Monday, March 22, 2010

He is Risen


It is interesting to note that if you took all four gospel writings and counted all the verses that tell about Jesus’ 33 years of life on this 3rd sphere from the sun – 32% of the verses in the gospels cover the last week of Jesus’ life. If Jesus lived 1,720 weeks, it seems that the last week was the most important of all.

One scholar calculated that Jesus lived 12,045 days. Of all the incidents covered by the gospel writers, only 9 events are covered by all four gospel writers – just 9. Of those 9 events – 5 of them happen in the last 24 hours of Jesus’ life – on day 12,045: The last supper, Peter’s denial of Jesus, Jesus’ trial and sentencing by Pilate, The crucifixion and Jesus’ burial.

All this leads us to the conclusion that whereas the last week was the most important week of the 1,720 weeks He lived and the last 24 hours of Jesus’ life – day 12,045 was the most important 24 hours.

As the week unfolds, we have watched Jesus give the lesson on servanthood and be the servant. We have witnessed him share the significance of communion and his broken body and shed blood. Then we see him wrestle with a life and death crisis as we follow him to an olive grove on the Mount of Olives to a small Garden known as Gethsemane.

The church I attend has two pictures that hang at the front of the church – one is the classic 1941 work by Warner Sallman called “Head of Christ”. The other, He is knocking at the front door of a house. One of the most famous however is Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane – painted in 1890 by Heinrich Hofmann. This is one of the most copied paintings in history which was purchased by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and is displayed in Riverside Church in New York City.

But the Scripture depicts a picture of Jesus today in these last 24 hours that we are unaccustomed too. It is not a picture of a genteel, serene Jesus with a halo on his head and a moon beam on his face. The Message translation says he was “plunged into an agonizing sorrow”.

It’s a much different picture and the Gospel writers describe it: “He began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” -Matthew 26:37b-38a. John 18:4 tells us that Jesus knows that death on the cross is ahead-- “Jesus knowing all that was going to happen to him…” He knows that the clock is ticking, He knows about the beatings, the lashings, carrying the cross, the nails in his hands and feet, the spear in his side…but that is not why he is grieved and heavily depressed. He is “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” because he knows he is: “…the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

Dr. Dan Reeder adds to the in-depth feeling, “And now Jesus is the living, perfect Lamb of God. And on this night before His death, he realizes he who knew no sin is about to take the sins of the entire human race for all time upon himself. He will become it. Every sick and twisted perversion, every lie, every murder, every rape and every child abuse. Adolph Hitler’s sin. Charles Manson’s sins. Jeffrey Dahlmer’s sins. My sin, your sin. The sin of the human race.”

In the Gospel of St. John chapters 18 and 19, you will find four locations in the last week of Christ; namely, Gethsemane, Gabbatha, Golgotha, and the Garden tomb.

First, in John 18:1, “When Jesus had spoken these words; he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples.”
John does not give it a name other than calling it a garden, but the other three gospel writers all called it, Gethsemane, which actually means “an oil press”. Jesus had gone there to pray because he knew he would be parting his earthly life and baring the sins of the world on the cross in a few hours. Some have even said that his prayer was a prayer of weakness and that he was trying to get out of what he had come into the world to do, but rather we find there much power.

Let me make an observation concerning this garden, which was only a few yards from the wall of Jerusalem where Jesus had gone. It was here that he actually went to receive power from God his father. An interesting story is told in verse two of Judas who was to betray the Lord Jesus that he knew the place because Jesus “off times resorted there with his disciples.”

Jesus understands the scope of trouble: “He calls his sufferings a cup; not a river, not a sea, but a cup which we shall soon see the bottom of” said Matthew Henry a noted commentarist.

Even bearing the sins of the world and experiencing all of the grief of the world was still only a “cup.” Jesus’ trouble and grief had a beginning and an end.

Many of us also know the place of prayer, and often times we fail the Lord. These verses tell us that Judas came with a band of soldiers for the sole purpose of betraying Jesus Christ. And when Jesus saw them coming, He asked them whom were they seeking. Actually, Jesus asked the soldiers this on two different occasions and each time we see them falling backwards. This does not show our Savior as a weak person but actually one who manifested great strength and power. Chapter 18 contains a number of times where the power of Jesus is manifested and would be worthy of your reading it again.

Jesus knew that it was the time that he was to die and had the correct answer for Pilate who on three different occasions had said that he had found no fault with Jesus.

Since Pilate knew that he was not going to change the opinion of the accuser’s, he scourged Jesus and allowed the soldiers to plat a crown of thorns and put it on his head, as well as putting a purple robe on him saying “Hail King of the Jews” and smote him with their hands. Again the Roman governor said, “I find no fault in him”, but in an effort to appease them he released Barabbas.


