The Sovereign of the Yehudim, otherwise known as The King of the Jews is a series of studies based on Easter that is timeless. It may reveal certain things that you may never have thought of before. We hope it is a blessing and an inspiration.
We shall look at the events leading up to Easter and bring it to a close on that great and wonderful day when Jesus said one word...Mary that changed everything forever.
We shall see more on the usual Easter stories of the Last Supper, the betrayal, the Garden, Jesus standing in judgment, the scourging, His subsequent execution on the cross and of course His marvelous resurrection.
We start our journey in John chapter eleven where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. There is much to share about this story that is in the page “Let the man go” and I recommend you look at this page.
Jesus deliberately delayed going to Lazarus for two days, so by the time He arrived, Lazarus had been interred for 4 days. This may be significant for more than one reason.
One Jewish belief was that a person’s spirit remained close-by for three days with the hope that by some miracle, it could re-enter the body and life returned. If, at the end of that period, signs of life were still absent, the person could be legally proclaimed dead on the fourth day. Perhaps Jesus waited to ensure that Lazarus could be officially deceased.
There is however another thing to consider when we look in depth at the Jewish Feasts of the Lord as listed in Exodus 23:14, Leviticus 23, Numbers 9, Numbers 15, Deuteronomy 16 and elsewhere.
These feasts were to be held at specific times and all males, including Jesus, were to present themselves three times a year to the Lord to observe them. The Passover event seen in Exodus 12 describes how the men were to take a lamb and slay it, before applying the blood to the doorposts and lintels of their houses.
It was a personal matter. If the blood was not applied, death followed. In like manner, salvation is a personal matter between the individual and God. The blood of the Lamb must be personally applied—by faith, or salvation never occurs. God provided it for us through Jesus, but, as it was with that blood, it has to be appropriated or accepted. Salvation is a free gift, but it has to be received.
The story of Lazarus occurred just before Passover. Jesus had to fulfill prophecy, which seems to be the real reason for this “four day delay” before raising Lazarus. In the Passover account, the lamb was chosen on the tenth day of the month and kept until the fourteenth day, making a total of 4 days. During those 4 days, the lamb was carefully inspected to ensure it had no blemishes. This lamb was to be a male in the prime of its life.
According to Revelation 13:8 Jesus is the lamb slain before the foundation of the world.
John the baptist called Him the Lamb of God in John 1:29. Everything therefore pointed towards Jesus.
To fulfill all things, Jesus had to be in the prime of His life and had to be inspected, for want of a better word, to meet that 4-day requirement. This is seen in scripture, but I would like you to find it for yourself. I will give you a hint however and it is the word mountain where He was transfigured.
Passover is not a single event. It is a week long event (8-days on leap years), during which the Passover Meal is eaten.
Please turn with me now to Luke chapter 22:7, where Luke said that the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh. He said that the day had arrived when the Passover lamb that had been chosen four days beforehand was to be slaughtered.
Jesus told Peter and John to go and prepare the passover.
What the Jews call a Passover Seder involves much preparation.
A typical Passover meal today consists of unleavened bread (matzos) an egg, a shank bone, bitter herbs and wine and other items.
Peter and John went ahead to prepare a Passover meal similar to this.
We do not know if the lamb had already have been roasted, but if not, they had some cooking to do. One thing for certain however was that the lamb had been chosen four days beforehand and then slaughtered in readiness for their arrival.
The events of John chapter eleven led to Passover.
Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him.
Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar (327 grams) of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. John 12:1-3
The Human response—Judas
We are all subject to the same things; the same feelings and emotions and, rightly or wrongly, we all have the ability to form opinions and make decisions. We can create the environment in which we live by acting from those things and speaking them out. What I shall start sharing is how you and I can be affected, even by the most trivial or seemingly insignificant things and this is why my Easter story is different.
To ensure that the prophecies concerning Jesus, the Lamb of God were fulfilled, a series of events had to take place, one of which was His betrayal. We know from scripture that Judas betrayed him, but there had to be a reason. Something happened to him to turn him around from being a follower and a disciple who was one of the twelve to become a betrayer. He went out on ministry assignments with the others. He witnessed the miracles that followed Jesus’ ministry and would have experienced wonderful things in his own ministry, when he went out with them. What is a sobering thought is that we can think that someone is wonderful and great if they have a big church and do all kinds of things and be totally misled. We need to ask if the people involved are really called by God to do them or if they are doing their own thing. We need to ask if they are living on past memories and experiences or really being led by the Spirit. Many started well but the church is now like a well-oiled machine that is running simply by its own inertia and God may no longer be there.
Judas was the treasurer and carried the bag from which money was given to the poor. No one can give money away if they have none to give! No one trusts someone else with their finances unless there is a close relationship of some kind, so Judas must have been very close to Jesus. Religious tradition and artwork portrays Jesus sitting in the middle of a long table, but this, as it is with many of our traditions and assumptions we have readily accepted without question, may not be true.
Analysis of the customs of the day suggest that it may have been in a U-shaped setting where everyone reclined on their side. Jesus was at a central point. When He was asked the identity of the one who would betray Him, He said that the person who dipped in the bowl with Him would betray Him. The sop mentioned is a small portion of food, usually a piece of bread, that is dipped into the bowl of food before eating. It is a piece that is held in the fingers. Therefore, to be able to dip into the bowl at the same time means that this person has to be very close. John may have been at one side and Judas on the other! If this is correct then where was Peter?
When Judas left, the others assumed he left to distribute money to the poor as this was their habit pattern and they never questioned it. Jesus told him not to procrastinate and the others assumed the Lord had sent Judas out to give some money away. It seems that Judas had a problem with money and when Mary anointed Jesus with this ointment, he did not like it—he got offended!
Many offenses happen in churches over power and money.
But Judas the locksmith, Simon’s son, the betrayer, spoke up and said, “What a waste! We could have sold this perfume for a fortune and given the money to the poor!” (In fact, Judas had no heart for the poor. He only said this because he was a thief and in charge of the money case. He would steal money whenever he wanted from the funds given to support Jesus’ ministry.)
Please stop and think how things would have turned out if Judas had not reacted and had not betrayed the Lord.
Jesus told us that offenses will inevitably come and at Easter time in particular, I want to encourage you not to react and do something or say something you will later regret. It is easy to lose your temper (perhaps I should have said find your temper) and do something stupid and that quick flare-up may never be undone. We can call someone a nasty name in a temper tantrum and later wish we had not done that, but the damage has already been done and may never be undone. We can get angry and shoot a shotgun scattering pellets everywhere, before feeling sorry, perhaps hitting innocent people, but the damage has already been done...
I like to make things real to life because we all have the same issues to contend with. The Lord had to deal with this in my own life many years ago—when I was the offended party. I planted several churches and helped other pastors get started and intended quitting my job to remain the pastor of the last one I started at the time until the Lord forbade it. I now know that many people who call themselves pastors just should not be there as God never called them, but that is another story.
In hindsight, it was a very wise command, because I would have never achieved what the Lord and I have since done—together.
The latter point is extremely important. We are co-workers with the Lord and should be fulfilling the assignments He gives us, not deciding to do something that may be good, but not asking Him first. We ask Him to bless our decisions and actions that He might never have asked us to do.
When the denomination to which I then belonged appointed a man to the position, I was not even invited to attend the meeting and that hurt me. I had driven through flood waters and paid a dear price to start that church, but the senior pastor was a tyrant of a man who had money problems and was the laughing stock amongst other church groups in the region. I refused to subject myself to such non-biblical domination and was branded. It was part of God’s plan however and I thankfully moved on.
A few years later when I was starting new meetings, a small group of people took a dislike to the way the Holy Spirit moved.
They objected to Him moving with everyone, including myself and when He did one day, they embarked on a smear campaign against me. A handful of them became so obnoxious, I was on the verge of taking legal action and to be honest, I may have punched some of them on the nose, if I had not controlled myself. The Lord told me to quit pursuing legal proceedings and He was angry, not at me or because they were touching me, but because they were touching the anointing. It has little to do with the personality, but everything to do with the genuine anointing on a person’s life and is more serous than many people think.
The Lord’s instructions were to stand aside and not try to prove my case, but let Him handle it.
This pastor was caught up in it and later died in a very unpleasant manner. The ringleaders fell ill. Marriages broke down.
A business failed and that group disbanded. Marjorie and I later met one man who was a ringleader and he was a broken man. His marriage failed and he was sitting on the floor of his empty home that had just been sold. We invited him to dinner and he cried, admitting he was the ringleader. I told him I knew that, but still offered my help and friendship, but we never saw him again.
One other ringleader, a woman, had three daughters to three different men and married at least two other times, accused me of “having a filthy past”. Whilst we are not to compromise and need to ensure people in leadership positions in particular meet certain biblical requirements, she, like many others were joining the accuser of the brethren in vilifying others. When this is done, it is saying in essence that the blood of Jesus did not do anything. It is contrary to what Paul said in Colossians chapter 2, especially verses 12-15. Never get caught up in such things. God had dealt with my past as He does for you, but she was a self-righteous, judgmental, religious bigot and wanted to cast the first stone.
Things went bad for her and she became an embittered lonely woman. That denomination brands people and never forgets!
If you look closely into behavioral traits, such behavior is a sign of a false cult.
Huh? Yes, I did say cult. They say that they preach Jesus and want to see people saved, but cultist traits include manipulation, domination and control and is witchcraft. In such environments, it is easy to give and receive offense and there is the danger.
It does not matter to a certain extent who is right or who is not, but the attitude of the heart.
We are to acknowledge people in leadership positions, because this is what the bible says to do, but we are to honor the Lord more than a denomination. The point I want to make about all this is that it is extremely important to never allow offense of any kind to come into our lives and remain. Deal with them. When I stopped my legal action, the Lord preserved me and later vindicated me then opened up a completely new and much better lifestyle and ministry than I could ever have previously imagined. There are principles at stake here.
By not dealing with issues, we risk self betrayal, betray others and inevitably betray the Lord. “How?” You may ask. You may say that you would never do that, or that you are a preacher, a christian worker or make any claim you like, but Judas was a first hand witness to Jesus’ ministry and preached when he was sent out on assignments with the others and despite that, he betrayed the Lord.
If we look at the account, there did not seem to be any problem until Mary anointed Jesus and Judas allowed himself to take offense—but he was not the only one. In John chapter six, Jesus had just fed the 5,000 and encountered certain religious Jews who were murmuring and complaining! Muttering and murmuring can be dangerous! Stop it. Do not allow it to happen.
He then started to talk about eating His body and drinking His blood.
Listen to this eternal truth: Unless you eat the body of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have eternal life. Eternal life comes to the one who eats my body and drinks my blood, and I will raise him up in the last day.
For my body is real food for your spirit and my blood is real drink. The one who eats my body and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him.
