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.
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.
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.
The two disciples did as Jesus commanded.
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?
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...
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.
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.
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.
Matthew spoke about something that Jews regularly did. It is called Hallel as seen in the Hebrew word to the right.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Please look closely at what happened next-
I believe that they had a glimpse of what Jesus looked like in His glorified body. Matthew continued-
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.
What happened next brought it all together.
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.
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.
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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