Thursday, March 28, 2013

Face to face with Jesus

The Thursday before that first Easter Jesus observed Passover with His disciples in a private room. As their Rabbi, He probably spoke to them of Israel's slavery in Egypt and how Yahweh rescued them from the hands of Pharaoh when the death angel passed over the homes of those with lambs' blood on the doorposts. Perhaps John (the youngest of the 12) took on the role of asking the four pertinent questions.

As the meal progressed Jesus changed the script when He took the bread, broke it in half, and said, "This is my body, broken for you". Then He took the cup of wine and said, "This is my blood, spilled for you." Don't think for a moment that His disciples didn't notice the change. They had been observing the Passover since birth. I imagine a solemn pall fell over the room when Jesus said, "This will be the last meal I will share with you in this life." What?

The Scriptures tell us that after singing a song Jesus and His followers (save Judas Iscariot) made their way to the Garden of Gethsemane. This was a familiar place of retreat for them. I am sure they felt more relaxed, and may have even forgotten Jesus' remarks at supper. But their peaceful rest was shattered as the Temple Guard arrested Jesus and marched Him away. For most of them, this was the final time they would see Him alive.

After Jesus was questioned, falsely accused, declared guilty, condemned to death, and whipped, He was led to Golgotha for crucifixion. For three long hours His ravaged body hung on the cross. Some of the onlookers mocked Him. Others begged for His release. Finally, Jesus let out a hair-raising, bloodcurdling wail, exclaimed, "It is finished!" and God mercifully let Him die.

Jesus was buried in a garden tomb.

At daybreak on the day following the Sabbath (Sunday on our calendar), Mary Magdalene, Peter, and John all discovered that the tomb was empty. At first they thought someone had stolen their fallen Rabbi's body. But angels posted at the grave revealed to them the truth: "Why are you looking for the living among the dead? He is risen!" Later that day Jesus came face-to-face with the rest of His band, and their lives were never the same.

Have you come face-to-face with Jesus? Jesus lived - and died - and lives again, to bring you back into relationship with God your Father so that your life will never be the same.

-Major Jim Taylor
Tulsa Area Commander

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