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In March / April each year Christians around the world think of Easter. For some, people use such terms as Holy Week and Palm Sunday but I do not always follow the crowd. I prefer to look at the factual events as recorded in scripture because they represent is extremely important...more important than we often think.
I like to dig into the backgrounds of many of the things that we believers often take for granted without ever checking them out and there are several things that happened in the original Easter story that I would like to share with you.

It will most likely be something that you have never considered before and will be a blessing to you.

I suggest that what is often thought of as an Easter story only once per year can in fact be a perpertual message...one we can think of all year round.

Robert

As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead.
Go into the village over there,” he said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me.
If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them
.”
This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said,
“Tell the people of Israel, ‘Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt.’”

 

The two disciples did as Jesus commanded.
They brought the donkey and the colt to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it.
Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD! Praise God in highest heaven!”
The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked.
And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” Matthew 21:1-11

Anyone knows that donkeys are stubborn, cantankerous critters and He wanted to ride into Jerusalem on a colt and worse still... a colt that had not been ridden before and picked a colt that was still linked to its mother?
I once owned a donkey and it sure was was stubborn! When I bought it she was in foal, but she was such a wild thing that I got rid of her. I’d like you to imagine those men trying to take hold of that colt whilst the mother was next to it and the owner didn’t even know  them. All that they said was that the Master needed it.
Something had to have happened so that ordinary men like you and me, who were probably as unstable as that donkey took hold of the animal and separated mother and colt without being all but attacked.

Who owned them? The bible does not say, but the person who did played a very important part in getting you and me saved and we don’t even know him! I think of the man who was carrying the water (men did not fetch water) who took them to that upper room where the Last Supper was held. Who was he and who owned that house? Again, the bible does not tell us, but someone also not named took part in the events that led to our salvation. You might not think that you are known or even important, but God knows you and could have a plan that needs you in it. So many things happen that we often gloss over, but God had it all worked out ahead of time and it behooves us to investigate many of those bible stories we can easily take for granted.

The thing that I find amazing is that according to historians, as Jesus was riding into town from one direction, Pilate was riding in from the other. The Son of God was humbling Himself, whilst the Roman came in with great fanfare, pomp and ceremony escorted by a troop of soldiers.

I wondered about the significance, seeing that asses were used as beasts of burden, often carrying great loads and suddenly remembered that Jesus is our burden bearer. He carried the weight of sin and the burden of our guilt and shame on Himself.

This was something never done before and will never be done again.

No one had ever ridden this colt before and we do not know what happened to it after Jesus rode on its back into the holy city, but there is something else...

Matthew adds that the people were crying out “Hosanna” and shouting praises to God and after Jesus had finished speaking...
Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives. Matthew 26:30

You may not have given this part much thought before. Our “problem” if I could call it that, is that we tend to look at what happened in a traditional or orthodox “Christian perspective”. It is not that this is erroneous to think that way, but it is possible to miss out on seeing something wonderful in so doing. The tendency is to forget that Jesus ministered in the “Old Testament era” under the terms of The Law that He had to yet fulfil.

Jesus was a Jew and is still a Jew, so He was subject to many of the Jews. For example, His mother and father took Him to Jerusalem as a boy to present Him to the Lord, name Him and circumcise Him. See Leviticus 12:2-3 and Luke 2:21-24. When grown up, He worshiped at the Temple and participated in the various feasts of the Lord. One that comes to mind was Tabernacles and we can see what He did in John 7, when He made that wonderful proclamation in John 7:37-39.

Please do not confuse what I am saying with orthodox Judaism. Just as there are different ways of expressing our “faith” as “Christians”, there are differences in Judaism. When the New Testament refers to “the Jews” who opposed and eventually orchestrated Jesus’ crucifixion, it more often than not refers to the religious leaders who held much power in the community. The Pharisees and the Sadducees who were called “Jews” held different views on many matters, especially concerning the resurrection.
“Christianity” is similarly divided. Some believe certain things whilst others do not. Even in large organizations like the Roman Catholics, there are groups within groups who differ from each other. Similarly, people like Baptists generally do not like those of us who are “Pentecostal” and speak in tongues as I do and so on.