Afterwards, he brought Jesus forth and set down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. In the Greek it was called bema which was a stone platform in the open court in front of the Praetorium--the place of final sentence. Interestingly, this is also used as the Judgment seat of Christ by Paul in some of his writings. Since this was about mid-night Pilate again said, “Behold your king”. But their anger was such that they cried the more “Crucify him.”


Because this was the third rejection by the assurers of Jesus Christ, this brings us to the third location, where Jesus was to be crucified, which was called in the Hebrew, Golgotha, but in the Greek Calvaria or Calvary. St. John and Matthew both called this place “the place of a skull” and Origen, who lived between 185 and 253 BC, refers to a tradition that Christ was crucified where Adam was buried and where his skull was found. I am not sure that I can accept this tradition, but wouldn’t this be an interesting word picture, because the Scriptures say in I Corinthians 15:22, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

I like what Donald Harvey Tippet said, “If Easter means anything to modern man, it means that eternal truth is eternal. You may nail it to the tree, wrap it up in grave clothes, and seal it in a tomb. But truth crushed to earth shall rise again. Truth does not perish. It cannot be destroyed. It may be distorted. It has been silenced temporarily. It has been compelled to carry its cross to Calvary's brow or to drink the cup of poisoned hemlock, but with an inevitable certainty after every Black Friday dawns truth's Easter morn.

Crowns have always been the sign of authority and Kingship. Put them all together, from all of Europe and from the archives of the East, all of them are but trinkets compared to Christ's crown. Revelation 19 says he had many diadems. He wears a crown of righteousness. He wears a crown of glory. He wears a crown of life. He wears a crown of peace and power. Among those crowns, one outshines the rest. It was not formed by the skilled fingers of a silversmith, nor created by the genius of a craftsman. It was put together hurriedly by the rough hands of Roman soldiers. It was not placed upon its wearer's head in pomp and ceremony, but in the hollow mockery of ridicule and blasphemy. It is a crown of thorns. The amazing thing is that it belonged to me. I deserved to wear that crown. I deserved to feel the thrust of the thorns. I deserved to feel the warm trickle of blood upon my brow. I deserved the pain. He took my crown of thorns--but without compensation. He offers to me instead His crown of life, the crown that fades not away.

It was A. W. Tozer who said, “If we are wise, we will do what Jesus said: endure the cross and despise its shame for the joy that is set before us. To do this is to submit the whole pattern of our life to be destroyed and built again in the power of an endless life. And we shall find that it is more than poetry, more than sweet hymnody and elevated feeling. The cross will cut into our lives where it hurts worst, sparing neither us nor our carefully cultivated reputation. It will defeat us and bring our selfish life to an end.”

Garden Tomb

Actually we come to the fourth location, which is described by St. John in chapter 19:21 of a new tomb where no one had ever laid. This was the place where Lord Jesus Christ would be laid. Had the disciples forgotten that he said that in three days he would lift up himself? We call this the resurrection of Jesus Christ and what a resurrection! It was empty when Mary came. It was empty when John and Peter came. It was empty when the Angels gladly acknowledged, “He is not here. He is risen!”

Soon two disciples met Him, and then more than 500 knew it. Then the disciples in the upper room met with him. Paul even saw Him on the Damascus road and I can even attest to it since I did something I should have never done--I lay in the tomb on a visit in the garden while it was unattended and can shout out, “He was not there!”

Christianity has something that no other religion can acknowledge. We have a leader, Savior, and Messiah that is alive forevermore and like the angels we can say “He is not there. He is risen!”

Many think the Christian religion has run its course, and that the gloom of Good Friday is now settling over the long history of the church. But they are wrong. The reality of the resurrection cannot so easily be undone. In truth, it is the world of unbelievers that remains on notice of judgment.
Winston Churchill chose to believe. Churchill arranged his own funeral. There were stately hymns in St. Paul's Cathedral and an impressive liturgy. But at the end of the service, Churchill had an unusual event planned. When they said the benediction, a bugler high in the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral on one side played Taps, the universal signal that the day is over. There was a long pause. Then a bugler on the other side played Reveille, the military wake-up call.
Churchill believed in Jesus Christ who said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me though he were dead, yet shall he live."
“0 death, where is thy sting? 0 grave, where is thy victory?” “This is so true that even Satan cannot deny it. Christ's resurrection and victory over sin, death and hell is greater than all heaven and earth. You can never imagine his resurrection and victory so great but that in actuality it is far, far greater,” proclaimed Martin Luther.
The simplest meaning of Easter is that we are living in a world in which God has the last word. On Friday night it appeared as if evil was the master of life. The holiest and most lovable One who had ever lived was dead and in His tomb, crucified by the order of a tyrant without either scruples or regrets. He who had raised the highest hopes among men had died by the most shameful means. A cross, two nails, a jeering mob of debauched souls, and a quick thrust of a spear had concluded it all. Those hours when His voice was stilled and His hands were quiet were the blackest through which the race has ever lived.

