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Friday, March 25, 2016

Easter

Easter - a Christian religious holiday to celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day of his burial after his crucifixion by Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD. It is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance. The week before Easter is called Holy Week, and it contains the days of the Easter Triduum, including Maundy Thursday, commemorating the Maundy and Last Supper, as well as Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. In western Christianity, Eastertide, the Easter Season, begins on Easter Sunday and lasts seven weeks, ending with the coming of the fiftieth day, Pentecost Sunday.





Easter Tridium - Easter Triduum, Holy Triduum, Paschal Triduum, or The Three Days - is the period of three days that begins with the liturgy on the evening of Maundy Thursday (the vigil of Good Friday) and ends with evening prayer on Easter Sunday. As such, the Easter Triduum runs from the evening of Maundy Thursday (excluding most of Thursday) to the evening of Resurrection Sunday. It recalls the passion, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, as portrayed in the canonical Gospels.




Maundy Thursday - also known as Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Great and Holy Thursday, Sheer Thursday, and Thursday of Mysteries - is the Christian holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter. It commemorates the Maundy and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles as described in the Canonical gospels. It is the fifth day of Holy Week, and is preceded by Holy Wednesday and followed by Good Friday.








Maundy (from Latin mandatum or mendicare) - Washing of the Feet - is a religious rite observed by several Christian denominations. John 13:1–17 mentions Jesus performing this act. Specifically, in verses 13:14–17, He instructs them: 14 "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them." It is a ceremony practiced in the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant churches. In the protestant denominations, some literally practice this and some rarely do. Among groups that do not observe foot washing as an ordinance or rite, the example of Jesus is usually held to be symbolic and didactic. Among these groups, foot washing is nevertheless sometimes literally practiced. First, some reserve it to be a practice of hospitality or a work of necessity. Secondly, some present it as a dramatic lesson acted out in front of the congregation.




Last Supper - is the final meal that, in the Gospel accounts, Jesus shared with his Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. It was at this meal that Jesus washed His disciples feet. Jesus taught, prayed and prophesied to His disciples in that last meal. It was His last words and actions with them before He was arrested, tortured and crucified. The Lord's Supper (aka Communion or Eucharist) was instituted by Jesus Christ during his Last Supper. Giving his disciples bread and wine during the Passover meal, Jesus commanded his followers to "do this in memory of me" while referring to the bread as "my body" and the wine as "my blood". Through the Eucharistic celebration, Christians remember Christ's sacrifice of himself once and for all on the cross. For us, today, taking the Lord's Supper (Communion or Eucharist) is a sacrament that we do in remembrance of what Jesus did for us. His words are read and we partake in a yeastless cracker (yeast was used by Jesus to represent sin in one of His teachings, because it spreads and grows) and the juice of the grape (either wine or grape juice). The cracker represents the body of Christ which was sinless and broken for us. The juice represents the blood of Christ that was slain on our behalf.


Good Friday - is the religious holiday we have to remember Jesus was arrested, tortured, mocked, beaten with 39 lashes, a crow of thorns cruelly mashed on his head. He was slapped, mocked, made fun of. Then He was paraded back and forth before the soldiers, people and leaders.











Luke 23:13-25 (Contemporary English Version - CEV) Pilate called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people. (14) He told them, "You brought Jesus to me and said he was a troublemaker. But I have questioned him here in front of you, and I have not found him guilty of anything that you say he has done. (15) Herod didn't find him guilty either and sent him back. This man doesn't deserve to be put to death! (16) I will just have him beaten with a whip and set free." (17) (SEE 23:16) (18) But the whole crowd shouted, "Kill Jesus! Give us Barabbas!" (19) Now Barabbas was in jail because he had started a riot in the city and had murdered someone. (20) Pilate wanted to set Jesus free, so he spoke again to the crowds. (21) But they kept shouting, "Nail him to a cross! Nail him to a cross!" (22) Pilate spoke to them a third time, "But what crime has he done? I have not found him guilty of anything for which he should be put to death. I will have him beaten with a whip and set free." (23) The people kept on shouting as loud as they could for Jesus to be put to death. (24) Finally, Pilate gave in. (25) He freed the man who was in jail for rioting and murder, because he was the one the crowd wanted to be set free. Then Pilate handed Jesus over for them to do what they wanted with him.

Jesus took the place of the criminal Barabbas who was a rioter and murderer. Jesus, who was without sin, took the place of the sinner, Barabbas. Jesus was forced to carry His own cross (or at least the crossbeam) to the hill of Calvary and He was crucified which is a slow, hideously torturous way to die. This all is represented on Good Friday.

