Week 8 summary:
This week will finish half way through reading the New Testament. What we read this week will define Christianity – the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus. In fact, Halley's Bible Handbook says that the five most important chapters in the Bible may be Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24 and John 20-21 because they tell us of the resurrection of Jesus – the capstone of the story of the entire Bible.
Day 1: Exodus 12:1-28
We start this week by reading about the first Passover. (By the way, Jesus and His disciples were in Jerusalem celebrating the Passover which was an annual custom for Jews.) The first Passover occurred in Egypt as Moses was working to get Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. The last plague that God brought through Moses was that the first-born of each household would die. However, God gave instructions to the Israelites through Moses as to what they should do to prevent the death of the first-born. It involved sacrificing a flawless lamb (without defect, without blemish). Note that Jesus was called the “Lamb of God.” If some blood of the lamb was spread on the doorposts and beam above the door, this would cause the angel of death to “pass over” that house and the first-born will not die. Note that Jesus shed His blood and that blood ended up on the cross. There was no magical power in the blood of the lamb. It was really the faith of those inside the house that the blood around the door would prevent their death. Note that faith in the blood of Jesus is what causes “death to pass over us” and allows us to have life eternal.
Jesus was put on trial and found guilty. However, He did not talk back to His accusers. (See Isaiah 53:7.) Pilate had Jesus whipped. (See Isaiah 53:5.) They mocked Him and spit on Jesus. (See Isaiah 50:6.) They lead Jesus away to be crucified. As they are crucifying Him, they cast lots for his clothing. (See Psalm 22:18.) At noon, the sky becomes very dark and Jesus cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (See Psalm 22:1.) As Jesus died at 3:00 pm, the curtain in the temple that separated the people from where God lived (symbolized by the ark of the covenant) tore in two, from top to bottom symbolizing that the separation of the people from God was no more. (See Exodus 26:31-33.)
The passage from Luke 23 is similar to the passages from Matthew and Mark read yesterday.
The passage from John has a couple of extra pieces of information. First, it was Jewish law that if someone is crucified, their body cannot hang on the “tree” overnight. (See Deuteronomy 21:22-23.) So they needed to make sure that all 3 people (the two criminals and Jesus) were dead and could be taken down and buried before night. Since death by crucifixion really occurs by suffocation, by breaking the legs of the victims, they would not be able to push themselves up to take a breath and therefore, would die quicker. The legs of the two criminals were broken. But not the legs of Jesus. (Read Exodus 12:46 to see how the Passover Lamb (remember, Jesus is the symbolic Passover Lamb) was to be prepared. The answer: the bones were not to be broken!) Instead, the side of Jesus was pierced by a spear. Out came blood and water, medically speaking a sign that Jesus had died.
According to Matthew 28, Jesus tomb is found to be empty and He appears to the 11 disciples. (Judas Iscariot, the traitor, is no longer...) The last words of Jesus according to Matthew gives us the Great Commission: go make disciples, baptize them, teach them to obey. Why do we do this? Because Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth. How do we do it? With the power of Jesus that is with us always to the end of the age.
In Luke 24, we learn of 2 of Jesus' disciples heading back home after the wild and unexpected events of the last few days. They are saddened and dejected because they had placed their hope in Jesus as the Messiah (Savior) but their hope turned into hopelessness as Jesus was crucified. A stranger comes up to them (who is Jesus but they don't recognize Him – they were prevented from recognizing Him, at least for a while). Jesus proceeds to tell the disciples about all that the Hebrew Scriptures (the writings of Moses and the Prophets) had to say about the Messiah, in particular how He would need to suffer. The disciples had thought Jesus was going to be a different kind of Savior – political and military. But the Savior was really coming to save people from their sins and reconcile the relationship between people and God. As Jesus explained those facts, the disciples' hearts were burning. As they recognized Jesus, they then understood and rushed back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples that they had seen the risen Jesus.
John 21:15-17 is a recommissioning of Peter – recommissioning him to serve Jesus by feeding Jesus' lambs and taking care of His sheep. Some commentaries say that Jesus asked Peter 3 times if Peter loved Jesus because Peter denied that he knew Jesus 3 times.
Day 7: rest