Reflections for the Week of Sunday March 25, 2018 Palm Sunday

Gospel: Mark 14.1-15.47 tells what Jesus did during the first two days of the feast of Unleavened Bread and Passover. Jesus had carefully planned to come to Jerusalem from Galilee for Passover which signifies setting people free from bondage as was the case at the first Passover in Egypt. In Jesus’ day many were enslaved to sin and death, as in our own. Most Jews felt they were in exile in that their land was under Roman domination and God had departed from the Temple before the Babylonian captivity (Ezek 10,11) and had not returned.

The disciples thought Jesus was the Messiah (Gr Chistos) which meant Israel’s true King, the world’s true Lord who would successfully fight Israel’s battles, would rebuild the Temple, would bring Israel’s history to a climax, would act as Israel’s Representative and God’s Representative. As the latter, Jesus the Messiah was God finally returning to be with His people. Israel had gone into exile in the sixth century BC because of the sins of idolatry–worshiping the creation rather than the Creator. For them to return from exile, God had to forgive their sins for which they had been sent into exile in the first place. The day before Passover Jesus had dinner with His friends in Bethany and Mary anointed His feet with expensive perfume and wiped them with her hair which Jesus said was for His burial. The next day His disciples prepared the Passover meal in an upper room. Jesus said the bread and wine were His body and blood representing the sacrifice of a new covenant, representing a new creation to be inaugurated by Jesus’ death on the cross. There was no lamb for the main course.

The significance of Jesus’ crucifixion was that as Messiah, the Son of God, taking the place of the Pachal Lamb, He bore the sins of the world, which had been concentrated in Israel so that Sin could be condemned by the Father in His flesh. Jesus’ victory over sin and death and the verification that He was the Messiah was shown by the resurrection. As a Priest of the order of Melchizedek (Heb 7.20-8.17), Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice sufficient to overcome the sins of the whole world of those who place their trust in Him. By the remission of sins, the exile could end and a new exodus could begin as believers began their journey to a renewed creation  (Rm 8.19-25; Rev 21,22) led by the Holy Spirit. As the Passover Lamb the Messiah fulfilled God’s purpose to deal with Sin by justifying (pronouncing ‘righteous’) those who turned to God by grace through faith (Eph 2.8,9; Rm 8.1-39). Jesus’ death and resurrection inaugurated a new creation in which the satan was overthrown as the ruler of the world and Jesus the Messiah became the Lord of the world replacing the Temple where God dwelt with man, and His followers receive he Holy Spirit. When Jesus cried, “It is finished’ as He breathed His last on he cross, He meant the new creation was finished and His people have a new relationship with God. The satan has been defeated and no longer has dominion over people who are ‘in Jesus.’ They have died with the Lord in baptism and have been raised to new life (Rm 6.3-7; Col 2.11-14) in Him and are no longer under the condemnation of the law. They receive the assurance of salvation at the Last Day and look forward to receiving new bodies kept for them in heaven so they can live embodied lives in the new heavens and new earth forever in the presence of God. In the meantime His people live in the newly inaugurated kingdom of God which became a reality with the Messiah.

Memory Verse: Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into HIs death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Rm 6.3,4).

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