PASSION WEEK | APRIL 16

THE BRIDGE TO FREEDOM

 

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.  So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple…So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.  Both were running…Simon Peter…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…”  John 20:1-7 (NIV)

 

There is no day like Resurrection Day!!! The greatest exodus of all time was not Moses leading Israel out of captivity in Egypt, as great as that was.  The greatest exodus was when Jesus was raised to life, never to die again!  Its impact is far-reaching and never-ending:

             TO A CHILD:
  • That’s when Jesus said, “Get me out of this hole!”
  • There is one word for Easter – “Surprise!”
  • Jesus was laid in a borrowed tomb because He knew He would not need it very long.

 

            TO THE WORLD:

  • No one or nothing has so impacted the world.
  • The world does not understand the true believer because we are so different: we are twice-born people in a once-born world.

 

            TO THE THIRD-DAY BELIEVER:

Just yesterday, we were sitting in silent unbelief.  We found ourselves on the side of the trail.  Unless something is changed, the best part of our lives is over and we will simply fade into the distance.

 

But something has changed!  Jesus’ best work was His final work.  His strongest step was His last step when He stepped out of the grave!!!

On the third day, men and women
ran!

Jesus’ followers started living like true believers again.

Yesterday we were bound with fear:  today we ran with freedom!
 

Why such enthusiasm?  Was it because of what they found in the tomb or because

of what they did not find in the tomb?…Both!

 

            They did not find Jesus’ body, but they did find His burial clothes.  Have

            you ever wondered why the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head

            was “folded up by itself?”  I believe it was Jesus’ signature, the mark of

            a carpenter.  It was customary for a hired carpenter to take the cloth that

            he used to wipe the sweat from his face, to fold it twice, and leave it on

            the completed project to let the owner know the work was finished.

 

Peter would have been familiar with this custom.  Could it be that, when he looked

inside the empty tomb, he saw the folded burial cloth as Jesus’ sign of encouragement?  If anyone needed encouragement, it would have been Peter who denied his Lord.

 

            THE FOLDED BURIAL CLOTH SAYS:

  • I have left you a sign of encouragement.
  • I am no longer dead, and neither are you.
  • I will trade your sorrows for My joy.
  • I will take away your death and give you my life.

 

THIRD-DAY BELIEVERS ARE CHANGED IN HIS PRESENCE AND CONSUMED

WITH HIS LIFE!  IT IS TIME TO STAND TO YOUR FEET, JOIN THE RANKS,

AND RUN IN THE POWER OF HIS HOLY PRESENCE!!!!



PASSION WEEK | APRIL 15

THE BRIDGE TO OUR TESTIMONY

 

“Then he (the thief) said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise’.”  -Luke 23:42-43

 

“Actions speak louder than words.”  Jesus’ actions spoke volumes yesterday!  His words carried great weight also.  His followers are dazed and confused today, recalling every word that they can remember Jesus speaking, trying to make sense of what they have just witnessed.

The image of the “Skull”, the stony hill that held the cross of Jesus, lingered like a black cloud in their minds.  They found themselves in the position of being “Second-Day Believers.”

 
Second-Day Believers:

 

  • have crippling fears and wounded faith
  • sit in darkness, confused with no great expectations
  • struggle to believe the promises spoken by God
  • give more weight to their circumstances than to God’s word
  • have been robbed of their joy

 

Every true believer will face these temptations; but, let me re-assure you at this point.  The sun does not cease to exist because the clouds have moved in.  If Jesus spoke it, you can count on it!  If you do not have a word from God, ask Him to give you one.  Always remember what you see and what you feel does not change the reality of His presence.

 

SEVEN STATEMENTS OF TESTIMONY FROM JESUS ON THE CROSS:

 

  1. Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”  (Luke 23:34)                                 Forgiveness is available to you today.

 

  1. “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

The testimony of faith can save the most desperate souls from the most desperate circumstances.

 

  1. “Woman, behold your Son! ….Behold your mother.” (John 19:26-27)

                        If Jesus ministered to people while hanging on the cross, imagine how

                        He can minister from the throne room in heaven!!

 

  1. My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”  (Mark 15:34)

                        When Jesus became sin for us, for the only time in history, He was                                          separated from His Father.  Separation from God grieves both God and His children.

 

  1. “I thirst.”  (John 19:28)

                        Jesus thirsted on the cross to fill your life with His presence.

 

  1. “It is finished.”  (John 19:30)

                        God does not do things half way.  Keep waiting on Him.

 

  1. “Father, into your hand I commend my Spirit.”  (Luke 23:46)

                        In your suffering, entrust yourself to God.

 

JESUS IS NOT ASLEEP:

 

            Have you ever wondered what Jesus was doing on Saturday? 

            According to Scripture, souls of the dead are awake, not asleep. 

            Jesus told the thief that today (Friday) he would be with Him in Paradise.
            Scripture tells us that Jesus did not ascend to heaven to receive His resurrected body until days after His resurrection; so,“paradise” did not mean “heaven” in this instance.

            What was Jesus doing? …He was testifying! … He testified in “Sheol”, the place where souls descended before the resurrection of Jesus.

  • He testified by preaching to the fallen angels and faithless souls in

                 the area of torment, confirming His victory on the cross.

                 (I Peter 3:18-19)

  • He testified to the souls of faith in “Abraham’s bosom,” the place

                 of comfort, confirming that the Savior they had longed for had

                 indeed come to take them home!  These became the “first-fruits

                 of the resurrection.”  (Matthew 27:52-53)

 

The grave did not silence the testimony of Jesus.  Do not let circumstances silence

your testimony. Just because you cannot hear His voice, it does not mean He is not speaking. Just because you cannot see His face, it does not mean He is not here.