EASTER MORE SIGNIFICANT THAN CHRISTMAS?

Blog Banners.001Christmas is the most celebrated time of the year. I can understand why. 

But what Christmas started, Easter actually completed.
The climax of Jesus’ mission on earth wasn’t His birth but His resurrection.

Theologian and apologist Henry Morris had this to say,

The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the crowning proof of Christianity. If the resurrection did not take place, then Christianity is a false religion. If it did take place, then Christ is God and the Christian faith is absolute truth.

What then is the reality, reason and relevance of the resurrection for the 21st century Christ follower?

1. REALITY

Jesus was crucified, died, buried and rose from the dead. Paul writing 20 years after Jesus died says in 1 Corinthians 15:6, “Then He (Jesus) appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of who are still alive.”

This is a critical statement of proof for the resurrection for there were 3 major theories to dispute the bodily rising of Jesus from the grave.

HALLUCINATION THEORY: The disciples were deluded thinking that Jesus rose from the dead.
Now if this were true, it’s hard to have 500 people hallucinate at the same time. And after they’ve finished tripping, you would think at least one would recant after being faced with a death sentence.

HOAX: Jesus’ body didn’t rise from the dead but was just stolen to make people think He rose.
This too is a hard one to pull off. It’s very hard to find someone willing to die for a lie.

SWOON THEORY: Jesus just fainted and didn’t completely die.
The Romans were experts at torture and execution. They couldn’t let this happen. And even if this theory was true, a half dead, wounded, mangled messiah wouldn’t be able to inspire followers to change the word – a fearful group to suddenly become extremely bold.

There’s only one explanation: He DID rise from the dead.

2. REASON

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:17)

Paul tells us that Jesus defeated death, hell and the grave by rising from the dead. But if Jesus didn’t rise, then we would still be in our sins. And if this is so, we are to be pitied among all men for we are believing a lie.

“If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.”― Timothy Keller

3. RELEVANCE

Because He rose from the dead, we too have the hope of victory over death. That’s why Paul could trash talk death to its face and say,

O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (1 Corinthians 15:55, 57)

Because of this, we can live life fearlessly.
Because of this, we can be steadfast and immovable.
Because of this we can continue to abound in the work of the Lord because our labor in Him is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Easter is not just a symbol but a powerful event that is a game changer!

WHAT’S SO MAUNDY ABOUT THURSDAY?

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What’s so special about Mandy Thursday? I understand Friday for that’s when Jesus was crucified. Saturday was when Jesus was in the grave. As for Sunday, it was the greatest event in all of human history.

What happened on Thursday? And why’s so “maundy” about it?

Maundy comes from the Latin word where we derive the word ‘mandate’. It was a day where a command was given by Jesus. It was on the night before he was betrayed where He took the cup and the bread, blessed and gave thanks to share the meal with His disciples.

It was during the meal that Jesus took a basin of water, wrapped a towel around His waist and started to wash the disciples feet. So what was the “mandate” that made Thursday Maundy?

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

What He did (washing the feet of his disciples) preceded what He said (love one another).

It was a powerful moment for if He only told them what they needed to do, they would most likely obey but the impact wouldn’t be as intense and compelling.

If their Master could serve them the way He did, how much more can they do the same to others?

His command to love one another is an overflow of the love we have received.
We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

REFLECTION APPLICATION:

1. Pray to Jesus now and thank Him for His sacrificial love to take our place on the cross for He died on our behalf. He paid the debt He didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.

2. Pray for someone now to know Christ personally as their Lord and Savior (family member, friend, officemate, classmate).

3. Text that person a verse to encourage and reflect on what Jesus did on the cross.

WHAT’S SO GOOD ABOUT GOOD FRIDAY?

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I’ve often wondered about this growing up.

If Jesus died on that particular day, then why would that be good?

On a side note, this is not a blog about whether or not it really happened on a Friday. It probably didn’t as many Bible scholars would claim. But that’s not our topic.

Back to our topic … why Good Friday?

When Jesus was crucified, there were several statements he was declaring.

One of which was “It is finished.” (John 19:30)

Now because this was a marketplace term (tetelestai in Greek), people probably were looking around if there was a transaction going on… or buying or selling of goods… or an exchange of items… or something of that sort.

How come? That term meant “PAID IN FULL.”

