He Is No Longer Dead. HE IS RISEN!

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The Resurrection by James Jacques Tissot

He has risen!
Mark 16:6

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Holy Week: Resurrection Sunday

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The Carpenter’s Cloth

Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.
JOHN 20:6, 7

DURING JESUS’ TIME THERE WAS ONE WAY A CARPENTER LET THE contractor know a job was finished. A signature, so to speak.

Imagine a hot afternoon in Galilee. Jesus has completed the final pieces of a job he has worked on for several days. The hair of his strong forearms is matted with sawdust and sweat. His face is shiny with heat. He takes a final—and welcome—drink of cool water from a leather bag.
The Carpenter’s Cloth

Then standing to the side of his work, he pours water over his face and chest, splashing it over his arms to clean himself before his journey home. With a nearby towel, he pats his face and arms dry.

Finally, Jesus folds the towel neatly in half, and then folds it in half again. He sets it on the finished work and walks away. Later, whoever arrives to inspect the work will see the towel and understand its simple message. The work is finished.

Christ’s disciples, of course, knew this carpenter’s tradition. On a Sunday of sorrow, three years after Jesus had set aside his carpenter tools, Peter will crouch to look into an empty tomb and see only the linens that the risen Lord has left behind.

A smile will cross Peter’s face as his sorrow is replaced by hope, for he will see the wrap that had covered Jesus’ face. It has been folded in half, then folded in half again and left neatly on the floor of the tomb.

Peter understands. The carpenter has left behind a simple message.

It is finished.

From The Carpenter’s Cloth: Christ’s Journey to the Cross and Beyond by Sigmund Brouwer

Taken from ChristianityToday.com

I am HE!

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The Guards Falling Backwards by James Jacques Tissot

esus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” 5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. John 18:4-6

I know I say this often, but there is so much in the Passion Story that I love. And it is so great that every year as we focus on the events of this week another aspect of Jesus’ life stands out. Last year it was Malchius, the servant of the High Priest that was attacked by Peter and healed by Christ in the Garden.

This year it is again events in the Garden that have arrested my attention. What happened as those soldiers and Jewish officials approached Jesus in the Garden? What did Jesus do? What did he look like? What happened that caused those men to fall back and stumble to the ground?

“I am HE”

I do not fully understand the power of that statement. But those men experienced it. Something happened in the moment that Jesus spoke those words that caused those around Him to fall.

It makes me think of Peter’s statement earlier in the Gospels, “Lord, where would we go? You have the WORDS of life.” (my paraphrase) Peter said Jesus had “words of life” — WORDS. Peter didn’t refer to something Jesus did or was going to do. He said Jesus had WORDS.

Who is this God we serve? Who is this God we worship? What God, with such power to speak the universe into existence, should be concerned about me and include me into His plan to redeem the nations to himself?

A Great Good Friday Service!

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Last night was a great service! Langhorne Terrace Ministries, Bucks County Community Church and Crossing all gathered together to observe Good Friday. Pastor Paul Shumski gave the message, while Crossing’s worship team, lead by Debbie Sweigard, lead us in a great time of worship! We took part in the Lord’s Supper and enjoy the wonderful talents of Rebecca Benjamin and Jennifer Musser, both from BCCC as they sang for us.

The place was packed. There was a genuine joy shared among our churches as we worshiped together. The worship time was really great. Folks stayed and visited long after the last “amen.”

I hope there are more opportunities for gatherings like this, with the really grand gathering being one day at the throne! When we will be with the Saints throughout the ages, myriads upon myriads. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!!

Holy Week: Day 6

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Crucifixion

Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.
JOHN 19:16

tissot-the-five-wedges

THIS IS HOW YOU WOULD DIE IF YOU WERE CRUCIFIED.

You would carry your upright beam to the site of execution. At thirty or forty pounds, this lumber is a bearable weight, except you are weak from the blood you have lost to the whips that slashed your back. You feel nearly naked as you walk past jeering crowds.

Perhaps, though, you are not aware of this pain or agony because you know what lies ahead. And dread from that knowledge far outweighs anything else you feel.

At the place you are to die, you watch soldiers position the upright beam in the ground. They do not care about your fears. They tell jokes. Comment on the crowd. They wiggle the beam back and forth, filling the hole with dirt until it no longer moves—as if merely positioning a post for a fence. When they are satisfied, they turn their attention to you.

Another beam is set upon the ground. Nearby are sacks of provisions for the soldiers. They expect to be near the cross for some time, to guard against anyone helping you down. They will eat to satisfy their hunger as you die. They have seen this hundreds of times. Your groans and screams will not dull their appetite.

Now you are forced onto your back. If you resist, the soldiers will kick you brutally and slam you with their spears—but they will not kill you, that would be too merciful.

They lay you across the beam with your arms extended. You are grateful for the merciful Jewish tradition that allows a nearby woman to offer you a cup of strong wine mixed with myrrh. You drink it greedily, and the drugged wine begins to deaden your sensations. But when the hammer is lifted, your bladder weakens, perhaps empties, with renewed fear. Your moment has arrived. No amount of myrrh and wine can protect you now.

