Archive for the “Easter” Category

Palm FrondsPalm Sunday marks Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It was a time of great celebration. I was fascinated to learn this week that there was almost a mingling of Jewish festival celebrations and a foreshadowing of heavenly celebrations in that single event. In Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, we see elements of the Passover celebration, the Festival of Tabernacles, and heavenly worship.

First a brief review of Passover and the Festival of Tabernacles.

In the Old Testament, the Jews were enslaved by the Egyptians, and God sent Moses to deliver them. Moses repeatedly went to the Pharaoh with a message from God: “Let my people go so that they might worship me.” Well, we know that Pharaoh had a hard heart – he didn’t care about God or what god wanted. So God sent the ten plagues to try to convince Pharaoh to change his mind. There were plagues of frogs, gnats, boils and all manner of other unpleasant (and deadly) plagues. The first nine didn’t go very far toward softening Pharaoh’s heart.

The tenth one, however, was the most significant. It was a plague of death to the firstborn of every person and animal. While the Israelites experienced most of the plagues along with the Egyptians, they were protected from this one. God gave them very specific instructions to kill a lamb that was without spot or blemish and they were to take some of blood from that lamb and put it at the top and sides of their door. When the death angel saw the blood of the lamb on the door, he would pass over that house and no death would come to it. From that time on, the Jews celebrated the festival called Passover. It was a time when they remembered that the angel of the death passed over their home, saving them from death and bring deliverance from the Egyptians.

Festival of Tabernacles
The Festival of Tabernacles is in the fall and it remembers the time when God lead the Israelites through the desert to the Promised Land. It celebrates His provision for them –food, clothing, shelter and good health. This festival is the biggest celebration of the year. Here’s how the festival begins:

the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. 
Leviticus 23:40 (NLT)

Two Festivals Intermingle in the Celebration as Jesus Enters Jerusalem

So, again, we have these two festivals that the Jews celebrate.

  • Passover, representing the time when the blood of a lamb was put on the doorposts of the Jewish households and the angel of death would pass over that household.
  • Festival of Tabernacles celebrated by the waving of palm branches with great rejoicing for seven days. It commemorates God’s provision for the Jews as they wandered in the wilderness, and ultimately bringing them victory after victory as they came into the Promised land.

The symbolism of two events come together in the story of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The Gospel of John gives this account:

12The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,

    “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
    “Blessed is the King of Israel!”
John 12:12-13 (NIV)

People were in town to celebrate Passover – what they would experience was Jesus being that Passover lamb – as He was crucified and bled from the crown of thorns on His head and the nail through His feet and two more nails through His hands. Just as the Israelites had to apply the blood of the lamb to their doorposts to be passed over by the death angel, so we have to apply the blood of the lamb of God to the doorposts of our heart to pass from death to life. We have to say “Yes, Lord – You did that for me – Save me – I will follow You!”

But before the actual observance of Passover, Jesus came into town riding on a humble donkey. It is unmistakable that the crowd recognized Him as the Messiah they were waiting for – the One who would save and deliver them. Yet He didn’t come into town riding a horse or chariot. He came in riding a donkey. He was sending a message that they didn’t yet understand. He was sending the message that He was the Messiah who came to serve, not conquer. He came to be the lamb of God who would be slain so that the death angel could pass over all who would apply his blood to their hearts and souls.

They didn’t understand that yet. But their celebration makes it clear that they recognized Him as their Messiah.

“Hosanna to the Son of David!” They shouted. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

“Hosanna” means “save us now!”

“Son of David” is a phrase that had come to mean the Anointed Messiah – the One who would deliver them.

 So they cut palm fronds and waved them. And threw down their coats and the palm branches before Jesus as he rode into town. They were honoring Him as they would celebrate and honor a king.

What I found fascinating is that cutting palm fronds and celebrating with them is exactly what they did every fall when they celebrated the Festival of Tabernacles. They celebrated God’s provision and their deliverance through the desert to the Promised Land with palm fronds. Now God was providing their ultimate deliverer and they instinctively used palm fronds to celebrate!

The Celebration with Palm Fronds Continues
What I also found fascinating is that this celebration was a precursor of things to come. This was the earthly celebration that preceded the heavenly one. Jesus knew this celebration would be short lived and He would soon die on the cross. He knew that in just a few days He would become the Passover lamb whose blood protected all who took shelter behind it.

Christ became that perfect sacrifice so that we might have eternal life. We look forward to next Easter when we’ll celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. In the book of revelation, John the Apostle was taken up to heaven. This is part of what he saw:

6Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders…8And…the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb….9And they sang a new song:
    “You are worthy to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
    because you were slain,
    and with your blood you purchased men for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation.
Rev 5:6-9 (NIV)

Hallelujah! Even in heaven, Christ bears the look of the Lamb who was slain and they are worshipping Him because He was slain and His blood, shed on the cross, made salvation possible for men and women from every tribe and language and people and nation. If you know Christ, if you have applied His blood to the doorposts of your heart, you will be among those people who worship Christ in heaven.

And let me show you one more thing. A few chapters later in Revelation John writes this:

9After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10And they cried out in a loud voice:

    “Salvation belongs to our God,
    who sits on the throne,
    and to the Lamb.”
Rev 11:9-10 (NIV)

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the people waved palm fronds and laid them at His feet. They shouted “Hosanna”“Save us Now!” There is a day coming when saints from every nation, tribe, people and language will stand before the throne of God – stand in front of the Lamb who was slain but is alive. And we will wear white robes, which symbolizes that our sins have been washed away, and we will be holding palm branches in our hands. And we will sing in a loud voice “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.” Hallelujah!