The eight-day festival of Passover is celebrated in the early spring, from the 15th through the 22nd of the Hebrew month of Nissan. It commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. After many decades of slavery to the Egyptian pharaohs, God saw the people’s distress and sent Moses to Pharaoh with a message: Set my people free! But Pharaoh refused so God sent 10 plagues to change his mind. After each plague, Pharaoh still refused until the last one. The last one was the worst. The Angel of Death went throughout the land killing every firstborn child. God told the Israelite slaves to kill a perfect lamb and paint their doorposts and lintel with the blood of a lamb, one without a spot or blemish. When the Angel of Death saw the blood of the lamb on the door post and lintel, he "passed over" that household without killing the firstborn. After this horror, Pharoah let the Israelites leave. They not only were given the green light, but they gave such gifts and donations to the Israelites to take with them because they were now afraid of them. But it happened so fast, that they were unable to spare the time to let bread rise before baking it. So their bread had no yeast and was flat. It was their version of our "fast food"! How many Israelite slaves were set free that day? The estimates are 600,000 adult males! When you add the females and the numerous children, it would have been well over a million, maybe MILLIONS! God commanded them to set aside a religious holiday in remembrance of this event in their history. The Jewish calendar year begins in late September or early October with the celebration of Rosh Hashana. Unlike our calendar which is based on the solar year, the Jewish calendar uses twelve lunar months of 29 to 30 days in length. The new moon marks the beginning of each month with the full moon occuring halfway through the month. The seventh month in a normal Jewish calendar year is the month of Nisan (also called Abib in the Old Testament). Passover is based on the Jewish calendar, a lunar calendar with twelve 28-day months. Every two or three years, there is a thirteenth month called Adar II included in the calendar. Jewish holidays begin at sundown the day before the date specified for the holiday. Hebrew days begin and end at sundown, Passover begins at sundown on the preceding day.

Leviticus 23: 5-8
In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight (*when God says a new day begins) is Yahweh's Passover. Then on the fifteenth day of the same month there is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to Yahweh; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work. But for seven days you shall present an offering by fire to Yahweh. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work.

This passage tells us that the Passover is on the 14th and the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins the 15th; back-to-back. The first day (and the last day) of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a Sabbath. This is a “special” Sabbath, also called a “high Sabbath”. Therefore, the Sabbath for which Jesus had to be removed from the cross was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, not the weekly Sabbath. Unlike the weekly Sabbath that is every Friday night to Saturday night, this special Sabbath can fall on any day of the week.

Passover is not a Sabbath. It is the day of preparation for the High Sabbath (the first day of the Seven Day Feast of Unleavened Bread. Jesus died on Passover, but was removed from the cross before sunset, which began the High Sabbath, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

John 19:31-34 (CEV) Since it was Friday and the next day was an especially important day of worship, the Jews didn't want the bodies to stay on the crosses. So they asked Pilate to have the men's legs broken and their bodies removed. (32) The soldiers broke the legs of the first man and then of the other man who had been crucified with Jesus. (33) When the soldiers came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they didn't break his legs. (34) However, one of the soldiers stabbed Jesus' side with his spear, and blood and water immediately came out.

According the the scripture, the Jews wanted Jesus crucified and killed before the Passover Feast began. So it happened on the day of the Jewish Passover holiday. His body was taken down from the cross and carried to a tomb. The Jews were not allowed to do "laborious" work or to handle a dead body and be "unclean" during their High Sabbath.

Luke 23:32-46 (CEV) Two criminals were led out to be put to death with Jesus. (33) When the soldiers came to the place called "The Skull," they nailed Jesus to a cross. They also nailed the two criminals to crosses, one on each side of Jesus. (34) Jesus said, "Father, forgive these people! They don't know what they're doing." While the crowd stood there watching Jesus, the soldiers gambled for his clothes. The leaders insulted him by saying, "He saved others. Now he should save himself, if he really is God's chosen Messiah!" (35) (SEE 23:34) (36) The soldiers made fun of Jesus and brought him some wine. (37) They said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!" (38) Above him was a sign that said, "This is the King of the Jews." (39) One of the criminals hanging there also insulted Jesus by saying, "Aren't you the Messiah? Save yourself and save us!" (40) But the other criminal told the first one off, "Don't you fear God? Aren't you getting the same punishment as this man? (41) We got what was coming to us, but he didn't do anything wrong." (42) Then he said to Jesus, "Remember me when you come into power!" (43) Jesus replied, "I promise that today you will be with me in paradise." (44) Around noon the sky turned dark and stayed that way until the middle of the afternoon. (45) The sun stopped shining, and the curtain in the temple split down the middle. (46) Jesus shouted, "Father, I put myself in your hands!" Then he died.



