Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday


Jesus is alive and lives forever more. He is risen and is resurrected from the dead.
The is the foundational claim of Christianity. Yes Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead. He's alive. And this is what this day, Resurrection Day or Easter, is all about.

Easter celebration is not only about Chocolate Easter eggs and bunnies but as Christians, Easter is the celebration of Jesus' resurrection from the dead.

Click on the Bible Passage in Green to read the Scriptures.

Event #1 – The Resurrection

The two Marys received the first information about the resurrection of Jesus from the angel in the tomb. But that was hearsay. They were told this by the angel. They didn't see the Lord alive.

Matthew 28:1-8
Mark 16:2-8
Luke 24:1-8
John 20:1-10

1. The First Witnesses to Jesus’ Resurrection
Matthew 28: 9-10
Luke 24:9-11

Jesus appeared before the women while they were on their way to Galilee to tell the Apostles what the angel had told them. With this appearance of Jesus, they are the first eye witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

2. Jesus appeared before the two men on the way to Emmaus
Mark 16:12-13
Luke 24:13-32

That afternoon, two men who were on their way to Emmaus were confused about the story they heard from the women that Jesus was alive. If the tomb was empty as reported by the women, then where Christ was.

While they were deep in thought and discussion, Jesus spoke to them, and they became the second eye witnesses that Jesus was alive.

3. Jesus had also appeared before Simon
Luke 24:33-35

4. Jesus appeared before 11 of His disciples except Thomas.
Mark 16:14
Luke 24:36-43
John 20:19-23

Event #2 – The Next 40 Days

1. Jesus appeared to His disciples in Jerusalem. Thomas was convinced.
John 20:24-31

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”. Jesus had said that He would rise again but yet Thomas cannot believe that Jesus would not go back on His Word. But Jesus is compassionate enough to appear before Thomas so that he can believe.

When Jesus gives us a promise in His Word, let us not restrict our Christian experience by doubting Him. If His Word says He will do, then take is as God’s Word and just believe by faith.

2. Jesus appeared to seven disciples at the Sea of Galilee.
John 21:1-24

3. Jesus gives instructions to the Apostles and 500 others on the mountain in Galilee.
Matthew 28:16-20
Mark 16:15-18

4. Jesus gives His final instructions to the Apostles.

1.  Jesus instructs Peter to, "Feed my lambs...Take care of my sheep...Feed my sheep..."

John 21:15-19
2. The Great Commission. "go and make disciples of all nations..."

Matthew 28:16-20     
Mark 16:15-18
Luke 24:45-49

Event #3 – The Ascension

Mark 16:19
Luke 24:50-53

Knowing that Jesus is alive, let us remember Psalm 136 :1, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever”.

Are you going through hard times?
Face it with Christ’s strength and give thanks to God for He is good. Hard times struggled in Jesus’ name will bring victories eventually and in the process we become stronger people because we have wrestled with the problems with endurance and thankfulness.

Are you facing sorrow?
Look to Jesus for comfort. Through your tears, give thanks to God for He is good for in your sorrow, your spiritual life grows and matures as you have gone through the difficult time with patience and thankfulness.

Are you enjoying the gift of life God has given?
Then give thanks for He is good. We can easily get accustomed to living and take the gift of life that God has given for granted. Take time everyday to thank God for the privilege of living and being alive.

So, this Easter, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV).

Hallelujah! He is Alive! He is Risen! Death could not hold Him down! And we give Thanks to God for being alive in Him.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter

Luke 23:44 records that Jesus died at about 3pm on Friday which was just a few hours away from the Sabbath day. According to Jewish custom, funerals were not allowed to be conducted on Sabbath day so his followers would have to bury His body before sunset on Friday. They did not have time to secure a burial place for Jesus so they borrowed someone’s tomb to bury Jesus’ body.

What happened the next day?

His disciples scattered like sheep without their shepherd. They were shocked, confused and disappointed with Jesus. Jesus did not live up to their expectations. “How could it be that Jesus is dead?” they must have wondered and questioned among themselves.

