The First “Maundy Thursday”

Christ in the Passover

Jesus gives new meaning to life for those who are His disciples [followers]. He teaches new ways of living through His own example. Jesus tells His followers, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man [Jesus] came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” [Matthew 20:25b-28]. During His last Passover meal with His first disciples, Jesus demonstrates what this teaching means by giving new meaning to two old teachings.

Christ Lamb

First, Jesus changes the Feast of the Passover to commemorate His “Last Supper.” Christians celebrate “the Lord’s Supper,” also known as “Communion” and “the Eucharist” [meaning “Thanksgiving”]. The word “Passover” comes from Exodus 12:12-13: “For I [God] will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. The blood [of a sacrificed lamb] shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I PASS OVER you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.” The Passover ended Israel’s slavery in Egypt, but it did not take care of mankind’s sin problem.

The Apostle Paul teaches about the Lord‘s Supper:

Communion2

“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night He was betrayed took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, ‘This is My body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same way also He took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the NEW covenant in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you do proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” [I Corinthians 11:23-26].

COMMAND LOVE

Second, Jesus gives His disciples a New Commandment. “Maundy” comes from the Latin “man datum” which means “mandate” or “commandment.” That is why we call Jesus’ last Thursday before His crucifixion “Maundy Thursday.” During the Passover meal Jesus says to His disciples, “A NEW commandment I give to you, that you love one another: JUST AS I HAVE LOVED YOU, you also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” [John 13:34-35]. The NEW commandment is from an old commandment: “…you shall love your neighbor as yourself” [See Leviticus 19:18b]. Jesus’ NEW commandment is to “Love one another …AS JESUS LOVES you.” Jesus loves sacrificially and unconditionally

covenant new

The Gospel according to John says this: “Now before the Feast of Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” [13:1]. Jesus changed the old covenant, in which animals had to be sacrificed over and over again as an imperfect atonement for sin, to A NEW COVENANT, in which Jesus became our perfect atoning sacrifice for the payment of our sins: “Christ has obtained a ministry that is much more excellent than the old as the covenant He mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second…Therefore He [Jesus is the mediator of a NEW covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant…so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who eagerly wait for Him” [Hebrews 8:6-7; 9:15, 28].

bag of money

As Jesus is celebrating the Feast of the Passover with His disciples in an upper room, they are eating a lamb dinner, along with drinking four cups of wine, which they drink throughout the meal, along with unleavened bread. All of a sudden Judas leaves to go to the chief priests to discuss his betrayal of Jesus. It looks like this is the end, but it is just the beginning of God’s redemptive plan to save mankind from the slavery of sin. John 13:31-32 tells us, “When he [Judas] was gone, Jesus said, ‘Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will glorify the Son in Himself, and will glorify Him at once.’”

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After Jesus and his disciples finished the Passover meal, it was the custom to conclude the meal with a piece of unleavened bread. It was possibly at this time, Luke 22:19 records, “And He [Jesus] took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them [disciples], saying, ‘This is My body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’” Jesus then pours the “Cup of Redemption. [or Thanksgiving]” The Apostle Paul refers to this cup when he asks, “Is not this cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks as a participation in the blood of Christ?” (I Corinthians 10:16). Luke also tells us, “In the same way, after the supper He took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you’” (Luke 22:20).

The Bible says, “When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” (Matthew 26:30).

Jesus in the GardenimagesCA1A2FRPholy spirit new

Many other crucial events occurred on the first “Maundy Thursday”: Jesus says farewell to His disciples and promises that He is preparing a place for them, the Holy Spirit will come to comfort them and He gives them His peace that is not like what the world offers (John 14:1-31). Jesus also talks to His disciples about Him being the “True Vine” and that they are the “branches”; their strength will come from Him and their “sorrow will be turned into joy” because He has “overcome the world” (John 15-16). Jesus prays for His disciples; for His Father to keep them safe and for His future disciples: “…in order that the love You [the Father] have for Me [The Son] may be in them [all of Jesus’ followers]” (John 17). Jesus agonizes in the Garden of Gethsemane, while His disciples sleep. He asks His Father three times, if there is any way “this cup” can pass from Him. Luke tells us that Jesus’ sweat became “like drops of blood.” At the end of each prayer, Jesus said, “yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Matthew 26:30-46; Mark 14:26-42; Luke 22:39-46, John 18:1). Jesus is betrayed by Judas with a kiss and is arrested and all the disciples desert Him (Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-12). Jesus is tried before Annas (John 18:12-23), and before Caiaphas (Matthew 26:57-68; Mark 14:53-65; Luke 22:54-65; John 18:15-27). Finally, Peter – His friend Peter – denies knowing Jesus three times (Matthew 26:58, 69-75; Mark 14:54, 66-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:15-18, 25-27).

towel and basingood friday6

Jesus gives us a New Commandment: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). How do we love like Jesus? He shows us how to love through His own example. Jesus shows us how to love by all the things He did and by all the things He endured on our behalf. But, He didn’t stop there. He explains in John 15:12-14, 17: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command…This is my command: Love each other.” Jesus never tells us to do anything He hasn’t done Himself. On that first Maundy Thursday, He gave us the Sacrament of Communion and tells us to remember Him, and He also washed His disciples’ feet [See John 13:1-20]. Next, comes “Good Friday” when He died to make us free! All He wants in return is for us to love Him in return and to love each other sacrificially and unconditionally. He gives us the power of the Holy Spirit to love as He loves.

fairest Jesus

“Hallelujah! What a Savior!”

The Lyd

Lydia

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A Testimony of God’s Grace (Part I)

CC Testimony 2

The following is a testimony I presented at my church on March 1, 2015. My friend Betsy read the script while I pulled things out of my “bag of tricks”. Since I don’t have to worry about time constraints, this is the “un-cut” version of “my story”.

