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AF-S63-032705 Easter

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Alêtheia Christian Fellowship       (Sermon 62, 03-20-05)

10 Announcements, Celebration night in 2 days.

Although I’m extremely eager to get going on 1 John, I don’t want to miss the celebration of the most important day in human history. Today is Easter Sunday, or as I like Resurrection Sunday.

This day has been celebrated as the greatest day in Christianity since the first one nearly 2,000 years ago.

There’s a lot of misunderstanding about Christian holidays, so let’s get that straight right now.

First and foremost is the point that God never wanted religion, He has always desired a relationship with you as an individual within a community.

When Jesus voluntarily submitted to the Father’s desire He created a path for everyone who would accept into relationship.

This is a very important point and I want to make absolutely certain you understand. Christianity is not about being good or going to heaven. Christianity is not about doing enough to get by or gaining God’s favor for your selfish desires in this life or the next. In short Christianity is not about religion or even spirituality in the common sense.

Christianity, by definition is about entering into an eternal relationship with almighty God by way of His Plan and only by way of His Plan. We can’t tell God how it’s going to be!

God has created a universal path for all mankind and yet loves us so much He will not force Himself upon anyone.

You choose. You either want to fully surrender to God and enter into a right relationship with Him by way of His program or you continue to do things your way.

If you want to go your own way then quit messing around with it! If you are God, then step up to the plate and be God!

 

11 It’s that black and white. John 18:37-38 ~ Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said* to Him, “What is truth?”

12 Hebrews 10:23-27 ~

Verse 26 says, For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the Truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins

What is sin?

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the Truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,

What is the result?

Verse 27, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.

13 You may say, the Bible is not accurate, or there’s more to it than the Bible message, or there are multiple paths, or if God is really Love then everyone will eventually be saved, or I’ve got time before I have to make the choice or Easter is just a pagan festival hijacked by Christians. Let’s take them one at a time.

14 Romans 1:20 ~ For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 2 Corinthians 3:14 ~ But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ.

It is only when you turn whole-heartedly toward the Lord that the veil is lifted.

Now about the holiday….

The controversy between Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, and Anicetus, the bishop of Rome (aslo fought gnostics and wrote against the Montanists[Pentecostals] as well as condemning long hair), that occurred around a.d. 155 What is more intriguing for us is that Polycarp claimed his practice came to him from the apostle John. In other words, Polycarp essentially argued that the practice of celebrating Jesus' resurrection on Nisan 14 was not so much scriptural as it was traditional. Irenaeus' letter records that Polycarp and Anicetus took the Lord's Supper to gether. It didn't matter to them what season or day it was. Taking the Lord's Supper together symbolically showed their unity in Christ.

There’s good reason to believe the early church got it right and we know that Sunday was considered the day of Christian Worship and Fellowship from the very beginning. Yet genuine Christian Leaders were not going to get wrapped around the axle over days and seasons.

15 Galatians 4:10-11 ~  You observe days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.

Paul is perplexed at how quickly people go back into the bondage of religiosity and it is because Relationship is so much harder than religion. There is no value in religion though! If you are religious you are literally wasting your time. Figure out who you want to be and be that person. Either live for God, surrendered to His plan and in ever increasing relationship or live for you and do it big!

16 The fifth Christian council in 325A.D. formalized Palm Sunday the Passion Week and Easter, with special supper and the giving of alms on Maundy Thursday the Passover day (Latin for Commandment, in recognition of Jesus’ order to love one another), Good Friday the Crucifixion day, The Great Sabbath of fasting and vigilance as well as the most common day of Baptism followed by Easter Sunday which I like to call Resurrection Sunday. The Sunday following is called White Sunday where those baptized are given membership in the Church. This council took place in Nikae>a, from nikh~>, meaning victory like in Nike shoes. On the coast of Lake Iznik in Northwestern Turkey. From this synod (Path-Together) we get the Nicene Creed formally establishing basic Christian Theology.

Of course even by Augustine’s day the people were not living in accordance with relational Christianity, but were operating out of social and selfish reasons.

According to the Bible the first satanic religion after the Flood was established at the Tower of Babel. Nimrod, the Grandson of Ham, founded Babel, Erech and Akkad. In what is present-day Iraq in the vicinity of Baghdad. They were the forerunners of Sumerians and Akkadians His wife was a witch named Semir-amis who was the High Priestess of the anti-God cult. She had a son named Tammuz who was a savior-God conceived by a sun-beam but he was killed in the early spring and remained dead for forty days mourned bitterly by his mother she became the conduit through the prayers of the people to her dead son and so she raised him back to life through her love and would forever function as a mediator for the prayers of the people. Every year people would fast and mourn in remembrance. She became the Great high mother goddess of dozens of nations, Ishtar of the  Akkadians, Philistines and Assyrians, Aphrodite of Greece, Venus of Rome, Freya of the Vikings, Hathor of pre-dynastic Egypt and later Isis. etc. While her son also became her lover and is known by many names also, like, Baal, Osiris, Eros and Satan. Eventually she was believed to have been born of a sun beam as well.

The Phoenicians called her Astarte who was from the Aysha and it is from this we get the word Asia meaning to the East and it is also where we get the word East itself. The moon goddess and Mother Nature.

Eostre is the Teutonic Goddess of Spring. Eggs and rabbits are sacred to Her, as is the full moon. The Jews knew her as Astoreth and Solomon introduced the worship of this idol (1 Kings 11:33). Jezebel's 400 priests were probably employed in its service (1 Kings 18:19). It was called the "queen of heaven" (Jer. 44:25) Baal sun God and Ishtar the moon goddess queen of heaven mother and lover of baal. Semiramis and Tamuz.

