I began reading this book at Easter, and recently finished this journey through ‘the most important week of the most important person who ever lived’. Tracing the events of the final week of Jesus’ life leading up to (and including) his death, burial and resurrection, I found this journey through the Easter story to be a refreshing and helpful way to ponder, meditate upon and think through these events which are so central to my faith and the faith of Christians across the globe.
Arranged with two primary elements to each chapter – namely the scripture passages from each of the gospel accounts, broken into appropriate sections and included one after the other for easy comparison, followed by commentary by the authors – this book serves certainly as a harmonisation of the gospel accounts, and also as a tool for bible study/personal devotion. If you have ever wanted to delve deeper into some of the criticisms levelled at the gospels by unbelievers, you will likely find this to be a helpful volume to read and keep in your library!
Two years ago today my youngest son was recovering from his second invasive brain surgery. This time, to place a ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt into the right rear side behind his ear, to constantly drain cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the ventricles in the brain where it is produced, into his abdominal cavity via a catheter tube running internally down his neck. This device, though far from perfect in its design, with something like a 50% fail rate in the first year or two after placement, is a life-saver for children with hydrocephalus. It stops the fluid, which has trouble draining naturally, from building to the point where it squashes the brain against the skull, leading to brain damage and eventually (if left untreated) death.
Way back then, when he was just three months old, we were amazed at how resilient he was and how he had bounced back from his first brain surgery like a champion, but there were so many unknowns about how much his conditions would impact him as he grew and developed.
Famous author and critical thinker C.S. Lewis is quoted as having said that Christianity can either be true and vital or untrue and useless, it cannot be both and it cannot be somewhere in the middle, containing elements of truth and elements of falsehood.
Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.
The same can be said of the core Christian claim that Jesus, the perfect Son of God who was ‘in very nature God’ (Philippians 2:5-11
), died and rose from the grave on the third day, conquering death once and for all by taking the sins of his people upon himself, cancelling their debt before God and rising from the dead.
This morning, the Easter series at church continued, this time with the theme “imagine a world where death wins”. In some ways we all live in a world where death at least appears to win the mortal battle. As they say, the only certain things in life are death and taxes! Though, for those of us who believe we know that death has not won the war and we delight in the fact that it has lost its sting and will therefore not have a lasting impact on us for eternity. The reason it has lost its power is because of the glorious resurrection of Jesus, who nailed our sin to the cross, fulfilled the death penalty on our behalf and then conquered death itself by rising again. In the words that follow I hope to unpack just a few thoughts about the significance of Resurrection Sunday.
Following on from Good Friday’s thoughts about the beautiful collision between humanity’s depravity and Christ’s divinity at Calvary, I got to thinking about what it must have been like for the disciples during the Easter weekend. Talk about a roller coaster of emotions and experiences both leading up to that time and throughout Easter! They’d heard the prophesies about the Messiah, but they didn’t want to accept the fact that He had to die. They’d heard John the Baptist telling people to repent because the kingdom of heaven was at hand before Jesus started His earthly ministry (Matthew 3:1 – 6) and yet they were confused as they had been expecting an earthly political kingdom to release them from Roman rule rather than a spiritual Kingdom set up by a suffering servant. They were finally understanding who Jesus really was and then His life and ministry turned towards the cross. Within the space of a few days they experienced the last supper, prayer in the garden, betrayal by one of their close friends, the brutal floggings and mocking of Jesus by the soldiers, accusers that wanted to pin Peter down as a close friend of Jesus followed by Peter’s denial of that fact, the crowds demanding Jesus’ death, the disciples’ Lord and master carrying His cross and having to be helped by another on the side of the road because the brutality had already tortured his body to breaking point… and then the actual crucifixion itself with darkened skies during the day time, nails through flesh, immense bloodshed, earthquake and the temple curtain being torn in two. Then it is finished. Jesus’ body is buried, the stone seals the tomb and the disciples are left wondering what is to become of it all.