Good morning everyone! “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” [Psalm 118:24]. Amen? Amen! My name is Lydia. As you can plainly see, I am in a wheelchair and I have a physical disability. I was born with a neurological condition called cerebral palsy which usually is caused during the birth process, when there is a lack of oxygen going to the baby’s brain, resulting in brain damage. The extent of the disability depends on what areas of the brain are damaged. In my case, the parts of my brain that were damaged were the areas that control the right side of the body – My right side is much weaker than my left side [I am not able to use my right hand to do very much]. And the part of the brain that controls speech was also damaged, resulting in slurred speech. That is why Betsy Wassmann is reading my testimony to you. Thanks Betsy. Just to let you know, the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, and the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body. So, medically speaking, I am in my RIGHT MIND, as are all “south paws” [The jury is still out on the “Spaceman” Bill Lee.]. I just wanted to throw that out there.

[Putting on my various sports caps]

CC Testimony 6 caps

Many of you know me as more than a woman in a wheelchair whose speech is difficult to understand. You know that I am a RED SOX fan, a PATRIOTS fan, a BRUINS fan, a CELTICS fan, and an Oregon DUCKS fan [my youngest sister Sophie lives in Eugene, Oregon and is a DUCKS fan, so I want to support her team]. Many of you know that I have a quick wit and a quirky sense

[My rubber chicken is dressed in a vest and bow tie. My apologies for the blur.]

CC Testimony 4 Chicken

of humor. I also love to eat gourmet food, such as chicken with dressing, and I appreciate fine wine which will complement my gourmet meal. Because I have “Champagne Taste“, but am on a “Beer Budget“, I have learned how to make inexpensive food taste delicious and am still working on finding inexpensive wine that tastes better than its price. Practice; it takes practice. How many of you read my blog, “Lyd’s Look on Life”? For those of you who know me as a “Christian Woman Blog Writer”, you know that my blog posts sometimes tend to be just a tiny little bit LONG. I think they are long because my blog has become my “VOICE”. It’s where I can share my thoughts and ideas and also what God is teaching me without my speech being a hindrance. Thank you to Melanie Lamere for helping me to get my blog started. Above all these things you know about me, I want to be known, first and foremost, as a “WORSHIPPER OF God”, just as my Name Plaque says – a worshipper of God who loves Jesus and His Word [the Bible].. My Name Plaque has Psalm 29:2 written on it: “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” My heart’s desire is to be like the Lydia found in Acts 16:13-16, 40:

Acts of the Holy Spirit“And on the Sabbath day we [Paul and his companions] went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to women who had come together. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a WORSHIPER OF GOD. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ And she prevailed upon [convinced] us. [After Paul and his friends spent time in prison for preaching the Gospel, they were released and]…they went out of prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers [and sisters, no doubt], they encouraged them and departed.”

[My Mom and Dad and me at my high school graduation]

High School Graduation

Just as the Lydia in Acts 16, the Lord “opened my heart” to the Gospel and I became a “worshiper of God” right here at College Church, when I was eighteen years old – just about 10 years ago. Okay, would you believe about forty years ago? After so many years, I am still learning what it means to be a woman of prayer. Some things take a lifetime. All of us need to develop an attitude of prayer. College Church became my home and the people of College Church became my family. People like Jackie and Browny and their family, the Marions and their family, the Websters, and so many others accepted me into the family of God at College Church. I became a member of College Church in 1975 [I think] and I was baptized in the lake at the D.A.R. in April [back in the day when baptisms were not performed only during the summer months, in an inflated pool – not that there‘s anything wrong with that“]. In the years that followed, I attended Holyoke Community College, American International College and Springfield College. During my college years, I always was able to come home to College Church on most weekends.

Lydia at HTAfter my College days were over in 1981, I was a housemate with Pam Hiser before College Church “found me faithful to the Lord” and sent me out as an indigenous missionary, to work at a Residential Christian School for children and adults with disabilities in Carmel, N.Y. During my time in N.Y., Mark and Holly Dowling lived close by in Bethel, Connecticut. Because all the staff lived at the school, it was such a blessing to be able to get away on the weekends to the Dowling’s home. After being away for six years, I came back home to College Church and my family in Christ “found me faithful” to serve them as one of their deacons. I did have to promise that I would not help in serving Communion. Things would get pretty messy if I did. Instead, I became the moderator, who told therest of the deacons how to “JUST DO YOUR JOB” [Patriots‘ motto]. I was part of the “Lean Keen Deacon Machine” along with Ruth Lacey [and Bob], Shirley Pierson, Steve Kowalski, Rick Light Jr., Rich Winnick, Jack Finn and a few others. It was such a blessing to be able to get to know these men and women of God, while having the honor and privilege of working alongside them, as we served our family of God at College Church. During my six years as deacon, I also got to know Fran Fern and Rick and Pat Light because I spent a lot of time at the church office doing deacon stuff. In fact, when a mother and her little boy came to the office for something, the little boy asked his mom, “Does Lydia live here?” During a time on Search Committee to find an Associate Pastor, I got to know Wendy Dunphy, Dave Neal and Bill Porter. I also attended Bible studies at Don Anderson’s house [and attended Don and Carol’s wedding] and Dan and Pam Dissinger’s house. I also have hosted and led Bible studies at my house. As I look out into the congregation, I see so many dear friends; friends I met while serving on church committees or studying the Bible together. I consider all of you as family. As a family, we love each other, accept each other and belong to each other because we belong to our Heavenly Father.

body of Christ

I believe everyone has the need to belong and to be accepted and loved. Everyone wants to be known for who they really are; not only by what is seen on the outside, but also by what is unseen on the inside. Look at the people around you. How do you see them? As human beings, we all have our own prejudices and misconceptions, our own likes and dislikes and we do judge people with our own “measuring stick”. But, how does God see the people in this room and the people on the streets of Northampton? I believe I Samuel 16:7 gives us a glimpse at how God sees everyone: “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees NOT as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’” Yes, I know the Bible also says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” [Jeremiah 17:9]. But the Bible also says, “And I [God] will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My rules and obey them. And they shall be My people, and I will be their God” [Ezekiel 11:19-20]. I believe God is talking about us, as well as Israel’s Remnant.

