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.
Sunday, March 24th is Palm Sunday in Christian tradition. Today Christians all over the world celebrate the day Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem on a donkey to shouts of, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
For many Christian churches, Palm Sunday, often referred to as “Passion Sunday,” marks the beginning of Holy Week, which concludes on Easter Sunday. Today is call Palm Sunday because the crowds covered Jesus’ path with branches of palm leaves as He rode by on the donkey. It was a joyous welcome.
The biblical account of Palm Sunday can be found in Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; and John 12:12-19.
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
This took place to fulfill what (Zechariah 9:9) the prophet foretold five hundred years earlier.
“Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. An extremely large crowd spread their cloaks on the road while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the city got stirred up and asked, “Who is this?”
The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
- Carissimi; Sunday’s Mass: Palm Sunday (frjeromeosjv.wordpress.com)
- Palm Sunday (givemeliberty01.com)
- That first Palm Sunday. (jessicahof.wordpress.com)
- Matthew 21.1-17 Fan or Follower? Palms or Power? JUMC 20130324 (mysundaysermons.com)
- The Jewish Roots of Palm Sunday and the Passion (thesacredpage.com)
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).
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved (John 3:17).
Everybody stumbles and everybody fall sometimes; including the most pious among us. However, as Christians we routinely ignore these fundamental biblical facts, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)… “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). Still many in Christendom and other religions too, have adopted the holier-than-thou personality and set themselves up as judge and jury. Consequently, instead of helping to strengthen and pick up the fallen, they selflessly unleash judgment base on their emotions. This is a dangerous practice, especially when the judge and jury themselves have bigger planks in their eyes than that they seek to remove from another person’s eye.
I have seen many young Christian women got thrown out of the Church because they got pregnant. Sometimes even the parents side with the draconian tribunal, leaving the victim feeling hopeless and abandoned. Everyone in the Church understands that salvation is a gift from God, which none of us deserve. The apostle Paul said it best, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. It is not by your own merit; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). Hence, when a brother or a sister falls it is the duty of the Church to encourage and support the person rather than being judge and jury.
This premise that a sin committed publicly, deserves a harsher punishment than that committed privately is a fallacy. Jesus debunk this argument when religious leaders brought a women caught committing adultery to Him. The religious leaders of the day were expecting Jesus to hand down the ultimate punishment–death by stoning, but He surprised them. Jesus did not condemn the woman or her accusers. As a matter of fact, He did not utter a condemning word.
Here, is John’s account of the incident: Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman caught in adultery. Furthermore, when they set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, we caught this woman in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. What do you say” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accused Him. However, Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, became convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. Then Jesus was alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had straightened Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has not anyone one condemned you?”
She said, “No one, Lord.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:3-11).
The New Heaven and the New Earth According to John: Revelation 21
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold; the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Furthermore he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.”
The New Jerusalem
9 Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come; I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates, the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed—13 on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
15 And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 16 The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. 17 He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement. 18 The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold,clear as glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.
22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.