I trust your Easter weekend has been a wonderful experience, from Maundy Thursday to Good Friday to Easter Sunday. Hasn’t it been a mixture of emotions?
The Garden of Gethsemane
We witnessed the dread of Jesus’s coming to terms with His assignment in the Garden of Gethsemane where He shed drops of blood in fervent prayer.
And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will’
Matthew 26:39, NASB
On Good Friday, we turned our heads as Judas hanged himself and Peter denied Christ three times.
We agonized with Jesus as He was unjustly accused and sentenced to die by crucifixion.
We cringed in horror as they lashed His back thirty-nine times and slapped the crown of thorns on His head.
We wept as He carried His cross, assisted by Simon the Cyrene, up the hill to Golgotha where they drove nails into His hands and feet.
But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing’
We sat amazed when He forgave His tormentors as well as the thief crucified next to Him.
And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” And He said to him, ‘Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise’
We mourned with Mary, His mother, as she watched her Son suffer unto death.
But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ From that hour the disciple took her into his own household
We waited on Saturday. But where was Jesus from Friday night to Sunday morning?
Descent into Sheol
After death, Jesus descended into the bowels of the earth to Sheol. Sheol is a two-sided holding tank for the dead, with the righteous on one side and the wicked on the other, separated by a chasm. We know this from the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-30.
First, Jesus took away the keys of death, hell, and the grave from Satan. Then He preached the Good News to the damned, giving them the opportunity to escape from their prison of hell. Every person who has ever lived must make the choice to accept or reject Jesus as Saviour. Last, the righteous vacated Sheol to live in heaven.
I am the first and the last,and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades
Good Friday seals the forgiveness of our sins and the healing of our physical bodies through Jesus’s shed blood at Calvary.
The Third Day
The miracle of Jesus’s bodily resurrection on Sunday seals our eternity with Jesus Christ in heaven. We rejoice because His tomb is empty! Our Lord is risen, just as He said.
What joy fills our souls as we rejoice in the goodness of our Saviour! To realize that He loved us that much–to come down from heaven to be the perfect sacrifice for us. We owed a debt we couldn’t pay, and He paid a debt He didn’t owe. He restored our broken relationship with God out of his abundant love for each one of us.
Christianity isn’t a dry, dead religion. It’s a living, personal relationship with the One True GodJesus Christ.
Dear Father, May we carry Easter in our hearts all year long. May we be forever humbled and grateful, showing our sincere thanks to Jesus for providing us with the precious, priceless gift of salvation. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
He is Risen! by Karen Jurgens copyright 2018 and 2022, All rights reserved
“…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:2 NKJV
As Christian believers, we observe the crucifixion of Christ beginning on Maundy Thursday and concluding on Good Friday. Interestingly, this year Passover will also fall on April 15th. The Passover story celebrates the Israelites’ deliverance from Egyptian bondage and their redemption through the blood of a lamb. Jesus became that Passover lamb when he died for our sins and redeemed us with His blood. Christ is truly the fulfillment of Passover as seen in the book of Revelation where He is referred to as “the Lamb of God” twenty-nine times.
The definition of shame
When Jesus died as our Passover Lamb, He bore our sins and despised the shame. What is the meaning of shame? The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines it as, “a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety; a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute; something that brings censure or reproach” (Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shame).
We have all experienced shame at some point in our lives. The good news is that Jesus not only took our sins to the cross, He also took away our disgrace. When we humbly confess our sin and receive God’s forgiveness, He throws both sin and shame into the Sea of Forgetfulness.
Freedom from sin involves Jesus’s blood, which cleanses our spirits, while freedom from shame involves cleansing our minds and emotions. Since habits and memories dwell in a deep place in our souls, we must allow the Lord to purify them with His sinless and atoning blood. We may not be able to forget them completely, but Jesus can take away the sorrow and pain, and give us His perfect peace that defies logic.
Let’s regard shame another way. Did you know that it can also refer to physical nakedness?
Adam and Eve’s shame
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
Genesis 2:25 NKJV
Adam and Eve experienced shame and fear after they ate of the forbidden fruit. Their sin opened their eyes to their nakedness, and they hid from God’s presence. How did God react?
Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.
Genesis 3:21 NKJV
Why is this act significant? God slayed an innocent animal–most likely a lamb–marking this event as the first blood covering for forgiveness of sins. God requires a blood sacrifice for sin, which continued until Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, shed His sinless blood once for all for the sins of mankind.
King David’s guilt
Psalm 51 reveals King David’s heart when he repented from his sin against Bathsheba and Uriah.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51:7 NKJV
David also pleaded with God to cleanse his guilty conscience so he could again sing praises to Him:
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation, And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
Psalm 51:14 NKJV
Jesus bore our shame
Let’s envision Jesus as He hung on the cross. Do you know that the familiar artwork of Christ is partly wrong? The Romans imposed a cruel penalty, crucifying a person naked. On that Passover day, Jesus wore no loin cloth. Yet, although He despised the shame of His nakedness, He endured it for our sakes and for the joy placed before Him.
For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’
Romans 10:11 NKJV
What a wonderful promise! No shame for believers! No condemnation, as Romans 8 explains:
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
Romans 8:1-2 NKJV
As we ponder the wondrous cross on this day of Christ’s passion, may God give us a deeper and fuller understanding of what Jesus purchased for each one of us. He has freely given us this priceless gift of salvation and taken away our guilt and shame.
