Easter is about a lot more than a bunny! Part 1

Palm-Sunday-Background

“Palm Sunday”, to me, has always been the beginning of Easter, it marks the day that Jesus entered into Jerusalem.  He entered into the city, seated on a donkey.  Crowds of people had gathered to for the Passover feast and people where lining the street, shouting “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!,”.  The crowds were shouting this because they saw Jesus as their Messiah who would overthrow the Romans and restore Israel’s independence. They waived palm branches and tossed their cloaks out on the street in front of him.  All of this as a sign of respect.

Let’s put ourselves in Jesus’ shoes.  Lets start 2 days prior to Passover and up to his arrest.  He goes from being welcomed as a Messiah and a Savior, to a criminal.  He comes in with people showering him with adoration to being treated like dirt beneath ones shoe.  All this time knowing, knowing what would happen…but doing it because of his insurmountable Love for YOU and I!!

We will be going through Mark chapter 14.

Mark 14: 1-9

1 It was now two days before Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law were still looking for an opportunity to capture Jesus secretly and kill him. 2“But not during the Passover celebration,” they agreed, “or the people may riot.”

The Passover was a commemoration of the night the Israelites were freed from Egypt.  In Exodus 12 you can read about when God “passed over” homes marked by the blood of a lamb.  The day of Passover was then followed by the 7 day event Festival of Unleavened Bread.

As the Jews were preparing to commemorate the Passover as a time their ancestors were saved by the blood of the lamb; some of the religious authorities were plotting Jesus arrest and his death.

3 Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head.

The “woman” spoke of here was Mary’s, Lazarus and Martha’s sister.  Friends of Jesus’.  This was a symbol of Mary’s total devotion to Jesus.  She believed what he said and in what he said would happen.  This was her way of showing her devotion.

4 Some of those at the table were indignant. “Why waste such expensive perfume?” they asked. 5“It could have been sold for a year’s wages and the money given to the poor!” So they scolded her harshly.

If you read John 12: 4-5 John states:

But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.”

So when it says “some” it appears to have been Judas specifically that took issue with the perfume being “wasted”.

6 But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me?

7 You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time. 9 I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”

Jesus is saying that we can and should always help the poor.  They will always be among us and we should help them.  He is defending Mary’s actions though because she committed them out of the utmost respect for Jesus.  This was her way of offering her best as a sacrifice to Jesus as we should always do.

Then comes verse 10-11 where Judas betrays Jesus:

10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests to arrange to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted when they heard why he had come, and they promised to give him money. So he began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.

In my bible, this verse is explained like this:

Why would Judas betray Jesus?  Very likely, Judas expected Jesus to start a political rebellion and overthrow Rome.  As treasurer, Judas certainly assumed that he would be given an important position in Jesus’ new government.  But when Jesus praised Mary for pouring out the perfume, thought to be worth a day’s salary, Judas finally began to realized that Jesus’ Kingdom was not physical or political.  Judas greedy desire for money and status could not be fulfilled if he followed Jesus, so he betrayed him in exchange for money and favor from the religious leaders.

Then we come to the last supper in Mark 14: 12-26:

12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go to prepare the Passover meal for you?”

13 So Jesus sent two of them into Jerusalem with these instructions: “As you go into the city, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 At the house he enters, say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ 15 He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal.” 16 So the two disciples went into the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there.

Reference for verse 13:

According to Luke 22:8

Jesus sent Peter and John ahead and said, “Go and prepare the Passover meal, so we can eat it together.”

17 In the evening Jesus arrived with the twelve disciples. 18 As they were at the table eating, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you eating with me here will betray me.”

19 Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one?”

Judas was here at this time, the very one who would betray Jesus was  hypocritically sitting her having supper with him.  In most people, this brings up feelings of anger and resentment towards Judas, but if we think about it…we have all betrayed Jesus at some point in our lives.  Maybe not to the extent of Judas, but if we confess our life to him and then refuse to live it for him…we are the same a Judas.

20 He replied, “It is one of you twelve who is eating from this bowl with me. 21 For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”

Can you imagine what Judas had to be feeling at this time.  I can’t even fathom how tortured his soul had to be.  As with many though, greed and desire can make the human weak and vulnerable to Satan’s attacks.  I can’t help but wonder if Judas was in a sense doubting that Jesus would really die.  I am certain many thoughts were going through his head a this time.