Now if Jesus blurted this out referring to himself being the ‘payer’, who then is the one in debt?

That would be me… and you.

All my greed and yours, all my lust and yours, all my pride and yours, all my immorality and yours…fornication, murder, addictions, adultery, dishonoring parents, dishonoring God…  the list goes on and on and on.

Those, he paid for in full by his death on the cross.

If he paid it in full, how much of our debt we need to try to pay for?

Silly question but it’s interesting how people still do the very thing that seems silly.

We pay for something already paid in full. How?

By trying to follow the list of commands given in the Scriptures thinking it can save us or make us more saved (if that were even possible).

What’s so good about Good Friday?

He paid a debt He didn’t owe because I owed a debt I couldn’t pay!

WHAT DID JESUS ACCOMPLISH BY DYING?

Since I grew up in a single parent home, I remember growing up (together with my siblings) with our househelpers. One of our ate’s, her name was Luz, had lots of things she downloaded to us during Holy Week.

Here’s Ate Luz’ top 5 things she told us every time Lenten season hits.

1. I can’t play during Holy Week, especially on Black Saturday since Jesus was dead.
2. I can’t take a shower on Good Friday, especially after 3pm. This one, I didn’t really mind as a kid. Haha!
3. Bad spirits are out during Holy Week because Jesus is dead.
4. Load up your amulets (anting anting) with prayers for more power. This one, I didn’t really understand.

No. 5 was my favorite…

5. I can’t cut my nails on Good Friday because just in case I cut my skin and wound it, it will not heal for a very long time.

Funny but for a long time, I held on to these beliefs as well.

But if there was one thing I learned and held on since I gave my life to Christ was the fact that Jesus took my sin and as a result, what I got was His righteousness. It was indeed an unfair exchange.

John the Baptist said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29).

In the Old Testament, the Passover lamb would only ‘cover’ the sin of the people. And it was for a limited time and a limited geographical location.

However, when Jesus came and died, He didn’t just cover my sin. He took away my sin.

Ps. 103:12 – “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

My greed, lust, imm0rality, pride, hatred, anger, unforgiveness… the list goes on and on and on…

All those, He took.  Bible scholars call that as imputation. My sin imputed on Him and His righteousness imputed on me. Unfair deal? You bet. But I’ll take it any day.

Listen to what Martin Luther said,

“This is that mystery which is rich in divine grace to sinners: wherein by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s, and the righteousness of Christ not Christ’s but ours. He has emptied himself of his righteousness that he might clothe us with it and fill us with it; and he has taken our evils upon himself that he might deliver us from them.” 

Result?

A grateful heart.

Jesus, thanks! I am forever grateful!

DID JESUS HAVE TO PAY FOR MY SINS?

I’m not that bad, right? Compared to Hitler or Osama, I’m not a bad guy.

For sure, you and I can argue that point. And a thousand to one, we will win it.

However, that’s really not the point. We’re not as bad as those guys are. But we’re all as bad off as those guys.

Sin in its original meaning is ‘missing the mark.’ If hitting the bullseye was perfect obedience to God’s commands, then missing the target would be a transgression.

Now whether you miss it 5 millimeters or 5 meters, the fact is that you still missed it.

There’s no such thing as sort of bullseye.  It’s either a bullseye or not a bullseye.  Thus, there’s no such thing as “I sort of sinned.” It’s either I sinned or I didn’t.

So if I sinned and fell short, together with the rest of mankind (Romans 3:23), then there’s a debt I owe. Paying for that debt would be the logical thing to do.

However, the requirement God had for debt of sin to be paid was death. Not death by anyone, but death of an unblemished and perfect lamb. (Check out my last post here.)

This where the concept of substitutionary sacrifice comes in.

The penalty for my sin can be paid for by substitution.  But it needed to be by a perfect sacrifice. Thus, being imperfect myself, I am unable to pay for my debt.

Someone perfect, without sin had to take my place.

In this case, Jesus did.

Jesus paid the debt He didn’t owe because I owed a debt I couldn’t pay.

This is an unfair deal. For sure. Yet it was the Great Exchange. My sin for His righteousness and His righteousness for my sin.

To this Paul makes a declaration,

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14)

What a great salvation we have!

DID JESUS HAVE TO DIE?

Was it necessary? I can actually think of 3 other ways Jesus could avoid dying.