Two things about the Passion of Christ, first He was tortured beyond all human understanding because a perfect being in continuous eternal communion with the Father was now burdened by the sin of the world and His Father turned His back on Him. Second He could have stopped at any time, He wasn’t paying for His sin, He voluntarily paid for yours.

The Passion week is recorded in all four Gospels. Jesus had been staying at Bethany with Lazarus (whom He had raised from the dead) and his two sisters Martha and Mary. Mary anointed Jesus with a perfume worth a years wages. Judas was upset and Jesus rebuked him. This rebuke coupled with Jesus’ persistent talk of dying ultimately led him to betray Christ.

On Sunday Jesus, His disciples and a large crowd of people who were with Him at Bethany headed for Jerusalem a short, 1 ½ mile, walk away. Very soon they arrived at Bethphage, on the Mount of Olives just across the Kidron Valley East of Jerusalem. He stopped and sent some disciples ahead to bring an unbroken young donkey that had never before been ridden and the donkey’s mother. His crowd spread the word among the other pilgrims and before you know it a massive crowd with great expectation of the savior arrived.

The valley He crosses is the Judgement valley and is a short distance, a mile or so across. As Jesus enters the City vast numbers of other people take notice including Gentiles. They are all asking what’s going on and are told by the large crowd accompanying Jesus that the Messiah has come. Imagine the rejoicing, finally we will be rid of the Romans.

The palm branches were from the Date Palm in Greek foini>x, we pronounce it Phoenix. Remember the Phoenicians? It’s the same word because the Phoenicians cultivated and exported the dates. The tree grows to 50' and is very useful for many things besides just the dates. Laying the fronds on the ground in the Roman world was a sign of victory and rejoicing. When the victorious Roman legions would return to Rome the people would honor them in this way. The Jews had used the branches for similar purposes as they did under Judas Maccabeus when he overthrew the Seleucid King, Antiochus V Eupater, son of Antiochus Epiphanes and rededicated the second Temple in 165bc. (Hanukkah).

They shout in Hebrew “Yah-shah-naw,”  נָא יָשַׁע meaning Save Now, transliterated into Greek in the New Testament as wJsanna>. Psalm 118.

This Psalm by tradition is the last psalm sung by Jesus and His disciples prior to His death. It was the last sung after the Passover meal. According to Ezra, it was sung at the dedication of the second Temple and likely was sung at the rededication. Later, after He overturned the money-changer’s tables the children ascribed the same Psalm to Jesus and when the Jewish religious leaders heard it they were indignant, but Jesus claimed the Psalm by applying another Scripture to Himself, Psalms 8, “From the lips of children... ordained Praise.” Beyond the primary significance of the people proclaiming Jesus as their King and Messiah fulfilling several Old Testament Prophecies the word Hosanna is a prayer that over time and with use became an exultation of praise, just like our contemporary, “God save the Queen,” It was originally a prayer to God for the leader of the nation, but has become an exultation of praise for the leader.

On Monday Jesus goes back into the Temple area and overturns the tables. This does 3 things. First it fulfills more Old Testament Prophecy about Jesus. Second, it further solidifies the fact that Jesus is claiming to be the Messiah by doing these things. Third, it completely solidifies the Jewish Leaders desire to kill Him which is exactly what Jesus is trying to accomplish. You heard me right, Jesus must continue to poke and prod just as He does today in your life and mine to reveal who we really are. No pretending ultimately. As He continues to push the Jews they continue to fortify their hearts against Him.

Probably on Thursday Jesus washes the feet of His disciples and they eat a traditional Passover meal at which Jesus institutes two separate things which are really one and the same. Communion and love one another as I love you and by this people will know you are mine.

They sang Psalm 118, drank the wine and departed for Gethsemene to pray. Back across the Kidron Valley and we pick up the scene in:

17 Mark 14:32-36 ~

They came* to a place named Gethsemane; and He said* to His disciples, “Sit here until I have prayed.” And He took* with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be very distressed and troubled. And He said* to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.” And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”

 

18 John 19:31-33 ~

Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath for that Sabbath was a high day, asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 

mega>lh hJ hJme>ra ejkei>nou tou~ sabba>tou

When an annual Sabbath falls on a weekly Sabbath.

19 Matthew 27:57-60 ~

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away.

20 Luke 23:54-24:3 ~

It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment. But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

21 Luke 24:44-47 ~

Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 

22 Matthew 28:19-20 ~

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

23 Acts1:1-3 ~

The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.

24 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 ~

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. 

25 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 & 54-57

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus died for you, will you live for Him? Although a cliche it is nonetheless the reality of things. Figure out who you are and be that person. And if you choose to reject Christ, do it in a big way, don’t pussyfoot around. I mean if your going to Hell for eternity and you only have 80 years or so here on Earth you better make the best of it baby. Like they say life is short, live it up!

If on the other hand you realize the complete futility of human existence and our total reliance on God, not only to take our next breath or have our heart beat again, but to even stay collated in one piece and not be scattered throughout the Universe. If you can realize that you can never approach God, can never do anything perfect enough for Him and therefore can only know Him if He provides a bridge.

Jesus is that one and only bridge between man and God. He has done everything for you all you have to do is accept it. But make no mistake about it you must make the choice. You can harden yourself like the Jews that day 2,000 years ago or you can live!

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