They had seen Him heal hundreds of people. He not only healed the sick, He could turn water to wine. They even saw Him feed over five thousand people from five loaves of bread and two fish. He could tell the storm to be quiet and make the water harden so that He could walk on it. He even raise Lazarus from the dead. There was nothing that He couldn’t do.

So why didn’t he save Himself that day?

He always called Himself the Son of Man. In fact, He also called Himself the Son of God. Why didn’t He perform one of His miracles to show the Jewish leaders who He really was? Instead, He just let his enemies make fun of him, nailed Him on the cross and died. And most dissappointing of all was, He left them alone.

What a confusing and traumatic day it must have been for His disciples and followers. To answer this confusion for us today, we quote some explanations given by Alan E. Lewis in his book, “Between Cross & Resurrection”.

"Jesus is dead, his message and person discredited. The kingdoms of this world have won, and the God Jesus trusted is to be seen either as having failed Jesus...        or as ultimately powerless against sin and death...            Saturday is "the day of atheism"...        Only against this depressing background can we truly understand the glorious reversal and vindication of Jesus' person, his ministry, and the God in whom he trusted....          Now we know that the final word is precisely what God has said from the beginning: that the victories of sin and evil, injustice and inhumanity, are at worst penultimate; in the end God shall be the conqueror of the conquerors".

It is when situations around us seems hopeless and people around us seems unbearable that we will see the glory of God revealed to us. It is like when we are in a dark cold night alone out in the forest that we will look forward to the sunrise and appreciate it's importance and beauty.

While we have no idea what Jesus did or how His disciples actually felt on that Saturday, we can be encouraged that God always has something far greater in store for the future. We may be experiencing some setbacks in our Christian life. Jesus may have seem to let us down and He may not be acting according to our expectations of Him in some situations in our Christian walk but rest assured God always have a better plan ahead.

Easter will come.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

On the Friday of the Passion Week is called “Good Friday".

It was not a “good” Friday for Jesus since He had to suffer unbearable pain and humiliation but it is a good Friday for us because Jesus paid the price for our sins. On Good Friday He hung suspended on the cross for 6 hours from 9am till about 3:00pm, when Jesus said in a loud voice, “It is finished!”

On the night before or early Friday morning before dawn, Jesus was tried by three parties in the Jewish system. He was tried before Annas, Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin. After Sunrise on Friday, the Jewish leaders sent Jesus to be tried by the Roman courts because they themselves have no authority to execute anyone.

(Click on the Bible passages in green to read the scriptures)

Event #1 – Jesus appeared 3 times before the Roman court.

1. Jesus before Pilate.
Matthew 27:11-14
Mark 15:1-5
Luke 23:1-5
John 18:28-38

2. Jesus before Herod
Luke 23:6-12

3. Jesus before Pilate again.
Matthew 27:15-31
Mark 15:6-20
Luke 23:13-25
John 18:39-19:16

When Jesus was sent to Pilate the first time, he did not take any action because Jesus was a Galilean. Pilate was afraid that it was out of his jurisdiction to take any action. So Pilate sent Jesus to Herod Antipas. In order for Herod to  save Jesus, he wanted Jesus to perform a miracle or two and to answer some questions to convince him but Jesus didn’t do or say anything. Angry with Jesus for not answering his questions, Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate. Pilate had no choice but to pass a death sentence on Jesus. His guards then dressed him in a purple robe, pushed a crown of thorns into his head and mocked Him. They hit and spat on Jesus before sending Jesus off to Golgotha to be crucified.

Pilate had no choice but to make a decision but he washed his hands off the case after that.

Event #2 – Judas Hangs himself

Matthew 27:3-10

We have made mentione about Judas yesterday. It was a great waste of potential in a man. Many question are raised today and debates carried out about his decision to take his own life. He had made a wrong choice by betraying Jesus. He could have made the right one at the foot of the cross where Jesus died. Once again, let Judas' life be a warning to us to always choose to do the right thing and stay close to Jesus always.

