The resurrection is central to Christianity. Without it our faith in futile (1 Corinthians 15:17-18) and we have no hope (1 Peter 1:3). Reason says that dead people don’t rise but that was known in the first century AD as well as now. Scripture records the careful eyewitness of such a surprising event and even 50 days afterward (Pentecost, Acts 2) there was already a debate about the resurrection! It was testified so that you may “believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead” (Romans 10:9). “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
The lead up to the cross in Luke’s gospel, especially in Luke 22:54-71 is stark and tragic. From the courtyard where Peter sat by the fire and there denied his Master, to the courtroom where the religious leaders of the day denied their own Messiah, the story is full of irony and tragedy. And yet as Isaiah once prophesied, ‘It was the will of the Lord to bruise him’. It was all in God’s plan of course, that His people might be saved. His loss, our gain.
No matter how much we deny it, death is never pretty. Death by crucifixion was even less so. While Mel Gibson went to extreme lengths to show us just how much Jesus suffered in his 2 hour plus movie, ‘The Passion of the Christ’, the Bible doesn’t give us that much information on what was actually involved. Of course, it mentions the nails that were driven into his hands and feet and the crown of thorns that was placed upon his head, but the most somber moment is recorded with the greatest simplicity: ‘after he had scourged Him, Pilate delivered Jesus to be crucified’ (Mark 15:15).
Yet, the message of the entire Bible centres on the cross of Jesus. It tells us that if we are to appreciate Jesus’ death and its implications for us, then we must understand that he was not just a man who suffered terrible things, but that he was God’s Son who took the place of sinners. It tells us that he was the Creator of the universe who willingly allowed himself to die as he did for those who rebelled against and hated him.
That’s what it’s about. Not about how much Jesus suffered, but about who it was that suffered and that he went to the most extreme lengths to purchase salvation for those who believe in him. Romans 5:8 says ‘God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ And he did that, not to win your sympathy, but that you might believe in him and know the free gift of forgiveness to cover your sins. No, his death was anything but pretty, but to those who believe in him, it was the greatest gift from God.
This Easter, seek him.
After describing the events in the Upper Room, the text of Luke 22:39-53 take us to the holy ground of the garden of Gethsemane. There, Jesus wrestled with the enormity of what it was that the Father was asking Him to do and submitted Himself to the Father’s will even though it would come at great cost. Why did He go through with it? Because He loved His Father, leaving us to ponder an important question about our love for God and our desire to see His will being done.
In the hours immediately before the death of Jesus on the cross, Luke 22:31-38 reveals the details of his one-to-one conversation with Peter. Though Jesus did everything he could to warn Peter of what was going to befall him, sadly, Peter’s response was only full of bravado and (as we know) we could never fulfill what he promised.
Things are really coming together for this new venture of compassion towards the homeless in Bendigo by participating churches, service organisations and willing volunteers…and we are pleased to be a part of it.
“It’s the end of the world as we know it” sang REM many years ago, but for many people the idea of the end of the world is little more than a joke. The Bible however has a different perspective. The end of the world is a reality that we all must face. In 2 Peter 3:8-18, Peter raises some very important matters that all mankind should be aware of.
It seems that part of the false teaching that Peter was addressing in 2 Peter 3:1-7 concerned the return of Christ. It appears that the false teachers were denying that this would ever happen. In these verses Peter sought to fan into flame the hope that has always belonged to the people of God.
By writing to his readers about the dangers of false teaching, the Apostle Peter had in mind the health of the church. For not only did he write to encourage his readers in the truth, he also wrote to expose his readers to the false and ungodly lives of those who taught error. It’s these warnings that make his words all the more applicable to today’s church in the world.