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High priest

At Easter time each year, we usually think of the events of the cross and rightly so, but I often wonder if I fully comprehend everything that happened. You may, but I am still learning…
One of the problems I experience when preparing studies like this is not so much as how much to put in, but what to omit, for the sake of keeping the document small.

This topic is immense.
We could spend an eternity looking at it.  John said that the entire planet would not be big enough to store all the books if they could record what Jesus did. 
See John 21:25.

There are the Gospel accounts that cover a wide range of topics from different perspectives, Paul’s teachings, the material in the book of Hebrews, the early accounts in the Book of Acts to consider and more. Matthew, for example said that when Jesus gave up the ghost, that many graves were opened and the dead saints rose after His resurrection and appeared in Jerusalem.
What happened to them?

I was raised in a Church of England environment where Easter was a solemn time with an assortment of ceremonies and observances and special days like Palm Sunday and Lent, but I never heard of such things.
Many People think of Easter holidays, Easter eggs, hot cross buns, the Easter bunny and so on and the full impact this life-changing, history shaping event is missed, even in the church.

The actual dates of Easter have been the subject of much controversy in Christian circles. Even its name has been fiercely debated.

The term Easter appears to have been derived from the Anglo-Saxon “Eostre,” the name of the goddess of spring to whom sacrifices were offered at the time of the vernal equinox (the time in Spring when the sun crosses the Equator and periods of day and night are equal).

Traditionally, Easter is preceded by the 40-day season of Lent, a time of penitence and preparation.

The early Church used the Lenten season as a time of preparation for baptism, administered at sunrise on Easter Sunday. None of these traditions seem to be in accordance with what the scriptures say.

The actual date has been the subject of much controversy from late in the 2nd century. Rome observed the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox.

Other Christian groups however related to the Jewish calendar.

Easter really celebrates the resurrection of Jesus, not His death.

It seems that most of the attention is given to the Passion of Jesus and that is where it is often left off, but what happened during the time He was in that tomb and the days He spent with His faithful followers after His resurrection are rarely mentioned.

We could say that what happened to Lazarus was not resurrection as in rising to a new eternal life, but revivification that was rising to a renewed old life. He was the same Lazarus and Salvation had not yet been provided.

Jesus’ resurrection is more than just that he was dead and now is alive, since this could be said of Lazarus and many others who were miraculously raised in the Bible. The significance of Jesus’ resurrection is that he will never die again.

These things are the focal point. If He was not raised from the dead, His death would have availed nothing and our hope is false. Paul spoke at length about this in 1 Corinthians chapter fifteen.
Why then is there so much controversy? I think the answer is simple. The devil does not want men and women to know the truth. If they did, they would be free and Passover spoke about freedom and liberty—the start of a new life.

According to classical Jewish sources, the Hebrew year 6000 (from sunset of 29 September 2239 until nightfall of 16 September 2240 on the Gregorian calendar) marks the latest time for the initiation of the Messianic Age. The TalmudMidrash, and the Kabbalistic work, the Zohar, state that the 'deadline' by which the Messiah must appear is 6,000 years from creation. According to tradition, the Hebrew calendar started at the time of Creation, placed at 3761 BC.
The Hebrew year 5781 is the equivalent year 2021.

Easter year falls on different dates in our calendar, but why is that so?
God told the Hebrews to observe the day on the 15th day of Nisan. By Jewish reckoning, the day starts at different times to ours. A day could start at sunset one day and finish at sunset the next day, so Passover could actually start on the 14th.

We must remember that this is a seasonal event that lasts for 7 or 8 days! Since 15 Nisan is based on the lunar calendar, it could come on Any Day of the week. There was no guarantee therefore that it would always occur on "Good Friday or Easter Sunday.

Much debate occurred about the date and in the year 325, the council of Nicaea determined that the Roman practice would prevail and that Easter comprised what we call Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday.  

They maintained that Easter should always fall on the first Sunday after the full moon at Passover, which is believed to be the time the Last Supper, happened. This itself poses a problem in that according to tradition, Jesus was cricififed on Friday.

This is where it gets complex. The full moon falls on different days in different time zones, so this too poses problems.

It introduces questions like, “On what day was Jesus really crucified?”

Such debates seem to be contradictory to what scriptures tell us and in essence detracts from the real meaning of Easter and its total significance!

There were many other events that consisted the final week of Jesus’ life. There were a whole series of events involved and we often forget that the Sabbath was observed.

It is believed according to the Hebrew calculations that there may in fact have been Two Sabbaths when Jesus died. There is the regular weekly Shabbat and as this was a special event—Passover—a special Passover Sabbath was involved.

This brings me to the core of my message. Easter is not only about Jesus’ passion—His death, burial and resurrection; it is about the events after His resurrection.

We shall now see what happened in several incidents and then sum up with the most profound aspect of His ministry that is ongoing. It is something not often mentioned in traditional Easter messages. 

He no longer the suffering Saviour—Our Lord is Prophet, Priest and King!

Jesus is our Great High Priest

Conclusion

In conclusion, if you turn with me to John chapter 20, you will see that because of the approaching Sabbath, Jesus had been hastily taken off the cross and placed in the tomb, not properly prepared for burial according to custom.  On resurrection morning, Mary Magdalene arrived whilst it was still dark to minister to the Lord and found the stone taken away and ran back to tell Peter and John. They ran back to the sepulcher to find it empty. When Mary was standing outside crying, she saw two angels there. Were they the same two angels seen in Acts 1:10-11?

After that conversation with the angels, She saw Jesus but did not recognize Him. Thinking He was the gardener, she asked where He was and He said one word—one word only! It was “
Mary.”

Suddenly she knew. She fell at His feet and wanted to grab hold of Him, but He would not allow her to touch Him, saying that He had not yet ascended to His Father and to His God.

This is very important, because He, as the Great High Priest, had to yet present His blood as the atonement for your sin and my sin. I believe that He prevented her from touching Him at that point to prevent contamination. The offering had to be absolutely pure and so it was. This was the final sacrifice of all and it avails for you and for me today.

His priestly ministry continues today, but in a different way. He stands before the Father making intercession for us. If and when we fail, we can feel the weight if it and guilt comes. What comes with that is condemnation. The devil tries to tell us we are no good, that we failed, that God could never love us, that He will not forgive us for our shortcomings and so on. The Lord also sent us the Holy Spirit to guide us, teach us and lead us in all the truth.

Jesus, our great High Priest then stands in front of the Throne and pleads our case. It is as if He reminds the Father that He shed His blood for us and made atonement for us and that our sin has been dealt with.

Jesus died, but He rose from the dead. Jesus rose from the dead and broke the power of the devil. He sprinkled His blood on the Mercy Seat and made a one-time offering for our sin that can never be repeated and prays for you and for me.

Happy Resurrection,

Robert


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