Event #3 – Crucifixion at Golgotha or Calvary
This started from around 9am till 3pm when Jesus finally died.

Matthew 27:32-56
Mark 15:21-41
Luke 23:26-49
John 19:17-37

Event #4 - Jesus’ Seven Last Sentences (The Message version)
This was said from about 9am to 12 noon.

1. Luke 23:34 - Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them; they don't know what they're doing."

2. Luke 23:43 - He said, "Don't worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise."

3. John 19:26-27 - Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her. He said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son." Then to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that moment the disciple accepted her as his own mother.

This was said from around 12 noon to 3 pm

4. Matt 27:46 - Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"

5. John 19:28 - Jesus, seeing that everything had been completed so that the Scripture record might also be complete, then said, "I'm thirsty."

6. John 19:30 - After he took the wine, Jesus said, "It's done . . . complete." Bowing his head, he offered up his spirit.

7. Luke 23:46 - Jesus called loudly, "Father, I place my life in your hands!" Then he breathed his last.

Event #5 – Supernatural Phenomena Happened

Matthew 27:50-54
Mark 15:33 & 15:38
Luke 23:44-45

Event #6 – Jesus was buried

Matthew 27:57-61
Mark 15:42-47
Luke 23:50-56
John 19:38-42

The most significant event on Good Friday is Jesus hanging on the cross and finally saying, “It is finished!”

Why did He say, “It is FINISHED!” What was finished? His life? His sufferings? Yes, but even more than that, it was A MISSION COMPLETED. His mission HERE ON EARTH WAS ACCOMPLISHED .

Jesus came to this world to commit to the Father’s plan and throughout His life here on earth, He had demonstrated His commitment to the Father’s will right to the end.

Philippians 2: 5-8 - "Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion."

John 4:34 - "Jesus said, "The food that keeps me going is that I do the will of the One who sent me, finishing the work he started."

John 17:4 - "I glorified you on earth by completing down to the last detail what you assigned me to do." 

Let us be encouraged today with Jesus’ Words, “It is finished!” because this is the guarantee that He gives to us that we can now know for sure that our sins are fully paid for by His death on the cross and that our relationship with God, our Heavenly Father is made right. Yes, when Jesus said those words, “It is finished!” it is His assurance to us that He had cleared the way for us to someday enter eternal life to be with Him again in heaven.

On this Good Friday let us symbolically stand beneath the cross of Jesus Christ and lay down our guilt of sins, our baggage of hurts and disappointments, our load of anger and hatred and all other luggage that weigh us down, right at His feet. Let the blood that Jesus has shed, flow down upon us and remove all these weights that we have been carrying.

Let this day be a really GOOD FRIDAY for us and take great comfort in Jesus’ words, “It is finished!” Let us spend time to be thankful that God sent us His Son to be our Savior, 2000 years ago, so that we can enjoy eternal life with Him.

Let us look forward to a GREAT WEEKEND!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

On Thursday of the Passion Week

The most significant event on the Thursday of the Passion Week is the Last Supper. This day is also known as Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday. The dictionary’s explanation for Maundy is, “a ceremony held in some Christian churches on Maundy Thursday that involves an actual or symbolic washing of people's feet in commemoration of Jesus Christ's washing of his disciples' feet.”

(Click on the Bible passages in green to read the scriptures)

Event #1 – The Last Supper

On that evening, Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples.

Matthew 26:17-19
Mark 14:12-16
Luke 22:7-16
John 13:1

The Passover Meal
For the Jewish people, the Passover meal was the time when they celebrated their forefathers’ liberation from the Egyptian bondage. It was also a time where they silently prayed for their own political freedom from the Roman Empire. God has given them a special Menu to prepare for the evening. While eating the unleavened bread and bitter herbs, the head of the family would tell the story of The Exodus to the next generation.