christ's anointed with expensive perfume

As Christians God sees us through the blood of Christ. We are holy [set apart] because of Christ’s finished work on the cross. As the hymn goes, “Jesus paid it all; all to Him I owe”. Because of Jesus we are able to “worship the Lord in the beauty of [His] holiness”. Worship has little to do with individual preferences – what kind of songs we sing or how we celebrate Communion or whether we lift up our hands or not. Some people cannot physically lift up their hands. Does that mean their worship is not as worthy as those who are able-bodied? Certainly not. Worshiping God has everything to do with our hearts giving to God His worth. A few months ago, Gary Davis led us in Communion and the very next time Bob Goss led us in Communion; two very different styles. Bob focused on the Supreme Sacrifice of Christ dying on the cross for our sins. Gary focused of Christ’s Second Coming and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Last time I checked, these two different ways of celebrating the Lord’s Supper are talked about in Scripture. I Corinthians 11:26-27 says, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord‘s death until He comes. Whoever, therefore eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord”. Revelation 19:6-10 talks about the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb”: “‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give Him the glory. The marriage of the Lamb has come, and His Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure’ – for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints” [vv. 6b-8]. There is more than one way to celebrate Communion, as long as we make our hearts ready and everything is done “decently and in order“ [I Corinthians 14:40], with the focus on Christ and not on ourselves. We should prepare our hearts to receive Communion before we come to church. I believe the Lord wants to teach us, before He gives us a Senior Pastor, to appreciate our differences, as well as what we have in common – namely Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Romans 14 says this:

Christian heelping another

“Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother [or sister]…For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual up building” [vv. 13, 17-19].

What about the people outside of this House of Faith? James 2 teaches about the “Sin of Partiality”. I want to share verses 8 and 13: “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well…For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” Sometimes, we forget to show mercy. Instead, we judge. But, most of the time, if not all of the time, we judge wrongly because we do not know everything. God knows everything and that’s why He is the only One Who can judge justly.

CC Testimony 7 Mercy

When we pray for our neighbors, we need to pray for their salvation. When we see our neighbors doing what grieves the Lord or when they gives us a hard time about our faith, we need to have the heart of Christ. While Jesus was dying on the cross, He looked at those who nailed Him to the cross and said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” [Luke 23:34]. Jesus was known for His love for the untouchable, the disenfranchised, the poor and needy. .Jesus was known as a “Friend of Sinners”. Let us pray to have the heart of Christ – a heart full of compassion mercy and grace.

[I’m holding an old red Tupperware cup with a handle.]

CC Testimony 3 cup

There is one more thing I want to show you. Does everyone know about the RED SOLO CUP, the plastic red cups used at parties? This is my RED COMMUNION CUP. I ask the elder who is serving Communion to pour the grape juice in this cup because I can’t hold those small little cups. This cup is not for solo use, but for Communion use, as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper as a community of believers at College Church. So, the next time we celebrate the Lord‘s Supper, let us prepare our hearts beforehand to receive the bread and the cup and, as the song by Toby Keith says, “LET’S HAVE A PARTY!” I say, “TO THE KING!”

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(Please ask the Worship Song Leaders to sing, “Jesus, Friend of Sinners” by Casting Crowns; written by Mark Hall and Matthew West.)

I’m told women can’t preach. But, they can share LONG testimonies.

The Peace of the Lord be with you all!

becket pics4

“Don’t poke the Bear”

Lydia

A Person of Ministry

christmas gifts

(All Scriptures are from The Amplified Bible, except when otherwise noted.)

Who doesn’t like to receive gifts? Some actually may not like to receive gifts because they don’t know what to say or do when they are given a gift. Some feel awkward because they do not have a gift to reciprocate this gesture of friendship and caring. Sadly, some even feel unworthy and cannot possibly accept a gift. Sadder still, some think they are better off than the giver and the gift is far too beneath their standards. As for me, I love to receive gifts. On the first of December, I give copies of my “Christmas Wish List”, printed in red and green ink, to my family members. The gifts range from costing a few dollars to about $20.00 or a little more, so there’s something affordable for everyone to buy me gifts (When in doubt, a fine French red or white Burgundy or a California or Washington Brut Sparkling wine will do).

birthday giftsIMG_1887SHARP HILL ENTRANCE

When I hit the BIG 40, I started celebrating my “Birth-Month” and did something special everyday, during the month of August, from treating myself to a medium Dunkin Donuts iced coffee with cream and a Turbo Shot, to taking a road trip to the Bridge of Flowers, in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, with “the Four Sisters”, to dining at a rustically elegant restaurant at a Connecticut Vineyard, with my “Winers and Diners Bible Study Group”. Because I celebrate for the whole month, it gives my family and friends plenty of time to send me birthday cards and buy birthday gifts. It takes the pressure off trying to remember the exact date of my actual birthday. When I am asked, “When is your birthday?” I say, “August.” When I am asked, “August what?” I reply, “August.” Although, lately, my birthday celebrations are starting in July and spilling over into September and sometimes October (if the RED SOX are still playing). As I get older, I need more time to celebrate and do all the things on my “pre-bucket” list.

casting crowns 1Helper Holy Spirit

The best gift I have ever received was the Free Gift of Salvation from God’s Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ and His Gift of the Holy Spirit. It was a “package deal”. At the age of eighteen, I realized that I needed God’s help in living life with a disability (cerebral palsy) and life was not getting easier. It is very easy to fall into the “trap” of self-pity and self-centeredness and self-doubt. If we are truthful with ourselves, every one of us struggles with sin and doubt. Sin is “missing the mark” of where God wants us to be. I often fall short in practicing the “Golden Rule”: “So then whatever you desire others would do to and for you, even so do you also to and for them [others]…” (Matthew 7:12 ; Also see Luke 6:31). Instead of practicing the “Golden Rule”, I want to use the “Get-Even Rule” Every one of us finds the “Get-Even Rule” easier to follow: “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, and lash for lash” (Exodus 21:24-25). Because of our human tendency to “lash” out none of us are where God wants us to be. God wants us to enjoy a close relationship with Him. But, we want what we want. We are selfish by nature. Even the good things we do may be done for selfish motives. Yet, God loves every one of us and wants to shower us with every good gift. God gave us His Only Begotten Son to die in our place and to free us from the power of sin (our natural tendencies) and (spiritual) death. God also gave us His Holy Sprit. The Greek word Parakletos is used in the Bible to describe the Holy Spirit as “Counselor” (RSV, NIV), “Comforter” (KJV, ASV) or “HELPER” (NASB, NKJV).

glasses on Biblelamp unto my feetJesus Hug

“And He – that same Jesus Himself – is the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins, and not for ours alone but also [the sins of] the whole world” (I John 2:2).