The celebration of the crowd as Jesus entered Jerusalem is a dim reflection of the celebration we will be a part of in heaven. What a glorious time that will be, friends. We will worship like we have never worshiped before. With palm fronds from earth, we will worship in heaven. With full understanding that Christ Jesus is the fulfillment of every Old Testament promise and practice. With the experience of a new life that lasts forever.

This is Holy Week and I encourage you to reflect and celebrate the week. Celebrate Christ’s rule and reign today – that is, the ruling and reigning of Christ in and through your life. And celebrate knowing that there is a day to come when we will celebrate Christ together in heaven.

Hosanna! Save us now, Lord!
Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord

And blessed are those who call on His Name. I hope you’re one of them.

Special thanks to Real Life Blog for the image. Check it out here.

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May you be blessed this Resurrection Sunday, friends!

I was so disappointed to be sick today and miss church – celebrating the resurrection of our Lord among my fellow believers and co-workers for the Gospel. As I sat covered in a blanket watching television preachers, I realized that I was not entering into worship and that I had a choice. I was feeling a little bit sorry for myself and wishing that God would meet with me. That’s when I realized that simply watching television was not likely to bring about my desired outcome. This is not a statement against television ministries. I have been greatly ministered to through television ministries. But today, this Resurrection Sunday, I was simply not engaging. Just laying here huddled under a blanket was the easiest thing to do and if I was more sick than I am it would have been the appropriate thing to do perhaps. But I have a little energy – not enough to get up and move around, but enough to reach for my computer (which is nearly always within arms’ reach) and go to YouTube.

I searched for the classic Easter hymn “Up from the Grave He Arose,” also known as “Low in the Grave He Lay.” I was so blessed as I listened to these four versions of the song. Not only did it turn my living room into a place of worship and adoration, it provided a simple message spoken in my spirit by the Lord as I listened and sang along with the recordings – as believers in Christ, we are a part of something so much bigger than ourselves and our congregation and our community and our country.

  • Our faith travels back in time to Christ’s resurrection, and before that His birth, and before that His working in our world through His Chosen People to bring about our salvation. His resurrection is the central event to that salvation; it is the event that makes it possible. We are connected to all believers who came before us.
  • Our faith is practiced around the world in all cultures.  We are connected to all believers celebrating this Resurrection Sunday – not just today, but every Lord’s Day when we meet for worship.

It was the variety of ways this single hymn was available on YouTube that spoke these things to my heart and spirit.

So if you’ve got 10-20 minutes, sit back and enjoy some of these recordings of the classic hymn hymn “Up from the Grave He Arose.” What a blessing it’s been for me. I pray it blesses you as well.

A traditional organ version

A Reggae/Hispanic version –  I love that it mixes a light Reggae beat and then throws in a verse sung in Spanish (most of the song is in English). This version had the most impact on me.

A very casual, “today” version – a young woman and her guitar

An Oriental orchestral/operatic version – I wish I knew enough about the cultures to be able to identify this to a specific Oriental culture/language but I do not, but this version gave me chills each time full orchestra, lead tenor with full choir backing him up went into the chorus –“Up from the Grave He Arose.”

Hallelujah! He is risen! He is risen, indeed! Thank You, Lord!



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Scriptures teaches that Jesus suffered greatly on the night he was crucified. Read about some of his suffering:

Then they spit in Jesus’ face and hit him with their fists. And some slapped him, 
          Matthew 26:67

They made a crown of long, sharp thorns and put it on his head, and they placed a stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery, yelling, “Hail! King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and grabbed the stick and beat him on the head with it.
          Matthew 27:29-30

Then some of them began to spit at him, and they blindfolded him and hit his face with their fists. “Who hit you that time, you prophet?” they jeered. And even the guards were hitting him as they led him away.
          Mark 14:65

As they led Jesus away, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country just then, was forced to follow Jesus and carry his cross.
          Luke 23:26

Even the guards were hitting him…he wasn’t being punched in the face by people like me who throw wimpy punches. He was being punched in the face by Roman guards. Can you even begin to imagine how disfigured He must have been?

In an Easter devotional from a number of years ago, Chuck Missler makes the conjecture that the reason He wasn’t recognized after His resurrection was in part because he was so disfigured.  His beard half torn out and a scarred face. Maybe He even walked with a limp.

I have a large scar on my arm. I haven’t done anything to reduce it’s ugly appearance, because to me, it is a constant memory of God’s goodness to me at a time when I could have lost much of the use of my arm. I would rather carry the scar than have a “perfect” arm. The scar is more beautiful to me.

I have long been convinced that what we consider to be beautiful is vastly different from what God considers to be beautiful. Not in all ways, certainly. I’m sure he considers the same beautiful sunset you and I admire to be beautiful. But I also think He considers the scars of His saints beautiful. I think that we, His bride, are often most beautiful to Him when we are battle-scarred but have persevered; when we show the signs of one who has relentlessly taken the blows of the enemy and stood firm in Christ.

Missler says in his article “that the only man-made things in heaven are His [Jesus’] scars.” And yet, “the marks of His humiliation are also the marks of His glory.” Without the scars and the crucifixion, there would be no resurrection. Jesus’ glory is His willingness to die on the cross to save us. God’s glory is Jesus’ resurrection after His death on the cross.

Beloved, today is Easter – Resurrection Sunday. Christ has risen! He has risen, indeed! He has risen, carrying the scars for your sin and mine, so that we might also rise. His love for us goes beyond anything we have ever experienced or can imagine. Trust Him today with your life.

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