When God first instituted the Passover meal, the people had to sacrifice a lamb each year. However, God instituted a new Passover on this night and Jesus was the lamb that God provided for the people. The Jews celebrated the “Moses' Passover” because death was avoided. Jesus on this night celebrated the Passover not to avoid death but to confront and conquer death for all mankind once and for all.

Event #2 – The Washing of His disciples’ Feet

John 13:3-20

Before Jesus took his meal, Jesus shocked His disciples by washing their feet first. He was demonstrating to them the most humble and loving act a master can do to his followers. This was a lesson in true greatness and love.

What can we learn from this act?

1. Love is willing to do anything even the most humbling job.

2. Jesus was cleaning their feet, symbolically purifying their footsteps to prepare them to “walk their talk”.

3. With clean feet, they should take the first step to walk out to love others.

4. With clean feet, they are now to walk in Jesus’ footsteps to reach out to others in love.

5. As Christians, we should always be careful how we “walk our Christian life”.

After washing their feet, Jesus said to His disciples, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

However, it was a sad night for Jesus because He knew one of His own disciples would choose to walk his own way and walk in His footsteps. One of them would betray Him that night.
Matthew 26:20-25
Mark 14:17-21
Luke 22:22-23
John 13:21-30

Event #3 – Jesus Instituted the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion

Matthew 26:26-30
Mark 14:22-25
Luke 22:17-21

Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him three times and Peter did just that.
Matthew 26:31-35 & 26:69-75
Mark 14:27-31 & 14:66-72
Luke 22:31-34 & 22:54-62
John 13:36-38 & 18:15-18 & 18:25-27

Event #4 – Jesus’ Final Teachings

Before they left the upper room, Jesus gave them some final encouragements. He knew what lies ahead for Himself and His disciples and His future followers. Jesus gave us another example to follow. We must pray for ourselves to walk right with God, then pray for the leaders who will lead us and then finally to pray for all believers who share the same faith as us.

1. He is the Way - John 14: 1-14

2. Jesus Promises to send the Holy Spirit - John 14:15-31

3. The Vine and the Branches - John 15:1-17

4. Jesus warns of coming difficult times for believer but promises to send help from above - John 15:18 - 16: 33

5. Jesus Prays for Himself - John 17:1-5

6. Jesus Prays for His Disciples - John 17:6-19

7. Jesus Prays for All Believers - John 17:20-26

Event #5 – Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane

Matthew 26: 36-46
Mark 14:32-42
Luke 22:39-46
John 18:1

Event #6- Jesus’ Betrayal and Arrest

Matthew 26:47-56
Mark 14:43-52
Luke 22:47-53
John 18:2-11

Event #7 – Jesus' Trial Before the Jewish Court

1. Jesus before Annas who was an ex-high priest who has no authority to pass any sentence
 John 18:12-1418:19-24

2. Jesus before Caiaphas, the high priest and the Sanhedrin
Matthew 26:57-68
Mark 14:53-72
Luke 22:63-65
John 18:24

Some scholars have listed the Jesus' trial before the Jewish court and Peter's denial of knowing Jesus to have happened on Friday. It could have happened in the early hours of Friday or just before dawn, "Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." (Matthew 26:75)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

On Wednesday of the Passion Week

The Bible is silent about the events that happened on this day. The gospel writers did not tell us what Jesus did on this day. Most scholars believe that it may have been a day of rest and prayer for Jesus.

On the other hand,  the Jewish religious leaders probably continued to plot Jesus' death, and they found one of Jesus' own disciple Judas, who agreed to betray him. He was going to show them where they can easily capture Jesus in exchange for 30 pieces of silver.

Because of this event, this day is also known as "Spy Wednesday".

Judas was capable, responsible, practical, driven, and intelligent. He could have been someone who had great potential to be used by God to achieve great things in the Kingdom of God. Instead, with this act of betraying Jesus, his name will forever be linked with betrayal, and his life ended in a tragic suicide.

Possibly, Judas expected Jesus to be the Messiah who would come to established an earthly kingdom and to liberate his people from the Roman rule. But being with Jesus for three years made him realise that Jesus was not the Messiah of his own ideas and certainly Jesus was not acting in accordance to his timetable. He wanted to see action and he was getting impatient.

