"But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once and for all, having obtained (for us) eternal redemption." (NKJV)Imagine you receive a notice in your mail your mortgage has been paid in full; that you no longer must pay for the roof over your head or maybe your car is paid off. Wow- what a wonderful gift someone gave you today and you feel blessed. Can you imagine? What would you do? Pay it forward? Keep quiet about it so people wouldn't think you were crazy? That is for another conversation. However, unlike this clumsy analogy, Jesus' gift is for "WHOMSOEVER shall believe", not just a select recipient or lucky few:
It is, thankfully, for all of us!
This past week our Pastor delivered a powerful message on the Resurrection of Jesus from the tomb and what caught my attention and demanded I share it was how once again, the simple prose of the Bible is so heavily filled with deeper lying messages and insight. We can read a verse many times and get different thoughts from time to time which is unlike any other book. Most you read, and that is it.
It also demands us to read it and know it because the stories contained therein are all so intertwined.
This message was a perfect example. Following our celebration of Easter, we heard the story, again, of the story of the resurrection, but as Pastor built the story, it is clear something extraordinary happened that Sunday morning, the 3rd day. Something more substantial even, I dare say, than Jesus' resurrection.
We will start with Mary's encounter at the tomb in the 20th Chapter of John, for example.
When Mary arrived Sunday morning to care for Jesus' body, she found the tomb open with the stone rolled back. Peering in (John 20: 12), she saw an angel at what would have been the head and the foot of Jesus. This is symbolic of the Ark of the Covenant; an angel on either side with God in the middle.
Wow- I had read this many times and never caught that.
As she turned to leave she saw another figure who, like the angels, asked her why she was crying. Despite having travelled with Jesus for nearly 3 1/2 years, she did not recognize him, and thought him to be a gardener. (John 20: 14-15)
Now I remember thinking to myself, "a gardener?" That seemed odd but I never gave it much more thought. Until this message. So the fundamental question of course is why would she think him to be a gardener?
Plainly put, gardeners are dirty from working in dirt and filth. Jesus had just left the tomb and was filthy, covered in sin, I presume. Still not recognizing him, Jesus called her by name "Mary" and she instantly cried out "Rabboni" or Teacher. She now saw her beloved teacher standing there with her so naturally she started to approach to touch him.
Jesus warned her to not touch him (he was unclean and per Jewish law, she would then be unclean) and said he had not yet ascended to the father. Rather, He directs her to find His brothers and tell them I am ascending to my Father and your Father. (John 20:17)
Mary found the disciples and gave them His message and proclaimed "I have seen the Lord!" (John 20: 18) I find this verse extremely interesting because just a few moments earlier in v 16 she calls Jesus Rabboni. Mary, it appears, was quick on the uptake and realized the truth Jesus had been telling His followers was now coming true.
The story goes on:
"That evening, the disciples were behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there with them saying "Peace be unto you."
Showing them his wounds they were understandably joyful to see him again.We get more detail from Luke 24:39:
"Look at my hands. Look at my feet. Touch me and be sure I am not a ghost because ghosts do not have a body as I do."
Stepping back and analyzing these perspectives it is now very apparent something happened between His meeting with Mary around dawn that morning and that evening in the room with the disciples. In fact, He even tells us when we more closely examine John 20:17 again:
"Don't cling (touch) to me for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them 'I am ascending' to my father and your father, to my God and your God."Did you get it? I have not yet ascended...(but) I AM ascending. In other words, go round up my followers and when you see me again, this evening, I will be coming from the Father!
So we now see there was a lot more going on that Sunday morning, much more than most ever thought I daresay! Jesus, ascended to the Holiest Tabernacle to commune with the Father, carrying all our sins with Him, and offered His own blood to the Father to atone for our sins and remove out guilt so as to restore our relationship with God, once and for all. Thus, as we have so many times before heard, He defeated death and the grave, forever and ever amen!
When we follow the story through the eyes of the disciples and weave in the reference from Hebrews we get a glimpse into the magnificent word God has given us, and providing one more bit of proof the Bible was not "written" by man but simply penned once God gave that penman HIS words.
To hear this amazing story behind the story, please listen to this powerful sermon from Robert Morris: http://gatewaypeople.com/ministries/life/events/gateway-easter-services/session/2018/03/30/dominion