The Father of life sent me, and he is my life. In the same way, the one who feeds upon me, I will become his life. I am not like the bread your ancestors ate and later died. I am the living Bread that comes from heaven. Eat this Bread and you will live forever!”
Jesus preached this sermon in the synagogue in Capernaum. And when many of Jesus’ followers heard these things, it caused a stir. “That’s disgusting!” they said. “How could anybody accept it?”
Without anyone telling him, Jesus knew they were outraged and told them, “Are you offended over my teaching? What will you do when you see the Son of Man ascending into the realm from where he came? “The Holy Spirit is the one who gives life, that which is of the natural realm is of no help. The words I speak to you are Spirit and life. But there are still some of you who won’t believe.”
In fact, Jesus already knew from the beginning who the skeptics wereandwho his traitor would be.
He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one embraces me unless the Father has given you to me.”
And so from that time on many of the disciples turned their backs on Jesus and refused to be associated with him.
So Jesus said to his twelve, “And you—do you also want to leave?” Peter spoke up and said, “But Lord, where would we go? No one but you gives us the revelation of eternal life. We’re fully convinced that you are the Anointed One, the Son of the Living God, and we believe in you!”
Then Jesus shocked them with these words: “I have hand-picked you to be my twelve, knowing that one of you is the devil.”Jesus was referring to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, for he knew that Judas, one of his chosen disciples, was getting ready to betray him. John 6:53-71 emphasis mine.
Many people, including Peter, got offended, but he chose not to allow his feelings and circumstances to control his live.
The others walked away. Please weigh all this up.
Judas remained, but the seed was simmering away inside him because he had not dealt with it as Peter had.
Therefore when Mary poured that precious ointment on Jesus, Judas’ uncontrolled emotions exploded inside him and he may have been motivated by greed. Several translations call him a thief. Perhaps he had been misusing ministry funds and was afraid that the theft would be discovered. Financial matters in churches are real and are serious issues. Abuses happen everywhere.
I said everywhere. Many prosperity doctrine teachers keep asking people to partner with them (which I never do, because the Lord has forbidden that) and preach in such a way that people can feel overwhelmed at offering time and may feel guilty or be motivated by greed. Misquoting Malachi is commonplace when people are told that they are robbing God if they do not tithe or are told that when they sow seed, they will reap a massive harvest. That is only part of the greater picture.
The problem with this assertion is that God was speaking to the priests who had neglected to fulfill all of their priestly duties that included the tithe. The tithe is not money—but food and is designed to take care of the people in the community who were the widow, the orphan, the Levite and the stranger in accord with God’s command. See Deuteronomy 14 and Nehemiah 13.
Judas got offended. Luke said in Luke 22:1-6 that Satan entered and the Greek wording is interesting. It means to go or come into and in the commercial world it is used of the movement of goods and...money. In legal matters it speaks about going to court and if we consider that Satan is the accuser of the brethren, he had a legal case. It can also mean to take up an office.
In John 13:1-2 we see that Satan put something into Judas’ heart. The Greek wording is βάλλω (ballo) that means to throw, cast, thrust, or injecting something into something else. It is a strong action word like throwing a missile or rock at someone, or thrusting at someone with a knife.
The implications are that Judas had let his guard down and given the devil a legal foothold, or something to work with against him. We can avoid this by continually wearing the complete armor of God, standing firm, submitting to God and resisting the adversary. In simple terms, do not give him something to work with. The chink in Judas’ armor was his greed and allowing himself to take offense. Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus through the doorway of offense. Satan entered into Judas’ heart and destroyed not only his relationship with Jesus, but also Judas’ very life.
The lesson for us is that betrayal is a painful experience. When someone betrays you, it can feel as if that person has put a knife into your heart and twisted it. The pain is intense because it often comes from someone you are close to — someone you love and trust deeply. This can be a person you walk with, talk with, or even pray with and they abruptly turn against you and become an enemy.
When you are betrayed, if you focus on the betrayal and the pain it produces, it will only deepen the hurt. You can become embittered, numb and isolated from others. The problem is that you are not the only victim—the person who betrayed you is also a victim. If someone allows Satan to penetrate their mind and emotions with his lies that person cannot think or see things properly. That person’s perception is damaged and this is what happened to Judas.
As I said earlier, he was one of the Twelve. He would most likely have been very close with frequent communication with the Lord. He was the ministry’s treasurer and as such, he and Jesus must have had many close conversations about ministry, money and other matters. Judas was a part of all the miracles, healings, and deliverances that occurred in Jesus’ ministry on the earth.
How could someone so intimately connected with Christ become a betrayer? The answer is simple—Judas became offended at Jesus.
When a someone becomes offended, it is as if all we can see are the things about the other person we dislike. It is as if we can no longer see anything good about that other person and only see the faults and flaws. People may not always see things the same way because we are all individuals, but we can choose to agree or work with each other without getting hostile. Some of us seem to “always be right” about any matter and think that the other person is dumb and stupid and actually be in error as well. We can strive at proving we are correct and then wonder why people avoid us. Many people seem to get on a bandwagon and take over conversations, talking almost incessantly to prove their case, but can offend others by being inflexible. It can become obnoxious to the others.
I’ve seen trees in a cyclone or hurricane bow and sway with the wind, but I have also seen other trees that do not budge and are destroyed, because they are inflexible. We do not have to compromise, but assuming we are not getting off real biblical truth, we should be able to “sway a little”. By not being flexible, we can ourselves be the one who causes offence. If we are in such a situation, rather than keep trying to prove our case, it might be best to simply drop it and walk away.
We may win an argument but lose a friend.
By keeping it up and pushing our agenda, it is possible to take on the role of being an accuser. The word Satan is the Greek word Satanas, which means accuser. When you hear recurring accusing thoughts about others in your mind and you begin to agree with those thoughts, you are actually agreeing with the enemy. When you begin to experience a flood of negative thoughts and emotions toward someone, you need to put a halt to the enemy’s work. This is why the Lord was serious about telling me to drop issues and stop trying to prove my case. He dealt with those people—not me—and preserved me. I have since been vindicated, without having to do a thing.
The word ballo (put into) shows us how quickly the devil acted. The moment offense opened the door into Judas’ heart, Satan immediately injected his seed of betrayal where it festered inside of Judas. Instead of dealing with his wrong thoughts and taking them captive, Judas nurtured the offense and it conceived, giving birth to the betrayal of Jesus Christ.
We know that Jesus chose Judas knowing that he would be the betrayer, but the man had the power of choice as do we.
I have spoken only of his offense, but Jesus said in Matthew 26:31 that every one of the disciples would be offended because of Him.
This has be taken to heart, because the potential is there for all of us. We may try to say that we would not do such a thing, but the bible does warn us of the possibility. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10, not to tempt Christ and not to murmur (grumble).
He continued by telling us that what is written in scripture to describe what happened in the past, is done so as examples to us.
I put it to you that when we start murmuring and grumbling, no matter what the reason, it can lead to major issues later and it is best to drop it and fix the problem up as soon as possible. They can lead to us taking offense.
The Lord taught me another lesson about this, when one morning He suddenly told me to go to my pastor who was a lovely older man and a real gentleman from the old school and apologize to him. I tried to argue to no avail. I thought that he had offended me about something that I later realized was so trivial it did not matter, but I had taken offense.
The more I argued, the more the Lord insisted and when I arrived at his home, he warmly welcomed me and invited me for coffee. I told him the reason for my visit and he was flabbergasted. He was totally unaware that he had hurt me and asked me to forgive him. We both hugged each other and had a great time together. He asked me to preach my very first sermon and helped me start my ministry journey.
My apology, even though I believed I was the offended party, actually released me. It no longer mattered who was right or who was wrong, but about the attitude of the heart. The Lord wanted me to make sure there were no weeds in my garden that could choke the good fruit of the vine.
There can be a great release if and when we stop trying to be “right” and pour oil on troubled waters.
Sometimes we, even as an offended party, should initiate reconciliation. God did!
Paul said then to be careful when we think that we do not have a problem, because we risk falling. 1 Corinthians 10:12.
Never think for a moment that you are unique or that you are having problems no one else has. The next verse speaks volumes.
Here is a remedy for just about every issue we can face in life. In 1 Corinthians 10:14, Paul said to flee from idolatry and I’m not going to touch on idolatry. Rephrase it to flee from any situation that can create problems. How? It’s simple—flee from it.
Do not touch it. Do not go there. Do not hang out with that person. Do not form that habit pattern, or in line with the tenor of our message, get away from a situation that would cause you to take (or give) offense.
Right after saying all of that, Paul asked us to judge what he said and that is what I am doing and urge everyone to do in my usual manner according to Acts 17:11. He then spoke about communion.
The story of Passover is one of deliverance. Historically, it tells us how God’s people who were in bondage in Egypt had been set free. God had previously cut a covenant with Abraham that remains in effect to this day. The word of God speaks of Eternal Covenants, Everlasting Covenants, a Covenant for 1000 generations and others, many of which relate to Israel as a people and to Israel as a nation. Spiritually speaking, Christians can also relate to these covenants in some way because of Jesus.
In bible languages of types and shadows, promise and fulfillment, Egypt represents sin.
The events of that first Passover led to deliverance and the start of a totally new life. In like manner, Jesus who is our Passover, delivered us from sin and we can enter into a totally new life. In both instances, there is an exchange process.
We shall look therefore at Passover and at compare this with the Christian celebration often called communion.
I was raised in the Anglican church, was confirmed and took communion according the Anglican tradition.
I became a pastor in a Pentecostal environment and celebrated in their manner. Because of unusual circumstances, I took communion with priests in the Roman Catholic Church, which is most unusual in itself as non-Catholics are not supposed to do that. I am also Jewish blood by natural birth, but never practiced Judaism. For such reasons and for personal interest, I have looked at this in many ways and hold this remembrance or memorial service—which it is—very close to my heart.
When I attended Passover services in large and small synagogues, on each occasion I had to fight back tears because of the symbolism involved. Jews look forward to Messiah’s arrival and we look back at His arrival, but there are commonalities involved. By God’s design, they just have not yet seen Him—but that will all change one day. Please never think that God is finished with Jews, or that “the Jews crucified Jesus”. The Romans did that. The opposing “Jews” in the New Testament were really the religious leaders who were not properly adhering to God’s word concerning The Law and the Feasts of the Lord and had implemented their own man-made traditions that Jesus often encountered. By His own words, they had in effect rendered the word of God to be totally ineffective. They became political allies of Rome, motivated by greed and their desire for power. Ordinary people generally followed Jesus.
What is happening in Israel right now is not well publicized by the media that is renowned for bias and twisting of truth to suit their own ends. Wonderful things are happening in the land; to the land and to many people in fulfillment of prophecy.
