SCRIPTURE TEXT: “Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said, Come, see the place where the Lord lay”. (Mathew 28:5b-6a KJV)
When every door seems to shut in our face, when the difficulties are insurmountable, when we have failed yet again, we need to remember that none of this is permanent. Jesus was arrested, tortured, humiliated, falsely accused, and crucified. He died as a common criminal- a thief or murderer-on that dark Friday, even though He had done no wrong. However, three days later He was delivered from death and arose again! He is alive and reigns eternally! Today He makes a difference in our lives. We shouldn’t forget that many times the sunset is only a prelude to a new and glorious morning. For the husband or wife who has been abandoned or betrayed by a spouse; for those who have lost a mate or a child, for the family of an alcoholic, for the orphans, single mothers, prisoners, or the sick, this message can restore faith: Jesus rose from the grave! There is hope! There is joy! Our God is alive and He guarantees that we will live with Him eternally. Because He lives, we also shall live! The same power that delivered our Lord Jesus Christ from death is available to us today.
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of His wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?.“–Romans 6 : 1- 2 (NLT)
If God loves to forgive, why not give Him more to forgive? If forgiveness is guaranteed, do we have the freedom to sin as much as we want to? Paul’s forceful answer is OF COURSE NOT! Such an attitude—deciding ahead of time to take advantage of God—shows that a person does not understand the seriousness of sin.
God’s forgiveness does not make sin less serious; His Son’s death for sin shows us the dreadful seriousness of sin. Jesus paid with His life so we could be forgiven. The availability of God’s mercy must not become an excuse for careless living and moral laxness.
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as He said would happen. Come, see where His body was lying.” –Matthew 28: 6
This Good News reverberates around the world today just as joyfully as it was spread from disciple to disciple on that first Easter morning. Matthew captures some of the excitement and awe which characterized this day of days:
“When Sabbath was over, just as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary from Magdala and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. At that moment there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from Heaven, went forward and rolled back the stone, and took his seat upon it. His appearance was dazzling like lighting and his clothes were white as snow. The guards shook with terror at the sight of him and collapsed like dead men. But the angel spoke to the women, “Do not be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here – He is risen, just as He said He would. Come and look at the place where He was lying. Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead…” Then the women went away quickly from the tomb, their hearts filled with awe and great joy, and ran to give the news to His disciples. But quite suddenly, Jesus stood before them in their path, and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ And they went forward to meet Him and, clasping His feet, worshipped Him.”–Matthew 28:1-9
The women came to the tomb expecting to find a cold corpse. Instead they were found by the Living Jesus. Their hearts were filled with sorrowful memories of Him dying in weakness. And Christ delights to surprise them with His resurrection strength and joy. They believed that Jesus had been defeated by Satan and by death. Instead, He showed them that He had conquered both. The husk of His humanity could contain the Divine Son of God no longer. In the grave, God touched Him. He burst through the limitations of His manhood and revealed Himself for Who He was: the King of Kings and Lord of Lords; the Victorious One: the Saviour of the world. And so with confidence we testify that our Redeemer lives!
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “‘Would you lay down your life for Me?’ replied Jesus, ‘Believe Me, you will disown Me three times before the cock crows.’” –John 13: 38
During Holy Week, Jesus suffered the pain of rejection, not simply from the religious leaders of the day, nor simply from the crowds who thronged the streets of Jerusalem. Even His own disciples failed to understand His mission and, by their actions, added to His pain. Luke places the spotlight on Judas and shows how he colluded with the enemies of Jesus:
“Now as the feast of unleavened bread, called the Passover, was approaching, fear of the people made the chief priests and scribes try desperately to find a way of getting rid of Jesus. Then a diabolical plan came into the mind of Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve. He went and discussed with the chief priests and officers a method of getting Jesus into their hands. They were delighted and arranged to pay him for it. He agreed, and began to look for a suitable opportunity for betrayal when there was no crowd present.”-Luke 22:1-5
It was the ambition of every Jew in the world to be present in Jerusalem at Passover time at least once in his lifetime. Because of this, vast numbers of people flocked to the Holy city for the festival. The atmosphere was always inflammable. The Jewish authorities knew this and determined to arrest Jesus before the feast to avoid a riot. And Judas played right into their hands, offering to lead them to Jesus at an appropriate time and an appropriate place.
But Judas was not the only disciple to fail his Master during the last hours of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Jesus knew that, when He needed his support most, even Peter would turn deserter. He warned Peter of this:
“Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, where are You going?’ ‘I am going, replied Jesus, where you cannot follow Me now, though you will follow Me later.’ ‘Lord, why can’t I follow you now?’ said Peter ‘I would lay down my life for You!’ ‘Would you lay down your life for Me?’ replied Jesus, ‘Believe Me, you will disown Me three times before the cock crows.’”-John 13:36-38
During this Holy Week we will talk about some significant events that took place during Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. We will focus on: The Last Supper Judas’ Betrayal Jesus’ Crucifixion Jesus’ Resurrection SCRIPTURE TEXT: “Then He took a loaf and after thanking God He broke it and gave it to them with these words, “This is My Body which is given for you: do this in remembrance of Me.” So too He gave them a cup after supper with these words, “This cup is the new agreement made in My own Blood which is shed for you.” – Luke 22 : 19
Just as, at Christmas time, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, so at Passover time, the Jews celebrate the occasion when God delivered their nation from Egypt where they had been enslaved. The Passover feast was one of the highlights of the year and Jesus longed to share this special meal with His closest friends, His disciples.