How wonderful it would be if we can only look past petty differences and pull together. The sooner we get our collective acts together, the sooner Jesus will come back!


The “ordinary people” generally loved Jesus and accepted him, but some were adversely influenced by coercion, bribery or intimidation. The crowd that called out “Crucify Him” was stirred up by bribery, coercion, fear of reprisals and the like.

We can see this in places like Acts chapters three and four. When Peter and John were going to the Temple and the lame man was healed, 5000 people were saved! See Acts 4:3. Peter and John were arrested by the high priests and military commanders of the temple (Acts 4:1). The account that followed clearly revels that the religious leaders like the scribes, Pharisees and elders, including Annas, Caiaphas, John ( a different John), Alexander and "as many as were of the kindred of the high priest" (Acts 4:6) tried to stifle them and refused to accept Jesus.

This is why I often say that "the Jews" did not crucify Jesus. The religious leaders who were in authority did.

Notwithstanding, the events of this season have a Jewish origin.
We have to keep this in mind as it can change our relationship with the Lord and release us from bondage

Jesus had expressed His strong desire to eat the Passover this last time (in its original format) with the disciples and said so in Luke 22:15. The two words He used sound alike but differ slightly, One describes a wish, but the other is a passionate almost “lusting for” according to one of the original meanings.
He had wanted this all of His human life and now that this “wish” was now ready to become reality, it became a driving almost obsessive force. His ministry changed and took on a new perspective. Check out how many (if any) miracles happened next. He reached a point in His life when Calvary was not a distant objective but an imminent reality and His whole demeanor changed.
As a Jew, Jesus would have eaten the Passover all of His human life, but now this was the time for what Passover really signified to become reality.
Please remember this as I shall come back to Passover preparations later.

Matthew spoke about something that Jews regularly did. It is called Hallel as seen in the Hebrew word to the right.
The word Hallel means “praise” in Hebrew and it is one of the most important words in the Hebrew Bible.
It is also the root of the word Halleluia (הַלָּלוּיָהּ), which means “Praise unto God”. 
It is  the name of the Book of Psalms that in the Hebrew is Tehilim (תְּהִלִּים). When the crowds proclaimed
Hosanna… Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord (Mark 11:9) on that Palm Sunday, they were in fact quoting from the book of Tehilim (Psalms 118:25-26) and it was not a quiet event at all. On the contrary, it was a noisy celebration. From this, other biblical stories and from personal experience, I am convinced that our corporate church life is not supposed to be quiet and solemn in the least.

We should be able to worship and celebrate demonstratively without inhibition.

As a matter of fact, one Hebrew description of worship is to spin around as if under violent emotion and that is a vast contrast to some church services that are more like a funeral dirge than worship of God. This is not saying that we go overboard and get into excess but to have balance and allowing everything to be done decently and in order.

These songs were part of the Seder feast and speak about deliverance and Jesus came to deliver us from sin, sickness, bondage, poverty, death and everything else that was a result of Adam’s transgression!

Perhaps you can now understand why I major so much on our Jewish heritage and why I keep recommending that  we look beyond “Christian tradition” that may or may not be true and compare what you know of the “Christian Church” today with the original design.
The contrast is often disturbing to say the least.

We tend to think about the events of Calvary with a sad almost morbid approach. It was a solemn and a terrible event, but Jesus was joyful! Yes, I did say joyful. There is a great big difference between happiness and joy. Being happy is usually temporary and subject to change. Joy however (and I speak of the Joy of the Lord) is totally different. His joy is full and complete and it lasts.
We are told in Hebrews 12:1-2-

....since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

How can anyone have joy, knowing that in a few hours all those prophecies, types and shadows of the cross would be fulfilled? There had to be a reason—something He knew that transcended all of the events that were to follow mere hours later. He knew that He had to suffer, but looked past it to the day when He would be celebrating it in a totally different way with us in glory.
As they were eating, Jesus took bread and asked God’s blessing on it and broke it in pieces and gave it to them and said, “Eat it—this is my body.” Then he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it and gave it to them; and they all drank from it. And he said to them, “This is my blood, poured out for many, sealing the new agreement between God and man. I solemnly declare that I shall never again taste wine until the day I drink a different kind in the Kingdom of God.” Mark 14:22-25

