Sunday - Jesus Rises as Firstborn from the Dead!

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We start not in the Gospels, but from the writings of the Apostle Paul in

1 Corinthians 15v1-8: Now I declare to you, brothers, the Good News which I preached to you, which also you received, in which you also stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold firmly the word which I preached to you-unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers at once, most of whom remain until now, but some have also fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all, as to the child born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also.

That was the Apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthian church about the Jesus having been raised from the dead - physically!  All four Gospels, Matthew, Mark Luke and John, tell us that Jesus was crucified, died and was buried in a tomb. What do these four Gospels say about the Jesus' resurrection or rising from the dead?

Let us first look at the sequence of events over the period of time after Jesus death till He ascended.  Now remember, the Gospels are documents which have recorded historical events.

The tomb is empty

  • Two Marys watch the burial: (Matthew27v61, Mark 15v47, Luke23v54-55)
  • Roman soldiers guard the tomb and place an official Roman seal upon it: (Matthew 27v62-66)
  • Women prepare burial spices then rest: (Luke 23v56)
  • An angel rolls the stone away: (Matthew 28v2-4)
  • Women arrive at dawn with spices: (Matthew 28v1, Mark 16v1-4, Luke 24v1-3, John 20v1)
  • Angels appear to women: (Matthew 28v5-7, Mark 16v5-7, Luke 24v4-8)
  • Women dart back to tell disciples: (Matthew 28v8, Mark 16v8, Luke 24v9-11, John 20v2)
  • Peter and John investigate the empty tomb: (Luke 24v12, John 20v3-9)
  • Peter and John go home: (Luke 24v12, John 20v10)
  • Mary Magdalene weeps by the tomb: (John 20v11)
  • Mary sees two angels: (John 20v12-13)

Jesus' appearances

  • Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene: (Mark 16v9, John 20v14-17)
  • Jesus appears to the other women: (Matthew 28v9-10)
  • Women report to the disciples: (Mark 16v10-11, John 20v18)
  • Guards testify to the priests: (Matthew 28v11-15)
  • Jesus meets two people on the Emmaus Road: (Mark 16v12-13, Luke 24v13-32)
  • Jesus appears to Simon Peter: (1 Corinthians 15v5, Luke 24v34)
  • 2 report to disciples in Jerusalem: (Luke 24v33-35)
  • Jesus appears to the Disciples less Thomas: (Luke 24v36-43, John 20v19-24)
  • Disciples report to Thomas: (John 20v25)
  • Jesus appears to the Disciples and Thomas: (Mark 16v14, John 20v26-29)
  • Jesus appears to seven people: (John 21v1-14)
  • Jesus questions Peter 3 times: (John 21v15-23)
  • Jesus appears to 500 people: (1 Corinthians 15v6)
  • Jesus appears to James: (1 Corinthians 15v7)

Evidences for the resurrection

These facts remain for the resurrection.  Look at them and study them.

Notice the changed attitude of the disciples after seeing the risen Jesus. They changed from defeated, cowardly people to victorious, brave people.  Nobody who could have produced the dead body of Jesus, did so. Their silence is as significant as the preaching of the Apostles.  Or take the multiple appearances of Jesus to various numbers of individuals and groups of people at,  various times of the day and in differing circumstances.  This shows that Jesus' resurrection was physical in nature! Some people say Jesus' resurrection was spiritual in nature but not physical. But the amount of people that saw Him physically afterwards dispels that particular myth. What about the current tangible evidence - the survival and inordinate growth and impact of the early church and that the church is still growing 2000 years later. If there was no bodily resurrection of Jesus' would people really have risked persecution and death for knowing a lie?  One or two people maybe, but not hundreds and thousands!

Dealing with Doubters

Yet people still doubt.  Let us say Jesus didn't rise from the dead. Surely the authorities, both Jewish and Roman, would have produced his dead body in order to quench this new movement! But they didn't, and the reason they didn't is because there was no body to produce!  Would the disciples have really risked death for telling and maintaining a lie about the risen Jesus? They were beaten, confused, defeated and dispersed men until they saw Jesus truly did rise from the dead. After seeing Him, they were transformed and victorious people.

