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The Friday of Passover week

We call it Good Friday. Two days before Easter Sunday. It seems an odd description for the original day.

Researchers differ about the origin of the term Good Friday. The one that seems most reasonable is that “good” related to “holy.”

It was a Holy Friday.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, would not have thought it a good day as she watched her son suffer an agonizing death, this son proclaimed by an angel to be called the Son of God, an heir to the throne of David.

The disciples would not have called it good since by this time they had scattered like scared rabbits. They were disillusioned, disappointed, fearful, and confused.

How could the people of Jerusalem have thought the events of the day were good? The city was in an uproar. Barabbas, a proclaimed dangerous criminal had been turned loose. Pilate was under pressure from the Jewish leaders and was concerned about his political position.

There was a crucifixion occurring during the week of Passover, the festival of freedom. And the prince of darkness appeared to be on the winning side.

But there was something holy happening.

The plan of redemption was at work on a hill called Calvary.  A perfect spotless Lamb offered Himself as the once-and-for-all sacrifice. The sins of the world were being carried to the cross.

Trespasses were forgiven.  The debt we owed was paid in full. Spiritual dark rulers were disarmed.

Christ on the cross brought great anguish to those who watched Him suffer, knew Him intimately, had learned to loved Him, and hoped He was their Deliverer.

They could not see any good on a Friday when the sun was darkened.

But there was something holy happening that day, something that would change everything.

It was a good Friday for me.

the cross

 

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Sunday grace

Entering the sanctuary I see the silvery containers at the front of the church and know they hold bread and juice. It is the day to partake in Holy Communion.

My church background did not provided this sacrament each Sunday as in some denominations. Different churches have different ways. Whatever the tradition, the observance is heavy with meaning. And the remembering.

Do this in remembrance. Remembering. Ann Voskamp calls it re-membering. Living in the chaos of this world sometimes pulls me apart. I feel stretched to the limit. I can get lost and undone.  When I come back to what is important, I am re-membered.

To pause within the fellowship of believers and remember Christ’s death, His sacrifice for my sins, somehow makes the pieces fit together again, let’s my soul catch up with my whirling mind and sets my heart on the path of truth again.

I am not my own. I have been bought with a high price. Through Jesus Christ I am His beloved. I have been chosen and adopted. In God’s sight I am holy and blameless. It is the gift of righteousness by grace. Lavish grace. Undeserved grace. Amazing grace.

We eat the bread, we drink the cup. We taste it and remember the Lord’s death. We remember His life, His resurrection, and His promise of abundant living for us His children.

This is the season to remember.

Sunday grace.passover

Moon signs

I stepped out to the deck, it all sparkles with frost on the railing ledges in the cold pre-dawn. The moon sends light in the clear dark sky.

The moon draws me this time of year. In its waning cycle now, it will take its time toward full round in less than a month. And then it will be Passover.

With fascination and memory, I watch the progress of the moon this time of year as it grows small, disappears and then starts to grow large again. Science books would explain its rotation and the shadows that block my view, but let me simply enjoy the beauty and mystery of it.

I watch the night sky with anticipation, the moon cycle signaling the Passover season which falls close to the holiday of Easter.

The first day of Passover is always a full moon. And my mind wanders back thousands of years to the first Passover when the Israelites prepared lambs for supper and brushed blood on their doorposts, following instructions they didn’t fully understand yet.

A scene from the classic movie, The Ten Commandments staring Charlton Heston as Moses, comes to mind. It is the night of Passover and the moon glows full and bright. What appears to be the shadow of death begins to move slowly toward Egypt. In this particular scene, the shadow blocks the moon for a few seconds as it pushes forward.

passover moon

 

I wonder what it was like that fateful night, the people of God shut in their humble slave dwellings, covered by the blood, eating lamb, bitter herbs and unleavened bread while they waited for something. Did they know this was the night of their deliverance?

Passover was God’s object lesson of what was coming. It was the shadow of the real and tangible Savior of the world, Jesus. The people would wait long for the promised Messiah, and He would come.