Communion is not a sacrament in the way some have made it. It is a celebration feast. It is something we do as often as we can... not to keep Jesus on the cross or suffering as He did, but to remember what He did with thankfulness.
What He went through was a once only event never to be repeated. He is no longer on the cross and the tomb is empty. He is sitting down in glory at the right hand of the Father.
When we partake of the emblems, which they are, we celebrate His victory over sin and the penalties of sin.

The first Passover was a very simple meal that was taken in haste moments before God’s people were liberated from slavery. Passover is designed as a memorial and as a vehicle whereby God’s people celebrated their freedom and thanked God for it and Jesus, being a good Jew, was doing just that.
In the process, He associated that with what it represented and He was joyful. He was looking forward not backward to the time when we will all dine together and what a time that will be! I am not suggesting that this is what it is, but the Marriage Supper of the Lamb comes to mind! He described this as a different kind of feast and what a feast that will be.

Because it was Passover, He knew that He would soon fulfill everything that it spoke of symbolically, but we tend to gloss over Passover so glibly, thinking it was for the children of Israel on the eve of their departure for the Exodus. Not so.
Our Exodus is coming. One day, we shall be gone! In a flash; in a twinkling of an eye and that’s super-fast. The best calculation is like dividing one second by 100 and multiply that by 11.

...let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed!
It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed.
For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.
Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die...1 Corinthians 15:51-54

Let me tell you that it will take many of us by total surprise. I have been fortunate to have visited heaven several times. The experiences were real. I had no near death experience. Sometimes the Lord told me in advance and it still took me by surprise, but on one occasion, as I was walking on the pavement here, taking one step after another as we all do when suddenly...the next step I took was on a solid gold street in heaven and I sucked my breath in shocked and amazed at the sheer beauty of the place. Will you be ready?

Have you personally applied the Blood? I hope so, because that’s the only way you will get there. Paul said that Jesus is our Passover.
...Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough?  Get rid of the old “yeast” by removing this wicked person from among you. Then you will be like a fresh batch of dough made without yeast, which is what you really are. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us.
So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old bread of wickedness and evil, but with the new bread of sincerity and truth. 1 Corinthians 5:6-8

If Jesus is our Passover Lamb (which He is), there are a few things we must of necessity consider and to do that, we have to look at God’s demands and requirements in The Law. That lamb had to be the best you could get. He would not accept anything less.  To make sure this lamb met His requirements, certain things had to happen.
While the Israelites were still in the land of Egypt, the LORD gave the following instructions to Moses and Aaron:
“From now on, this month will be the first month of the year for you.
Announce to the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each family must choose a lamb or a young goat for a sacrifice, one animal for each household.
If a family is too small to eat a whole animal, let them share with another family in the neighborhood. Divide the animal according to the size of each family and how much they can eat.
The animal you select must be a one-year-old male, either a sheep or a goat, with no defects.
“Take special care of this chosen animal until the evening of the fourteenth day of this first month. Then the whole assembly of the community of Israel must slaughter their lamb or young goat at twilight.
They are to take some of the blood and smear it on the sides and top of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the animal.
That same night they must roast the meat over a fire and eat it along with bitter salad greens and bread made without yeast.
Do not eat any of the meat raw or boiled in water. The whole animal—including the head, legs, and internal organs—must be roasted over a fire.
Do not leave any of it until the next morning. Burn whatever is not eaten before morning.
“These are your instructions for eating this meal: Be fully dressed, wear your sandals, and carry your walking stick in your hand. Eat the meal with urgency, for this is the LORD’s Passover.
On that night I will pass through the land of Egypt and strike down every firstborn son and firstborn male animal in the land of Egypt. I will execute judgment against all the gods of Egypt, for I am the LORD!
But the blood on your doorposts will serve as a sign, marking the houses where you are staying. When I see the blood, I will pass over you. This plague of death will not touch you when I strike the land of Egypt.
“This is a day to remember. Each year, from generation to generation, you must celebrate it as a special festival to the LORD. This is a law for all time. Exodus 12:1-14