I have had people say to me that somebody (even the disciples) stole the body. Hardly likely, and if that had occurred, for what reason? How would they have got past the Roman Guard and moved the stone a great distance from the tomb?  This very reason is what the Jewish authorities tried to perpetuate by way of a bribe, in Matthew 28v11-15 "Now while the disciples of Jesus were going, behold, some of the guards came into the city, and told the chief priests all the things that had happened. When they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave a large amount of silver to the soldiers, saying, "Say that his disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. If this comes to the governor's ears, we will persuade him and make you free of worry." So they took the money and did as they were told. This saying was spread abroad among the Jews, and continues until this day."

Then we have the swoon theory. Jesus didn't die but merely fainted and recovered consciousness in the tomb. Even the sceptics disagree with this theory, one of whom said "It is impossible that a being who had stolen half-dead out of the sepulchre, who crept about weak and ill, wanting medical treatment, who required bandaging, strengthening and indulgence, and who still at last yielded to His sufferings, could have given to the disciples the impression that He was a Conqueror over death and the grave, the Prince of Life".

Or perhaps, they all went to the wrong tomb. That's it - they went to the wrong tomb. Whilst one person may have gone to a wrong tomb, not everyone would have done.  Besides, the gospel accounts tell us that people were waiting outside the tomb where Jesus was buried!  Surely Joseph would know which tomb Jesus was buried in, seeing as Joseph owned it!

Lastly, Jesus didn't die on the cross but somebody was substituted for him. This is certainly untenable, given the rigidity and strict record keeping of Roman rule and with the eyes of the Jewish hierarchy watching.  This conjecture is a lie of satan, because he knows the significance of Jesus having risen physically from the dead.

Significance of the Resurrection

The resurrection of Jesus Christ provided the central theme for the sermons and teaching in the early church (Acts 1v22; Acts 4v33, Acts 17v18) and certainly within Paul-ine theology. But what significance is there in Jesus' resurrection?

The resurrection proved and vindicated all Jesus' teaching and claims as the suffering Servant and attested to His being fully God and the last Judge of all mankind (Isaiah 53v10-12; Acts 2v36; Acts 3v13-15; Romans 1v4).  The resurrection, declared God's approval of Jesus obedient service and the fulfilment of all the Old Testament promises, resulting in forgiveness of sins and salvation being only found in and through Jesus Christ, which was the prime motive for evangelism in the early church (Acts 2v32, Romans 4v24-25).  Jesus' resurrection is a sign of the bodily resurrection for all believers in Him, giving a new attitude to death and transforming hopes (1 Corinthians 15v12-58, Romans 8v10, 2 Corinthians 4v14; 1 Peter 1v3 & 21).  As the resurrected King, Jesus now intercedes for us and has perfected the redemption of all those who choose to follow Him (Romans 5v10; Hebrews 6v20, 1 Peter 1v21).

Finally the resurrection of Jesus' physical body is a sure victory over satan, sin and death.  All three are conquered and squashed.  Satan is a defeated creature and will do anything to drag people into defeat with him. The power of sin is conquered, and sin's grip is overcome if you are a believer in Jesus Christ.  Finally, as I said earlier, death has been beaten, because those who believe and trust in Jesus Christ will live forever with him - death is not the end but a beginning.  If Jesus Christ did not physically rise from the dead then as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15v12-19 "Now if Christ is preached, that he has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been raised. If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith also is in vain. Yes, we are found false witnesses of God, because we testified about God that he raised up Christ, whom he didn't raise up, if it is so that the dead are not raised. For if the dead aren't raised, neither has Christ been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. Then they also who are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all people most pitiable." Or let me put it in my own words - if Jesus Christ did not physically rise from the dead, we as Christians are the product of the greatest delusional lie and are the most foolish of all people.

Jesus still meets people today

But, as we have seen, the good news is that Jesus is still living.  The rest of the four Gospels and the beginning of the book of Acts tell us a little more of what Jesus did before He ascended into the heavens.  But Jesus still meets with people at the present time. How does He do this?

Jesus walks with us, whereever we go and in particular in the darkest periods of our life. Just as he did with the two people on the road to Emmaus, he walks with those who proclaim to follow Him (Mark 16v12-13, Luke 24v13-32). Jesus speaks whenever the Bible is faithfully preached and read from, just as He opened the eyes of those on the Emmaus road when He explained the Scriptures (Luke 24v27). Jesus meets us in the Communion or Lord's Supper, with the bread and wine, which symbolise His flesh and blood as an act of remembrance of what He did for humanity.