Let’s pray with King David:
O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.
Psalm 51:15-17 NKJV
“Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”
Revelation 16:15 NKJV
Dear Father, we humbly worship You on this day when You suffered and died for our sin and shame. Apply Your blood to our hearts, just as the Jews applied lamb’s blood to their doorposts. Deliver us from the evil one, just as You delivered the enslaved Jews from the Egyptian Pharaoh. Thank you for freeing us from sin and shame through the cross of Christ. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Despising the Shame by Karen Jurgens Copyright 2022 All rights reserved
During the month of March we celebrated Purim, the day the Jews were legally allowed to defend themselves against annihilation. Most people are familiar with the story of Queen Esther and King Ahasuerus, but Mordecai shines as one anointed and appointed by God—a reflection of Christ.
A protector of an orphaned girl
Mordecai was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had no father or mother. Now the young lady was beautiful of form and face, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.
Esther 2:7 NASB
How blessed was orphaned Hadassah when her cousin took her to raise as his own child. When King Ahasuerus invited the virgins of the land to audition for queen, Mordecai supported Esther’s participation. He had wisely cautioned her to keep her Jewish race a secret. After the king chose Esther to be his bride, Mordecai stayed close, monitoring daily for news of her at the king’s gate.
A protector of the king
In those days, while Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s officials from those who guarded the door, became angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus.
Esther 2:21 NASB
God placed Mordecai in a key position at the exact time to overhear a plot against the king’s life. Mordecai immediately reported what he had heard to Queen Esther, who informed the king in Mordecai’s name. The two officials were immediately hanged, and the scribes recorded it in the king’s Book of the Chronicles.
An honored man
The king said, “What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” Then the king’s servants who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.”
Esther 6:3 NASB
After the king understood from reading his Book of the Chronicles that Mordecai had saved his life, the king asked Haman what should be done for the man the king wished to honor. Haman pridefully believed the king wanted to honor him, so he thought up an ostentatious list. When the king ordered Haman to do just as he said for Mordecai the Jew, Haman was mortified.
So Haman took the robe and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city square, and proclaimed before him, “Thus it shall be done to the man whom the king desires to honor.”
Esther 6:11 NASB
A protector of his people
Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.
Esther 3:13 NKJV
Not only did Mordecai save the king’s life, but he also saved the Jewish nation from annihilation. After Mordecai refused to bow before Haman, whom the king had promoted above all other nobles, Haman became furious. When he discovered that Mordecai was a Jew, Haman talked the king into killing all the Jews in the kingdom through a decree sealed with the king’s signet ring. In fact, evil Haman constructed a gallows on his land on which to personally hang Mordecai.
The news of the approaching genocide spread far and wide. Mordecai fasted in sackcloth and ashes along with every Jew in the kingdom. He appealed to Queen Esther and urged her to beg for the king’s mercy. She explained that her husband hadn’t sent for her in thirty days, and appearing without being summoned could cost her her life. Then Mordecai uttered his renowned response:
“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”
Esther 4:14 NASB
A promoted man
The king took off his signet ring which he had taken away from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white, with a large crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple; and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced.
Esther 8:2, 15 NASB
During her second banquet, Queen Esther exposed her ethnicity to her husband and Haman as an enemy of the Jews. King Ahasuerus, furious, witnessed Haman falling on the queen’s couch, begging for his life. The king ordered Haman to be hanged on the gallows at once. Afterward, he granted Esther’s plea to save her people by giving Mordecai authority to write each province a letter, sealed with the king’s signet ring. This allowed the Jews to defend themselves against Haman’s edict of destruction.
The Jews killed 75,000 of their enemies, and the twelve sons of Haman were also hanged on the same gallows, which Haman had constructed for Mordecai. Mordecai became greater and greater in the kingdom because he had saved the Jewish people.
The Feast of Purim established
Then Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, obliging them to celebrate the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same month, annually, because on those days the Jews rid themselves of their enemies, and it was a month which was turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and rejoicing and sending portions of food to one another and gifts to the poor.
Esther 9:20-22 NASB
Instead of genocide, the Jewish race flourished with feasting and rejoicing. They celebrated Purim from that day forward, even until today.
As a savior of his people, we can also discern our Savior in Mordecai.
How does Mordecai reflect Christ?
Just as Mordecai adopted orphaned Hadassah, we Christians are all adopted sons and daughters of God.
He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
Ephesians 1:5 NASB
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.
Galatians 4:4-7 NASB
Just as Mordecai saved the king and the Jewish nation, Jesus came to save the world from death, hell, and the grave.
And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:12 NASB
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB
Just like Mordecai,Jesus was honored and promoted in His Father’s kingdom.
So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.
Mark 16:19 NASB
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.
Revelation 5:11-14 NASB
How do these attributes apply to our lives?
May we fight for the safety and freedom of our children in these evil days. May we protect these innocent ones from all harm and wickedness lurking in the darkness.
May we promote truth, righteousness, and peace in our world, protecting those who stand up and fight for our godly freedoms.
May we expose wicked plans to destroy our free societies and see to it that those evil ones face justice.
May we thank God and rejoice when He defeats our enemies. Let’s remember that we always have the victory through Christ!
Dear Father, let us mature in our faith so that when people look on us, they see Jesus. May we reflect Your attributes and proclaim Your salvation to a lost and dying world. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Mordecai, a Reflection of Christ by Karen Jurgens, copyright 2022 All rights reserved