Easter is such a sacred time. The celebration doesn’t need to end. I know it hasn't in our hearts. I imagine once the hustle and bustle and the fuss and the muss is over, we can find a renewed space for deeper reflection.
For the last two Easters I added space to satisfy the sacredness of this holiday.
Easter 2019, I studied the words Jesus shared between the transfiguration and crucifixion. As I read the transfiguration account, something kindled my curiosity. God said, “Listen to Him!” Yes, with an exclamation mark. We don’t see many of those in the scripture. Whatever Jesus said following that, it must have been significant.
What He continues to speak to us today.
In his few days left on earth, Jesus was working about the Father’s business; performing miracles, dealing with sin in the church, using parables to teach about forgiveness, humility, and preparedness for His return.
Easter 2020, I did the same, and continued the celebration after resurrection Sunday. I followed Jesus’ journey between the resurrection and His final ascension. After the resurrection, he walked among the people once again. It became clear that people were no longer looking for him.
Jesus revealed, he is never far away.
He also made it clear that there was still work to do until He returns in the last days.
Would you like to join me in following Jesus through the Word? Let's explore what Jesus spoke to believers in His last days on earth just before the cross and after the cross.
We will discuss this journey in two parts, with the cross and resurrection as our pivot-point.
The transfiguration was Christ's appearance in radiant glory to three of his disciples, found in Matthew 17:2, Mark 9:2–3, Luke 9:28–36.
“...Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus . . .” a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” Matthew 17:1-5
We can draw many theological points from this account. What stands out to me is what God spoke from the cloud.
Hearing God speak from a cloud was not a new thing and not a first-time experience for the disciples. At Jesus' baptism, they heard God say, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:17)
That was at the start of Jesus ministering.
Here, near the end of His ministry, God says the same thing, word for word, but added the admonishing phrase, “LISTEN TO HIM!”
What did Jesus say after this point, before the cross?
Before the cross
Jesus taught us about faith, how to live and love with humility, and how to believe and prepare until He returns.
'LISTEN TO HIM' – HAVE FAITH
Mustard Seed Sized Faith.
Vs19-20, After Jesus cast a demon from a boy, the disciples asked Jesus, “Why couldn’t we do that?” He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Faith Like A Child. Matthew 18:1-5
Vs1-3, The disciples asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven.” Not only is our faith demonstrated through trust, loyalty, and humility (as a child), it is a requirement to enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Where Two or Three Gather. Matthew 18:18-20
V19-20, “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Faith Without Doubt Can Move Mountains. Matthew 21:21
“Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt . . . you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.”
We must have faith.
'LISTEN TO HIM' – HUMBLY LIVE & LOVE
Jesus spent a great deal talking about wholehearted devotion to God. He emphasized how a relationship with God is the beginning of everything and is foundational to our relationship with others. He also spoke about fruitlessness and condemned hypocrisy.
Specifically, these 21 things:
Never cause another to stumble. Matthew 18:6-9
Leave the 99 who are safe, to save the one. Matthew 18:10-14
Deal with sin and conflict in the Church. Matthew 18:15-20
Extend grace and mercy, and forgive – always! Matthew 18:21-35
Be humble, for the last will be first. Matthew 19:16-30, Matthew 20:1-16
Serve, always! Matthew 20:25-28
Maintain churches as places of worship and prayer, not marketplaces. Matthew 21:12-17
Repent and believe, not just religiously. Matthew 21:28-32
Produce fruit. Matthew 21:33-46
Love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind. Matthew 22:37
Love our neighbor as ourselves. Matthew 22:39
Pay our taxes! Matthew 22:15-22
Practice what we preach. Matthew 23:1-12
Never shut the door of the Kingdom of heaven to those who seek it. Matthew 23-13
Never lead another person astray. Matthew 23:14
Beware of false teaching/Remember what is sacred. Matthew 23:16-20
Pay our tithes! Matthew 23:23
Exercise justice, mercy, and faithfulness. Matthew 23:23
Care for our inner selves before the outside. Matthew 23:25-28
Not just demonstrate outward righteousness, but to be holy. Matthew 23:27-28
Care for the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, convict, homeless. Matthew 25:31-46*
We must humbly live and love.
LISTEN TO HIM – “BELIEVE & PREPARE”
Many of His words before the crucifixion were to express His desire for everyone to have the opportunity to know Him and be prepared to join Him with the Father in Heaven, when the day comes. He told us to trust in God’s provision of salvation through Jesus and not in good works or religious service.
Repent and Believe. Matthew 21:28-32
To reject Him is to reject God. Matthew 21:42-46
All are invited, few are prepared. Matthew 22:1-14