The anticipation of Passover carries me toward the season of remembrance.  Remembering the promise of a Lamb that God alone would provide for the redemption of the world.

This perfect Lamb would provide our freedom. Do we know this? Do we recognize it? Do we remember it? Have we accepted Him as our own Deliverer?

“For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”

                — 1 Corinthians 5:7

Observe the moon set in its orbit by our creator God. He is the One who promises, and He is faithful to do what He says.

 

Full moon rising

Tomorrow is the full moon.  It reminds me that the celebration of Passover is a month away.

Passover blood on the door

I know.  It’s confusing.  Why is Easter this next Sunday and Passover is four weeks later?

For some reason I have not been able to wrap my mind around the holiday of Easter this year.  Perhaps it is because the Passover Feast has become such an integral part of my celebration of Jesus death, burial and resurrection.  And to find out that they are so far apart this year has left me a little unsettled.

The two cannot be separated no matter who decides what to put on the calendar.

Passover was instituted by God as He drew a picture of the coming promise.  Abraham prophesied that God would provide for Himself a lamb.  And it was through the yearly celebration of the Passover that Jewish families remembered how God delivered them from slavery through the blood of a lamb.

Clearly God was trying to show them something, something to come, Someone to come.

The world plans for Easter with bunnies and colored eggs and spring fashions.  Candy selections catch the eye at the grocery stores, reminding us to fill those baskets.  I have nothing against rabbits or eggs, and I sure do like candy.

But please, let us remember what really happened and the reason for our celebration.

The last supper Jesus ate with His disciples was the Passover meal.  It was there He instituted what we call the Lord’s Supper where we commemorate His body and His blood.

He told us to remember.

The day called Easter and the Feast of Passover go together.  One comes before the other.  One tells the story.  One fulfills the promise.

Let’s remember what it is about.

Last Supper

 

 

 

Holy week

The Christian community calls it Holy Week, the days between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.  

The days ahead will be holy because they have been consecrated by God for His eternal purpose.  The purpose is redemption.

poured-out

The final days before Jesus’ death were eventful, and the gospel writers pay careful attention to the details.

As I read the chapters marking this time, I see a sequence of events occurring one after the other, events that are bringing us to the climax of the story.

  • Passover draws near and the city of Jerusalem fills with people.
  • Jesus tells His disciples plainly that He is about to be killed.
  • He is anointed with precious ointment and acknowledges it is for His burial.
  • The Pharisees plot Jesus’ arrest.
  • Judas falls right into their hands and suggests he can help, for a price.
  • Jesus says He will be lifted up, and he clearly means he will be crucified.

The stage is set.  The will of the Lord is written in heavenly stone and it will come to pass.

Yet some still do not believe.

Matthew and Mark give us a peek into the private conversations of the Pharisees and elders who want Jesus dead.  “But not during the feast [Passover] or the people might riot,” they say to one another.

The reason is because Jerusalem will be teeming with those coming for Passover.  By this time, Jesus had a following, those who had seen or heard of the miracles and  believed He was the promised Messiah.  The crowds had just hailed Him as the One who would come and deliver them.

This was not the right time for an uprising, not the time to confront and arrest and crucify.

But it was the time, the fullness of time.  It was God’s time.

 All things pointed to Jesus’ death.  And it would come to pass.  Jesus was appointed as the Passover sacrifice.

Just like the ointment poured on His feet, He would be poured out for the sins of the world, the precious blood of a Lamb without blemish.  It would be a fountain flowing to cleanse from the dreadful stain of sin. And nothing was going to stop the promise of God from being fulfilled.

For Jesus it would be a week of activity, of final words, of sharing a meal and showing the depth of His love.  For His followers it would be confusing, disappointing, heartbreaking, and yet revolutionary. 

It was a Holy week.

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Revised and reposted from March 2015

 

 

The journey to the cross – something old, something new

Day 36 of 40 days to Resurrection day

Today’s suggestion:

Read about Jesus’ last supper, the Passover, with his disciples.

