The Wonder of Easter
April 19, 2014
‘…Like a lamb to the slaughter…’ Isaiah 53:7 NIV
Journalist-missionary Pierre van Paassen tells how prior to World War II, Nazi soldiers arrested an aging rabbi, stripped him naked, and demanded that he preach the sermon he’d prepared for the following Sabbath. With great dignity the old man asked if he could wear his yarmulke and his captors agreed, thinking it added greatly to the joke. Then, while they jeered and prodded him, the elderly rabbi talked about what it means to walk humbly before God.
Phil Yancey writes: ‘When I read of the torture and execution of Jesus, I think of that naked rabbi standing humiliated in a police station. And I can’t fathom the indignity and shame endured by God’s Son…the bullying game of Blind Man’s Bluff in the high priest’s courtyard…the professional thuggery of Pilate’s and Herod’s guards…the catcalls of spectators up the long road to Calvary, and finally the cross itself…I marvel at the self-restraint God showed throughout history, allowing the Genghis Khans, the Hitlers, and the Stalins to have their way. But nothing compares to the self-restraint shown that dark Friday in Jerusalem…Legions of angels awaited His command. One word and the ordeal would end.’
Isaiah said, ‘He was “led like a lamb to the slaughter, and…He did not open his mouth.”‘ Jesus could have appealed to His Father, and He would have provided ‘more than 80,000 angels’ (Matthew 26:53 AMP). Instead He chose to endure the cross and its shame to save you. That’s the wonder of Easter!
Acts 8-9, Matt 27:57-66, Ps 130, Pro 10:24-26
‘…Everything I have is yours.’ Luke 15:31 NIV
The older brother couldn’t rejoice about his younger brother’s homecoming because he resented it. He said to his father, ‘You threw a party for him, but you’ve never thrown one for me! I served you faithfully for years and you never once acknowledged my service or celebrated my accomplishments’ (Luke 15:29-30).
We learn three things from the older brother. The first is about attitudes. Even though he was invited to the party, his anger kept him away. Why are you angry? You won’t talk to anybody, or forgive anybody. You’re afraid to love anybody, or reach out to anybody, or learn from anybody. You’ve blamed everybody for everything; now you’re blaming God. Don’t let anger lock you out, rob you of blessing, poison your spirit, and destroy your joy. Forgive, celebrate your brother, and walk in fellowship with your Heavenly Father. The second is about abundance. ‘…My son…everything I have is yours’ (Luke 15:31 NIV). Note the word ‘everything’. God is a God of abundance, and if He blesses your brother and sister, He will bless you too. Indeed, when He blesses them, He still has more than enough left to bless you. The third is about access to your Father. As a redeemed child of God, you can approach Him at any time, ask for what you need and be confident that He will respond to you. ‘Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need’ (Hebrews 4:16 NIV). You say, ‘When will God answer my prayer?’ He replies, ‘In your time of need.’
Jer 28-30, Matt 25:24-30, Ps 72:1-11, Pro 9:1-6