But that is not the end, because Jesus has promised that He is coming again.  Not as a baby next time, but as an all conquering Son of God in judgment to gather those who follow Him.  Are you ready?

Thank you.

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Way of the Cross

Way of the Cross - Taken when I visited Jerusalem during Holy Week in 1992... These Franciscan monks re-enact the walk of our Saviour Jesus Christ up the Via Dolorosa (Way of Grief/Suffering)...

Friday - Jesus' Last Breath

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Isaiah 52v13-14: See, my servant will act wisely he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness-

Isaiah 53v10-11: Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

Those words were spoken of the coming Messiah, by the prophet Isaiah centuries before Jesus Christ. Together we have looked at during this Easter series, Jesus' mission and identity and have placed Him as the Messiah spoken about throughout the Old Testament, including Isaiah.  We have looked at Jesus' last teaching, last prayers and the events of his last night.  Following his betrayal he is now facing trial in a Roman court, being interrogated by Pontius Pilate. Now, as we look together briefly at John 19, let us see what happened to Jesus Christ - His condemnation, crucifixion, death and burial.

1. What of Jesus?

a. Jesus was Condemned

Pilate gave in and permitted the flogging and mockery in the hope of shaming Jesus' accusers (John 19vs. 1-3).  Pilate affirmed Jesus' innocence after the scourging (John 19v4). Jesus' refusal to answer stung Pilate into reminding Jesus of his Roman authority (John 19v10). Jesus, however, corrected Pilate's idea of authority and told him that although Pilate may have power on earth, his power did reach beyond earth (John 19v11). Jesus knew that his work of bring people back to God in a loving relationship did not rest on the actions of a mere Roman governor.

Pilate was more concerned with his own position than he was for justice. In all this, we see Jesus as the true Passover lamb.

b. Jesus was Crucified

Jesus bearing his own cross, was killed as a common criminal (John 19v17).  We read, that Pilate was responsible for fixing the sign "The King of the Jews" (John 19v21-22). The clothes of condemned prisoners were given to soldiers on duty (John 19v23). Even when he himself was in agony, Jesus showed concern for his mother, committing her to the Apostle John (John 19vs.26-27).

The crucifixion site "was purposely chosen to be outside the city walls because the Law forbade such within the city walls... for sanitary reasons... the crucified body was sometimes left to rot on the cross and serve as a disgrace, a convincing warning and deterrent to passers-by." Sometimes, the subject was eaten while alive and still on the cross by wild beasts. Jesus face was beaten beyond recognition and the scourging reduced his flesh to something like raw hamburger mince.  The whips used has pieces of glass and rocks stuck to the cord so as to inflict as much damage as possible.  He had a crown of thorns pushed into his scalp.

In Jesus' final moments he uttered "I am thirsty." (John 19v28) and "It is finished." (John 19v30).  The desire of the Jews (John 19v32) to fulfil their rituals was important because the Sabbath fell within the Passover festival.  The breaking of legs (John 19vs.32-33) sped up the process of death. The piercing of Jesus' side, and the flow of blood and water proved Jesus was really dead (John 19v34).

c. Jesus was Buried

Joseph of Arimithea and Nicodemus buried Jesus. The significance of "in which no-one had ever been laid" (John 19v41) is to demonstrate that the body of Jesus at no point came into contact with the decay of a dead body.  But his burial is not the end of the story.  Tomorrow we will look at some of the other character & events that happened around the cross, and then on Sunday we will look at the end of the story.  But before we leave today, lets investigate what Jesus' death on a Roman cross two thousand years ago means for humanity today and why He had to die on a cross in the first place.

2. What Has Jesus' Death Done For All Mankind?

All human beings, in their natural state, are born sinners and have rebelled against God (Romans 3v23).  However, because of Jesus' death on the cross God offers forgiveness (Ephesians 1v7), Peace (Romans 5v1) and reconciliation with God, so that we are no longer His enemies (2 Corinthians 5v19).  Through the cross, and only through the cross, we are made just before God (Romans 3v24-26), it cleanses us from sin (1 John 1v7) and makes us right before Almighty God (2 Corinthians 5v21). Because of the Cross, we have direct access to God (Ephesians 2v18) and Jesus Christ  intercedes for us (Hebrews 2v17-18).  Because of Jesus Christ's death on a Roman cross, all those who follow Him have freedom from the power of slavery to sin (Galatians 5v1) and freedom from the power of the devil (Hebrews 2v 14).  None of the above things are true if we do not follow Jesus.