“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only-begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish – come to destruction, be lost – but have eternal (everlasting) life” (John 2:16).

“He Who did not withhold or spare [even] His Own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also with Him freely and graciously give us all [other] things?” (Romans 8:32).

“Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse]” (James 1:17).

“See what [an incredible] quality of love the Father has given (shown, bestowed on) us, that we should [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are!” (I John 3:1a).

Father, Son and Holy Spirit 2

We have learned from the “A Person of Mystery” series, that after Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension into heaven, He promised to send His disciples (including us), “A Person of Ministry ” – the Gift of His Holy Spirit.

“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, HELPER, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener and Standby) that He may remain with you forever, The Spirit of Truth…The Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My Name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall – will remind you of, bring to your remembrance – everything I told you…I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say, it is profitable – good, expedient, advantageous – for you that I go away. Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (…HELPER…) will not come to you – into close fellowship with you. But if I go away, I will send Him to you – to be in close fellowship with you” ((John 14:16-17a, 26b; 16:7).

c. praying prostrateb. kneeing in prayer

In the Book of Acts, chapter 2, on the Day of Pentecost, we read about the birth of the Christian Church and how the disciples were filled with the Gift of the Holy Spirit and were able to speak in different languages to the crowd that had gathered. And Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke of the prophecy in Joel that was being fulfilled right before their eyes: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, God declares, that I will pour out of My Spirit upon all mankind, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy – telling forth the divine counsels – your young men shall see visions (that is, divinely granted appearances), and your old men shall dream [divinely suggested] dreams. Yes, and on My menservants also and on My maidservants in those days I will pour out My Spirit, and they shall prophesy – telling forth the divine counsels and predicting future events pertaining especially to God’s kingdom (vv. 17-18; also see Joel 2:28-32).

comforter hsHelper Holy Spirit

At the first Pentecost, we see that the Holy Spirit is not “gender biased” “For God [The Holy Trinity] shows no partiality” (Roman 2:11). After Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross, “There is [now no distinction], neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). To truly understand what this means, we need to understand what the word “HELPER” means in the Bible and not rely on the definition found in our modern culture. In today’s culture, “HELPER” means someone who is in a subservient role. In the Bible, the word “HELPER” means “HELPER/MEET”. In Genesis 2: 18 “…God said, It is not good [sufficient, satisfactory] that the man should be alone; I will make him a HELPER MEET (suitable, adapted, completing) for him.” In the Hebrew, the word for the HELPER/HELPMEET” is “ezer”, which is used in the Old Testament as “one who comes to the aid, to rescue, or deliver those in NEED of HELP (See I Samuel 7:12, II Kings 14:26, Job 29:12, Psalms 121:1-2). In the Book of Psalms, whenever the word “HELPER” is used, it refers to God Himself.

holy spirit over water

In the beginning, God created woman from man as a “suitable” (kenegdo), which denotes “equal” and “adequate” partner, and the two were created by God to demonstrate the unity and the equality of all human beings (See Genesis 2:18-20). As God the Holy Spirit is equally God as God the Father and God the Son, Adam and Eve were to share in that same kind of unity and equality as the Holy Trinity and enjoy close fellowship with the Triune God. Both man and woman were created in God’s image and were created to have a close relationship with God. They also shared the responsibilities of raising children and caring for God’s creation (See Genesis 1:26-28). It was only after the Fall, when sin entered the hearts of Adam and Eve, that caused the relationship between man and woman to be distorted with each other and with God (See Genesis 3:16). BUT GOD had a plan to redeem the human race from sin [wanting to be God and to lord over others]. That Plan was to give us Jesus, “His Gift, [precious] beyond telling – His indescribable, inexpressible, free Gift!” (II Corinthians 9:15), to die for the our sins and for the sins of the world. God’s “INDESCRIBABLE” Gift includes the Gift of His [indwelling] Holy Spirit (See I Corinthians 6:19) – the HELPER – Who aids us in our walk with God, rescues us when we walk away from God and delivers us from the lies of the world by revealing God’s Truth to us. What a Gift! How can anyone refuse this AWESOME Gift of God?

a spirit of truth

What a wonderful message Peter shared on the first Pentecost! But Peter was not done. What else did Peter say on that first Pentecost when God’s Spirit was poured out on His first disciples? Tune in next time to find out.

a nap with Tannin

I know I wrote “Be back at July-Thirty”, but the RED SOX were on the West Coast and the World Cup makes me crazy. How can a 90+-minute sporting event end in a 0-0 tie? I don’t get it!

(For more information Google: “Biblical Ishshah (Woman): The True Role of Helper/Help Meet” and “Men, Women and Biblical Equality [CBE International].)

This is my prayer for all of us:

“For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from Whom His family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through FAITH. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in LOVE, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the LOVE of Christ, and to know this LOVE that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him Who is able to do more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:14-21 [NIV]).

