Easter Sunday is our celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the grave after his burial and crucifixion. In the worship hour, I gave the full account of the Passion Week. I started from Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on the day we call Palm Sunday. The full story of the account in the gospel of Matthew reveals the cleansing of the Temple and his teaching through the days leading up to his death, teaching on such things as: spiritual authority, parables about faithfulness, questions about the Christ being the heir of King David, heaven, government, resurrection, persecution, sacrifice, the Great Commandment on love, hypocrisy, end times and spiritual readiness.
I spoke of: the conspiracy and plot to kill Jesus by the Jewish hierarchy, the Last Supper (Passover meal) with his disciples, the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, the betrayal by Judas, the agony of his preparation for execution by his enemies by being beaten, mocked and made fun of by being robed, crowned, spit upon, slapped and stripped. I talked about the crucifixion on Mount Calvary, with its pain and suffering.
The death of Jesus brought about two main events: the ripping of the veil in the Holy of Holies in the Temple, and the darkness and earthquake in which saints arose from their graves and showed themselves to their families.
The burial was quickly arranged by a man named Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy man who was a follower and disciple of Jesus, allowing the body to be placed in a tomb that was meant for Joseph himself. Nicodemus, who came to Jesus by night earlier, also helped with the burial.
The empty tomb declared three things: (1) the death, burial and resurrection were all part of God's redemptive plan, (2) nothing can defeat or hinder God's purpose for his creation, and (3) we as God's people are to celebrate God's love for us by "going and telling" others.
The empty tomb is the full declaration of victory. It is the pivotal point in the whole story of redemption whereby we, as sinful individuals, find forgiveness and grace through faith to become children of God. We are part of God's great kingdom, we are heirs of glory through God's love as shown on the cross. How awesome!
In other news, this past week was full of meetings and getting together with others for seeing what God has in store for the coming weeks and months. In addition, there were 19 who went on a fun outing last Tuesday to see the taping of "The Price Is Right" show in Hollywood.
There were two special events specifically that were a blessing in these past days. First, we went over to Crystal and Shawn's house to celebrate Bailey's third birthday on Wednesday, April 4 (her birthday). What fun.
Second, I did a baptism at Lytle Creek in the San Bernardino National Forest yesterday (Saturday). A man named David, who is part of the Sober Living Program for parolees for Coronado Stone, asked me if I would baptize him in a running stream or river. We found a good spot at Lytle Creek (just a few miles north of Rialto), and we held the baptism at noon on a sunny and bright day.
This afternoon, after church, Sondra fixed a huge banquet meal for our Easter dinner: ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, green beans, asparagus, baked sweet potatoes, fruit salad, olives, bake-n-serve rolls and sweet iced tea. For dessert, we had strawberry short cake with real whipped cream!
Bubba Watson won the Masters golf tournament and the Padres finally beat the Dodgers. Life is good!