Jews from all over the world are doing Aliyah, returning to their homeland, again according to prophecy. The desert is indeed blossoming once more spoken of in prophecy and many Jews are finding Messiah. Christians could well say that a revival is happening. What is happening in Israel right now is not well publicized by the media that is renowned for bias and twisting of truth to suit their own ends. Wonderful things are happening in the land; to the land and to many people in fulfillment of prophecy. Jews from all over the world are doing Aliyah, returning to their homeland, again according to prophecy. The desert is indeed blossoming once more spoken of in prophecy and many Jews are finding Messiah. Christians could well say that a revival is happening.
We shall now look at the Lord’s Table in the light of Passover.
Adonai spoke to Moshe and Aharon in the land of Egypt; he said,
“You are to begin your calendar with this month; it will be the first month of the year for you.
Speak to all the assembly of Isra’el and say, ‘On the tenth day of this month, each man is to take a lamb or kid for his family, one per household—except that if the household is too small for a whole lamb or kid, then he and his next-door neighbor should share one, dividing it in proportion to the number of people eating it.
Your animal must be without defect, a male in its first year, and you may choose it from either the sheep or the goats. “
‘You are to keep it until the fourteenth day of the month, and then the entire assembly of the community of Isra’el will slaughter it at dusk.
They are to take some of the blood and smear it on the two sides and top of the door-frame at the entrance of the house in which they eat it.
That night, they are to eat the meat, roasted in the fire; they are to eat it with matzah and maror.
Don’t eat it raw or boiled, but roasted in the fire, with its head, the lower parts of its legs and its inner organs.
Let nothing of it remain till morning; if any of it does remain, burn it up completely. “
‘Here is how you are to eat it: with your belt fastened, your shoes on your feet and your staff in your hand; and you are to eat it hurriedly.
It is Adonai’s Pesach [Passover]. Exodus 12:1-13
The very last verse that states it is The Lord’ Passover.
God said that He would be looking for the blood that had been applied. The significance to us is that God is still looking for the blood of the Lamb of God, our Lord Jesus Christ that has been applied to our own lives on an individual basis, as seen by the many personal references to the persons in the household. If the lamb was too large to be consumed by the members of one home, it could be shared by neighbors and totally consumed and they had to be ready to move quickly.
If this is The Lord’s Passover, it could logically follow that communion is not in the exclusive domain of any denomination or church group, but as a sign for everyone. This is very interesting because Paul said that the Lord had given him insight into communion.
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
That word shew relates to making a proclamation. We partake of the emblems by way of memorial and thanksgiving, whilst testifying to all of creation what Jesus did. It is The Lord’s, testimony and we remember...
Each Passover, during the evening, the eldest son usually asks several questions called Ma Nishtanah, often in Hebrew and often sung, along the lines of: “ Why is this night different than all other nights”?
Why do we only eat unleavened bread on this night?
Why do we eat bitter herbs?
Why do we dip twice?
Why do we eat our meal reclining?
The Last Supper probably followed similar lines.
They ate bread, most likely unleavened bread
They would have eaten bitter herbs
They dipped at least once, because the Gospels tell us that Jesus and Judas dipped together
They would have reclined at table in the customary manner. This permitted John to lean on Jesus’ breast to ask the identity of the one who would be the betrayer
We shall shortly look at these questions during the description of a typical Jewish Passover, but let us look first at what was involved at the very beginning.
The feast of Passover was the Beginning of Months for Israel when God changed their calendar forever.
It became the first month of the sacred year and is the foundation for their experience with God.
Calvary is the foundation for our experience with God. At the new birth, our lives are forever changed and a new life begins.
We become new creations when all past sin is forgiven and eradicated as we apply the blood of Jesus to our lives by faith. Passover was a faith venture! If this was to be the beginning of months for them, it signified that God had more in store for them. The subsequent feasts reveal this and our salvation experience is also the start of a totally new life with much in store for us as we walk with God in newness of life. Salvation is also a faith venture that is the beginning of a new covenant relationship.
The lamb was hidden for 4 days
God commanded that the lamb that was chosen had to be taken on the tenth day and set aside until the fourteenth day.
Jesus entered Jerusalem on the tenth day and died on the fourteenth day, or four days later.
We believe that it happened on the fourth day since creation according to the Hebrew calendar.
If one day equates to a thousand years, then our Passover Lamb died in the time slot God gave Moses as the anti-type fulfillment of that first Passover. See John 1:29, 36; 1 Peter 1:18-20; Revelation 5:6.
The lamb was of the First Year
This signifies that it was the Firstborn and in the prime of his life. Firstborn males were set aside and given to God according to Exodus 13:11-13. Jesus was the firstborn of Mary. See Matthew 1:21-25.
He was the firstborn of God’s new creation. See Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:15-18.
The lamb had to be male
On occasions, a female was permitted to be used for certain other sacrifices, but the Paschal Lamb had to be a male.
Romans 5:12-18 says that Adam (the first male) sinned, so a male had to die for sin. Romans 5:19-21 shows that The Second Adam brought restoration by His death.
The lamb had to be without blemish
Before the sacrifice was made, the lamb was inspected thoroughly to ensure that there were no imperfections. God required it to be perfect. We see in 1 Peter 1:18 that Jesus met these stringent requirements.
The Mount of Transfiguration was most probably the place where he was pronounced fit. He spoke with Moses representing the Law and with Elijah who represented the Prophets and Peter spoke on behalf of man saying it was good.
God then gave His approval saying that Jesus was the accepted one who pleased Him.
We could also say that others like Annas, Pilate, Herod, Caiaphas, the thief beside Him and even the Roman Centurion inspected Jesus and declared his worthiness.
The lamb had to be killed in the evening
Jesus was crucified between the hours of 9AM and 3PM. The lamb had to be killed In the evening or, between The Two Evenings (Exodus 12:6). The Jewish observances of Sabbath and their measurement of time (the 3rd Hour, 6th Hour, 9th Hour or 12th Hour etc) meant that even in the time of His death, Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of Passover.
The Aramaic word for lamb is Talya, which can mean either Lamb or a Servant. Isaiah 53 describes Jesus as a Lamb led to the slaughter. He is referred to as The Lamb 34 times in the New Testament. We also know that He was a servant.
Jesus is our sacrificial Passover Lamb and was crucified at the same time the other lambs were slaughtered.
Do not break a bone
In exodus 12:46, God’s instructions were very specific in that not one bone of the lamb was to be broken. See also Numbers 9:12. The Gospels tell us that the Romans broke the legs of the two thieves to hasten their death, but when they came to Jesus, found that He had already died and did not break a bone. See John 19:33. Psalm 34:20 says- Though the misfortunes of the righteous be many, the Lord will save him from them all, Keeping all his bones intact, not one of them being broken.
No foreigner is to eat the Passover
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover. No foreigner may share in eating it.
But everyone’s servant who is bought for money, after you have circumcised him, may eat it. A foreigner and a hired worker must not eat it.
It must be eaten in one house; you must not bring any of the meat outside the house, and you must not break a bone of it. The whole community of Israel must observe it. “When a foreigner lives with you and wants to observe the Passover to the LORD, all his males must be circumcised, and then he may approach and observe it, and he will be like one who is born in the land — but no uncircumcised person may eat of it.
The same law will apply to the person who is native-born and to the foreigner who lives among you.” Exodus 12:43-49.
God is a Covenant making and a covenant keeping God.
His commandment applied to those who believed the report—and acted upon it. In other words, only to those who had deliberately entered into covenant. Any covenant requires two parties who mutually agree on something and agree with the terms and conditions of that covenant. The provision was for the household that had applied the blood. It included no one else. If it had not been applied in the manner God had commanded, they died.
This is like our salvation experience. Jesus made provision for our salvation at Calvary, but it is not an automatic thing, because we have to enter into it in the same way they did—by personal application. Someone has to preach the Gospel message and then we must make a decision to act upon it. Romans 10:9-10 is a classic example. Although the provision is there—the promise is made, it does not automatically happen without our choice process. In other words, we must enter into covenant for the covenant to apply.
Church attendance and membership, fellowship, worship, bible studies, prayer, charitable deeds and the more, although admirable and desirable does not mean a thing unless we are in such a blood covenant. See Ephesians 2:8-10.
I had been deeply involved in church activities all my life. Christened as a baby (which is not believer’s baptism), receiving confirmation and taking communion meant nothing whatsoever, especially if done so according to man’s ordinances or traditions.
I was not in blood covenant relationship. I was not saved or born again, so taking communion never met God’s requirements!
According to Paul’s teaching on communion in 1 Corinthians 11, I may have been partaking unworthily, despite the good intentions of my heart.
This does sound radical, but when weighing this up with the text just mentioned and with other scriptures, I was in effect a foreigner, without covenant, uncircumcised spiritually and disqualified from eating in the house.
Not until the foreigner or hired servant was circumcised, was he permitted to partake!
Physical circumcision is a symbol of spiritual circumcision. This sounds to me like a type of the Gospel Message. As I said, it may seem radical but where does that place the unsaved priests and parishioners of denominational churches around the world?
It shocked me, because I took my communion seriously, but never understood a thing from God’s perspective!
Today, when I partake of the emblems, I do so with awe and a grateful heart and a greater depth of understanding.
A better covenant
Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law.
They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.”
But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. For he finds fault with them when he says: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. Hebrews 8:1-13.
The Passover Meal or Seder has an order of service called the Passover Haggadah, which with slight variants is followed by Jews around the world. Those present traditionally recline on cushions on the left side at table for part, if not all the meal. Dining is now at tables. There is often a head table where the person leading the service is seated and if possible, reclines. In ancient times only free people had the luxury of reclining while eating, so the act of reclining represents the fact that we are free people.
I am of the belief that the Last Supper was in this format, with the seating arranged in a U-shape where Jesus reclined in the center position, most likely with John on one side and Judas on the other side of Him. Certain works of art depict a long single rectangular shaped table where everyone sat on the same side and Jesus was sitting in the middle.
Think of your own home when having a family meal when we all try to sit around the table.
This deserves detailed analysis that is better reserved for another time.
We will usually find the following:
A Haggadah or order of service- One for each guest
A Seder Plate - This is often a specially designed plate containing the elements that assist in telling the Passover story, or a large plate or platter containing:
Z’roah - A cooked and cleaned lamb shank bone
Maror - Bitter herbs such as horseradish from a jar for dipping
Charoset - A sweet apple mixture
Karpas - Parsley - at least one sprig for each person
Beytzah - A hard-boiled or roasted egg (a reminder of when the Temple in Jerusalem was burned and destroyed in 70AD)
A small bowl of salt water - for dipping (symbolizing tears)
Matzah - The Bread of Affliction
The Afikomen - The Leader will have three matzot wrapped in a Tosh, which is a special napkin dividing the three, and coins ready to ransom a piece of the middle matzah that will be broken and hidden and found by one of the children. This piece is known as the afikomen and has surprising symbolism
A set of candlesticks
Wine (or grape juice)
A large bowl and a pitcher of water with a hand towel
A pillow for leaning (preferably for all present, but one at least for the leader)
A special goblet - The Cup of Elijah
A major part of the Seder is called the Maggid, which is the retelling of the Passover story from Exodus and the recital of the Four Questions us previously outlined. As the story unfolds throughout the evening, we could think of the blood of a lamb applied to the doorpost of the Hebrew’s homes that saved them and as a believer liken this to Revelation 12:11 that says- And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony
We can give testimony here to God’s enduring faithfulness from that first Passover lamb in Egypt right through to Yeshua, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29.