The LydJesua, heart, sand

Lydia

Thinking Back and Looking Forward

cozumelguacimole

an iguana

Thinking back, what was your most favorite vacation ever? I have two vacations that cause me to smile whenever I think back on them. I will share them in chronological order and not by the best being first. Both were equally fun and enjoyable. First, in the 1990s we had a particularly cold and snowy winter, so I telephoned a friend in Boston, to see if she would take a vacation with me to a warm and sunny place. It turned out that she and another friend were able to join me on a trip to Cozumel, Mexico. We had a blast, eating authentic Mexican food (the guacamole was the best I ever tasted), swimming in the warm aqua-colored ocean (I used an inner-tube) with large silver fish nipping at our toes, and walking on the soft white sandy beaches. The people were friendly and the iguanas were cool. I remember riding piggy-back on a moped with my friend, and eating barracuda at a fancy restaurant on the beach (I ate it before it ate me!). It was pretty tasty.

oregon 022a Montinore Winery

oregon 415oregon 412

oregon 301

The second vacation which makes me smile when I think back on it was in 2011, when my sister and I went to visit our youngest sister in Oregon. We had a great time exploring the magnificent Oregon coast, visiting stunningly beautiful vineyards and wineries, eating and drinking Oregon cuisine, visiting historic lighthouses and breathtaking waterfalls, staying at a hotel on the beach and eating, visiting funky little shops (Northampton-ish) and eating. For one breakfast, I ate Pacific salmon hash and eggs and for another breakfast I had deep-fried oysters with eggs and hash-brown potatoes, and, of course, we drank a lot of coffee. It seemed like there was a coffee “hut” around every corner. Also, there was the “Yankee Fan Encounter” which I don’t have time to get into right now. Both vacations had their own unique charm and were very relaxing, refreshing and lots of fun.

beach with Jesusfish net

I wonder how Jesus’ disciple Peter ranked his last fishing trip with seven of his friends, who were also disciples of Jesus. During their last fishing trip together, Jesus was waiting for them on the beach, cooking fish on a fire of burning coals, and called out to them to cast their fishing net on the right side of the boat and they caught 153 fish (See John 21:1-13). It is interesting to me that Thomas was one of the disciples who went on the fishing trip with Peter. Thomas was not grieving or doubting Jesus anymore. Jesus met Thomas right where he needed to be met, when He appeared a second time to the disciples. Jesus knew that all He had to say to Thomas was, “Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it in My side. Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27b). Thomas “got it” after that. He did not want to be alone anymore. He learned how important it was to be in fellowship with other believers. Perhaps he remembered Jesus saying, “For where two or three come together in My Name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20). Thomas wanted to be with the other disciples. He did not want to miss another visit from his Risen Lord and God (See John 20:28).

Christ's piercedPeter and Jesus on Beach

Jesus also met Peter right where he needed to be met. I do not know if Peter had what we now call Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or Attention Deficit Disorder, but Jesus knew He needed to help Peter to focus on being a “fisher of men” (See Matthew 4:19 and Mark 1:17) and not just fish. This is why, I believe, Jesus asked Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love Me more than these?” (John 21:15b). He might have been pointing to the fish, his friends, the beautiful lake and its serenity. Whatever “these” were, Jesus wanted Peter to love Him above all else. Jesus asked Peter three more times, “Do you love Me?” because loving Jesus above all else was what it was going to take to “Feed [Jesus’] lambs”, to “Take care of [Jesus’] sheep”, and to “Feed [Jesus’] sheep” (See John 21:15b-17). Jesus wanted to use Peter to build His Church.

Jesus and Charlie BrownGod Sees Us as

It is important to note that Jesus did not scold Peter for going fishing. Jesus knew Peter needed time away from everything. It was very difficult for him to wrap his brain around all that happened in the past few weeks. Peter reminds me of what Peppermint Patty said in, “Happy Thanksgiving Charlie Brown”. When Peppermint Patty, who has a crush on Charlie Brown, invites herself and other friends over to “Chuck’s” for Thanksgiving Dinner, Snoopy and Woodstock frantically prepare their version of a Thanksgiving meal: buttered toast, popcorn and pretzels and candy. Peppermint Patty, who Charlie Brown describes as “a great baseball player”, is disgusted with the “Thanksgiving presentation” and says that she wanted a real Thanksgiving dinner, with a turkey and all the fixings. Charlie Brown is mortified and goes away. When a friend reminds Peppermint Patty that she was the one who invited herself and all her friends to Chuck‘s house, she recognizes the error in her ways and says, “Golly, why can’t I act right outside of a baseball field?” She asks her friend to smooth things over with Chuck and they all end up going to Charlie Brown’s grandparents for Thanksgiving dinner. When they leave, Snoopy and Woodstock have their own turkey dinner with all the fixings. (What‘s up with that?!). In the same way Peppermint Patty felt inadequate with social graces and felt more comfortable playing baseball, Peter was overwhelmed with all that was going on and just wanted to go fishing. In the same way Charlie Brown felt that he couldn’t do anything right, Peter felt that he had disappointed Jesus with his denying that he knew Him there times. Jesus wanted Peter to know that when the Father looked at Peter, He no longer saw his sin, but only Christ’s righteousness (See Galatians 3:26-27; Ephesians 2:4-10; Colossians 3:3-4).

fairest JesusJesua, heart, sand

Then, Jesus tells Peter something very difficult to hear. Jesus tells Peter that he will die a martyr’s death (See John 21:18-19). Why didn’t Peter run for the hills? Why didn’t he say to Jesus, “No way! Get someone else to start Your Church! I like fishing. That’s what I do best.”? I believe Peter didn’t run away because he did love Jesus above all else. He believed Jesus when he heard Him say, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die” (John 11:25b-26a). Peter also believed Jesus when He said, “The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves Me must follow Me; and where I am, My servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves Me” (John 12:”25-26). Finally, when Peter was about to be executed, some say he felt unworthy to die in the same manner as his Savior died and asked to be crucified up-side-down. But, I believe Peter had the same attitude about death as His Savior. With his years of serving His Savior and King, Peter‘s eyes became forever fixed on Jesus. In the same way Peter continually looked to Jesus as his strength and hope and joy, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him Who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3). Peter also believed in a quote in one of Paul’s Letters: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him” (I Corinthians 2:9b, from Isaiah 64:4).

gatitude3

I believe that Peter’s last fishing trip with his friends changed all of their lives forever because Jesus was about to use them to change the world! But, how exactly did Jesus turn this motley crew of disciples into “Christ’s ambassadors”, giving them “the ministry of reconciliation…reconciling the world to [God] in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them…[and] committed to [them] the message of reconciliation” (See II Corinthians 5:18-20)? We will explore this question next time.