22 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take it, for this is my body.”

23 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many. 25 I tell you the truth, I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.”

This is where our “Communion” comes from.  When we eat the bread and drink the wine (or grape juice) it is in remembrance of Jesus and his sacrifice for us.  The Bread is his body, the wine (juice) is the blood that he shed for us.

26 Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.

Then Jesus goes on to predict Peters denial of Christ in Mark 14: 27-31:

27 On the way, Jesus told them, “All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say,

‘God will strike the Shepherd,

and the sheep will be scattered.’

28 But after I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.”

29 Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.”

30 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.”

31“No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the others vowed the same.

Jesus is telling of his impending death.  He is saying; Look, I am going to be taken away from you and I will become the unpopular choice.  They will arrest me and threaten anyone who stands with me.  At this time, in your human fear…you will deny me!  (that is what I hear when I read this)

Peter genuinely loves Jesus and does not believe that it would be possible for him to deny him.  He is willing to die if he has to!  Well, this is where it is proven that words are easier to say than do.  We love Jesus, we confess his name and our obedience to him!  Yet when our faith is truly tested…do we truly love him more than ourselves, our own lives?  That is where it becomes truly hard and in todays day and age, Christianity is becoming less and less popular.  This is the time we should really evaluate our hearts and our love for Jesus.  Put yourself in Peter’s shoes…would you have acted any differently.

Verses 32-42…This is where we see Jesus, in a way, like us.  His distress is shown, his fear…he knows what is about to happen to him.  If this doesn’t break your heart and show you Jesus pure LOVE for us…I don’t know what will.

Mark 14: 32-42 Jesus Prays in Gethsemane:

32 They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” 33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. 34 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Jesus is saying, I am terrified and saddened.  Stay here, be here with me.

35 He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. 36 “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Jesus is saying: God you can do ANYTHING…take this from me, don’t make me do it! If you can!  Jesus knew though that God could not take this from him…that it had to be completed.  If he withdrew Jesus from this fate, our fates would all be sealed.  There would be no salvation for any of us!

37 Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 38 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

Even if we have a willing spirit, in times of trouble or stress, we can easily become weak.  We are more vulnerable to temptation.  Jesus tells us in order to stay strong we must Pray! We must keep watch and be vigilant and seek friendships that will support us. For when we are weak, others can be strong.

39 Then Jesus left them again and prayed the same prayer as before. 40 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. And they didn’t know what to say.

41 When he returned to them the third time, he said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But no—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

42, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

Jesus is arrested

Mark 14: 43-50

43 And immediately, even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders. 44 The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss. Then you can take him away under guard.” 45 As soon as they arrived, Judas walked up to Jesus. “Rabbi!” he exclaimed, and gave him the kiss.

This was Judas ultimate betrayal.  He is literally handing Jesus over to be arrested.  This will be the beginning of Jesus ultimate sacrifice for our salvation.

46 Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 47 But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.

According to John 18:10 it is Peter who drew the sword and the high priest’s slave was Malchus.

10 Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave.

48 Jesus asked them, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? 49 Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there among you teaching every day. But these things are happening to fulfill what the Scriptures say about me.”

50 Then all his disciples deserted him and ran away. 51 One young man following behind was clothed only in a long linen shirt. When the mob tried to grab him, 52 he slipped out of his shirt and ran away naked.

Just as Jesus had stated would happen, all of his disciples deserted him.  When a threat was presented against the disciples against their own lives…they gave into their humanness and deserted Christ.  Jesus though, knew that this was all happening to fulfill scripture.  His ultimate sacrifice and act of Love has begun.

As you can see, the Easter holiday, is WAY more than a bunny, eggs and candy!  My next post will carry us on into Jesus crucifixion, his overcoming death and miraculous resurrection!  Also, it will include his promise that he will again, one day, return for us!

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3 Responses

  1. Excellent! Amen! Well done! Praise the Lord! I thought of Aimee Semple McPherson as I was reading this.

  2. I’m not sure when I first heard about Aimee, but I may have been close to the time that I read Pat Boone’s A NEW SONG. That book was very influential for me in 1973 and I soon learned what were the four pillars of the Foursquare Church where Boone attended. Do you know about the three best known Christians with Topeka roots: Charles M. Sheldon, Charles F. Parham, and Agnes Ozman?

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