Jesus Has Risen
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.
But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached — how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
“We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
I have a young colleague who started with our team about 6 months ago. In fact he was my student 15 months previous. He is a 23 year old Jewish boy.
Over the last few months we,together with other Christian colleagues have been discussing the link between Christianity and the Jewish faith. He observes all the Jewish holidays or festivals and as such are well versed in what Judaism is all about. What amazes him mostly is that we as Christians know a lot about the Old Testament, sometimes,according to him,more than some Jews.
We talk about Jesus,His life and what He means to us as Christian believers. We are not trying to convince him that he should believe in Jesus as The Messiah - hopefully that revelation will be made known to him by God the more we share Jesus with him.
The last week has been particularly interesting. It has been our Holy Week as Christians, with Jesus crucifixion as part of this. My Jewish friend has been observing Pesach or Passover as we know it.
The first Passover happened when the Israelites were instructed by God to sacrifice a lamb - to eat all of the lamb and smear the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of their homes, to indicate to the Angel of Death to pass over their homes when the first born of the Egyptians were to be killed. They were to celebrate a Seder meal, meaning no food with wheat.
Now,there are comparisons with Jesus and His last Passover meal or Supper, He had with his disciples - a Seder meal and sharing communion. Jesus was to be sacrificed for us, for our sins, to make atonement.
There are two other comparisons between Passover and Easter, I would like to share. For the Jewish community this period celebrates the liberation from Egyptian slavery,for us as Christians,the resurrection of Jesus is central to the faith and promises of the liberation of humanity from sin and death.
Usually Passover and Easter are celebrated around Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Spring celebrates freshness and newness after Winter. Both Passover and Easter celebrate rebirth. For us as Christians the theme of rebirth in the resurrection of Jesus is explicit. For Jews the moment of liberation of the Israelites and their return to their ancestral land represent the rebirth of a people in a state of dying out through the oppression of slavery. Both Passover and Easter are joined at their core in finding us rejoicing in the defeat of death and the gift of life restored.
Friends, Jesus said that He came to give us life. In Him we find freedom and newness of life, we find liberty and rebirth. On Friday when He was crucified for our sins, He gave us the keys to freedom - we turn away from sin, but also not feel condemned when we fail. When we turn to Him, when we repent, God says that He will remember our sins no more.
Today,our Jesus has risen - we are resurrected,we are given new life - we are reborn; a new creature in Christ. Let us today accept our liberation from sin and death, and step out born again of The Spirit in Christ because He paid the price for us, forever.
Would we be counted among the doubters hiding in the shadow cast by that cruel cross?
Or, when challenged, like Peter openly deny you?
There are times, Lord when doubts assail and the distance between us seems to increase.
There are times, Lord when sin has its hold, like a barrier between us that will not move.
Who is there we can turn to when we feel so overwhelmed?
Who can roll away the stone and reveal the empty tomb?
No-one but you, Jesus, no-one but you!
The Lord's Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done
on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespassed against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
Forever and ever.
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