The order of service
Ha Lachma Anya.
This is the invitation to the Seder
The matzot are uncovered, and referred to as the bread of affliction with an invitation to all who are hungry or needy to join in the Seder
Kadeish קדש This is a recital of the Kiddush (the blessing) and drinking of the first cup of wine. The father of the house usually presides when in the home
Urchatz ורחץ The washing of the hands. In traditional Jewish homes, it is common to ritually wash the hands before a meal. No blessing is usually recited at this point in the Seder. The blessing is usually recited over the washing of the hands before eating bread at any other time
Karpas כרפס This is an appetizer. Each person dips a vegetable into salt water, vinegar or charoset, depending on personal choice
Yachatzיחץ This is the breaking of the middle matzah (a kind of unleavened bread). Three matzot are stacked on the seder table and at this stage, the middle matzah of the three is broken in half. The larger piece is hidden, to be used later as the afikoman, which is the dessert after the meal. The smaller piece is returned to its place between the other two matzot Breaking the middle matzo; the larger piece becomes the afikoman which is eaten later during the ritual of Tzafun
Maggidמגיד Retelling the Passover story, including the recital of “the four questions” and drinking of the second cup of wine
Rachtzahרחצה Second washing of the hands – with blessing
Motziמוציא Traditional blessing before eating bread products
Matzoמצה Blessing before eating matzo
Marorמרור Eating of the maror
Koreichכורך Eating of a sandwich made of matzo and maror
Shulchan oreichשולחן עורך The serving of the holiday meal
Tzafunצפון Eating of the afikoman
Bareichברך Blessing after the meal and drinking of the third cup of wine
Hallelהלל Recital of the Hallel, traditionally recited on festivals; drinking of the fourth cup of wine
The Four Questions:
Ma nishtana ha lyla ha zeh mikkol hallaylot? Shebb’khol hallelot anu okh’lin hamets umatsa, vehallayla hazze kullo matsa. Shebb’khol hallelot anu okh’lin sh’ar y’rakot, vehallayla hazze maror? Shebb’khol hallelot en anu matbillin afillu pa‘am eḥat, vehallayla hazze sh’tei fe‘amim? Shebb’khol hallelot anu okh’lin ben yosh’vin uven m’subbin, vehallayla hazze kullanu m’subbin?
These questions have been translated into over 300 languages and the answers are wonderful-
We eat only matzah because our ancestors could not wait for their breads to rise when they were fleeing slavery in Egypt, and so they were flat when they came out of the oven.
We eat only Maror, a bitter herb, to remind us of the bitterness of slavery that our ancestors endured while in Egypt.
The first dip, green vegetables in salt water, symbolizes the replacing of our tears with gratefulness, and the second dip, Maror in Charoses, symbolizes the sweetening of our burden of bitterness and suffering.
We recline at the Seder table because in ancient times, a person who reclined at a meal was a free person, while slaves and servants stood.
We eat only roasted meat because that is how the Pesach is prepared during sacrifice in the Temple at Jerusalem.
The Seder concludes with a prayer that the night’s service be accepted and a hope for the Messiah is expressed-
L’shanah haba’ah b’Yerushalayim. Next year in Jerusalem.
This is Passover and it really is a special time for all. Let me now link what we have seen thus far with the Lord and His Last Supper. Remember that He was a Jew and adhered to God’s commands as regards observances of the Feasts of the Lord that included Passover. At the conclusion of this Passover meal, Matthew said that they sang a hymn and departed to the mount of Olives.
This would have been Hallel that is a recital or singing the Hallel Psalms (Psalms 113-118), still done today.
Matthew said that they were already eating when Jesus said that he would be betrayed.
They were eating the Passover meal, so He would have already pronounced a blessing, much like the Kadeish previously mentioned. They would have washed their hands beforehand in the manner described as Urchatz.
In some way, the passover story would have been recounted as we see in Maggid.
Matthew said that as they were eating He took bread, blessed it and broke it. As they were already eating the Passover meal when He did this, it would seem that this was a special blessing. He knew the significance.
He took the cup and gave thanks before giving it to the disciples. If they had already done Kadeish then this was also a special blessing. He said that He would not drink of the fruit of this vine again until He drank it anew in His Father’s kingdom.
When He appeared after His resurrection in Luke 24, he asked them if they had any meat and ate what they gave Him.
This is very interesting because the word used for meat here appears only once in this fashion in the entire bible. It means food, or anything edible, but why only once? There is something symbolic about this. What is it?
I can only reach one conclusion at this point and it refers to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb as we see in Revelation 19:9.
Marriage is used to describe the intimate relationship of God with His people. I see a longing or a desire here when Jesus was looking ahead in time to the day when we shall stand before Him—our heavenly bridegroom.
Jews say L’shanah haba’ah b’Yerushalayim expressing a desire for Messiah to come, but Jesus also expressed a desire, saying With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer. Luke 22:15
That was His last Passover as we know it under Old Testament conditions. Jesus said that He desired this so much that it was like a deep craving or such a passionate longing for it, the feeling is likened to a lusting after something. It was pressing in upon Him so much, that it was almost as if He couldn’t wait any longer. He sent Peter and John ahead of Him to get things ready, then when these preparations (that took a considerable time) were finished... He arrived.
The Lord’s Supper therefore is, I believe, just that—the Lord’s Supper. Communion as we call it must reflect this. We cannot “say mass” or insist on confirmation to join in, because it is His! I do not know how to express it any other way. Passover is His.
It points to Him. It is all about Him. He said that it would be His last until He partook anew until it was fulfilled in the Kingdom of God. He fulfilled it! All that remains now is for those who are making things ready for Him and He will return. Will you be ready? Will you be present at the great Marriage Supper? I hope so. If you are not sure, then please accept what God did for you at Calvary. It’s a free gift you know. Tell Him that you want to accept what He offers you. Ask Him to come into your life. If you do not know how, then a very simple prayer will do that for you. I prayed this. My wife prayed it. Others I know said something like this also. Paul wrote- This message is near you. It’s in your mouth and in your heart.” This is the message of faith that we spread.
If you declare that Jesus is Lord, and believe that God brought him back to life, you will be saved.
By believing you receive God’s approval, and by declaring your faith you are saved.
Scripture says, “Whoever believes in him will not be ashamed.” There is no difference between Jews and Greeks. They all have the same Lord, who gives his riches to everyone who calls on him. So then, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:8-13.
This is Passover/Lord’s Supper. I have tried to cover a lot of territory here and hope I have shown you things you may never have thought of before.
When you next take communion, why not do something different and think like the Jews saying L’shanah haba’ah b’Yerushalayim?
When we compare Passover with Christian Lord’s Supper, they are closer to each other than many Christians once thought. We have seen how Jesus craved for this and seen a typical Jewish Passover. Once we look beyond the traditions everyone established over the years that may or may not be truth, biblically speaking, the foundations are there. Certain man-made traditions on both sides (Jews and Christians alike) have developed since then, but the essential truths remain the same. What everyone must remember is the central point, or person, namely the Lord Jesus Christ.
We argue and debate over non-issues and can easily miss what God has in mind for us.
Paul saw this when he wrote for example, to the church—born again Christians, saying in Colossians chapter two: In the same way you received Jesus our Lord and Messiah by faith, continue your journey of faith, progressing further into your union with him!
This is precisely what I share why I share it and in the way I do it. Our life exists in, through, by and for Jesus alone—not the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the President of a denomination or... a pastor of a local church. Wow! I am a pastor, so what I say must also apply to my own life and ministry. We must always remember that our roots are in Christ and not in a denomination, a church or any other organization.
Your spiritual roots go deeply into his life as you are continually infused with strength, encouraged in every way. For you are established in the faith you have absorbed and enriched by your devotion to him!
There is good reason for my saying this, because other influences tend to detract us from the Lord, even though they may all seem to be valid.
Beware that no one distracts you or intimidates you in their attempt to lead you away from Christ’s fullness by pretending to be full of wisdom when they’re filled with endless arguments of human logic. For they operate with humanistic and clouded judgments based on the mindset of this world system, and not the anointed truths of the Anointed One.
Paul explained why:
For he is the complete fullness of deity living in human form. And our own completeness is now found in him. We are completely filled with God as Christ’s fullness overflows within us. He is the Head of every kingdom and authority in the universe!
Through our union with him we have experienced circumcision of heart. All of the guilt and power of sin has been cut away and is now extinct because of what Christ, the Anointed One, has accomplished for us.
For we’ve been buried with him into his death. Our“baptism into death” also means we were raised with him when we believed in God’s resurrection power, the power that raised him from death’s realm. This “realm of death” describes our former state, for we were held in sin’s grasp.
But now, we’ve been resurrected out of that “realm of death” never to return, for we are forever alive and forgiven of all our sins! He canceled out every legal violation we had on our record and the old arrest warrant that stood to indict us. He erased it all—our sins, our stained soul—he deleted it all and they cannot be retrieved! Everything we once were in Adam has been placed onto his cross and nailed permanently there as a public display of cancellation.
Then Jesus made a public spectacle of all the powers and principalities of darkness, stripping away from them every weapon and all their spiritual authority and power to accuse us. And by the power of the cross, Jesus led them around as prisoners in a procession of triumph. He was not their prisoner; they were his!
When anyone, no matter who it is tells you otherwise—that you must adhere to certain religious observances of any kind—they are in essence telling you that what Jesus did never worked. Never allow that! I will Never do that! Never allow anyone to tell you otherwise. Check what God has really said.
So why would you allow anyone to judge you because of what you eat or drink, or insist that you keep the feasts, observe new moon celebrations, or the Sabbath? All of these were but a prophetic shadow and the evidence of what would be fulfilled,for the body is now Christ!
This has more significance than we imagine.
Don’t let anyone disqualify you from your prize! Don’t let their pretended sincerity fool you as they deliberately lead you into their initiation of angel worship. For they take pleasure in pretending to be experts of something they know nothing about. Their reasoning is meaningless and comes only from their own opinions. They refuse to take hold of the true source.
But we receive directly from him, and his life supplies vitality into every part of his body through the joining ligaments connecting us all as one. He is the divine Head who guides his body and causes it to grow by the supernatural power of God.
For you were included in the death of Christ and have died with him to the religious system and powers of this world. Don’t retreat back to being bullied by the standards and opinions of religion—for example, their strict requirements, “You can’t associate with that person!” or, “Don’t eat that!” or, “You can’t touch that!”