(Matthew 26:17-46, Mark 14:12-42, Luke 22:7-46, John 13 – 16))

Last Supper

There is an excitement about getting something new.  The latest shiny possession that now hangs in the closet or sits in the garage.  But eventually, it gets old along with everything else.  It looses its shine, it’s uniqueness and settles into the rest of our stuff.  And we go looking for something else brand new. Something to satisfy the longing within us.

Perhaps what we are looking for is something new that lasts forever and will never loose its luster.

Jesus and His disciples assembled in a borrowed room to eat the yearly Passover meal together.  They had been acting out the ancient ritual all of their lives, this recounting of the Exodus experience over a table of lamb meat, bitter herbs and unleavened bread.  It was a celebratory festival, remembering the wonders of a God who delivered the people from Egyptian bondage in a most astounding way.

But tonight there was a solemn atmosphere.   Jesus says He has longed for this time to share this meal with these men, these disciples who had become His friends.  They had traveled together, discussed every topic under the sun, and been privy to the secrets of the kingdom.  They had seen miracle after miracle, and were in the presence of the greatest love they had ever known.

In the midst of the celebration, weighty matters are brought to light.  One will betray.  One will deny.  All will forsake.

It must have sent a chill down their spines.  What is He talking about?  They love Him.  They have left all to follow Him.  They would die for Him, or so they say.  While they asked, “Is it I?” I wonder if they looked at one another suspiciously as they thought, “It must be him,” because Luke tells us these men were still arguing over who was top dog among them.

This dispute is old.  They’ve been doing it all along, wanting the best seat, asking for special privileges, declaring that even if all fall away, “I will not!”

And Jesus, living out the last hours of his earthly life is trying to tell them about eternal things, showing them in His last actions what service and true love is by washing the disciples’ dirty, stinky feet.

It’s the end of the supper.  Jesus takes one more bite of bread in His hand and lifts one more drink from the supper cup, gives thanks for it, and offers His friends something new.  A new arrangement, a new transaction, a new commitment.  It is His promise to them because obviously they were incapable of keeping promises and remaining faithful.  This new covenant did not depend on the disciples.  It was wholly sustained by the Word made flesh sitting among them.  And His Word was His bond.  And His bond was love.

“This is my body . .  . this is my blood . . . ”  He had nothing else on earth to give them.  He owned no earthly possession other than the clothes on His back.

But He gave them His very life, His flesh and His blood.  And it would make them new.  And this newness would last a lifetime. Even longer than that – it would last for eternity.

Revised and re-posted from April 2014

The season of new life

Day 26 of 40 days to Resurrection day

Today’s suggestion:

Look for signs of spring, a time of rebirth

daffodils

The calendar can tell us when the first day of spring comes, but the earth is on it’s own schedule.  I know it is spring when I begin to hear the birds singing in the predawn light.  I see two Canadian geese paired up and making themselves at home in the lake across the road.  They will be building a nest together soon and starting a family.  The daffodils in front of our house are budding and opening into gold.  There are buds on the forsythia bushes and the Bradford pear tree.

No matter the temperatures, nature knows it’s springtime and gets busy doing what she knows to do.

Passover occurs in spring, in the month of Nissan.  This month actually begins the Hebrew religious calendar.  God instructed Moses that this month was to be the beginning of a new year for Israel to commemorate their new lives as they left the bonds of Egypt.

And isn’t springtime really more like the beginning of the year, the time when things come to life after long months of dormancy?  As winter hangs on it has the look of lifelessness.  But spring promises hope every year.

Spring is the time we plant vegetable gardens and start new outdoor projects.  The days become longer and we have more energy.  Life is reborn in so many ways.

So wherever you are, even if you are chilled to the bone, step outside and look for those signs that spring is really here and will soon be dressed in all her God-given glory.  While you are out there in nature, look up at the vast sky and remember the Creator who has given it all to us to enjoy.  Thank Him for the beauty of a season of new beginnings that reflects the newness of your life in Christ.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

Sunday Grace

Revised and re-posted from March 2014