The disciples were never to forget this particular occasion, partly because it was to prove to be the last meal they would eat with Jesus before His death and partly because of the things Jesus did on this occasion. John describes one of the surprises Jesus sprung on that particular evening: “Jesus…rose from the supper-table, took off His outer clothes, picked up a towel and fastened it around His waist. Then He poured water into the basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel around His waist…When Jesus had washed their feet and put on His clothes, He sat down again and spoke to them: ‘Do you realize what I have just done to you? You call Me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’ and are quite right, for I am your Teacher and your Lord. But if I your Teacher and Lord, have washed your feet, you must be ready to wash one another’s feet. I have given you this example so that you may do as I have done.”-John 13: 4-15
In washing His friends’ feet, Jesus had performed the most menial task imaginable. His challenge to us is: “Love one another as I have loved you.”
Like every host at this particular meal, Jesus took bread and distributed it to His friends. Then took a cup of wine and blessed it.
“After supper He took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and His people—an agreement confirmed with My blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you. But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray me. For it has been determined that the Son of Man must die. But what sorrow awaits the one who betrays Him.” The disciples began to ask each other which of them would ever do such a thing.” -Luke 22:20-23 (NLT)
For the weeks ahead we will focus on some portions of Romans.Paul writes about how the Christian life should be lived. Especially about the way of love in relations with others. He clearly states the foundations of Christian faith. A journey through Romans will help us keep close to these foundations and we will never be at a loss to know what to believe and how to behave. I will be sharing with you some selected notes from the Life Application Study Bible (NLT). Enjoy!
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.“–Romans 5 : 20-21(NLT)
As a sinner, separated from God, you see His law from below, as a ladder to be climbed to get to God. Perhaps you have repeatedly tried to climb it, only to fall to the ground every time you have advanced one or two rungs. Or perhaps the sheer height of the ladder seems so overwhelming that you have never even started up.
In either case, what relief you should feel to see Jesus offering with open arms to lift you above the ladder of the law, to take you directly to God! Once Jesus lifts you into God’s presence, you are free to obey—out of love, not necessity, and through God’s power, not your own. You know that if you stumble, you will not fall back to the ground. Instead, you will be caught and held in Christ’s loving arms.
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.“–Romans 5 : 3-4(NLT)
For the first-century Christians, suffering was the rule rather than the exception. Paul tells us that in the future we will become, but until then we must overcome. This means we will experience difficulties that help us grow. We rejoice in suffering, not because we like pain or deny its tragedy, but because we know God is using life’s difficulties and Satan’s attacks to build our character.
The problems that we run into will develop our perseverance—which in turn will strengthen our character, deepen our trust in God, and give us greater confidence about the future. You probably find your patience tested in some way every day. Thank God for those opportunities to grow, and deal with them in His strength.
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.“–Romans 4: 5(NLT)
When some people learn that they are saved by God through faith, they start to worry. “Do I have enough faith?” They wonder “Is my faith strong enough to save me?” These people miss the point. It is Jesus Christ who saves us, not our feelings or actions, and He is strong enough to save us no matter how weak our faith is.
Jesus offers us salvation as a gift because He loves us, not because we have earned it through our powerful faith. What, then, is the role of faith? Faith is believing and trusting in Jesus Christ and reaching out to accept His wonderful gift of salvation.
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?“–Romans 2: 4(NLT)
In His kindness, God holds back judgment, giving people time to turn from their sin. It is easy to mistake God’s patience for approval of the wrong way we are living. Self-evaluation is difficult, and it is even more difficult to bring ourselves to God and let Him tell us where we need to change. But as Christians, we must ask God to point out our sins, so that He can heal them. Unfortunately, we are more likely to be amazed at God’s patience with others than humbled at His patience with us.
On judgment day those who accepted and lived God’s way will be raised to eternal life and those who lived any way they pleased will face eternal punishment. Decide now which side you’ll be on, for the consequences of your own decision last forever.
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things.“–Romans 2: 1(NLT)
Whenever we find ourselves feeling justifiably angry about someone’s sin, we should be careful. We need to speak out against sin, but we must do so in a spirit of humility. Often the sins we notice most clearly in others are the ones that have taken root in us. If we look closely at ourselves, we may find that we are committing the same sins in more socially acceptable forms. For example, a person who gossips may be very critical of others who gossip about him or her.
When Paul’s letter was read in the Roman church no doubt many heads nodded as he condemned idol worshipers, homosexual practices, and violent people. But what surprised his listeners must have felt when he turned on them and said in effect, “You are just as bad, and you have no excuse!” Paul was emphatically stressing that we have all sinned repeatedly, and there is no way apart from Christ to be saved from sin’s consequences.