Sometimes I think that certain parts of the Bible become so familiar to us that we tend to just accept the whole fact without ever really stopping to think about all the moving parts involved.
Let me preface this by saying that I believe the Holy Bible from cover to cover. I take it literally.
I believe a large sea creature swallowed Jonah, that the Red Sea parted; that Sampson killed all those Philistines with the jaw bone of a donkey and Moses brought forth water from a rock in the desert by striking it with his staff.
I don't pretend to understand everything in the Bible, but I do believe that it was not conceived by man, but God breathed into the ear and the spirit of the prophets who wrote it. Therefore, it was inspired by Almighty God and what I don't understand I will take by faith.
The Old Testament and the New Testament represent two separate covenants, the Old Covenant based on animal sacrificial laws and traditions, the New Covenant based on grace, conscious and the condition of the heart.
But that's a subject for another column; this one is about the death and resurrection of Jesus, the most important event in Christianity.
The coming of a Messiah, or savior, was foretold in several passages written by Old Testament prophets, His birth, even to the point of where he would be born and the virgin birth. Isaiah called Him "a man of sorrows" and even the manner of His death was foretold; He would be “pierced for our transgressions,” “crushed for our iniquities” and “by His wounds we are healed.”
When Jesus was around 30-years-old He came forth out of Galilee and began His earthly ministry. His message was one of love, forgiveness, mercy and loving God and your neighbor.
He performed mighty miracles, healing sickness and deformity, teaching a new way, a way governed, not by a law written on a scroll, but governed by a person's personal inborn sense of right and wrong, conscious and heart.
His deity was borne out by the miracles He performed, He walked on the waters of Galilee, He raised His friend Lazarus from the dead, He turned water into wine and fed thousands with a few loaves of bread and a few fish.
The Pharisees, one of the largest Jewish religious groups in 1st Century AD, were law keepers, they followed the Law of Moses down to tithing the herbs from their gardens, observing all Sabbaths and holidays in the Mosaic writings, but so literal was their interpretation of the law that if something wasn't specifically forbidden, they took it as a license to do as they pleased.
For instance, throwing a widow with children out of their homes when it was profitable for them.
They followed God with their heads, but not their hearts.
Jesus called them a “brood of vipers,” “whitewashed tombs full of dead men's bones” that men walked past without ever knowing the corruption they were passing by.
When word started spreading like wildfire about this young man who was performing great miracles and teaching a new doctrine, the Pharisees immediately became suspicious and jealous.
After all, they were the some of the most respected men in Israel, they had respect and money, were always given the best seats in the house and deferred to by the common people. They, through an elite group called the Sanhedrin, decided interpretation of the scriptures and held the dreaded power of excommunication.
Yet they had allowed the Temple, the center of Jewish faith, the house of God, to be used for a commercial enterprise with merchants setting up their wares in the courtyards, doing business on what should have been Holy Ground.
It so incensed Jesus that He made a whip and ran them out, turning over tables of merchandise and chasing livestock and merchants off the Temple grounds, having said that they were turning His Father's house into a den of robbers.
As far as the Pharisees were concerned, Jesus was getting out of hand and stealing their thunder to boot, people were going to Him in droves and the Pharisees were afraid that if things kept on the way they were going, the occupying Romans would come and "take away our place."
The Sanhedrin held a meeting and plotted the death of Jesus, had Him arrested and brought Him before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, and accused Him of crimes worthy of death.
Pilate said he couldn't find any fault in the man but the Pharisees kept insisting and concocted a plan to stir up the crowd until Pilate relented and ordered that Jesus be crucified.
Crucifixion is the most excruciating form of execution ever devised by man, it is slow suffocation. To get a breath, one had to pull up by hands nailed above the head or feet nailed below to get any air at all. It takes hours of incredible agony to die, and even as He hung there in pain, we can't even imagine He asked God to forgive them because they didn't know what they were doing.
Such was the love of Jesus, who could have at any time called untold legions of angry angels to destroy them all.
But He endured it, for you, for me, for our forefathers and generations not yet born, a kind of love that our finite human minds simply cannot grasp. By doing so, Jesus became the sacrificial lamb for the whole world, meaning no longer would animal sacrifices be required to atone for sin.
Jesus bore all of our sins.
It was a Friday afternoon when Jesus finally died. He was taken down and laid in a new tomb carved into the rock of a hillside and, as was the custom a large, heavy stone was rolled across the entrance.
The next day was the Sabbath which Mosaic Law commanded rest, but early Sunday morning, some of Jesus' women followers went to the tomb and found the stone rolled away, Jesus’ grave cloths folded and placed at the foot of the plinth.
Jesus later appeared to over five hundred people after he had risen from the grave, then ascended to heaven where He remains until the glorious day of His return when He will come back to earth to right all wrongs, wipe away all tears and claim His place as King of Kings and Lord and Lords.
And so every year we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, we call it Easter.
He's coming back to gather His followers and take them to live with Him in heaven forever!!
Jesus Christ; the way, the truth and the life.
He is risen!
He is risen indeed!
What do you think?
Pray for our troops and the peace of Jerusalem.
God Bless America