In the sense of a traditional “blog” entry, allow me to share my personal meditations and study from the past week.
If you caught the entry from last Sunday, you know I had an interaction with a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses on my front lawn in which I basically “preached” them to the curb and up the sidewalk. The main substance of our disagreement was the identity of Jesus Christ. We believe, as scripture teaches, that Jesus is the Word made flesh, God’s only begotten Son, the second person of the Godhead. They insist however, that Jesus was not divine, but an inferior being to God. This is one of the oldest heresies in Christianity, finding it’s first home in Gnosticism and then Arianism. While I obviously enjoyed the discussion (if you dare call it a “discussion”) with the JW ladies, it also set my heart up for a very enjoyable week of reflection on Christ, His cross, and His finished Work which I’d like to share with you.
This past week was what some call Holy Week. Others call it Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Most of our Western world refers to it as Easter. Any number of things are practiced this week, depending on a person’s religious affiliation or lack thereof. Some customs have pagan roots (eggs and bunnies, symbols of fertility). Other customs are just cultural traditions. Due to this, some conservative believers choose to disregard the occasion completely, in fear that any observance of the history of this past week is some how pagan. In the Winslett House, we do not believe in the Easter Bunny. Nor do we teach of a Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. Why? Chiefly, because these are lies. Call it what you will but I can’t bring myself to lie to my children. We didn’t hunt eggs. We didn’t wait for an imaginary rabbit. That’s our personal decision. I’m not attacking you if you did, but I do ask Moms and Dads to seriously consider being truthful about these fictitious characters. At the same time, if you bring me a chocolate bunny I will consume it with prejudice. Chocolate is good any time and all the time. By all means, I couldn’t care less of the shape of it – I will eat the chocolate. 🙂 But we don’t participate in the junk. We did reflect a lot on Christ during this week and that’s perfectly fine. In fact, I recommend it!
Early in the week, because of Sunday’s happenings, I focused on the identity of Jesus Christ. Christ was 100% God. Christ was 100% man. God Himself took upon the form of sinful flesh, walked among us for over thirty years, was tempted in all points as are we but without sin, submitted as a lamb before the shearers to the shame of the cross, and as our high priest He offered Himself to God for our sins. God Himself became man to redeem men! Fathom that – The Word which was with God, was God, and made all that was made, actually came to Earth to die for sinners He loved and refused to lose despite their own guilt in His sight.
Halfway through the week, I began to dwell on Christ as our Passover. You’re familiar with the Passover. In Egyptian bondage, God was going to plague Egypt one last time before the Hebrews would be set free. This plague was the death of all the firstborn of Egypt. Israelites, however, would be spared. Their method of deliverance? They were to slay a lamb for each family, apply it’s blood to their home’s door, roast the lamb and eat it with bitter herbs and unleavened bread. When God visited Egypt to slay the firstborn therein, He would see the lamb’s blood and pass over the Hebrew houses, hence the term “Passover.” This was instituted as a yearly feast or festival in Israel.
As Paul said in Hebrews chapter 10, the law was a shadow of good things to come. He also wrote to the Corinthians that Christ is our Passover, slain for us. This means that Passover was given of God in such a way as to foreshadow the coming of His Son into the world to deliver them from death and judgment! Death cannot touch the House protected by the blood of the Lamb! God’s family is secure for eternity!
Passover is also when Christ was offered for us. Jesus kept Passover with His disciples and immediately instituted The Lord’s Supper, or Communion, with the items from the Passover, unleavened bread and wine. After meditation on the Passover, my thoughts transitioned to communion. The bread – without leaven – represented His sin free body. The wine – containing alcohol and produced from the violence of the winepress – represented His purifying blood. He then washed their feet and departed to pray all night in the garden. By the next nightfall, He had drank of the bitter cup and made Himself an offering for us upon the cross.
By Friday (which was officially Passover according to the Jewish calendar this year), my thoughts and scripture reading centered around the offering of Christ in the cross. The nails. The crown. The scourging. The vinegar. The death of Christ. He who knew no sin was made to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. All we like sheep have gone astray and God the Father laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Throughout the day on Saturday I devoted my time to considering the fear, mourning, and distress of the Disciples as Christ laid in the tomb. Can you imagine their hopelessness? As the two walking on the road to Emmaus said, they trusted Christ was the Redeemer (and He was) but they viewed the cross as a defeat. Their hope was lost, in their own minds. How sad! That all could have been avoided had they only listened to their Master! Jesus said over and over that He would be betrayed, crucified, and would rise again the third day. Why didn’t they listen? Well, why don’t WE listen so much of the time? Yet Isaiah prophesied of them “…we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” Saturday was a day which included fasting and reflection.
But then there was Sunday.
Sunday marked another yearly anniversary of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of Sinners. No more pain. No more death. No more hopelessness. No more sorrow. Jesus met with the monster death and slew the giant. He treaded the winepress alone. He laid down His life for His sheep and He took it up again. He arose victorious over the grave. He was declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead. He was raised again for our justification. As the angels informed the sisters who had come to anoint His body, why seek the living among the dead, He is not here, He is risen!
On Sunday, we met to worship. We sang of His resurrection. We heard spirited preaching. Brethren prayed through tears, giving thanks for His work. And other brethren added thoughts of His finished work at the close of service. It was a special day as God sent His Spirit among us. Anyone who came to worship left with a blessing, I am sure. Sunday was a day of rejoicing.
“Resurrection Day,” as I have come to call it, is just a year away. This year was special to me because more than any other year I was blessed to keep the timetable of Christ’s work in mind. How did I miss this before? What’s the matter with me? This year there was a closeness with God felt by considering the week of the Cross and resurrection, day for day.
It’s my exhortation and encouragement to you, dear brothers and sisters, to keep this in mind and consider it next year as the time approaches. Venture through a “Pilgrimage of Meditation” from God’s Word as this Anniversary approaches. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Redeem your time from the distractions and vain pursuits of this world and reinvest it in the study of Christ. Forget the bunnies. Forget the eggs. Lay aside fear of looking “like other orders” and set your affections on things above. It’s been a time of refreshing from the Lord for me. I pray He is this gracious to such a sinner as myself next year.
Originally published April 2015