He is Risen!

We are told in the Gospel of Matthew on the first day of the week (Sunday) Mary Magdalene and Mary- the mother of Christ, were on their way to the garden tomb of Jesus… this was the third Jewish day since Jesus’ crucifixion.

They are met by an angel of the Lord… and the angel told the ladies in Matthew 28:6… “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.”

They were at the Garden Tomb– that term is a bit on an oxymoron (a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction). Why? Because what is a garden? It is a place where life begins. And what is a tomb? It is a place where life ends.

But this particular Garden Tomb is not a contradiction in terms at all. Because when we go to the Garden Tomb of Jesus as the Mary’s did… we are in a very real sense dying to ourselves- our old, corrupt self… and we are being raised to life- life eternal… new life, because of the Resurrection of Jesus… His victory over sin and death!

The Garden Tomb is truly a cosmic mystery. The only way we get to the Garden  is by first going to the Tomb.

And we do that by crucifying the flesh (which is trusting by faith in the finished work of Jesus upon the cross)- it is what Jesus went to the cross for.

The Cross leads to the Garden Tomb and that always leads to Life Eternal!

Celebrate saints! He is risen indeed!!

Why the Cross?

As we begin our journey into the Passion Week. In humility, I ask “Lord, why did it need to be a Cross?”

Could not a loving, merciful all-powerful God simply have asked humanity… “Are you sorry for your sin? You are? Then, I forgive you.” But He did not, why?

Well, let’s begin by verifying biblically that Jesus indeed go to the Cross…

Reading John 19:16-18… So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified. They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between.

Yes, indeed Jesus went to the Cross. To get to this point in scripture and in history- Old Testament prophecy needed to be fulfilled, and it was. Jesus was betrayed by Judas for 30 pieces of silver and Judas has subsequently hung himself in the potter’s field in fulfillment of Psalm 41:9 and Zechariah 11:12-13. His disciples had abandoned him in fulfillment of Zechariah 13:7. He was put on trial but did not answer… with the High Priest asking in Mark 14:60Do you answer nothing” the silence of innocence as foretold in Isaiah 53:7He was found innocent by Pilate… in fulfillment of Isaiah 53:9 and although finding no fault in Him… Pilate handed Jesus over to be killed in a most brutal way- Crucified… in fulfillment of Psalm 22:14-17.

So a reason for the Cross may be because the Old Testament prophecies needed to be completed.

But then we read the words of the old fisherman…in 1 Peter 3:18, where Peter tells us… For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit

From this, we see that a purpose of the Cross was that it was Substitutionary. The just: Jesus… Who is Holy… took the place of the unjust, you and I- because of our sinful nature… and He took on that Cross… for all humanity… once for all … because there is none without sin, as we are told in Romans 3:23 … For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Yep, even you are a sinner:-)

But I believe to truly understand… why the Cross? We need to go back…  way back. To the times of animal sacrifice in the Tabernacle and the Temple… of these sacrifices we are told in Leviticus 17:11… For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement. This was written thousands of years before science knew this… and although the Bible is not a Book of science… it is never wrong concerning things of science… life as we know it exists because of our blood flow…

Hebrews 9:22 confirms and agrees with Leviticus 17:11 by saying: And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

You see dear people… the Cross was absolutely necessary because… our sin, our rebellion, our human nature is so corrupted by our own self-interests… our lusts of the flesh… that it took perfect, clean blood to be made available as a blood transfusion… so to speak… to get us back into Fellowship with a Holy God.

And that is what Jesus did for us on the Cross… when we trust in His finished work on the Cross… He donated His blood for us! On the Cross!

For, again Peter tells us is 1 Peter 1:18-19… knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,  but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

And with that perfect act of love… that sacrifice of obedience to the Father for us…. humanity, His creation… we are now as Hebrews 10:10 says: sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

We are sanctified… set apart…. Made righteous… by the blood of Jesus… God no longer see’s us in our sin… but in the Son by the blood of Christ… we are forgiven and made news. Glorious!! May this bless you as we begin to enter this Holy week of Passion. Amen.