These are the doctrines of men and corrupt customs that are worthless to help you spiritually. For though they may appear to possess the promise of wisdom in their submission to God through the deprivation of their physical bodies, it is actually nothing more than empty rules rooted in religious rituals!
Unfortunately both Jews and people who call themselves Christians each have differences regarding forms of service and worship and various traditions. They are mostly man-made and as a result we can easily forget that it is The Lord’s Passover.
I try to stay close to what the word of God says about a matter and prefer to relate to the original texts as much as possible, but compare various versions to facilitate study. In this series of lessons, I have seen things in ways I have never seen before, or have simply not bothered to investigate. In this instance, I looked more closely at the Last Supper and saw that they sung an hymn as I had seen numerous times before, but never asked, “What hymn?”
This was part of the Jewish service called Hallel, from which we can see the word Hallelujah. It is a song of praise that is taken from Psalms 113-118. Jesus sang the scriptures. Do we sing scriptures today, or sing something else? Our worship may be too self-centered and I love music and worship. I am a musician, but find modern worship getting worldly, but that is my preference I suppose. Perhaps we should stop and think of the things He did and ask similar questions. I do. In a manner of speaking, I have moved away from traditional praying and engage with the Lord in conversation. I regularly ask Him such questions as to why He said a certain thing, in what manner, to whom or why and as a result, see little things that are already in the word of God, but often “not seen”.
When they had finished singing this Hallel, they went out into the mount of Olives. The olive grove still exists to this day and there is something interesting about a pure olive tree. It can survive the worst of climatic conditions.
Perhaps one of the trees under which He walked still remains.
Matthew and Mark say that Jesus went to a place called Gethsemane. Luke says mount of Olives whilst John describes the area as “across the Kidron valley”. John is the only one to call the spot a garden that was most likely a walled garden. It would seem that this was privately owned and also appears that Jesus often went there. I believe that He often went there to pray, so it is not surprising that after the Last Supper, He retired there one more time to pray and this time, it was most unusual.
The name Gethsemane means oil press. It was a crushing place.
From the account, I believe that the actual victory we speak of was won here. Jesus was being crushed, but he did not succumb.
A struggle was going on. We know from scripture that Jesus was God who was manifest in the flesh. He became one of us as the Second Adam and lived with us as an ordinary man. I am not denying His divinity at all, but what He did on earth, He did as a man. He sometimes called Himself the son of man, but now, He is a glorified man who is sitting down at the right hand of the Father. This is what Paul spoke of in 1 Timothy 3:16:
I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 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.
Jesus was the anointed one. The word Christ is not His surname but His designation, title or office. He came as a man and was anointed by the Holy Spirit to do His work on the earth. The first man, Adam had failed, but He came as the second Adam—a man to bring total and full restoration. He knew what faced Him. Matthew described the event that followed:
Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed...
He led the eleven there and told them all to sit there and then took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with Him, asking those three men to watch with Him. As I mentioned earlier, I saw something there for the first time. We say that God does not have favorites, but there are times when Jesus appeared to have an inner core of disciples. He loves us all but we see reference to the disciple Jesus loved and believe that it was John.
We see in the Gospels that there were different groups of people to whom He spoke. There were the 12, another 70, many who left him in John 6:66 and according to Paul 500 brethren saw Jesus after His resurrection.
In the parable of the sower as seen in Mark 4, He spoke in parables to the crowd and they did not understand Him—but revealed the meaning to the disciples and those who joined him. There is a principle here that those who are genuinely hungry for truth will receive truth. If we are not hungry, or in relationship, things will remain a mystery.
I always read that He took the disciples to the garden and asked the three to come with him and that they all fell asleep. It seems like that, but look again. Matthew says that He told the 8 disciples to stay behind, but never told them to pray. He said that He was going to pray and took the 3 with Him. At that point He began to feel the weight of the situation.
Matthew said that Jesus began something. This word is archomai that certainly means to begin something, but it also means to rehearse from the beginning. In other words, He was talking over a previously revealed plan and we now know this to be God’s plan of salvation. He was going over the implications of Passover in a new beginning now as He was to be the Passover Lamb.
He started to feel sorrow. This is a complex word that can mean physical pain as well as sorrow of spirit amongst other things.
I believe that He was starting to become aware that for the very first time ever, He would face a complete separation from the Father. This of course happened when, on the cross, He cried out to the Father asking why He had forsaken Him. It became so intense that this sorrow started to physically affect His body.
He also became very heavy. This describes great distress, anguish or becoming troubled, but look at this—the word used here is the strongest New Testament description of depression. Many wonderful people often feel depressed. Be comforted that Jesus knows all about that and took your depression on Himself and He did that in the garden.
Jesus shared this with the three, not with all of the disciples. The others were waiting for Him. The Lord then told the three to wait there and watch with Him, whilst He prayed. He made no mention to them about praying—they were to stay alert and watch. This evokes another question and it is about what they were to watch for. Did He want them to watch Him praying, or was there some other purpose? His prayer was personal and intimate. It was for the Father’s ears alone as they were conducting business, or rehearse from the beginning.
I will not get dogmatic about this, but it sure seems that way to me and if this is correct, they were to look for Judas’ arrival.
I said that such prayer is personal, which it is. Sometimes our “prayer meetings” in churches are not really availing much, because the tendency is to become introverted, praying for needs, for the church, for finances, for blessing or for the meeting. Why not amend our prayer life to sit still and say nothing and simply tell the Lord, “I am here. What would you like?” Jesus was asking the Father, “What do you really want me to do?” “Is there another way we can get this job done?” God was silent.
He returned to the disciples and they had fallen asleep. My question here is, “Was this the 3, or all of the disciples?” It is important. I believe now that He came to the three, because He asked Peter, “Couldn’t you watch?” He needed backup and support at that point because He still had to pray this thing through and I suspect did not want to be prematurely surprised at Judas’ arrival. He then told Peter to watch And Pray.
He left them to pray a second time and this time asked that if it were possible to achieve the desired outcome without drinking the cup. I believe that this is the cup of God’s wrath concerning sin. God was silent.
He then returned to the disciples (perhaps the three) who had once again fallen asleep. The Lord prayed the same way and then returned to the disciples, telling them to sleep on, but now there is something interesting. He had told them to sleep on, but now seemed to contradict Himself (or did He?) by telling them to rise up. Sometimes we also need to rise up! Let us see:
Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me. Matthew 26:45-46
At that point, Judas arrived with a great multitude. More questions remain. Did the 8 left behind see them coming and failed to give warning, or were they still sleeping and were caught unaware? This may seem insignificant and like splitting hairs, but there is a consistent theme throughout His ministry where He spoke of different groups of people who had differing degrees of relationship. The word watch keeps ringing in my ears. Watchmen are important. I’ve shared elsewhere about the 10 virgins who were all engaged to be married, but all ten of them had fallen asleep when the bridegroom arrived. The only person who knew he had arrived was the watchman. I honestly do not know if what I shared is true, but it does seem to me that even then, such a principle was in force in that garden. But let us continue.
The account says that Jesus was in such an agony of body and spirit that he sweated profusely and appeared like drops of blood.
I spoke with a doctor about this and asked his medical opinion. He stated that for such a thing to happen meant that the capillary system had started to break down. If so, then death was already starting. Jesus was already starting to die before His arrest.
Come with me now to John’s account.
Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: John 18:4-8
Let us see this in a more original version:
יהושׁע, then, knowing all that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?”
They answered Him, “יהושׁע of Natsareth.” יהושׁע said to them, “I am.”
And Yehuḏah, who delivered Him up, was also standing with them.
When, therefore, He said to them, “I am,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
Once more He asked them, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “יהושׁע of Natsareth.”
יהושׁע answered, “I said to you that I am. If, then, you seek Me, allow these to go,”
Take note of the Lord’s reply. It was I Am. This is the same answer God gave to Moses in Exodus 3:14 when Moses asked His Name. Up to that time, no one really knew God in the way we can know Him today. They did not know His Name, but we now know that God has many covenant Names, prefixed with the word Jehovah. I encourage you to visit my web site page titled I Am; the Covenant Names of God. It will reveal many things. Click Here. See also I Am He.
Abraham did not know this Name or any other of God’s covenant Names. He, like everyone else only knew Him then as He who has no name or as Elohim—the creator. When Jesus told the religious people who He was in John 8:58, they reacted, knowing what it meant.
The Yehuḏim, therefore, said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Aḇraham?”
יהושׁע said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Aḇraham came to be, I am.”
He was the creator. John also said:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. John 1:1-3
I have researched this for many years and reach the same conclusion another preacher shared with me, that when He said “I Am” an explosive force hit them like a shock-wave and knocked them to the ground. When Solomon dedicated the Temple, a cloud entered and the priests could not stand up because the presence of God entered like a thick cloud. This may be seen in 1 Kings 8 and 2 Chronicles 5. In my 53 years with the lord coming up on September 1st 2021, I have only seen that cloud once and it was awesome to say the least. It puts goosebumps on my goosebumps thinking of it. Friends, I tell you this much—the day is coming very soon now when we shall experience God’s reality in the church once again.
In the creation account, I Am said one word and something happened—something was created. When I Am spoke this in the garden, that same creative force was released. It blew them all over and Jesus had to stand there waiting for them to recover, so that they could arrest Him. I say that advisedly, but base it on scriptural precedents. When they took hold of Him, Jesus said that He could call on at least 2,208,000,000 angels to rescue Him. If you look at 2 Kings 19:35, one angel only slew 185,000 men.
I tried to do the maths on my calculator and it failed as it could not handle the number. All of those angels stood by, waiting for one single word, “Help”, that never came.
Mark says in Mark 14:50 that they all fled when He was arrested. I may be naive, but to me all means all, so this meant that all of the eleven disciples fled the scene. Watch this!
And a certain young man was following Him, having a linen cloth thrown around his naked body. And when they seized him, he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked. Mark 14:51-52
There have been several points of view about the identity of this man, one of which is that this was John. Some people suggest that he was John Mark, who traveled with Paul and Barnabas. I really do not know.
Mark describes him as a certain young man and not a certain disciple. The term refers to a young man or youth or to someone who was a young attendant or servant, perhaps Joseph’s servant. If this walled garden was privately owned, who owned it?
Perhaps Joseph of Arimathea owned it. He was one of Jesus’ disciples and went to Pilate seeking permission to bury Jesus.
The preparation process required wrapping Jesus in white linen. This young man was wrapped in linen. He had no other clothing. Why? In the garden at this time of year and at that time of the day, white linen cloth wrapped around anyone was not the kind of clothing to wear. It points to grave-clothes.
If I am correct, then we can only assume that he was dead and when I Am spoke, life came back into His body.
We know that when Jesus died, graves opened up and dead people came back to life, so this is not an unrealistic assumption.
I told you that this would be an interesting story!