1. Couldn’t the Creator (God) just release Divine Pardon for His creation? Call it quits. Forgive. Amnesty.

2. Or how about suffering for my sins? I’ll try to cover what I’ve done by suffering for it?

3. Better yet, what if I try to pay for it by doing good – from giving to the poor to reading my Bible more?

The more I study the Passover story, the more I understand the big picture.

When the Israelites cried out to God for deliverance from the Egyptians, God raised up a deliverer in the person of Moses. Moses goes before Pharaoh to give Yahweh’s directive to “let His people go.”

Because of Pharaoh’s hard heart, God sends 10 plagues to judge the 10 gods of Egypt – from Heqet to Ra. All the 9 affected the Egyptians but not the Israelites.  However, on the 10th plague (the death of the first born), Israel was not exempted.

They however were given a way out – that if they kill a lamb that is unblemished and perfect, sprinkle the blood on the doorposts of their houses, then the ‘destroyer’ (Ex.12:23) will passover their houses and spare the male firstborn children.

Whenever they would celebrate Passover from then on, the firstborn will look at the table and remember, “the only reason I’m alive is because that thing on the table isn’t.” It was either a dead son or a dead lamb.

Fast forward 1500 years, the Israelites were still celebrating the Passover.

On the night Jesus was betrayed, he took both the bread and the cup.

Everyone around the table were probably wondering, “the bread and the wine are here, but where’s the lamb?”

That night, the lamb was not on the table because The Lamb was at the table.

No wonder John the Baptist declared when he saw Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

He no longer covers sin. He takes away sin.

He alone could do it.  The lamb had to be perfect, without defect.

Jesus because like one of us yet he was without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

He alone could identify with us because He was fully human. But at the same breath, He alone could fulfill the requirement to appease God’s wrath toward sin because He was fully divine and without sin.

Did Jesus have to die?

A definite YES!

WEEKEND WIND DOWN

  • Restful week and lots of family time.  THAT is always good.
  • Reconnected with old friends.
  • Plenty of swimming time with the kids.
  • Ate lots this past week.  THAT is not that good.
  • Easter egg hunt with the kids.  Had to explain the history of the egg hunt and that resurrection day had nothing to do with bunnies and eggs.  Nothing against Easter egg hunts but we just need to make sure we don’t miss out on the real celebration of Easter Sunday.  THAT won’t be good.
  • Glenn Quizon’s zip line in his farm was phenomenal!  You have to ask him about that one time.
  • Ate lots of ice cream and candies.  THAT wasn’t very good.
  • Road the bike with Ryan around U.P.  Got some daddy time with him.  Then haircut.  Them sweet japanese corn along katipunan’s really good.
  • Preached at the 5 and 7 pm services with a splitting headache.  I made a mistake of walking to Market Market  under the sweltering heat from the frigid Every Nation Building and back.  My head started to throb in no time.  Thanks to Mr. Alfred Albarracin for some head ache busters.
  • We saw scores of people come to Christ this weekend.  What an Easter weekend!  THAT is always very good.  And THAT never grows old.

    EMPTY CROSS, EMPTY GRAVE FOR WHAT?

    I was having merienda with my friend Edwin one afternoon at the Javier-Royola Clubhouse. He made a comment that made me thinking.

    “My perspective has changed since I met Christ. I grew up somber and sad every holy week.  But understanding what Jesus accomplished on the cross, things have taken a new light.”

    No disrespect to those observing the Holy Week with a somber disposition.  People can go overboard by not even thinking about why we observe Holy Week.

    But Holy Week without Sunday is virtually incomplete.

    It’s not just about the suffering of Jesus.  The suffering led to what happened on Sunday – His victory over death and the grave.

    Paul the apostle makes a declaration in his letter to the church in Colossae.

    “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.  And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Col. 3:13-17)

    What did Jesus accomplish that Sunday morning?

    1. God made us alive with Christ.

    We are not just alive in Christ.  We were made alive with Christ.

    Through Him, death no longer has a hold on us.

    2. God forgave us from our sins.

    Sin separates us from God.  Sin causes death.  Death is two pronged – cessation of life and separation from God.

    By His sacrifice at the cross, we no longer have to suffer the penalty.  It should have been us nailed there.

    3. God disarmed the powers and authority.

    Hebrews 2:14 tells us that “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil…”

    The devil has been disarmed with what Jesus did that Easter morning.  He has won over death and the grave.