What a tragedy to waste all of his potential with greed, arrogance and impatience.

Today, we should take stock of our own lives. Let us spend time to reflect on how well we are managing the gifts and talents that God has given us - time, money, abilities, energy, opportunities. Are we using it all for God and His Kingdom?

Let the story of Judas be a reminder to us to be good managers of our blessings. Let us not be greedy for earthly or material things. Let us strife to be humble, always remembering our Master and Provider God who has given us all that we have and made us to be who we are. Finally, let us be patient and work according to God's timetable.

So on the Wednesday just before Good Friday some 2000 years ago, Jesus seemed to have remained out of sight from the crowd and was silent, most likely in prayer for the coming days ahead. Perhaps today, we should spend time to be silent before God and seek Him in prayer ourselves.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

On Tuesday of the Passion Week

This was the last day of Jesus' public ministry and his last day in the Temple. He arrived early in the city and didn't leave for Bethany until late that night. Some scholars refer to this as the day of controversy and others as the day of rejection.

(Click on the Bible passages in green to read the scriptures)

Event # 1 - The Withered Fig Tree

Matthew 21:20-22
Mark 11:20-26

The fig tree represents the barrenness of Jerusalem. Jesus gives his disciple a lesson on prayer that includes instructions on forgiveness. The disciples are going to have to rely on prayer and forgiveness to get through the next few days.

Event # 2 - Jesus' authority is challenged.

Matthew 21:28-32,
Mark 11:27-33,
Luke 20:1-8

“ Then he was back in the Temple, teaching. The high priests and leaders of the people came up and demanded, "Show us your credentials. Who authorized you to teach here?"” (Matt 21:23)

This was a trick question. He only will answer their question if they would answer his first. He asked them what they thought of John the Baptist's work - was it human or divine? If they replied divine, then they would have to accept Jesus as the Messiah, because that was the basis of John's preaching. If they said human, then the people who followed John would surely get angry. They had to admit they didn't know. It was the responsibility of the Sanhedrin to know the difference between true and false prophets and they had to shamefully admit they didn't know. Thus, Jesus didn't need to answer their question.

Event # 3 – Jesus teaches about the Kingdom of God in 3 Parables.

Parable 1 : The Story of Two Sons
Matthew 21:28-32

Parable 2: The Story of the Greedy Farmhands
Matthew 21:33-46
Mark 12:1-12
Luke 20:9-19

Parable 3: The Story of the Wedding Banquet
Matthew 22:1-14

In these 3 parables Jesus taught about the requirements for the Kingdom of God living. In the parable of the two sons, the people were told to do the will of God even though it may be unpleasant to them. They were warned not to be like the greedy farmhands in the next parable and lastly, their choice in live will determine if they will be welcomed at the wedding banquet.

We too need to take heed of these 3 parables and choose to do the Father's will, in order to be a part of the Kingdom of God.

Event # 4 : The Jewish Leaders tries to Trap Jesus with 3 Questions.

Matthew 22:15-40
Mark 12:13-34
Luke 20:20-40

Question 1: The Pharisees asked if it was lawful to pay tribute to Rome.

If Jesus said it wasn't lawful, he would get into trouble with the Roman authorities. If he said it was lawful, the Jews would reject him because God was their only King. They thought they had cornered Jesus in a no-win situation. Instead, Jesus asked whose image was on the coin. When they replied Caesar, he told them to give back to Caesar the things that were Caesar's, but give to God what belongs to God.

Question 2: The Sadducees, who don't believe in resurrection, asked whose wife would a woman who married seven times be, in the resurrection.

Jesus answers by pointing out how ignorant they are concerning the scriptures. You can't think of heaven in the same way you think of life on earth. Heaven is not a continuation of this world. So their question was not relevant.

Question 3: What is the Greatest Commandment?

