I couldn't let this weekend pass by without blogging something about Easter. I often struggle to find something clever or worthwhile to blog about, but this weekend affords me a great subject.
I took up a challenge at church on Sunday to read the entire New Testament in 30 days. Yesterday was day four, and the reading for the day included Jesus' death and resurrection in Matthew. That was fitting seeing as yesterday was Good Friday.
As I read I noticed some things I hadn't noticed before or that stuck out to me. Some probably have no significance; they are just my observations.
1. Most people will say that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey that "Palm Sunday." Did you know that he had the disciples bring a donkey and her colt?
2. People spread their cloaks on the road for Jesus to walk over. Others spread branches from the trees. I guess it's a good thing we don't call it "Cloak Sunday."
3. I love the passage in Matthew 22. The Sadducees kept asking questions which Jesus answered beautifully. Once he had silenced them, the Pharisees figured they could trip him up. Question after question, Jesus answered. Finally, in verse 47, it says, "No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions." Think about asking the smartest person you know or a teacher question after question to try to stump them. Jesus couldn't be stumped. I love it!
4. In the middle of Matthew 26, we read how Peter tells Jesus he would never disown him. At the end of the chapter, we read that Peter does, in fact, disown Jesus, not just once but three times. After Jesus is buried and rises from the dead that Sunday morning, we read at the end of the Gospel of John that Jesus "reinstates Peter." Even though Peter disowned Jesus, he forgave him. Jesus used this coward to build his church. Matthew 16:18 states, "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." If God can use this man, who was so weak, so powerfully, what can he do with me?
5. Think about the sacrifice Christ made. He predicted his death for at least a week before it happened. He knew it was coming, yet the night it happened, he was praying in the garden. If it had been me, I would have been trying to get as far away as possible. He stayed. When one of his disciples cut off the ear of the soldier after they tried to take him away, he didn't say, "Serves you right." He put the ear back on and told his disciples to put their swords away. He then was taken away and beaten and ripped apart.
While he was on the cross and the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him, he could have done something to take himself off the cross, but he stayed there. He bled. He died.
6. I think about Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary" going to the tomb that Sunday morning. There was a violent earthquake. I know I've read this passage before, but I don't remember the earthquake. I think I skip over that and go straight to the angel and the empty tomb. Think about it, though - a violent earthquake. It probably wasn't a 4 on the Richter scale. It was probably around a 7 (of course I'm guessing). The angel coming from heaven and rolling away the stone caused the earthquake. That would have been scary and amazing all at the same time.
7. The angel told the women that Jesus had risen and was going ahead of them to Galilee and they were to go and tell the disciples, but Jesus met them on the way. I get a picture of Jesus being so excited he had to see them.
8. Jesus later ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father. He is coming back again. I'm pretty sure he isn't going to say, "Greetings," like he said to the two women in Matthew. He will come back riding on the "clouds with great power and glory." Another passage talks about the Lord coming with a loud command. The sun will be darkened; the stars will fall from the sky. Everybody on earth will know that something is going on. Will you be ready?
I read a quote the other day that talked about the fact that the winner of the spiritual war has been decided, so it makes no sense that people are still trying to decide what side they want to fight for. Christ has already won. What side will you fight for? The winning side or the losing side?
It doesn't matter what you've done, Christ knew you'd do it when he went to the cross. That's why he went. He created a way for you and me to have a relationship with him and be wiped clean. Ever wish you could just start over with a clean slate? You can. That's exactly what Christ does for us when we ask him into our lives and let him be our Lord, the one we live for.
Look at the disciples; they were some of the lowest of the low by society's standards, and Jesus dined with prostitutes and "sinners." The people who are sick are the one in need of the doctor, as Jesus says. He healed me. He can heal you, too!!