Matthew says that Judas arrived with a group of armed men, describing this as a great multitude. A multitude can describe a seething mob of people, a crowd or group of people closely gathered together milling around or to a host, troop or army.
Judas knew that there would be eleven men with the Lord, so it seems to me that those men were ready for anything and not sure how to handle it, probably afraid. Perhaps some of them had heard about the things Jesus had been doing and now, in the middle of the night, they were to go into a walled garden to confront whatever it is they thought they would confront.
In the dark of night, shadows can seem to take on shapes. If you have seen Mel Gibson’s movie, The passion of the Christ, it portrays a kind of mystique or spookiness. Perhaps there had been a swirling mist to add to the uncertainty.
They most likely did not know what this Jesus fellow looked like, so Judas arranged a way to identify Him, little realizing that the Lord was waiting and had already submitted to the will of the Father.
...Judas, his once-trusted disciple, appeared, along with a large crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent to arrest Jesus by order of the ruling priests and Jewish religious leaders. Now, Judas, the traitor, had arranged to give them a signal that would identify Jesus, for he had told them, “Jesus is the one whom I will kiss. So grab him!”
Judas quickly stepped up to Jesus and said, “Shalom, Rabbi,” and he kissed him on both cheeks.
“My beloved friend,” Jesus said, “is this why you’ve come?” Then the armed men seized Jesus to arrest him. Matthew 26:47-50
I do not intend at this time to delve into the trial that was instigated by the ruling priests and Jewish religious leaders.
By intimidation, fear, bribery and political manipulation, they managed to get their way that was execution at the hand of the Romans.
Pilate scourged Jesus before he delivered Him to be crucified, so we need to understand what it meant to be scourged. Pilate had not found any problem with Jesus and wanted to release Him, but succumbed to political and probably to financial pressure and issued the order. The word Scourged is the Greek word Phragello.
It is horrific to say the least. Religion and religious art has not honestly portrayed the events of what we now call Easter.
What happened was one of the most sadistic, cruel and animalistic forms of punishment meted out by the Romans.
Scourging was considered to be one of their most feared and deadly weapons. It was so ghastly that the mere threat of scourging could control people. It could calm a crowd, bend the will of the strongest rebel or cause the most hardened criminal to cringe in fear.
Religious art reveals Jesus modestly covered with a loincloth, with a few cuts across His body but this is far from the truth.
The victim was stripped completely naked and bound to the whipping post. Being stripped caused shame enough but the anticipation of the first blow was worse. It caused the victim’s body to grow rigid, the muscles to knot in his stomach and the color to drain from his cheeks.
The scourging post was approximately two feet or 600 mm high to which a metal ring was fixed. The victim’s hands were tied over his head and his wrists were securely shackled to the metal ring to restrain his body from possible movement.
The scourge itself consisted of a short, wooden handle to which were affixed several 18 to 24 inch (500 to 600 mm) long straps of leather. Sharp objects like pieces of metal or bone were attached to the ends of the thongs.
Two men often engaged in the scourging process. They were sadists took great delight in torturing the victim, whilst standing on either side of the victim to strike so hard that the thongs lashed the entire back and wrapped around the body, cutting deeply thorough the skin, into the flesh and shredded everything in the process.
This way, the thongs also covered the entire torso, which meant that the chest and stomach were also lacerated.
The torturers often jerked backward to tear whole pieces of flesh from the body, with the result that the victim’s back, buttocks, chest, stomach, the back of the legs and even the face would soon be slashed.
Historical records describe a victim’s back as being so mutilated after a Roman scourging that his spine was sometimes exposed. Others recorded how the bowels of a victim would actually spill out through the open wounds created by the whip.
The early Church historian Eusebius said-
The veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victim were open to exposure. During the scourging, blood vessels were cut open so much that the victim would experience profuse loss of blood and bodily fluids. Because the body started bleeding profusely, the heart started pumping harder, and so blood gushed uncontrollably through the opened vessels. This loss of blood caused the victim’s blood pressure to drop drastically. The massive loss of bodily fluids induced an intense almost uncontrollable and painful thirst. Fainting from the pain, going into shock and such irregular heartbeat often causing cardiac arrest often happened.
The Jews were permitted by Law according to Deuteronomy 25:3 to give forty lashes to a victim, but because the fortieth lash usually proved fatal, the number of lashes given was reduced to thirty-nine. See 2 Corinthians 11:24. I previously shared a picture of a Jewish Passover Seder where Matzos could be seen. This is often specially baked and is striped and perforated.
I have been told that there are 39 such stripes and perforations, but cannot verify this. I have also been told that there are 39 main categories of diseases, but again cannot verify this. Nevertheless, the pattern is there.
Whilst Jews forbade such punishment to exceed 39 lashes, the Romans had no limitations. It is possible therefore that Jesus may have had more than forty lashes across His body. This may explain the additional outrage the Jews displayed towards Jesus.
Little wonder therefore the prophecies said that Jesus would be almost unrecognizable as a human being.
Isaiah 52:14 says-
As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.
Psalm 129:3 therefore takes on deep significance, but we must remember that this scourging was but the beginning.
This scourging was only the preparation for Jesus’ crucifixion! Matthew 27:26 says that he then delivered Jesus to be crucified.
It was at a place called Golgotha. This word has a Hebrew origin—gulgōlet. It means something round—like a skull, but, watch this—it is also the root of the word Galilee. Wow! Jesus spent a lot of time in Galilee. That cannot be a coincidence.
One meaning describes a round white rock that resembles a human head. You might see the shape in the picture that is supposedly the place where Jesus was crucified. This was the hill of crucifixion that was used by the Romans and one must ask why they chose such a place. Was it a matter of convenience? Did they deliberately pick it or were they “influenced” by God to use that place to fit in with His plan that had been formulated before the Roman empire was ever created? Unwittingly perhaps, they, Judas and the devil were all doing precisely what God wanted to bring us salvation. Peter said:
Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Acts 2:23
I would like you to look at a few key words in this verse, starting with determinate. In the Greek it is horizō meaning that at some previous time, God had appointed, declared, determined and ordained it to happen at His set time. The word counsel is boulē and it talks about purpose and intent. Foreknowledge is prognōsis. This means that God knew in advance, and planned for it to happen just as He wanted it and made sure it happened that way. There is more to it than that of course, but I have hopefully painted the picture for you that our salvation and relationship with God had been meticulously planned before the dawn of time. Calvary was when God “made it happen”.
When Jesus was taken up that rugged hill and nailed to the cross, it was as I have touched on already—the place of the skull that is just a rock formation—a smooth, rounded rock that “just happens” to look like a human skull. If it is such a rock formation, stop for a moment to ask when that rock formation was formed. How old is it? When God picked up a lump of clay and squeezed it in his hand to form a ball and call it the planet earth—He made that rock! But wait...there’s more!
And the LORD spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tabernacle of the congregation, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying, Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, after their families, by the house of their fathers, with the number of their names, every male by their polls; Numbers 1:1-2
You might wonder what that has to do with Easter. The Hebrew word for polls is golgoleth. It means “by their skulls”.
This was the best and most basic way to count people—head by head.
This indicates that Jesus’ redemptive death on the cross at the place of the skull provided salvation for every individual human who will ever live. It was as if God did a head count when He made the place of the skull, but still gave us freedom to make the choice. He knew how many people would accept this free gift that God had offered us and when we were added to this count, our names were added to the Lamb’s Book of Life...but then God knew we would.
What amazing love.
The Romans scourged Jesus mercilessly and it was not a pretty sight. It was a gruesome and a sickening sight, when all the hatred, spite and venom of the devil was unleashed at him through human agents. No man has ever suffered as this man suffered.
The bible says that he was spat upon, kicked and beaten and then scourged. He was so marred and disfigured... so wounded, bruised and battered to a pulp, with split lips, blackened eyes, great lumps of his hair torn from his face and his head and so savagely whipped, his back was torn to shreds so extensively that he was almost unrecognizable as a human.
What was the reason for these horrible inflictions? Was it just for some men’s’ sadistic and barbaric pleasure, or was there an ulterior motive?
Religious tradition and religious art has not always presented the truth, sometimes portraying Calvary as some form of noble act. To some extent it may have been noble, but the reality is vastly different.
Jesus is often pictured hanging there modestly covered with a loin cloth, a crown of thorns perched lightly on his head and a few marks on his body caused by whipping, but that is not correct. He was stripped stark naked and open to public gaze and ridicule as this was and still is a gross act of inflicting shame and disgrace on the victim.
The crown of thorns was rammed on his head tearing his scalp open. It has been said that the crown of thorns was plaited from what was called the Snake Vine, as the sap caused excruciating agony and made the face swell horribly. His back was torn to shreds, some commentators suggesting that many of the wounds not only tore great lumps of flesh from his body, but opened him up to the bone in places. Again, I ask a question, “Why”?
The word scourge is equivalent to the Italian word Scoriada, taken from two Latin words, Excoriare, which means to flay and the other is Corium, which means skin. A scourge is a multi-thong whip or lash, designed primarily to inflict corporal punishment. The typical scourge in Latin is Flagrum and in the English is Flagellum and has several thongs fastened to a handle. The scourge, or flail and the crook are the two symbols of power and domination depicted in the hands of Osiris Egyptian monuments and it seems that the flail depicted in Egyptian mythology was an agricultural instrument used to thresh wheat and not for corporal punishment.
In 1 Kings 12:11 which says My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions, the word scorpio (scorpion) is the Latin word for a Roman Flagrum. Hard material was affixed to multiple thongs to give a flesh-tearing ‘bite’.
The name testifies to the pain caused by the Arachnid, which is the family of scorpions, spiders and other eight-legged creatures, most of which can inflict painful, if not deadly bites.
We may wonder why this seemed so severe—so cruel or sadistic. Under the Law, certain judgments were made regarding miscarriage of justice and offenses made against other people. For example-
If men contend with each other, and a pregnant woman [interfering] is hurt so that she has a miscarriage, yet no further damage follows, [the one who hurt her] shall surely be punished with a fine [paid] to the woman’s husband, as much as the judges determine. But if any damage follows, then you shall give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burn for burn, wound for wound, and lash for lash. Exodus 21:22-25.
Deuteronomy 25:1-3 states-
If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked. And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number.
Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee.
Let me suggest to you that someone was offended and that controversy did exist between two parties—God and man.
Because of what we call original sin, the righteousness of God was violated and someone had to pay the price and the punishment was death. The results are poverty and sickness. This is not what God wants however, but the righteous Judge had passed sentence that had to be fulfilled to satisfy judgment.
God provided a substitute, His Son, Jesus Christ. Several matters had to be addressed and the full price paid. They were the sin issue, which was dealt with on the Cross when Jesus died in our stead, because of disobedience.
I said disobedience for a purpose and ask you to consider who or what was cursed? This could startle you. I always thought that Adam was cursed, but that might not be so. It seems that the serpent was cursed—but Adam was punished.
