Issue #55

Gardening, When Did Jesus Appear to the Women, Poems for Passion Week, and more...

Issue #55
Photo by Bruno van der Kraan / Unsplash

Happy Easter weekend, my brothers and sisters in Messiah Jesus. This letter goes out on Good Friday and Easter morning comes soon. This is a time to celebrate the culmination of Jesus’ life and ministry to save all who place their faith in him and believe.

Jesus’ life and ministry were prophesied first in Genesis 3. One would come who would crush the snake and bring humanity back to the ideal of Genesis 1. Then in Genesis 12, we find that the promised one will come from the line of Abraham. The Old Testament traces the theme of the failure of humankind to consistently obey God and the hope that one will come to perfectly obey God and crush the serpent.

Then comes Jesus, who, as the author of Hebrews says, lived a perfect life:

During his earthly life, he offered prayers and appeals with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was the Son, he learned obedience from what he suffered. After he was perfected, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, and he was declared by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
— Hebrews 5:7–10 (CSB)

What does it mean that Jesus “learned obedience” and “was perfected?” Because of other passages in Hebrews, it cannot mean that Jesus was not God incarnate. The word “perfected” is key. It is from the Greek word telos. It's hard to translate telos into English, kind of like deja vu in French, or schadenfreude in German. Telos is the idea of something reaching its ultimate purpose. In other words, unlike any other human, Jesus completed the path set before him perfectly through perfect obedience even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Because of his perfect life, we are rescued, not just for a day or a week, but eternally. We can rest secure because of the incredible love Jesus showed to us on this weekend nearly 2000 years ago.

Read and Reflect 📖

A Liturgy for Gardening | Douglas McKelvey 📃 →

Spring may have already started for many of you, but up here in the cold of Michigan, even this late Easter is often still pretty cold. Nevertheless, the planting and gardening season has begun for many. Whether you have considered a theology of gardening before or not, I invite you to pray this liturgical prayer the next time you begin.

If you've enjoyed reading this letter, please share it with others and help us grow. We exist to help Christians grow in their faith and to make the name of Jesus Messiah glorified in all the earth. We grow thanks to readers like you sharing what we do with others. Thank you!

Listen and Learn 🎧

How Does Easter Change Us? | John Piper 🎧 →

What does Paul mean when he says that we can know the power of the resurrection in our lives (Phil. 3:10) and that we are raised with Jesus and seated in the heavens with him (Eph. 2:6)?

Here are five present implications or experiences that we can know, here and now, because of our thousand-volt union with the risen Christ and the certainty of our own resurrection. What a difference it makes in our hearts that we can be certain that our own future resurrection is going to happen.

1. We share in Christ’s indestructible life.
2. We receive a new identity.
3. We experience unceasing help.
4. We acquire power to live righteously.
5. We can suffer well with our savior.

Musical Masterpiece 🎼

In My Father’s Kingdom | Fernando Ortega 🎶 →

This song is a beautiful and simple meditation on Luke 22:19-20, Jesus’ final supper as he performed the first Eucharist with his disciples. This is a communion hymn as we meditate on the death of Jesus on the cross and his triumph over death in the resurrection.

This bread is My body
Broken for you
This cup is My blood of the covenant
Poured out for you
I will not drink of the fruit of this vine
Until I drink it anew with you
In My Father's Kingdom
In My Father's Kingdom
In My Father's Kingdom | Fernando Ortega 🎶
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Christianity Is True ✝️

When Did Jesus Appear to the Women? Supposed Bible Contradiction | Michael Jones 📽 →

John says Jesus and the angels appeared to Mary after Peter and John left the tomb, but Matthew says Jesus and the angels appears to all the women before they even told the disciples of the empty tomb. Who is right or are both right?

This is one of the most commonly cited “contradictions” of scripture.

Here is the passage of John:

On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark. She saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb…

At that, Peter and the other disciple went out, heading for the tomb…Then the disciples returned to the place where they were staying.

But Mary stood outside the tomb, crying…

Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know it was Jesus. “Woman,” Jesus said to her, “why are you crying? Who is it that you’re seeking?”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

Turning around, she said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni! ” — which means “Teacher.”

And of Matthew:

After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb…

The angel told the women, “Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified…Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has risen from the dead and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see him there.’…

So, departing quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, they ran to tell his disciples the news. Just then Jesus met them and said, “Greetings! ” They came up, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus told them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”

Whether this is a supposed contradiction you are aware of or not, reconciling the resurrection accounts is important for the Christian. Jones does a good job in this 10-minute video of walking through the problem and the possible resolutions.

When Did Jesus Appear to the Women? Supposed Bible Contradiction #26 | Inspiring Philosophy (Youtube)

Early Eyewitness Testimony and the Failure of Hallucinations to Account for Them | Brian Chilton 📃 →

Michael Jones’ video was an apologetics video of “defense”, arguing that the resurrection accounts can be reconciled in the face of skeptical attacks. This article is on “offense,” arguing that the resurrection really happened and skeptic accounts of what happened around the resurrection don’t work.

Chilton looks at the strength of evidence for the resurrection by examining the eyewitnesses claiming that Jesus rose from the dead. The most common skeptic account of the resurrection is that the disciples hallucinated the recorded appearances of Jesus. But Chilton gives us ten reasons to doubt that hallucinations can account for the appearances of Jesus like those recorded by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 or by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in their gospel biographies of Jesus.

Church History Corner ⛪️

Easter Hymns | Matthew Anderson, Alistair Roberts, Derek Rishmawy 🎧 →

There are many Christmas hymns, but despite being the “super bowl for Christians,” as I’ve heard one pastor describe it, Easter has surprisingly few well-known hymns. The Mere Fidelity podcast crew discusses “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today,” “In Christ Alone,” and “Thine Be the Glory.”

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Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️

Poems for Passion Week: Perspectives and Choices | Elton Higgs 📃 →

The poems below represent various responses by several of those who were a part of the drama of Passion Week. Some were involved through long association, others seemingly by accident, but all by God’s design. We have a range of responses: jaded cynicism, desperate guilt, cool hypocrisy, stubborn self-will, perplexed or abashed enlightenment. All of the speakers’ lives have been profoundly changed by their encounter with Jesus, but whether for good or ill is being determined by their own choices. And as we overhear their thoughts, we find that we, too, are challenged to examine our responses to the suffering Christ, and this process is reflected in the last poem of the set, “The Final Step.”

Take a few minutes and meditate on these poems. Read them slowly and let their words—and the story of Jesus— touch your soul.

For More:

Keep Your Mind on Things Above

I will be praying for you this week.

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then bowing his head, he gave up his spirit.
— John 19:30 (CSB)

Joel Fischer