Jesus simply answers by quoting the two Old Testament commandments, to loveGod with all your heart, soul, and might (Deut 6:5) and to love your neighbor as yourself (Lev 19:18).

Event #5 – The tension continues between the Jewish leaders and Jesus

1. Jesus scolds the Scribes and Pharisees naming Seven mistakes they made while discharging their duties as religious leaders.

Matthew 23:1-39
Mark 12:38-40
Luke 20:45-47

The purpose of this teaching was to point out to the Scribes and Pharisees that life is actually not about living for themselves but it’s all about living for God that counts.

We should live and act in ways that directs others to God and not to draw attention to ourselves.

2. Jesus commends those who live for God.

The widow’s mite - Mark 12:41-44Luke 21:1-4

The Greeks (Gentiles) seek JesusJohn 12:20-36

This was an opportunity for Jesus to escape death if he had wanted to because the Gentiles were willing to accept Him but He chose to follow the will of the Father. He chose to obey God even though it will cost Him His life.

3. The Jewish leaders chose to reject Jesus
John 12:37-50

4. Jesus warns of the destruction of the Temple
Matthew 24:1-2, Mark 13:1-2Luke 21:5-6

Event #6 – The Olivet Discourse

1. The signs of the End of the Age

Matthew 24:3 – 25:46
Mark 13:3-37
Luke 21:7-38

2. Parables of Warnings

a) Fig tree and young leaves. Matthew 24:32-33, Mark 13:28-29Luke 21:29-31
b) Master puts his servant in charge. Mark 13:34-36
c) The ten Virgins. Matthew 25:1-13
d) The Talents. Matthew 25:14-30

These parables highlight the importance of being watchful and being careful of our actions. In order to be able to recognise the signs of the times, we need to be alert always. A thief does not give advance notice of his coming to our house. He just appears and catch us by surprise.

The fig tree teaches us to always be alert and on a look out for the times we are living in. The second parable reminds us that God has put us where we are as stewards of His blessings and property be it material things or people around us. The virgins serve as a reminder to us to be hardworking and to take our own responsibility seriously. We should not expect others to cover up for us. And finally, we are to make use of all the talents that God has put in our lives. The ability to understand matters, the capability to aquire knowledge, the desire to serve Him has been placed in us by God Himself and we are to use it for God's Kingdom and Glory.

3. Jesus concludes His teachings with a description of the Last Judgment whereby God will separate the Sheep and the Goats.
Matthew 25:31-46

Event #7 – The Conspiracy between the Jewish Leaders and Judas against Jesus.

Matthew 26:1-514-16
Mark 14:1-210-11
Luke 22:1-6

What can we say about this act of Judas'? Keep watch and be vigilant. Always get busy with the things of God and be involved in some ministry in the church or for the Kingdom of God. Let us never be found guilty of doing this act of Judas i.e betraying Jesus in anyway.


Monday, March 25, 2013

On Monday of the Passion Week

On Palm Sunday, Jesus rode into Jerusalem riding on a donkey and was greeted by the people as a heroic savior, someone who will free the Jews from Roman authority. Upon entering the city he visited the Temple and then Jesus wept for Jerusalem, knowing that the unbelief of the people will eventually lead to the destruction of the city and the Temple. Bible scholars believed that these were the major events that took place on Monday or the second day of the Passion Week.

Event #1

The Withered Fig Tree
Matthew 21:18-19 (The Message)

Early the next morning Jesus was returning to the city. He was hungry. Seeing a lone fig tree alongside the road, he approached it anticipating a breakfast of figs. When he got to the tree, there was nothing but fig leaves. He said, "No more figs from this tree—ever!" The fig tree withered on the spot, a dry stick. The disciples saw it happen. They rubbed their eyes, saying, "Did we really see this? A leafy tree one minute, a dry stick the next?"

The Cursed Fig Tree
Mark 11:12-14 (The Message)

As they left Bethany the next day, he was hungry. Off in the distance he saw a fig tree in full leaf. He came up to it expecting to find something for breakfast, but found nothing but fig leaves. (It wasn't yet the season for figs.) He addressed the tree: "No one is going to eat fruit from you again—ever!" And his disciples overheard him.