Adonai, God, said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all livestock and wild animals. You will crawl on your belly and eat dust as long as you live. Genesis 3:14 (emphasis mine)
It is true that there is a curse and it is equally true that Jesus redeemed us from that curse, but what is this curse?
No one knew it was a sin until it was told them. You do not know if you are breaking the law of the land if you do not know that such a law exists. When we were in Liberia, our hosts were amazed when we told them about our speed limits when driving a car. They had no such law. How do you know if it is wrong (or a sin) to do a certain thing or neglect to do it unless you are told it is? We have what we call conscience of course, but if we do not know—we just do not know.
God gave Moses His Law to tell them (and us) that such a thing is sin.
It was this Law that produced the curse. It acted like a schoolmaster, continually correcting us and putting us under condemnation because no human being could keep it. Only Jesus could do that. God gave Moses the Law as a temporary measure until the Lord came so that when someone sinned, they could do something about it.
This was the curse from which Jesus released us. He became that curse. Legalism in the church and an attempt to revert to The Law is an affront to God. For more information, see Deuteronomy 27:6, 29:21; Joshua 8:34; Nehemiah 10:29; Daniel 9:11; Galatians 3:10-13. Many of our faith doctrines, especially the prosperity doctrines are only half right! There are more curses in Deuteronomy than there are blessings.
As time seems to be racing away and we are getting closer to the end of this age, we must see and understand truth, nothing else. To fully satisfy the demands of righteous judgment in every aspect, Jesus had to become a substitute for everything.
Someone had to pay the price and the payment for sickness and disease was this punishment that was inflicted by way of beating. Psalm 89:19-37 touches on this.
Then thou spakest in vision to thy holy one, and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people. I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him: With whom my hand shall be established: mine arm also shall strengthen him. The enemy shall not exact upon him; nor the son of wickedness afflict him. And I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him.
But my faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him: and in my name shall his horn be exalted. I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers. He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.
Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.
If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven.
Isaiah 53 reveals how this was fulfilled.
Who has believed (trusted in, relied upon, and clung to) our message [of that which was revealed to us]? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been disclosed? For [the Servant of God] grew up before Him like a tender plant, and like a root out of dry ground; He has no form or comeliness [royal, kingly pomp], that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected and forsaken by men, a Man of sorrows and pains, and acquainted with grief and sickness; and like One from Whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or have any esteem for Him. Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy]. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole. All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way; andthe Lord has made to light upon Him the guilt and iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, [yet when] He was afflicted, He was submissive and opened not His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who among them considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living [stricken to His death] for the transgression of my [Isaiah’s] people, to whom the stroke was due? And they assigned Him a grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in His death, although He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief and made Him sick.
When You and He make His life an offering for sin [and He has risen from the dead, in time to come], He shall see His [spiritual] offspring, He shall prolong His days, and the will and pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see [the fruit] of the travail of His soul and be satisfied; by His knowledge of Himself [which He possesses and imparts to others] shall My [uncompromisingly] righteous One, My Servant, justify many and make many righteous (upright and in right standing with God), for He shall bear their iniquities and their guilt [with the consequences, says the Lord]. Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great [kings and rulers], and He shall divide the spoil with the mighty, because He poured out His life unto death, and [He let Himself] be regarded as a criminal and be numbered with the transgressors; yet He bore [and took away] the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors (the rebellious). Isaiah 53:1-12 (emphasis mine).
Isaiah revealed that it would be God... who afflicted Jesus. He did that for you. He used the Jewish religious leaders (not the ordinary people) and the Roman as a tool to achieve this.
Christ never committed any sin. He never spoke deceitfully. Christ never verbally abused those who verbally abused him.
When he suffered, he didn’t make any threats but left everything to the one who judges fairly. Christ carried our sins in his body on the cross so that freed from our sins, we could live a life that has God’s approval. His wounds have healed you.
You were like lost sheep. Now you have come back to the shepherd and bishop of your lives. 1 Peter 2:22-25.
This is why Jesus was beaten so savagely. Every time that scourge hit Him, God dealt with the source of sickness and disease.
It is said that the number of stripes that tore Jesus’ flesh apart represented the same number of disease groups that afflict us.
As the whip came down, cancers were dealt with. When the whip struck again the legal precedents were established to heal every form of blindness. The next time the lash hit Him every muscular disease no longer had legal hold over us. I could continue with more illustrations but this paints the picture.
When the Psalm writer said Their plowmen plowed long furrows up and down my back (Psalm 129:3), it was as if Jesus was thinking of you...
There is so much more I could share about the events of the cross. Why was an innocent man compelled to carry Jesus’ cross?
Why did He cry out “I thirst” and was given vinegar. The cross we often see in religious art and Hollywood movies might not have been anything like that. He was so badly punished that any human body would go into a state of shock, barely capable of walking, let alone carry such a huge burden. They depict it like two railway ties or sleepers and I doubt if I could lift one!
I do not intend to dwell any further on the suffering and torment He had. Suffice it to say that He went to the cross and died, but this is not the end of the story.
We always want to remember this of course, but we should not keep Him on the cross. Raised in an Anglican church, I was accustomed to seeing all kinds of religious art, including crosses. Each Easter, we had a tradition of receiving little crosses made out of palm leaves on Palm Sunday. A special service was held and during the ceremony, these little crosses were blessed.
We went to the front to receive our little crosses and I still fondly recall those early days, but....
Many years later, after I had been born again, someone gave me a necklace with a wooden cross that was supposedly taken from an olive tree from the Garden of Gethsemane. I was pleased to receive it.
This may be contrary to many peoples’ ideas, but one day the Lord told me to get rid of it saying that erection of crosses as we often see is offensive to Him. I thought it was an aid to remember, but He said that in many peoples’ minds they are keeping Him there. It’s food for thought.
The tomb is empty and He is risen and this is what Easter should be about.
When they crucified our Lord, they made a sign that they attached to His cross. It was written in the main languages of the time, Greek, Roman and Hebrew, thus symbolizing that it applies to all mankind, of every tongue everywhere that Jesus is King.
It did not say he was king. That was a profound prophetic declaration that I shall make again.
And there was also an inscription written over Him in letters of Greek, and Roman, and Heḇrew:
THIS IS THE SOVEREIGN OF THE YEHUḎIM. Luke 23:38
A fresh start
When you get to heaven there is one thing you should never look for and that is a shadow. There are none! You will not find any man-made thing there either—apart from the holes in Jesus’ hands, side and feet. They are not scars, but trophies.
When He came back from the dead, He appeared to the disciples on many occasions.
He appeared to Mary and I shall share more with you on that later, but will share what John said about the disciples first.
That evening, the disciples gathered together. And because they were afraid of reprisals from the Jewish leaders, they had locked the doors to the place where they met. But suddenly Jesus appeared among them and said, “Peace to you!”
Then he showed them the wounds of his hands and his side—they were overjoyed to see the Lord with their own eyes!
Jesus repeated his greeting, “Peace to you!” And he told them, “Just as the Father has sent me, I’m now sending you.” Then, taking a deep breath, he blew on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. I send you to preach the forgiveness of sins—and people’s sins will be forgiven. But if you don’t proclaim the forgiveness of their sins, they will remain guilty.” John 20:19-23
Thomas was not there. Like many people, he wanted proof. It is easy to talk about something, only to be asked to produce evidence. Religion really cannot produce proof, but when someone has a real testimony, that is a totally different matter.
A changed life is one. A healing is another. I’ve seen dead raised, received healing in my own body and with many other people, so know from experience based on scriptural foundations that healing is real.
Likewise, the physical resurrection is real, but many people doubt. Thomas did.
One of the twelve wasn’t present when Jesus appeared to them—it was Thomas, whose nickname was “the Twin.”
So the disciples informed him, “We have seen the Lord with our own eyes!”
Still unconvinced, Thomas replied, “There’s no way I’m going to believe this unless I personally see the wounds of the nails in his hands, touch them with my finger, and put my hand into the wound of his side where he was pierced!”
Then eight days later, Thomas and all the others were in the house together. And even though all the doors were locked, Jesus suddenly stood before them! “Peace to you,” he said. Then, looking into Thomas’ eyes, he said, “Put your finger here in the wounds of my hands. Here—put your hand into my wounded side and see for yourself. Thomas, don’t give in to your doubts any longer, just believe!”
Then the words spilled out of his heart—“You are my Lord, and you are my God!”
Jesus responded, “Thomas, now that you’ve seen me, you believe. But there are those who have never seen me with their eyes but have believed in me with their hearts, and they will be blessed even more!”
You may not have literally seen Jesus that way, but many people have, including myself—but you believe and because you believe you are blessed! Jesus said so. John added that Jesus did more.
Jesus went on to do many more miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not even included in this book. But all that is recorded here is so that you will fully believe that Jesus is the Anointed One, the Son of God, and that through your faith in him you will experience eternal life by the power of his name! John 20:24-31
The very last verse John wrote in his Gospel said that the Lord did many more things that are not recorded. I would be a fool to try to say what they were, but this reveals to me that there is much more about God than we realize. This is one reason why I keep asking Him the questions I do and why I do not always accept the status quo. Neither should you.
Therefore when He told Mary not to touch Him I asked why. He invited Thomas to do that, but was quick to avoid contact with Mary. Why? We shall see.
His resurrection was a beginning. Life will never be the same since and that is the real issue. If He never rose from the dead, everything was of no consequence. There is no hope and we are doomed, but Calvary was the start of a completely new era for mankind. Jesus who knew no sin became sin. The Father could not look on sin and turned His back on the Lord and the best way I can describe this is that He was waiting...
Looking at Hebrews 9 now, we see a progressive or unfolding pattern. Although the first scriptural reference started back in Exodus 25, Jesus was the lamb who had been slain before time began.
Now in the first covenant there were specific rules for worship including a sanctuary on earth to worship in.
When you entered the tabernacle you would first come into the holy chamber where you would find the lampstandand the bread of his presence on the fellowship table.
Then as you pass through the next curtain you would enter the innermost chamber called, the holiest sanctuary of all.It contained the golden altar of incense and the ark of covenant mercy, which was a wooden box covered entirely with gold. And placed inside the ark of covenant mercy was the golden jar with mystery-manna inside,Aaron’s resurrection rod, which had sprouted, and the stone tablets engraved with the covenant laws. On top of the lid of the ark were two cherubim, angels of splendor, with outstretched wings overshadowing the throne of mercy.But now is not the time to discuss further the significant details of these things.
So with this prescribed pattern of worship the priests would routinely go in and out of the first chamber to perform their religious duties.
And the high priest was permitted to enter into the Holiest Sanctuary of All only once a year and he could never enter without first offering sacrificial blood for both his own sins and for the sins of the people. Now the Holy Spirit uses the symbolsof this pattern of worship to reveal that the perfect way of holiness had not yet been unveiled. For as long as the tabernacle stood it was an illustration that pointed to our present time of fulfillment, demonstrating that offerings and animal sacrifices had failed to perfectly cleanse the conscience of the worshiper.