May the Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ Be With You and With Your Spririt.

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Lydia

Will the Real Pessimist Please Lighten Up?!

SWIRL THE WINEEore 2

We all know people who see the glass half-empty and have a “dark cloud” hovering over them and can think of all the reasons why something CAN‘T be done. We say, “Isn’t this a beautiful day?! And they answer, “It’s going to rain tomorrow.“ I knew someone that would say, “You better not laugh too much because tomorrow you’ll be crying.“ Once, I commented to a friend that my hanging plant was doing well and maybe it would bloom all summer. She replied, “These flowers don’t usually work that way.“ I thought to myself, “Thanks for bursting my bubble.“ Then, I said to her, “Maybe this plant will surprise us.” And it did produce flowers all summer. To be truthful, I can be a “half-empty” kind of person, if I’m not careful.

Eore

Jesus’ disciple Thomas sounds like a pessimistic type person. I can hear him talking in an Eeore-monotone-draggy voice. Eeore is the donkey in the Winnie the Pooh cartoons, who always sees disaster lurking around the corner and has a very low opinion of himself. We first hear Thomas in John 11:16, when Jesus wants to go to Jerusalem because His friend Lazarus has died. Jesus is already in trouble with the religious leaders and a mob had already tried to stone Him twice (See John 8:59 and 10:31-33). Thomas says, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him” (John 11:16b). Another time, when Jesus says to all his disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going” (John 14:1-4). Jesus said this after He told His disciples that He was going to be glorified by His Father and would not be with them for much longer (See John 12-13). After all this, “Thomas said to [Jesus], ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’” (John 14:5).

Christ's pierced

Next, we learn that Thomas isn’t with the rest of the disciples when Jesus appears to them after His Resurrection. When Thomas finally joins the disciples Jesus has already left, but they tell him that they have seen the Lord (See John 20:24-25a). Thomas refuses to believe them and says, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger in His side, I will not believe it” (John 20:25b). Where was Thomas? Why did he doubt that Jesus rose from the dead, just as He said He would? Before we judge Thomas, let’s read what Homer A. Kent Jr. writes in his book, LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS: Studies in the Gospel of John, (p. 222): “The reason for [Thomas’] absence the previous week is not explained by John…It should be noted that Jesus did not rebuke him for his absence. Perhaps Thomas preferred to be alone with his grief.” Also, Merrill C. Tenney writes in his book, JOHN: The Gospel of Belief, (p.284): “[Thomas] was naturally of a pessimistic temperament as his previous utterances showed (11:16, 14:5), and his doubt seems to have been the product of his pessimism rather than a lack of confidence in Jesus Himself. After all, he knew that Jesus had died, and he could say, ‘The worst has happened just as I said it would.’” I also think Thomas was on his guard against being terribly disappointed and having his heart crushed again.

encouragementb. kneeing in prayer

Jesus met Thomas on his terms. John records, “A week later His disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to [Jesus], ‘My Lord and My God!’ Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’” (John 20:26-29).

a pleasant wordWORSHIP

Jesus is always willing to meet each one of us where we are and speak words of comfort and grace and to turn our doubts into faith and worship, as He did for Thomas. For those of us who have not seen Jesus and yet believe in Him, we have also been met by Jesus and have been touched by His pierced hands. Jesus calls us “blessed” and that we are! I do not believe Thomas had to put his fingers into Jesus’ hands or his hand into Jesus‘ side. Kent Jr. writes, “It is not stated whether or not [Thomas] still felt it necessary to handle the body of Jesus, although the subsequent words of Jesus may imply that ‘seeing’ was enough to satisfy him (20:29). But he did make to Jesus the greatest confession of any in the room: ‘My Lord and My God!’ The reality of the resurrection had satisfied the unresolved questions of a demanding Thomas” (p. 223).

believe god's love

Tenney writes, “The fact that [Jesus] knew what Thomas had said when He was not present was convincing proof of His supernatural knowledge, and His willingness to accept Thomas on his own terms was a marvel of condescension and compassion…All his unbelief vanished as he worshipped. For a Jew to salute another man, however he might revere him, as ‘Lord and God’ (28) could only mean that he had come to the point of worshipping Him as deity. The resurrection made the difference between the skepticism of despair and the worship which brings certainty. Thus belief in a risen Christ made a mourner into a missionary, a penitent into a preacher, the bereaved friend into an apostle of love, a timid and shrinking coterie of disciples into the fearless heralds of a new movement, and a doubter into a confessor. With the confession of Thomas, JOHN reached the high peak of belief: faith can rise no higher than when it avows Jesus of Nazareth to be its Lord and God” (p. 284).

As Jesus said it to Thomas, He is saying it to us: “Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27b).

christ's anointed with expensive perfume

How do we remember Thomas? Sadly, most of us remember the bad things people do. A person can lead an extempore life, but make one horrible mistake and, from that point on, be remembered for that one mistake. I see it in the sports world and, sadly, I see it in myself when I am left to my own human devices. Most of us remember Thomas as that “doubting Thomas“. Jesus knows the same Thomas as the Thomas who made the Great Confession: “My Lord and My God!” I believe this is true because of what Jesus said about the “sinful” woman who poured costly perfume on Jesus head and washed His feet with her tears. Matthew 26:10-13 reads, “Aware of this, Jesus said to them, ‘Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing for Me…When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.’” [See also Luke 7:36-50]

SWIRL THE WINE

Do you see Thomas as “Doubting Thomas” or the disciple who confessed, “My Lord and my God”? Do you see the woman who poured expensive perfume on Jesus as a “wasteful sinner” or a “believer who loved Jesus extravagantly”? Do you see me as a “disabled woman” or as a “woman named Lydia who loves Jesus and enjoys watching sports, eating gourmet food with just the right wine complement the meal, and writing about her ‘look on life’ and how God works in subtle and miraculous ways”? How do you view your neighbors, co-workers, relatives, people you meet everyday? Will the real pessimist please lighten up?! And that includes ME!