Taken from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible
The barren fig-tree cursed.

This cursing of the barren fig-tree represents the state of hypocrites in general, and so teaches us that Christ looks for the power of religion in those who profess it, and the savour of it from those that have the show of it. His just expectations from flourishing professors are often disappointed; he comes to many, seeking fruit, and finds leaves only. A false profession commonly withers in this world, and it is the effect of Christ's curse. The fig-tree that had no fruit, soon

lost its leaves. This represents the state of the nation and people of the Jews in particular. Our Lord Jesus found among them nothing but leaves. And after they rejected Christ, blindness and hardness grew upon them, till they were undone, and their place and nation rooted up. The Lord was righteous in it. Let us greatly fear the doom denounced on the barren fig-tree. (Mt 21:23-27)

Event #2

He Kicked Over the Tables
Matthew 21:12-17 (The Message)

Jesus went straight to the Temple and threw out everyone who had set up shop, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of loan sharks and the stalls of dove merchants. He quoted this text:

My house was designated a house of prayer; You have made it a hangout for thieves.

Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in. They came to Jesus and he healed them.

When the religious leaders saw the outrageous things he was doing, and heard all the children running and shouting through the Temple, "Hosanna to David's Son!" they were up in arms and took him to task. "Do you hear what these children are saying?"

Jesus said, "Yes, I hear them. And haven't you read in God's Word, 'From the mouths of children and babies I'll furnish a place of praise'?"

Fed up, Jesus turned on his heel and left the city for Bethany, where he spent the night.

Cleansing of the Temple
Mark 11:15-19 (The Message)

They arrived at Jerusalem. Immediately on entering the Temple Jesus started throwing out everyone who had set up shop there, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of the bankers and the stalls of the pigeon merchants. He didn't let anyone even carry a basket through the Temple. And then he taught them, quoting this text:

My house was designated a house of prayer for the nations; You've turned it into a hangout for thieves.

The high priests and religion scholars heard what was going on and plotted how they might get rid of him. They panicked, for the entire crowd was carried away by his teaching.
At evening, Jesus and his disciples left the city.

Cleansing of the Temple
Luke 19:45-48 (The Message)

Going into the Temple he began to throw out everyone who had set up shop, selling everything and anything. He said, "It's written in Scripture,

My house is a house of prayer; You have turned it into a religious bazaar."

From then on he taught each day in the Temple. The high priests, religion scholars, and the leaders of the people were trying their best to find a way to get rid of him. But with the people hanging on every word he spoke, they couldn't come up with anything.

Taken from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible
He drives out those who profaned the temple.

Christ found some of the courts of the temple turned into a market for cattle and things used in the sacrifices, and partly occupied by the money-changers. Our Lord drove them from the place, as he had done at his entering upon his ministry, Joh 2:13 to 17. His works testified of him more than the hosannas; and his healing in the temple was the fulfilling the promise, that the glory of the latter house should be greater than the glory of the former. If Christ came now into many parts of his visible church, how many secret evils he would discover and cleanse! And how many things daily practised under the cloak of religion, would he show to be more suitable to a den of thieves than to a house of prayer! (Mt 21:18-22)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday

Today marks the beginning of the most Holy Week in the Christian calendar - THE PASSION WEEK. Let us spend some time to meditate and reflect on what Jesus Christ has done for us more than 2000 years ago. We shall embark once again, on a spiritual journey to read what the Gospel writers have written in the Bible concerning the days leading to GOOD FRIDAY and EASTER.

The Royal Welcome
Matthew 21:1-11 (The Message)

When they neared Jerusalem, having arrived at Bethphage on Mount Olives, Jesus sent two disciples with these instructions: "Go over to the village across from you. You'll find a donkey tethered there, her colt with her. Untie her and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you're doing, say, 'The Master needs them!' He will send them with you."