God specified that the lamb had to be a one year old male, or a male in his prime. Jesus was a  male in His prime, being around 30 years of age when He started His ministry.
The lamb had to have no defects. It had to be thoroughly inspected for any fault or blemish before it was accepted. Now if Jesus was to fulfill all prophecy and fulfill the requirements of The Law, be the anti-type of the Jewish festivals like Passover, surely He had to be inspected in some way and deemed to be suitable.
Think of it. If this is correct, then we must ask the questions of when and how this happened. I do not want to make a doctrine of this, but please bear with me and look at the transfiguration on the mount. Both Matthew and Mark tell the story. According to Matthew in chapter 16, Jesus told us that He would build His Church and says that Jesus then changed His approach to ministry-

From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Matthew 16:21

Please look closely at what happened next-
And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,
And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. Matthew 17:1-2

I believe that they had a glimpse of what Jesus looked like in His glorified body. Matthew continued-
And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Matthew 17:3

We do not know what they were talking about, but Moses represents The Law and Elijah represented The Prophets. Both The Law and the prophecies had to be precisely fulfilled. If that Lamb had to be inspected and found to meet God’s requirements, is it likely that it is here that the Lamb of God was “being inspected”?

I think so, but then there is the need for the lamb to be suitable and acceptable for man. Peter might have been the agent to do so. Although he was impetuous and often shot his mouth off before putting his brain into gear, he may have been the one to deem Jesus as The Lamb who would meet man’s need for redemption, by saying that it is good to be here. This meets the requirements of confirmation of things at the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses.
Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. Matthew 17:4

What happened next brought it all together.
While he was still speaking, behold, a shining cloud [composed of light] overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, This is My Son, My Beloved, with Whom I am [and have always been] delighted. Listen to Him! Matthew 17:5

Was this what I suspect? Was this when the Lamb of God was deemed to be fit and appropriate to become our Passover and God approved?

The Last Supper was a Passover feast (also known as Pesach). We tend to think of this as a single event, like coming to dinner at someone’s home, but it is not. It is a lengthy process that starts on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nissan (that coincides with the period of March/April in the Gregorian calendar. It was one of three annual pilgrimage festivals in which the population of the kingdom of Judah made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The other two are Shavuot (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Tabernacles) and every one of them relates to the Christian experience. Jesus would have made such pilgrimages before but this time, it was different...

Passover is a spring festival when offerings of the “first-fruits of the barley” (the first grain to ripen and to be harvested) were made. This represents Jesus as the first fruits of something new. Passover lasted for seven days and for the Jews, a day commences at dusk and lasts until the following dusk. Therefore the first day of the actual Passover started at dusk on the 14 day of Nissan and ended at dusk on the15th day.
If Jesus kept it like that and if the lamb had to be chosen 4 days beforehand and inspected, you can see that this was a deliberately planned and executed event and not a single dinner evening.

God’s plan of salvation started before He created this planet and Passover had to have been “fore-ordained”. Revelation 13:8 describes Jesus as that Lamb.
He planned for that man to walk down the road carrying a water pot at precisely the right time thousands of years beforehand.
He orchestrated that colt to be born when it was and for that man to bring it to the place the disciples found it.
He provided the ram at the right time and place when He told Abraham to sacrifice his son and we are mindful of the words

...My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering Genesis 22:8

God had you in mind when He put all of those plans into effect and so it is on such a time as this we can think of the pain and suffering of Jesus on that cross of course, but more importantly rejoice and give God the best Hallel we can muster.

I hope that you share communion together, not as a form of religious ceremony, but as a love feast around the family table with great joy and rejoicing.

I hope that you look eagerly forward to the time when we shall all gather around the Lord’s table in glory when He will again drink of that cup anew with us.

Have a happy and blessed Easter...all year round


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