3. Why did Jesus go to the cross?

a The problem!

Sin is what separates humans from God and as a consequence leads to both a spiritual and physical death (Romans 3v23, Romans 6v23, Isaiah 59v2). In the Old Testament, sins were dealt with by blood sacrifices of atonement as coverings for sin (Leviticus 17v11), for without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin (Hebrews 9v22). A blood sacrifice is God's way of dealing with sin. These blood sacrifices of the Old Testament signified several things:

  • It provided a covering for sin.
  • It showed the great cost of sin.
  • It was an exchange or substitution.
  • It was only always going to be a temporary measure as it pointed forward to Jesus' death

b. The Solution!

The solution lies not in continual animal sacrifice of the Old Testament because Hebrews 10v4 reminds us that the blood of animals cannot take away sin but was only a veneer or covering. That was why it was necessary to repeat time and time again! It is only through the death of Jesus, that sin is taken away (Hebrews 9:v11-15, 26-28), because Jesus is our permanent sacrificial substitute!

c. Substitution

Jesus died for our sin, the just for the unjust (1 Peter 3v18). That is how God is both just and the Justifier of sinners. That is why Jesus needed to be both fully God and fully human! If he lacked either, it would not be the full substitutionary sacrifice that was necessary to bear the permanent consequences of sin! When Jesus died on the cross, in our place, he bore the consequences of all sin - past, present and future. He therefore became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5v21) and it was His precious blood as a lamb without spot or blemish (1Peter 1:18-19) that fulfils God's requirements permanently.

d. Propitiation

Towards sin and sinful behaviour, God has great fury, anger and wrath (Jeremiah 21v5). Yet as Micah 7v18 "He is slow to anger and quick to forgive". Propitiation basically means the turning aside of God's anger by the offering of the sacrifice of Christ. God's anger and judgment of sin falls on Christ, instead of us. We need to approach God to appease His anger, in order to accept it (Romans 3:25; Isaiah 53:5; John 2:2, 5:6).

1 John 2v2: He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 4v10: This is real love-not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice (or propitiation) to take away our sins.

e. Redemption (Ransom) Mark 10:45

Not only was it propitiation, but also an act of redemption! In the time of the New Testament, this word was used to refer to the buying back of a slave - the price paid to buy the slave's freedom. God paid redemption so that humans can be freed from the slavery to sin (John 8:35 Romans 7:14). The price was paid (1 Peter 1:18-19) and so we are redeemed with the precious blood of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). But it is our responsibility to choose that way! God does not coerce forcefully - He leaves it as a choice for humans to make as individuals.

What is our response to this to be? Sacrifice, substitution, propitiation and redemption can be summed up in one word: love. For 1 John 3v16 states: "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." Jesus told us to take up our cross if we are to follow Him as His Disciple (Luke 9v23). Are you as a Christian Disciple willing to take up your cross and do all you can do to love others?

Price to pay for true followers

  • We must surrender completely to Him
  • We must identify with Him in suffering and death
  • We must follow Him obediently, wherever He leads.

4. Victory over Satan, death and sin.

As we look back through the Gospel accounts, we see Jesus being tempted and taunted by satan.  We see the temptations in the wilderness, satan using the Apostle Peter to try and deflect Jesus away from the cross and satan using Judas to betray him.  If Jesus had ever succumbed to temptation, and sinned in thought, word, action or inaction, then He Himself would have needed a Saviour.  That is why Jesus is the perfect sacrifice - because he never sinned and always did what He saw God the Father wanting Him to do.  Jesus' death on the cross is the centrepiece of all human history and the focal point of eternity.  At the cross, Jesus' mission is accomplished.  At the cross, this God-man, Jesus Christ paid the penalty for all sin of all time, so that people can have the opportunity to be restored into relationship with God.