    Because of that, we know that victory can be achieved in this life as much as in the life after.


    “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 15:55-57)

    “JESUS DIDN’T REALLY RISE FROM THE DEAD!”

    This would be another claim people make.  Dissing this truth would be to ‘dis’ the divinity of Jesus.  And when one convinces himself of that, then there’s really no need to submit to Him as Lord, similar to what happens when we dispel the truth that Jesus did die.(previous post here)

    William Lane Craig, one of the leading apologists for the resurrection of Jesus lists down evidences of His resurrection.

    1.  His tomb was empty.

    Some claim that His body was stolen.  Others claim that He escaped.

    A few problems with that.  There was a huge stone that covered the entrance.  At His mangled, beaten up condition, that wouldn’t have been possible.

    Also, the stone was too big that several men was needed to roll it.

    In addition, there were guards that were posted at the entrance to ensure that no one would steal His body or that He wouldn’t be able to escape.  Roman law that time decrees that losing the body would merit death of the soldiers.

    To ensure the security, the government seal was place on the entrance.

    But with all these, to this day, we know that the tomb is still empty.

    2. He was seen by many.

    Evidence shows us that not just the women who were going to visit the tomb saw the empty tomb.  The disciples saw Jesus.  Thomas who doubted that He was really alive wanted dispel his doubts by touching Jesus’ nail scarred hands.

    Not only did the apostles saw Jesus, more than 500 saw Him too.

    Paul says in 1 Cor. 15:17,19, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins… we are to be pitied more than all men.”

    But thanks be to God, Jesus has trumped death.  And because of that, we have the hope of eternal life if we believe, receive and trust in what He did for us.


    “Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 15:55-57)

    “JESUS DIDN’T REALLY DIE!”

    There are many who refute His death.

    From D.H. Lawrence’s “Swoon Theory” to Hugh Schonfield’s “The Passover Plot”, and Donovan Joyce’s “The Jesus Scroll” to Gary Habermas’ “Holy Blood, Holy Grail”, people have tried to debate the fact that Jesus died.

    Why?  Because if people can convince themselves of this fact, then Jesus couldn’t have been God and that all He claimed was a hoax.  Thus, we are no longer compelled to follow His commands and are free to disregard everything He says.

    Dr. Metherel, who has a medical degree  from University of Miami and doctorate from University of Bristol in England clearly gives evidence to Jesus’ death in Lee Stobel’s book “The Case For Easter.”

    1. His body went through hypovolemic shock.  Hypo means low, vol refers to volume, and emic means blood.  So hypovolemic shock means the person is suffering from the effects of losing large amount of blood.  This was due to the beating, scourging, dehydration, intense stress, lack of sleep from the previous night when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane.

    2. A person who is crucified (though some don’t make it to the crucifixion due to the scourging and flogging) essentially dies a slow agonizing death by asphyxiation.  In order to exhale, the individual must push up on his feet so the tension on the muscles would be eased for a moment.  In doing so, the nail would tear through the foot not mentioning what it does to the person’s nailed wrists/hands.

    People then just give up by not pushing up to breathe.  As the person slows down in his breathing, he goes into respiratory acidosis which leads to irregular heartbeat which then leads to cardiac arrest.

    3. The legs of the men on Jesus’ left and right were shattered in the lower leg bones to prevent them from pushing up to breathe, thus killing them almost instantaneously.  Jesus’ was already declared dead, thus there was no need to break his legs.  This was to fulfill the prophecy from Ps. 34:20 that “none of his bones will be broken…”

    4. To ensure His death, a Roman spear by a professional executioner is thrust in His side.  The Bible says that blood and water gushed out.  Because of the hypovolemic shock, it would have caused a sustained rapid heart rate that would have resulted in the collection of fluid in the membrane around the heart called pericardial effusion as well as around the lungs, which is called pleural effusion.  Hence the reason for the blood and water exiting His beaten up side.

    This confirmed to the Roman executioner that the One crucified was indeed dead.

    There are many more evidences to His death.  I could go on and on.

    However, with all the evidences, one will still have to make a decision whether to put his faith in the person and work of Jesus.

    Bottom line, salvation only comes by faith.  While it is not blind faith, it is definitely a faith on truth.  He is the TRUTH.

    Well then, what will it be?

    “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Cor. 15:3-4)