For this old pattern of worship was a matter of external rules and rituals concerning food and drink and ceremonial washings which was imposed upon us until the appointed time of heart-restoration had arrived.
But now the Anointed One has become the King-Priest of every wonderful thing that has come.For he serves in a greater, more perfect heavenly tabernacle not made by men. And he has entered once and forever into the Holiest Sanctuary of All, not with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the sacred blood of his own sacrifice. And he alone has made our salvationsecure forever!
This was to be the very last offering to be made for sin.
We know that He rose on the third day and I shall not comment on those three days. What I really want to share with you is what happened during or after He rose again.
There has been much conjecture about her identity and where she fitted into the scheme of things. The Gospels speak of her arrival with others at the tomb on that fateful day. In Mark 16, the angel of the Lord told them that He was not there. Where was He? Looking at the highlighted parts of the above scripture, we see that the high priest performed two functions—he had to first offer sacrificial blood for his own sins—and then offer sacrificial blood for the sins of the people. Jesus was sinless. We agree on that, but if He had to fulfill all the imagery and typology of prophecy and in particular, be the anti-type for the Tabernacle and Tabernacle worship, He had to offer blood for his own sin first!
This poses a problem, or does it?
... God made the only one who did not know sin to become sin for us, so that we who did not know righteousness might become the righteousness of God through our union with him. 1 Corinthians 5:23
As I kept asking these questions, I suddenly saw that there was a time when Jesus took on the sin of the world. He who knew no sin became sin. This meant that “His sin” had to be dealt with first, just as the High Priest had to deal with his one sin first, before atonement could be made for others. I hope you can see this. I sat for a moment in stunned silence when I saw this.
The love God has for us is amazing and I suspect that we do not even know the half of it.
If He was sin, then to atone for our sins, He had to first deal with that sin issue, but the question is when and to answer that we must return to the symbolism of the Tabernacle. This is a massive topic in itself that should be dealt with separately.
Suffice it to say that there was only one entrance into the outer court and we know that Jesus is the door. There is no other way to God than through Him.
The first thing encountered was a brazen altar where burnt offerings were made. Next was the brass laver where the priest washed himself with water before going towards the tent. This is symbolic of washing of water by the word. He then entered into the tent and this too had only one entrance. There was no natural light inside. Illumination came solely by the oil in the golden candlestick and oil is symbol of the anointing and the Holy Spirit. This means that our illumination can not be by natural means, but by the anointing of the Spirit.
There was the table of shewbread and at this point, I’d like to remind you that Jesus is the bread of life.
Directly ahead was the altar of incense representing the prayers of the saints. It was directly in front of the veil and present only inside the holy place and not in the outer court—not out in the natural realm in public. Real prayer is supposed to be private, or as the Lord said...in our closet.
Before the High Priest entered into the Holy of Holies, he had to ensure he was properly prepared to bring in the blood to sprinkle on the Ark.
There was a prescribed order of progression and I now put it to you that Jesus followed such principles.
Think it through. Pray it over.
On that first day of the week, John said that Mary Magdalene came to the sepulcher to find it empty and told Peter and “the disciple Jesus loved” about her find. They returned and saw the napkin and linen clothes in the empty tomb.
In Mark’s account they saw a young man in a white garment who told them to tell the disciples—and Peter—that He had risen. Even here at a crucial time, the Lord made sure that Peter (who must have been in a severe emotional crisis) was assured that He still loved him. Later in John, The Lord dealt with his denials. God really knows, understands and cares if and when we goof off. This is important, because we can easily fall into guilt and self recrimination and perhaps expose ourselves whist we are vulnerable to the accuser of the brethren.
In John 20, as with the other accounts, they were perplexed, not yet understanding the scriptures. The Lord can stand right in front of us and say something and we may not comprehend what He means until illumination comes. I studied for years for a doctorate and the theology did not really provide real answers and workable truth, so many things of God were still a complete mystery to me until one day understanding suddenly came. Such revelation comes by the Holy Spirit, so if you cannot see the light so to speak, quit trying to get it together in your own ability and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you.
John said that they went away to their own home. They still owned property! Peter was married! His fishing business was still intact, so we need to look closer into traditional teachings for the truth. The Greek word is Heauteu and this means that they had quit. Yes, I did say quit. That is exactly what Peter meant in chapter 21 when he said, I go a fishing. That word is Hupoago and this tells me that they were real to life, you cut me and I bleed people—not “special” in the way religious tradition often portrays them.
Peter and John returned home, but Mary stayed behind, saw two angels and started weeping. Most people need reassurance because the initial reaction to seeing an angel is usually fear and flight! There are numerous scriptural accounts when a person is told, “Fear not”. I’ve seen angels several times and understand why we need such assurance. It’s awesome, but the bible says that Mary wept, rather than flee! I believe that she wept, because of the relationship they had shared. Some commentators have said that she was a woman of low moral character, but it is more likely that she was a woman of repute, was quite wealthy and came from the place called Magdala. Her name could mean obstinacy or rebelliousness and I find that interesting, because such traits may at times lead to spiritual problems. From what I understand, Jesus cast 7 evil spirits from her, so her situation was serious.
It seems to me that the more you are forgiven, the more you show love in return. Jesus had done so much for her, that she became a close follower who supported Jesus because of the love He showed her. Please never forget your first love.
When she saw Jesus, she did not recognize Him at first. Had His appearance changed?
The two disciples in Luke 24, one of whom was Cleophas, were having a heated debate when Jesus joined them and they never recognized Him either, so it is quite possible we may have a divine encounter and not know it, or know it at first.
We are told that we can entertain angels without being aware of it. Later, everyone recognized Him.
Jesus asked her why she was crying and when she explained, He turned to her and said one word—Mary.
Her response was a normal one. She wanted to grab him and hug Him as you or I would want to do, but He told her to back off.
Over those few years, surely He would have spoken her name before. He knows us all by name. Perhaps she asked Him if He wanted a drink and He replied, “Thank you Mary”. What was so different this time to cause her reaction?
“Mary, don’t hold on to me now, for I haven’t yet ascended to God, my Father. And he’s not only my Father and God, but now he’s your Father and your God! Now go to my brothers and tell them what I’ve told you, that I am ascending to my Father—and your Father, to my God—and your God!” John 20:17
It seems to me that at that point, Jesus as our Great High Priest, had a task to fulfill.
To do that, He had to follow the principles God had laid down. He had to follow rte pattern.
This meant that, as a priest, He had to enter into the Outer court and go past the Brazen Altar.
Please remember what happened there—burnt offering!
He then had to go to the Brass Laver, where the priest had to bathe. When looking down, the priest could see his own reflection in the water, mirrored by the brass that was taken from womens’ mirrors. To a priest this referred to the washing of water by the word and this is something we must all experience. As I ponder on that, the fact that Jesus is The Word, comes to mind.
He then had to enter into the tent itself through that single door and into the Holy Place where the golden candlestick stood on one side, the Table of Shew bread on the other and the Altar of Incense ahead.
Beyond that was the veil.
It was beyond that veil where the Ark of the Covenant stood and where the High Priest carried the blood.
If Jesus is our Great High Priest—which He is, He had to do all that, carrying blood—His.
He had to yet sprinkle it on the Ark, just as the High Priest had to do every year, but this was to be the ultimate and final offering for all time. Little wonder He would not let her touch Him.
We still need to determine why Jesus had to remain in the grave before appearing on the third day.
The Third Day can simply mean “a short period of time” and if this is correct, then Jesus simply meant that He would be dead for a short period of time. Certain people once thought that the spirit remained near a deceased person for 3 days, before finally departing, so perhaps to “prove” that He died, He made sure everyone knew He had really died, but I think there is more to it than that.
The Third Day is often mentioned in scripture. In Genesis 22:4 Abraham saw the place where he was to make sacrifice on the third day. We see this Third Day in Genesis 42:18 when Jacob sent his sons to Joseph during that famine and Joseph started to deal with them.
There mention of a Third Day in Joshua 3, just before Joshua led the people across Jordan into the Promised Land.
Come, and let us turn back to יהוה. For He has torn but He does heal us, He has stricken but He binds us up. After two days He shall revive us, on the third day He shall raise us up, so that we live before Him. So let us know, let us pursue to know יהוה. His going forth is as certain as the morning. And He comes to us like the rain, like the latter rain watering the earth.
Jesus spoke of Jonah’s three-day experience as seen in Jonah 1:17.There are many more instances like that, so there must be meaning. Let us see:
God is a truine God. The three persons in the Trinity are The Father, The Son and The Spirit.
There were 3 Seraphim who cried out in Isaiah 6:3, “Holy, holy, holy”. Perhaps this was for each of the three persons in the Trinity. See also Revelation 4:8.
God has three attributes of omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence.
Nature, or God’s creation comprises three elements or kingdoms—animal, vegetable and mineral.
What we call time has 3 elements of past, present and future.
Man deals with three components of thought, word and deed and we are composed of spirit, soul and body.
The Blessing seen in Numbers:6:23-24 are three-fold—The Lord bless thee and keep thee; The Lord make His face shine upon thee; and be gracious unto thee; The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
Was this a blessing from each of the persons in the Trinity?
We see something interesting when Jehovah God came to Abraham in In Genesis 18:1-2. Three persons were there.
Adonai appeared to Avraham by the oaks of Mamre as he sat at the entrance to the tent during the heat of the day.
He raised his eyes and looked, and there in front of him stood three men.
We read that “they said” then “he said” and “And the Lord said” The whole account finishes when in verse 33 we see And the Lord went His way.
We also see in Genesis 1 that God had created everything that was necessary to sustain life, before creating living creatures and then in verse 13, we see:
So there was evening, and there was morning, a third day.
Immediately after that, God created the stars, sun and the moon separating day from night and created the seasons, saying that this would be as signs. Something new had started. It is evident therefore that there was a Divine plan. I will not try to suggest what it is, because there may be more to it all yet that is still being unfolded. Paul said:
...without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. 1 Timothy3:16
This is one reason why I do not accept traditional teachings without testing them. There is much more to our traditional Christmas ands Easter stories, that are nice and that we all like, without us getting the full and truthful picture.
Jesus stopped Mary from touching Him—then, but allowed Himself to be touched later. The one thing that really stood out to me is that He called her by her name Mary. If, when we consider all of the factors involved, some of which I just shared (and there must be more), He knew her name before Genesis 1:1. This means that He knew you also and I shall leave you with that thought. Easter is a new beginning for us all.
Mary was important. Peter was important. You and I are important. If the roles were reversed and you were standing there perplexed, emotional, lost and forlorn, He would say your name.
I hope that this study been a blessing to you. I also hope that have whetted your appetite to did for more...
Subscribe to our Email publcations
Our ministry is registered with the Australian Government