Some people say that Jesus didn't die on the cross, but rather somebody was made to be His substitute.  But this is a lie of the devil. Nobody could have been a substitute or the Jewish leaders would have said so when the rumours of Jesus resurrection began to circulate.  The Romans kept strict discipline and regimen and nobody would have been able to get in amongst the Roman soldiers and somehow substitute themselves for Jesus. Yes, somebody else carried the cross for Him, but nobody but Jesus was nailed to that cross.  Jesus died on that cross and not some substitute.

The cross is not a symbol to be merely placed around the neck as an item of jewellery or fashion.   The cross is not meant to portray Jesus as some form of sadomasochistic tragi-hero as some people would make it out to be.  The cross is God's solution to the problem of sin, suffering and pain.  The cross is a choice.  You can choose to deny the cross and say it doesn't matter, that it is an irrelevance, and that is your right.  God will not force people to love him. If He did, He would have created Adam so that Adam would automatically love him and not given him free will to rebel. That way the cross would not have been needed.  But such is the enormity of the love of God, that each person has a choice to make - follow Jesus and take up your own cross and be an overcomer for Him.  Or a person can deny the cross and its meaning and when Jesus Christ comes again in judgment, they will find that He denies them entrance into His glorious kingdom.  How a person thinks of the cross, ultimately has relevance to them and affects their reality.  The cross, epitomises God's glory, and if there was any other way that He could restore people into relationship with Himself, surely He would have done it that way.  But there was no other way - Jesus Christ, simultaneously fully God and fully man, died on a Roman cross.  He took on the sins of the world, paying the greatest price, so that people can be restored into relationship with God the Father.  That includes you and me.

Thank you.

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Thursday - Jesus' Last Night

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He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. He entered, as was his custom, into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. The book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim release to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, to deliver those who are crushed, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began to tell them, "Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." All testified about him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth, and they said, "Isn't this Joseph's son?" Luke 4v16-22

From that time till his last night, during His 3 years of ministry, Jesus has preached the good news of God's salvation to reconcile people back into relationship with Almighty God. Through the cross, His mission will be fulfilled.

Passover, Pentecost and Feast of Tabernacles were the three most important feasts on the Jewish calendar (Leviticus 21). All Jewish men were expected to visit Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 16v16). The Passover Feast was to commemorate the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and it was a time for remembering and rejoicing (Exodus 11-12). Of all the events that took place that night, we have only time to look at three of them - Jesus plans, Jesus prepares and Jesus serves.

1. Jesus Plans and is betrayed

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. and Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. 6He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.

Jews were expected to remove all yeast from their houses (Ex.12v15) as a reminder that their ancestors left Egypt in a hurry and had to eat bread without yeast.  Jesus had warned his disciples about the "yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy" (Luke 12v1). In other words, the religious leaders had cleansed their houses but not their hearts. The last thing the religious leaders wanted was a messianic uprising during Passover (Luke 19v11).  Judas was motivated and energized by satan (John 13v2, 27) and was never a true believer because his sins had never been cleansed by the Lord (John 13v10-11), therefore Judas had never believed or received eternal life (John 6v64-71).  However, Judas had been given authority and had been preaching the same message. This proves how close a person can come to the kingdom of God and still be lost (Matthew 7v21-29)

2. Jesus Prepares

Disciples needed a room within Jerusalem itself, and also required food - a lamb, bread, bitter herbs and wine. The Passover meal contains historical and theological symbolism regarding the death of Jesus. This is why this meal is the model for the central act of Christian worship, which is Holy Communion.  Here is an outline of a Passover meal at the time of Jesus:

  • Opening Prayer
  • First cup of wine and a dish of herbs and sauce.
  • Story of the Passover recited.
  • Psalm 113 was sung
  • Second cup of wine
  • Prayer of Grace
  • Main course of roast lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs
  • A further prayer
  • Third cup of wine.
  • Psalm 114 to 118 were then sung.
  • Fourth cup of wine.

Depending on your church, it can be called amongst other things, the Eucharist or The Lord's Supper.  Christian Disciples are commanded to participate, as Jesus said: "Do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22v19).  Some churches do it every service and others do it monthly.  Whenever we participate in it, we do it regularly as a remembrance of Jesus until He comes again (1 Corinthians 11v26).  The bread symbolizes His body broken on the cross and the wine symbolizes His blood which was shed on the cross.  Therefore before we partake of the bread and wine, we are to examine ourselves and confess any unforgiven sin (1 Corinthians 11v28-29). This is done because it would be hypocritical to eat it while harbouring known sin in our hearts and having fellowship with Jesus and others in the church!