Easter Sunday - is the religious holiday to celebrate Christ's rising from the dead. He died but that was not the end of the story! He rose from the dead. After the Jewish Passover observance, there were women disciples of Christ who went to the tomb to begin preparing Jesus' body for permanent burial. When they got there, they discovered Jesus was no longer dead but had risen. They ran to tell the others and some of the disciples, including Peter, ran to the tomb to see for themselves.

This is the most sacred and exciting event to us as Christians! Jesus, the Son of God, was not only born; not only lived a sinless life; not only ministered and taught; not only was arrested, tortured and killed; but HE AROSE FROM THE DEAD IN VICTORY! We need to look at this part of the story with awestruck eyes!

Luke 24:1-12 (CEV) Very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, carrying the spices that they had prepared. (2) When they found the stone rolled away from the entrance, (3) they went in. But they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus, (4) and they did not know what to think. Suddenly two men in shining white clothes stood beside them. (5) The women were afraid and bowed to the ground. But the men said, "Why are you looking in the place of the dead for someone who is alive? (6) Jesus isn't here! He has been raised from death. Remember that while he was still in Galilee, he told you, (7) 'The Son of Man will be handed over to sinners who will nail him to a cross. But three days later he will rise to life.' " (8) Then they remembered what Jesus had said. (9) Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and some other women were the ones who had gone to the tomb. When they returned, they told the eleven apostles and the others what had happened. (10) (SEE 24:9) (11) The apostles thought it was all nonsense, and they would not believe. (12) But Peter ran to the tomb. And when he stooped down and looked in, he saw only the burial clothes. Then he returned, wondering what had happened.

John 20:1-25 (CEV) On Sunday morning while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. (2) She ran to Simon Peter and to Jesus' favorite disciple and said, "They have taken the Lord from the tomb! We don't know where they have put him." (3) Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. (4) They ran side by side, until the other disciple ran faster than Peter and got there first. (5) He bent over and saw the strips of linen cloth lying inside the tomb, but he did not go in. (6) When Simon Peter got there, he went into the tomb and saw the strips of cloth. (7) He also saw the piece of cloth that had been used to cover Jesus' face. It was rolled up and in a place by itself. (8) The disciple who got there first then went into the tomb, and when he saw it, he believed. (9) At that time Peter and the other disciple did not know that the Scriptures said Jesus would rise to life. (10) So the two of them went back to the other disciples. (11) Mary Magdalene stood crying outside the tomb. She was still weeping, when she stooped down (12) and saw two angels inside. They were dressed in white and were sitting where Jesus' body had been. One was at the head and the other was at the foot. (13) The angels asked Mary, "Why are you crying?" She answered, "They have taken away my Lord's body! I don't know where they have put him." (14) As soon as Mary said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there. But she did not know who he was. (15) Jesus asked her, "Why are you crying? Who are you looking for?" She thought he was the gardener and said, "Sir, if you have taken his body away, please tell me, so I can go and get him." (16) Then Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him, "Rabboni." The Aramaic word "Rabboni" means "Teacher." (17) Jesus told her, "Don't hold on to me! I have not yet gone to the Father. But tell my disciples that I am going to the one who is my Father and my God, as well as your Father and your God." (18) Mary Magdalene then went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord. She also told them what he had said to her. (19) The disciples were afraid of the Jewish leaders, and on the evening of that same Sunday they locked themselves in a room. Suddenly, Jesus appeared in the middle of the group. He greeted them (20) and showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they became very happy. (21) After Jesus had greeted them again, he said, "I am sending you, just as the Father has sent me." (22) Then he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. (23) If you forgive anyone's sins, they will be forgiven. But if you don't forgive their sins, they will not be forgiven." (24) Although Thomas the Twin was one of the twelve disciples, he wasn't with the others when Jesus appeared to them. (25) So they told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But Thomas said, "First, I must see the nail scars in his hands and touch them with my finger. I must put my hand where the spear went into his side. I won't believe unless I do this!"

