Send the angels to protect and hide them.  Grant us wisdom as we seek to elect a new President.  Thank You for hope secured in our hearts like an anchor.  Help us count our blessings,in good times and bad.  Please bless Ukraine and help them stay strong.  May the right win and the wrong fail.  I pray You will spread Your wings of love over those who lost loved ones in Europe.  Keep them safe Father. 

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
10 Set the world right;
Do what's best––
  as above, so below.
11 Keep us alive with three square meals.
12 Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.13 Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.You're in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You're ablaze in beauty!
  Yes. Yes. Yes.
(Matthew 6:9-13 Message)

In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen       

Don Francisco, Watch the Lamb, Don Francisco (link)