This Last Supper, the Holy Communion - what is its significance for us?

  • It symbolizes fellowship with other believers in the universal church (1 Corinthians 10v17)
  • We receive the benefits of His once and for all sacrifice (1 Corinthians 10v16)
  • We spiritually feed upon Christ (1 Corinthians 11v24)
  • It symbolizes the death of Christ for our sin (Luke 22v19)
  • It symbolizes our acceptance of Christ's death for us.
  • It symbolizes our dependence on Christ for spiritual life.
  • Finally when a person remembers, that makes it their own personal story. If something is only recalled as an historical event, then that is somebody else's story being recalled. That is why Holy Communion is personal - it's our story! Is it yours also?

All these symbolize the New Covenant made between God and Jesus' Disciples - a Covenant guaranteeing salvation!  The new covenant is a new meal, in order to remind his followers in every age about the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. The new covenant (Luke 22v20), Jesus claims that His death, was spoken about by the prophets Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31v33-34) and Ezekiel. It was a new covenant in which God's people will be able to know Him intimately for their sins will be forgiven.  Whenever a covenant was made between God and man in the Old Testament, blood was always shed.  Jesus' blood will be the seal on this New Covenant, which is why we remember it.

Two other main views insist that it is more than just symbolic! Firstly, there is transubstantiation, which believes that the bread and wine actually become the blood and body of Jesus Christ. Secondly there is, consubstantiation, which believes that the body and blood of Christ are present in the Communion meal. However both of these views would indicate that Jesus Christ is being re-sacrificed and Hebrews 7 refutes these views, in particular Hebrews 7v27 which talks about Jesus' death on the cross "For he did this once for all, when he offered up himself.".  The bread we eat and wine we drink at Holy Communion are only symbolic of his sacrifice and can never be a re-enactment.

3. Jesus Serves

Jesus washes the disciples' feet. As part of the custom of the day, a servant or slave usually undertook foot washing of guests. Since none of the disciples had done this, Jesus Himself undertakes the task (John 13v4-5). Peter is recalcitrant and resistant as always, objects (John 13v6, 8). Peter learns that only those cleansed by Jesus and trusting in Him fully, can be a part of the kingdom (John 13v7, 9). As we look back at this episode, knowing what we do now of the Cross, we learn how this simple act of washing feet is symbolic of Jesus' sacrificial death on the Cross.

The Cross and washing feet are both displays of great love and service. Just as Peter opposed Jesus going to the cross (Matthew 16v21-23), so he objected to having his feet washed here. Jesus' getting up to serve symbolizes His coming to serve. As he took off his cloak, this symbolizes the taking off of His glory when He became man. Girding Himself with a towel, symbolizes his taking on human flesh in the incarnation at his birth. As the water cleansed the feet, so Jesus death and blood cleanse from sin. As He returned to where he was sitting and sat down after finishing this act of service, Jesus returned to the right hand of God after his work on the Cross.

When people become Christian, their sins are forgiven through Jesus' death on the Cross. That is when they had our "bath" as it were. That is the very point when we, if we are Christians, were justified before God and we are declared His child. Having been justified already, we don't need a bath anymore! But we do need the equivalent of a feet washing daily and or every time we take Holy Communion and a cleansing of our sin when we confess it before our God and repent.

Plans Comparison!

Lets now compare and contrast the plan of Jesus and the plans of his enemies:

Plans of His enemies

  • Plot to kill Jesus (Luke 22v2)
  • Arranges for Judas to betray Jesus (Luke 22v3)
  • Satan's purpose is to destroy Jesus (Luke 22v3, Luke 22v31)

Plans of Jesus

  • Jesus is in control
  • Plans the Passover meal (Luke 22v7-12)
  • The meal is part of His plan (Luke 22v16)
  • He knows Judas' plan (Luke 22v21-22)
  • Replaces the old leaders of God with his men (Luke 22v 30)

All the elements in the plot conspiring against Jesus had been allowed for. The death of Jesus was no accident (1 Peter 1v18-21) "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God."

After his last prayers in Gethsemane, Judas fulfils his betrayal of Jesus with a kiss to identify him and Jesus is arrested.  Jesus is taken away to be rejected by those closest to him, to face trial, be whipped and crucified.

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