Reflections for the Week of April 1, 2018 Easter Sunday

Gospel: Mt 28.1-10 tells of women going to Jesus’ tomb on the first day of the week after the crucifixion to anoint His body. There was an earthquake and an angel from heaven rolled back the stone and told the women that Jesus had been raised, ‘as He said,’ and showed them the empty tomb. Then they encountered Jesus and worshiped Him. So we come to the end of the story or at least the end of the beginning. The biblical narrative began with the Creation including man who had fellowship with the Creator. But man defied God and lost his relationship with Him. Ever since, we have been born into a world in exile, alienated from God and ourselves. God made a covenant with Abraham to give him a  family through whom the world could be restored to a loving relationship with the Creator. The family was Israel but they were fallen themselves and their sad story is the Old Testament which is a story searching for an ending. The New Testament tells of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, who is the God of the universe, representing Israel, returning to bring His people out of exile and back into relationship with the Creator.

Jesus lives a life of faithful obedience announcing the coming of the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven, but is rejected by both the high priests of Israel and the Roman governor ruling Israel. Jesus is arrested, tried, beaten, and crucified as the King of the Jews which is the meaning of ‘Messiah.’ His death is a guilt offering and an act of incredible love to atone for those who would turn to Him in faith. He died on the Passover as the Lamb  who takes away the sin of the world. He defeated the satan and replaced him as the Ruler of the world. He bore the sins of the world in His flesh on the cross where they were condemned and forgiven. He brought into being a new creation where His people have been baptized into His death, losing their old lives and raised with Him in His resurrection into a new life in Him to be filled with His Spirit. As new creatures His people are empowered by the Spirit to live by the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5.22,23) in love, joy, and peace. The Spirit will transform His people by the renewing of their minds (Rm 12.2) to be a royal priesthood in the world through faithful obedience, to reflect His glory into the world and the praises of the world back to the one true Creator God in gratitude and worship. The kingdom is inaugurated by the Lord’s death and resurrection but is not yet consummated. The consummation will take place on the Day of the Lord when the new heavens and new earth (Rev 21) will take the place of the present world which is passing away. The dead will be raised; His people will be given new bodies in a resurrection like His. Those who have rejected Him will perish. His people will live in His presence in the renewed world where He will furnish the light and the Temple and will provide eternal life and wipe away all sorrow. Death and Hades will be cast into the lake of fire.

Memory Verse: Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor  15.57).


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