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(My nephew and I on Annual

Before-Easter ROAD TRIP)

Peace,

Lydia

“Jesus Has Risen and So Have the Rolls!”

bread rolls

On Easter morning, my friend sent the above text message to her aunt, along with a photo of the rolls she had just taken out of the oven. The morning sun glistened on these delectably looking, mouth-watering rolls. She used her mom’s recipe, who was her aunt’s sister. I am sure her aunt believed that she was looking at rolls her niece had just baked. She had no reason to doubt. Still, she had to have faith that her niece was telling the truth because she wasn’t with her niece to see and smell and touch and taste and hear the “Mmms” from the guests eating the rolls firsthand. In a way, believing that God raised Jesus from the dead takes that same kind of faith in the Father fulfilling His Promise to us. Jesus has risen! Jesus has risen indeed! We were not there to see Him rise, but we have faith that it is the “Gospel Truth!” This brings us great joy – “MEGA-JOY”, as a former pastor of mine described the joy Christians share during Christmas and Resurrection Sunday.

empty tombgospels

Jesus rising from the dead is a Fulfilled Promise I accept by faith. However, some Christians try to present the Resurrection of Jesus Christ as a “proven fact” and “more” than something believed by faith. During my first three or four years of my Christian walk, I heard the same sermon every Easter. I even had a tract about why the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a proven historical fact (I think written by Josh McDowell) and not only God’s promise fulfilled and believed by faith. Every Easter Sunday, I heard the same sermon about the “Swoon Theory” and the “Hallucination Theory” and the “Impersonation Theory” and the “Spiritual Resurrection Theory” and the “Unknown Tomb Theory” and the “Stolen Body Theory” and how all these theories were bogus. I heard the pastor refute every theory with the help of psychology, biology and Scripture.

jesus has risenOT SCROOLS

But, what about FAITH? What about believing in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ because the Bible says that it happened? If the Resurrection of Jesus Christ could be proven by historical artifacts, psychology and biology or any other human intellectual rationale, we would not need faith. Hebrews 11:1 teaches, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Verse 6 adds, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believes that He exists and tht He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a MIRACLE. A “miracle” is “a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by nature or any scientific laws and is thereby considered to be the work of a divine agency (‘the miracle of rising from the grave’)” [from a Google search]. Christians believe that this “divine agency” is the Triune God. I believe in miracles and that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a miracle that cannot be scientifically or otherwise humanly proven. I believe that Jesus rose again by the faith God gave me to believe in Him and to believe that His Word, the Bible, is true.

This is what the Gospels say about the First Resurrection Sunday:

Jesus with two angels

The women disciples of Jesus are the first to discover the empty tomb and to see the Risen Lord. They go to the tomb early Sunday morning and find the huge stone rolled away from the entrance and the tomb empty. The angels tell Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome that Jesus has risen from the dead, just as He said He would! The angels declare, “WHY DO YOU LOOK FOR THE LIVING AMONG THE DEAD? HE IS NOT HERE; HE HAS RISEN!” They run to tell Peter and James and they also go to see the empty tomb. (See Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-10).

Jesus with Mary

Mary Magdalene, the woman that Jesus healed of seven demons, was the first to see Jesus alive! Mary stayed at the tomb, while Peter and the others go home. She sees someone she thinks is a gardener and pleads with Him to tell her where Jesus’ body has been taken. It is when Jesus says, “Mary” that she recognizes that it is Jesus! (See Mark 16:9-11; John 20:11-18). Jesus meets the other women on their way back to the tomb. He instructs them to go and tell His disciples that they will see Him in Galilee. (See Matthew 28:9-10)

Christ's tomb guardedempty tomb

When the guards who were stationed at the tomb reported what had happened, the chief priests bribed them to say that the disciples stole the body. They also said that they would make sure they didn’t get into trouble with their superiors. The rumor of the stolen body spread among the Jews (Matthew 28:11-15).

bread
Jesus appears to two disciples and to Simon Peter. Mark briefly mentions this encounter, while Luke goes into detail of how Jesus meets two disciples on the road to Emmaus. The disciples do not recognize Him while they walk and listen to Him explain how all the Scriptures point to the Messiah. It is only when they are eating and He breaks bread with them that they recognize Him, and He vanishes. They go and tell the other disciples that “THE LORD HAS RISEN INDEED!” They also say that Jesus has appeared to Simon [Peter] as well. (See Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-35)

God Sees Us as

Jesus appears to ten disciples, in Thomas’ absence. He says to them, “Peace be with you.” Jesus exhorts them for not believing the reports of His resurrection. He begins to prepare them to preach the Gospel – the GOOD NEWS – and build His Church. When Thomas returns and hears Jesus came to them, he says he will not believe it unless he sees and touches Jesus wounds for himself. (See Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25)

gatitude3Jesua, heart, sand

“JESUS HAS RISEN! JESUS HAS RISEN INDEED!” I cannot prove it, but I believe it with all my heart because, just like freshly baked rolls, I have tasted God’s goodness in saving a sinner like me.

breadSWIRL THE WINE

“Taste and see that the Lord is
Good;
Blessed is the [person] who takes
Refuge in Him.”
(Psalm 34:8)

“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and [anyone] who believes in Me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35).

risen lordimagesCAM8G25Y

Christ the Lord Is Risen Today
(By Charles Wesley)

Christ the Lord is ris’n today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say: Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing ye heav’ns, and earth reply: Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death is now your sting? Alleluia!
Dying once He all doth save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids Him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened Paradise, Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Foll’wing our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Do you believe this?

(I forgot to mention that the Lenten Season ended on Maundy Thursday – forty days from Ash Wednesday. I hope no one is starving.)

Peace be with you.