This is the full story of what was sketched earlier by the prophet:

Tell Zion's daughter,
"Look, your king's on his way, poised and ready, mounted
On a donkey, on a colt, foal of a pack animal."

The disciples went and did exactly what Jesus told them to do. They led the donkey and colt out, laid some of their clothes on them, and Jesus mounted. Nearly all the people in the crowd threw their garments down on the road, giving him a royal welcome. Others cut branches from the trees and threw them down as a welcome mat. Crowds went ahead and crowds followed, all of them calling out, "Hosanna to David's son!" "Blessed is he who comes in God's name!" "Hosanna in highest heaven!"

As he made his entrance into Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken. Unnerved, people were asking, "What's going on here? Who is this?"

The parade crowd answered, "This is the prophet Jesus, the one from Nazareth in Galilee."

Entering Jerusalem on a Colt
Mark 11:1-11 (The Message)

When they were nearing Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany on Mount Olives, he sent off two of the disciples with instructions: "Go to the village across from you. As soon as you enter, you'll find a colt tethered, one that has never yet been ridden. Untie it and bring it. If anyone asks, 'What are you doing?' say, 'The Master needs him, and will return him right away.'"

They went and found a colt tied to a door at the street corner and untied it. Some of those standing there said, "What are you doing untying that colt?" The disciples replied exactly as Jesus had instructed them, and the people let them alone. They brought the colt to Jesus, spread their coats on it, and he mounted.

The people gave him a wonderful welcome, some throwing their coats on the street, others spreading out rushes they had cut in the fields. Running ahead and following after, they were calling out,

Blessed is he who comes in God's name!
Blessed the coming kingdom of our father David!
Hosanna in highest heaven!

He entered Jerusalem, then entered the Temple. He looked around, taking it all in. But by now it was late, so he went back to Bethany with the Twelve.

God's Personal Visit
Luke 19:29-44 (The Message)

After saying these things, Jesus headed straight up to Jerusalem. When he got near Bethphage and Bethany at the mountain called Olives, he sent off two of the disciples with instructions: "Go to the village across from you. As soon as you enter, you'll find a colt tethered one that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says anything, asks, 'What are you doing?' say, 'His Master needs him.'"

The two left and found it just as he said. As they were untying the colt, its owners said, "What are you doing untying the colt?"

They said, "His Master needs him."

They brought the colt to Jesus. Then, throwing their coats on its back, they helped Jesus get on. As he rode, the people gave him a grand welcome, throwing their coats on the street.

Right at the crest, where Mount Olives begins its descent, the whole crowd of disciples burst into enthusiastic praise over all the mighty works they had witnessed:

Blessed is he who comes, the king in God's name!
All's well in heaven!
Glory in the high places!

Some Pharisees from the crowd told him, "Teacher, get your disciples under control!"

But he said, "If they kept quiet, the stones would do it for them, shouting praise."

When the city came into view, he wept over it. "If you had only recognized this day, and everything that was good for you! But now it's too late. In the days ahead your enemies are going to bring up their heavy artillery and surround you, pressing in from every side. They'll smash you and your babies on the pavement. Not one stone will be left intact. All this because you didn't recognize and welcome God's personal visit."

See How Your King Comes
John 12:12-19 (The Message)

The next day the huge crowd that had arrived for the Feast heard that Jesus was entering Jerusalem. They broke off palm branches and went out to meet him. And they cheered:

Blessed is he who comes in God's name!
Yes! The King of Israel!

Jesus got a young donkey and rode it, just as the Scripture has it:

No fear, Daughter Zion:
See how your king comes, riding a donkey's colt.

The disciples didn't notice the fulfillment of many Scriptures at the time, but after Jesus was glorified, they remembered that what was written about him matched what was done to him.

The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb, raising him from the dead, was there giving eyewitness accounts. It was because they had spread the word of this latest God-sign that the crowd swelled to a welcoming parade. The Pharisees took one look and threw up their hands: "It's out of control. The world's in a stampede after him."