Several long, sharp nails are driven into your left hand, then into the right, pinning your arms to the wood. Some of the hammer blows miss the spike and shatter bones in your fingers. The soldiers laugh. You know it could be worse. If the executioner had little skill or time, he would simply pound the nails halfway up the flesh of your forearm, confident that eventually your body weight would tear your arm’s soft flesh until the bones of your wrist met the nails and arrested the slow agonizing, downward slide of the body.

Now you are secured to the cross—piece, helpless as soldiers use ropes to draw you upward. They bind the cross-piece to the upright beam with rope or nails. Your feet are barely off the ground.

At this point the soldiers are far from finished. If they left you hanging in this manner, death would arrive too quickly—from suffocation as your body’s unsupported weight pulled down against your lungs.

So the soldiers turn your lower body sideways and push your legs upward. They know your large thigh muscles will almost immediately know and cramp without any prospect of relief that comes from stretching. The soldiers drive spikes through each of your ankles, splintering bone.

You cannot scream, such is the pain. Your brain is flooded with the agonies searing through the different parts of your body. Flies settle on your wounds and eyes and nose to torment you.

Yet the real pain has not yet begun.

Left alone in this private hell, you will choose the lesser agony of hanging from the nails driven into your hands simply because it is unbearable to place any weight on the fragmented bones of your ankles. You will begin to suffocate. Your lungs will strain for the sweetness of air until your throat rattles against the choking of your diaphragm, unable to push for one more gasp.

Your will to live is an unreasoning desperate creature; it ignores your wish to die. So you fight for air and push downward on those cramping thigh muscles, pushing your weight on the iron spikes in your ankles. Broken bone grates against broken bones, an unspeakable white-hot knife thrust of pain, a pain that robs you of the very breath you seek.

When you can no longer endure this pain, you sag again, until your lungs suck for air. You push your weight on your ankles, until your screaming nerves force you to sag again. You alternate between these two agonies, knowing it may take hours, perhaps days, until exhaustion and dehydration finally send you into the black oblivion that is your only hope.

And the entire time you take to die, your body will only be a scant foot or two off the ground that would give you life—if only someone would take you down during the long, endless hours of horror.

This death Jesus accepted … for sins he did not commit.

From The Carpenter’s Cloth: Christ’s Journey to the Cross and Beyond by Sigmund Brouwer

Taken from ChristianityToday.com

Jesus in Agony in the Garden

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The Grotto of the Agony by James Jacques Tissot

41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
Luke 22:41-44

Holy Week: Day 5

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Drops of Blood

Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
MATTHEW 26:38-39

WATCH THE ENTRANCE TO THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE. Upon entering with his disciples, Jesus pauses—not from fear of the twisted shadows of shrubs and olive trees, innocent in daylight yet sinister in darkness, for even at night the garden is a sanctuary, a place of peace and beauty.

No, Jesus pauses among his disciples because he has faltered under the weight of sorrow and desolation.

His voice is low and hoarse: “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”

Without question, the disciples obey. It was usual for Jesus to take time alone with his Father.

“Pray that you will not fall into temptation,” Jesus says. Utter loneliness overwhelms him. He does what any man would do—he turns to his friends.

He places one hand on Peter’s shoulder. With his other, he lightly touches James and John, the sons of Zebedee. These are the three men closest to him, the three who witnessed his transfiguration, who stood beside him when he raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead.

They follow Jesus deeper into the garden where he shares his troubles with them, drawing a deep breath to find strength.

“My soul,” he says, “is overwhelmed to the point of death.”

He turns to them, outlined by the moonlight of the garden night. “Stay here and keep watch with me.”

He does not beg. The need is in his voice. The obvious agony of his soul terrifies them. This is the man who calmed the storm, who walked across water. What thing of horror can bend him to the point of defeat?

Terror mutes them.

Jesus walks away, but not so far that they are unable to see him collapse on his face as he kneels. When he prays aloud, his voice carries to them.

“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me”—a human plea.

“Yet not as I will, but as you will”—divine submission.

Both natures agonize in the contradiction of a perfect duality, submitting to the humiliation of death. It is the spiritual anguish of a single star shrinking to oblivion in an eternal night of infinite black. It is a physiological anguish so great that his body responds by constricting the vessels near the skin.

Drops of blood fall from his brow.

Only later, after the resurrection, when Peter and the sons of Zebedee truly know that Jesus is divine, are they able to look back on this moment and understand that his pain was far greater than any pain man had ever suffered.

Fallen man is born with the certainty of death’s future claim. Body and soul are fused at the beginning to be torn apart at the end.

Jesus, however, was born into this world without the selfishness of the body’s sins to dim the spirit’s awareness of God. For him, unlike any other man, there was no need for death to free his soul from a decaying prison of flesh.

To man, death must be accepted because it is inevitable.

To Jesus it was the ultimate miscarriage of justice.

Yet when the soldiers and chief priests approached with swords and clubs, he did not wait for them to reach him. He stood from his prayers and walked toward them.

Death was his choice.

Made for us.

From The Carpenter’s Cloth: Christ’s Journey to the Cross and Beyond by Sigmund Brouwer

Taken from ChristianityToday.com

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