The Lyd

Lydia

“Maundy Thursday” (Continued)

the upper room

The word “Passover” comes from Exodus 12:12-13: “On that same night I [God] will pass through Egypt and strike down ever firstborn – both men and animals – and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt, I am the LORD. The blood [lamb blood on the doorframes of the Israelites – vv. 1-7] will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and I will pass over you. No destruction will touch you when I strike Egypt.

seder wine

Jesus is celebrating the Feast of the Passover (or Seder) with His disciples in an upper room. They are eating a lamb dinner, along with drinking four cups of wine, which they drink throughout the meal, along with unleavened bread and bitter herbs and other foods commemorating the First Passover, when God freed Israel from slavery to the Egyptians. I am finding out, as I write this post, that there varying names for the four cups of Passover. For instance, the Passover booklet I have been using calls the first cup, “the cup of thanksgiving” and there is no mention of “the second cup”, but there is an “Elijah cup”.

me writing 2

After asking my Pastor if he knew the name of the second cup of Passover, he emailed to me the following web page:

“Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am The LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be My people, and I will be Your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (Exodus 6:6-7 ESV).

The web page explains: “As the Lord spoke these words to Moses, He revealed to him the plan by which He would redeem His elect to become His children. Based on the four promises in the passage above we have the four cups of the Passover Feast.

*The Cup of Sanctification – based on God’s statement, ‘I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians’
*The Cup of Judgment or Deliverance – based on God’s statement, ‘I will deliver you from slavery to them’
*The Cup of Redemption – based on God’s statement, ‘I will redeem you with an outstretched hand’
*The Cup of Praise or Restoration – based on God’s statement, ‘I will take you to be My people, and I will be your God.’”

All these cups point to our Redeemer Jesus Christ, no matter the differing names given to them. I hope this isn’t confusing. But, what do you expect from a Gentile?

judas with high priests

We return to the upper room and Judas almost plows us down. He is going to the chief priests to discuss his betrayal of Jesus. It looks like this is the end, but it’s just the opposite. It is the beginning of God’s redemptive plan to save mankind from the slavery of sin. John 13:31-32 tells us, “When he [Judas] was gone, Jesus said, ‘Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will glorify the Son in Himself, and will glorify Him at once.’”

broken matzo

After Jesus and his disciples finished their lamb dinner and time of fellowship, it was the custom to conclude the Passover meal with a piece of unleavened bread. It was possibly at this time, Luke 22:19 records, “And He [Jesus] took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them [disciples], saying, ‘This is My body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’”

SWIRL THE WINE

In the Passover booklet, it says the third cup of wine (“the Cup of Blessing” or “the Cup of Redemption”) is poured. The Apostle Paul refers to this cup when he asks, “Is not this cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ?” (I Corinthians 10:16). Luke also tells us, “In the same way, after the supper He took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you’” (Luke 22:20).

eucharist

During this time in the Seder the leader talks about Elijah returning to announce the coming of the Messiah, and he goes and opens an outside door to welcome him in. Jesus, instead of opening the outside door, He took “the Cup of Elijah” and, offering the blessing, He says to His disciples, “Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:27b-28).

imagesCAEA2RP3

Finally, the fourth cup of wine is poured (the Cup of Praise or Restoration”) to remember the fourth promise God made to Israel and to us who believe in Christ (from the Passover booklet), “I will make you a chosen people to spread My Word among the nations of the world!” Numbers 6:24-26 is recited: “The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn His face toward you and give you peace.”

The Bible says, “When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” (Matthew 26:30).

Christ and disciplesJesus in the Garden

Many other crucial events occurred on the first “Maundy Thursday”: Jesus says farewell to His disciples and promises that He is preparing a place for them, the Holy Spirit will come to comfort them and He gives them His peace that is not like what the world offers (John 14:1-31). Jesus also talks to His disciples about Him being the “True Vine” and that they are the “branches”; their strength will come from Him and their “sorrow will be turned into joy” because He has “overcome the world” (John 15-16). Jesus prays for His disciples; for His Father to keep them safe and for His future disciples: “…in order that the love You [the Father] have for Me [The Son] may be in them [all of Jesus’ followers]” (John 17). Jesus agonizes in the Garden of Gethsemane, while His disciples sleep. He asks His Father three times, if there is any way “this cup” can pass from Him. Luke tells us that Jesus’ sweat became “like drops of blood.” At the end of each prayer, Jesus said, “yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Matthew 26:30-46; Mark 14:26-42; Luke 22:39-46, John 18:1). Jesus is betrayed by Judas with a kiss and is arrested and all the disciples desert Him (Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-12). Jesus is tried before Annas (John 18:12-23), tried before Caiaphas (Matthew 26:57-68; Mark 14:53-65; Luke 22:54-65; John 18:15-27). Finally, Peter – His friend Peter, denies knowing Jesus three times (Matthew 26:58, 69-75; Mark 14:54, 66-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:15-18, 25-27).

believe god's love 2banana split love

On the first Maundy Thursday, Jesus give His disciples a New Commandment: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). How do we love like Jesus? He shows us how to love by His own example. Jesus shows us how to love by all the things He did and by all the things He endured on that first Maundy Thursday. But, He didn’t stop there. He explains in John 15:12-14, 17: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command…This is my command: Love each other.” Jesus never tells us to do anything He hasn’t done Himself. On that first Maundy Thursday, He gave us the Sacrament of Communion, to remember Him, and He washed His disciples’ feet. Next, comes “Good Friday” when He died to make us free!

good friday6glasses on Bible

During this past Fall and Winter, I had a weekly Bible study at my house. A group of friends and I, as well as our whole church, studied “Authentic Community: Practicing the one another commands” by Jim Van Yperen. (It is an excellent Bible study book.) You know the “one another” commands – “Love one another”, “Accept one another”, “Have concern for one another”, “Be kind and compassionate to one another” and so on. At the beginning of each study, we took turns leading Communion. Each week, we had a different “style” of Communion. One week, we had a Lutheran Communion, the next week we had a Presbyterian Communion, the next week we read what the Bible said about Communion. It was a very enriching time. We were able to see Communion is so many ways. The experience deepened my understanding and also my awe of Communion and what an awesome gift Jesus gave us to give us joy and unity, instead of being set in our ways and separated from each other. I believe this is what God wants – to love and appreciate one another and to learn from one another. O Lord Jesus, make us one. Help us to love each other as You love us. Amen.

May the Love of Christ Consume Us!

The LydJesua, heart, sand

 

Lydia