Matthew 28:1-20 (CEV) The Sabbath was over, and it was almost daybreak on Sunday when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. (2) Suddenly a strong earthquake struck, and the Lord's angel came down from heaven. He rolled away the stone and sat on it. (3) The angel looked as bright as lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. (4) The guards shook from fear and fell down, as though they were dead. (5) The angel said to the women, "Don't be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was nailed to a cross. (6) He isn't here! God has raised him to life, just as Jesus said he would. Come, see the place where his body was lying. (7) Now hurry! Tell his disciples that he has been raised to life and is on his way to Galilee. Go there, and you will see him. That is what I came to tell you." (8) The women were frightened and yet very happy, as they hurried from the tomb and ran to tell his disciples. (9) Suddenly Jesus met them and greeted them. They went near him, held on to his feet, and worshiped him. (10) Then Jesus said, "Don't be afraid! Tell my followers to go to Galilee. They will see me there." (11) While the women were on their way, some soldiers who had been guarding the tomb went into the city. They told the chief priests everything that had happened. (12) So the chief priests met with the leaders and decided to bribe the soldiers with a lot of money. (13) They said to the soldiers, "Tell everyone that Jesus' disciples came during the night and stole his body while you were asleep. (14) If the governor hears about this, we will talk to him. You won't have anything to worry about." (15) The soldiers took the money and did what they were told. The people of Judea still tell each other this story. (16) Jesus' eleven disciples went to a mountain in Galilee, where Jesus had told them to meet him. (17) They saw him and worshiped him, but some of them doubted. (18) Jesus came to them and said: I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth! (19) Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, (20) and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.

Mark 16:1-11 (CEV) After the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary the mother of James bought some spices to put on Jesus' body. (2) Very early on Sunday morning, just as the sun was coming up, they went to the tomb. (3) On their way, they were asking one another, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance for us?" (4) But when they looked, they saw that the stone had already been rolled away. And it was a huge stone! (5) The women went into the tomb, and on the right side they saw a young man in a white robe sitting there. They were alarmed. (6) The man said, "Don't be alarmed! You are looking for Jesus from Nazareth, who was nailed to a cross. God has raised him to life, and he isn't here. You can see the place where they put his body. (7) Now go and tell his disciples, and especially Peter, that he will go ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you." (8) When the women ran from the tomb, they were confused and shaking all over. They were too afraid to tell anyone what had happened. (9) Very early on the first day of the week, after Jesus had risen to life, he appeared to Mary Magdalene. Earlier he had forced seven demons out of her. (10) She left and told his friends, who were crying and mourning. (11) Even though they heard that Jesus was alive and that Mary had seen him, they would not believe it.

During the 40 days Jesus lived in His resurrected body before ascending into heaven, He met with His disciples.

1 Corinthians 15:3-7 (CEV, this book was a letter written by Apostle Paul to the Corinthian church) I told you the most important part of the message exactly as it was told to me. That part is: Christ died for our sins, as the Scriptures say. (4) He was buried, and three days later he was raised to life, as the Scriptures say. (5) Christ appeared to Peter, then to the twelve. (6) After this, he appeared to more than five hundred other followers. Most of them are still alive, but some have died. (7) He also appeared to James, and then to all of the apostles.





Ascension - the resurrected Jesus was taken up to Heaven in his resurrected body, in the presence of eleven of his disciples (from thence forward, they are referred to as His Apostles), occurring 40 days after the resurrection. In the biblical narrative, an angel tells the watching disciples that Jesus' second coming will take place in the same manner as his ascension.

Acts 1:1-15a (Easy to Read Version - ERV) Dear Theophilus, The first book I wrote was about everything Jesus did and taught from the beginning (2) until the day he was carried up into heaven. Before he went, he talked to the apostles he had chosen. With the help of the Holy Spirit, he told them what they should do. (3) This was after his death, but he showed them that he was alive, proving it to them in many ways. The apostles saw Jesus many times during the 40 days after he was raised from death. He spoke to them about God's kingdom. (4) One time when Jesus was eating with them, he told them not to leave Jerusalem. He said, "Wait here until you receive what the Father promised to send. Remember, I told you about it before. (5) John baptized people with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." (6) The apostles were all together. They asked Jesus, "Lord, is this the time for you to give the people of Israel their kingdom again?" (7) Jesus said to them, "The Father is the only one who has the authority to decide dates and times. They are not for you to know. (8) But the Holy Spirit will come on you and give you power. You will be my witnesses. You will tell people everywhere about me--in Jerusalem, in the rest of Judea, in Samaria, and in every part of the world." (9) After Jesus said this, he was lifted up into the sky. While they were watching, he went into a cloud, and they could not see him. (10) They were staring into the sky where he had gone. Suddenly two men wearing white clothes were standing beside them. (11) They said, "Men from Galilee, why are you standing here looking into the sky? You saw Jesus carried away from you into heaven. He will come back in the same way you saw him go." (12) Then the apostles went back to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. This mountain is about a half mile from Jerusalem. (13) When they entered the city, they went to the upstairs room where they were staying. These are the ones who were there: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James (the son of Alphaeus), Simon, the Zealot, and Judas (the son of James). (14) The apostles were all together. They were constantly praying with the same purpose. Some women, Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers were there with the apostles. (15) After a few days there was a meeting of the believers. There were about 120 of them.

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