Scripture Reference: Matthew 28:1-20; Mark 16:1-20; Luke 24:1-49; John 20:1-21:25.
After the Romans had crucified Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea had Christ‘s body placed in his own tomb. A large stone covered the entrance and soldiers guarded the sealed tomb. On the third day, a Sunday, some women (Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna and Salome are all mentioned in the gospel accounts) went to the tomb at dawn to anoint the body of Jesus.
A powerful earthquake took place as an angel from heaven rolled the stone back. The guards shook in fear as the angel, dressed in bright white, sat upon the stone. The angel announced to the women that Jesus was no longer in the tomb, “He has risen, just as he said.” Then he instructed the women to check the tomb and see for themselves. Next he told them to go tell the disciples.
With a mixture of fear and joy they ran to obey the angel’s command, but suddenly Jesus met them on their way. They fell at his feet and worshiped him. Jesus then said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee. There they will see me.”
When the guards reported what had happened to the chief priests, they bribed the soldiers with a large sum of money, telling them to lie and say that the disciples had stolen the body in the night.
After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to the women near the tomb and afterwards at least twice to the disciples while they had gathered at a house in prayer. He visited two of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and he also appeared at the Sea of Galilee while some of the disciples were fishing.
The story of the widow’s mite described in Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4 is a fascinating and intriguing one. Most of us have heard or read this story more times than we can remember, yet most of us have missed the essential point–selflessness.
The big question, however, is: “What moved Jesus to comment on the Widow’s Mite?” I am sure there were other poor widows in the Synagogue that day. Some may have even given less than two mites, so, Why did Jesus choose to comment on this widow? The answer is not as obvious as I thought. However, embedded in the story, one sees a poor widow displays an unusual and unique characteristic–others before self. In other words, she gave selflessly. It did not matter that the two mites were all she had to survive. She placed them in the offering plate without thinking about her needs. This to me was an extraordinary display of faith and a strong belief in God as her provider. Choosing others before self is not easy, but when we do Jesus takes note. After all, He chose others before self when He dies at Calvary.
Here is Mark’s version of the story: Jesus sat in the temple near the treasury and watched as people walked by and deposited their gifts for the temple. Some made a show of it, mainly because they wanted others to see how much they had given. Suddenly a poor woman who was a widow, came by and threw in two mites.
Now, back in those days, a mite was the least valuable coin used. Therefore, the widow’s gift was extremely small, amounting to nothing in the eyes of many. However, Jesus looked at her heart and saw what others did not see. Thus, He commented: “All the others contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on” (Mark 12:44). The widow did not draw attention to herself. Her gift was much too small for anyone to notice. Of course, except Jesus. She gave from the heart, and she was selfless in doing so.
God sees everything we do, and it does not matter how small it may seem. It may be nothing more than a smile, a handshake, a silent prayer, a comforting word, or an unnoticed act of love and kindness to someone who is going through tough times.
Jesus said: “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward from your Father in heaven. “Therefore”, when thou do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and the streets that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say, they have their reward. Hence when thou do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly” (Matthew 6:1-4).
“Greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
One of the greatest events that had ever occurred in the history of the world was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ at Calvary. It was a horrible and despicable act, which had been preordained and deemed necessary for the atonement of sin. Those who saw this historic event saw love triumph over evil. The proverbial captives who were bound and blind folded were set free–not because they were innocent. But because of the prevailing grace of God. Here, is how the apostle Paul puts it: “For by grace, you have been been granted a stay of execution through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, and not a result of works, so no one should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Surely, the keeper of the flame thought he had the condemned (You and I) in his grasps forever, but Jesus armed with instructions from His father, stepped up to the execution stake and paid the ransom with His life. It was not His will but that of His father, the righteous Judge who had handed down the death sentence many years earlier.
Still, we are not free from blame yet. We are on probation. Therefore, if we do not break up our folly grounds and turned from our wicked ways, we could still end up in the enemy’s clutches once again. Many will argue, and I have in the past that Jesus died for sins once and for all. However, after reading Matthew 7: 21-23 I realized that Jesus’ death on the cross saved humanity from imminent destruction but most assuredly not forever.
Here, is what Jesus told His disciples: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, only those who do what my Father in heaven wants. On that Day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord! Didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we expel demons in your name? Didn’t we perform many miracles in your name?’ Then I will tell them to their faces, ‘I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!
Without a doubt, the greatest and the most popular text in the Bible is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life”. This text is so powerful and appealing, many people wear it on their bodies as fashion.
Yet, non-Christians and Jesus bashers find this statement troubling. They think it is naive to believe that anyone would allow his or her innocent son to die a violent death for his friends. Frankly, I do not blame them because what Jesus did on the cross at Calvary transcends the human thought process. Furthermore, humans in general like to compare events. but there is no precedent for such a gracious act. It was never done before. Therefore, it is understandable that people with atheistic tendencies have doubts.
Nevertheless, to the true believer, there is nothing dubious about Jesus Christ of Nazareth, dying for sinners. However, many of us have never stopped and think about it. We accept it for what it is. It was a remarkable demonstration of God’s love, which was prompted by His desire to reconcile a condemned people back into the sheep fold.
Still, it was not Jesus’ wish that He died for sinners. He was following orders from God the Father. Jesus was the only man on earth worthy to stand in the gap, but He showed His humanness when the pain and agony became unbearable. He sorts a way out. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, let not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). God the Father denied Jesus’ request because the Scripture must be fulfilled. It was preordained that Jesus should die for the sins of the world (Read Isaiah 53:1-12).
Today, because of one man’s willingness to stand in the gap and endure the agony of a rugged cross, Salvation is full and free. Yet, many of us take it for granted. But make no mistake friends; He that spares not His Son, but delivered Him up for us, will judge and reward us according to our work.
Psalm 46 (NIV)
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see what the LORD has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.