But Paul Hovey describes my sentiments entirely when he said, “Then came Easter morning and the glorious words: "He is risen!" And evil's triumph was at an end. Since that hour when Mary in the garden first discovered the staggering fact of victory, no man whose heart was pure and whose labors were honest has ever had reason to fear or despair if he believed in the Resurrection.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

An American Pyramid

Pyramid of Memphis, Tennessee

I don’t know how many times I have traveled through Memphis on the interstate, but always noticed to the north side of the Mississippi Bridge the huge pyramid that was built there a number of years ago.
Actually, this huge pyramid was built as an arena and is a representation of the many other pyramids around the world of which I will address later in this article.
The last time I was traveling from Little Rock to Nashville, Tennessee. I noticed on the marquee that there was an exhibition in the arena that was of interest to me. And that I would like to take some time to view it, because I had seen a good part of the remains making this King Tut’s era at the time in the Cairo, Egypt Museum a number of years ago.
Tutankhamun, the boy king, lived during the golden age of the Pharaohs and the excavations explore the people who guided ancient Egypt more than 3,000 years ago. The exhibition focused on the 18th Dynasty, a 100-year period when Egypt was at the height of its power and the "golden age" of Egyptian artistry. There was an extensive array of more than a hundred extraordinary artifacts from the tomb of Tutankhamun and other ancient Egyptian sites features many of Tutankhamun’s burial objects, including his royal diadem and one of the four gold and precious stone inlaid coffinettes that contained his mummified internal organs.
The Pyramid Arena in Memphis is a 20,142-seat arena located in downtown at the banks of the Mississippi River and was built in 1991. It is 321 feet (about 32 stories) tall and has base sides of 591 feet; and is the sixth largest pyramid in the world behind the Great Pyramid of Giza (456 ft), Khafre's Pyramid (448 ft), Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas (348 ft), the Red Pyramid (341 ft) and the Bent Pyramid (332 ft), both in Dahshur (Egypt). It is slightly 16 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty.
Following you will find some information concerning some of the other pyramid’s that I have referred to above.
The Luxor Las Vegas is a hotel and casino located on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada. Ground was broken for the Luxor in 1991; the same year construction began on the Memphis arena. It is a highly modernized and contemporary design which contains a total of 4,407 rooms lining the interior walls of a pyramid style tower. The hotel is named after the city of Luxor in Egypt, and if you ever fly into the Las Vegas airport you will see the beautiful pyramid, and sphinx in front of it. It is a beautiful sight, and I have seen it many times as I have flown through the city.
Red Pyramid was the third pyramid built by Old Kingdom Pharaoh Sneferu, and is located approximately a mile to the north of the Bent Pyramid. It is built at the same shallow 43 degree angle as the upper section of the Bent Pyramid, which gives it a noticeably squat appearance compared to other Egyptian pyramids of comparable scale.
The Bent Pyramid, located at the royal necropolis of Dahshur, approximately 40 miles south of Cairo, of Old Kingdom Pharaoh Sneferu, is a unique example of early pyramid development in Egypt, about 2596 BC. This was the second pyramid built by Sneferu.

“And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh. And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded”. -- Genesis 47:10-11

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Coffee Time


I like coffee. So everywhere I go, you will find me in a coffee shop or café enjoying a brew of this terrible mix. Often, I have remarked that I don’t know why I drink coffee because it stains my teeth, gives one a bad breath, and often heartburn. But a cup or two seems to jump start my day.

I remember my first espresso in St. Mortiz, Switzerland, a Cappuccino in Vienna, and a coffee latté in Italy. These firsts, however, did not convert me to those tastes.

A Greek coffee in Athens in a small cup tasted more like mud and my first cup in Cuba was like drinking three-fourths a cup of sugar, because all they had after shipping everything to Russia was the green beans that were left. What a bitter taste!!

In Brazil the coffee was quite good, especially near the regions where it was grown and ground, and in London the espresso was fair, but you had to wash out the grounds from your teeth. Then the down when the caffeine begins to leave. The lows were terrible.

There were places where I have sat and enjoyed the aroma of the coffee brewing or while of sipped a swallow at a time. One place I had that experience was on the island of Mykonos in the Aegean Sea as I people watched and relaxed before the next walk through the narrow streets between the businesses and houses.

Today, here at home, most of my mornings start with a brew at McDonalds with a bottomless senior cup for .75 cents. Sure hard to beat it unless you try the gourmet coffee at the Oasis bookstore on Columbia street. It is a great place to enjoy a cup and browse a book while sitting in a nice seating area for just that purpose. Or if you are computer driven bring your laptop to Bauhaus Kaffeé where their Wi-Fi allows you to both, surf the internet, or enjoy as many as four great coffee blends each morning. In a hurry, Espresso-to-Go gives you great taste with enjoyable brews as well. While banking at Belgrade or just dropping by, enjoy Seattle’s best in their coffee nook.

Well, as I have aged my doctor tells me to change from caffeinated to decaffeinate and the taste is equal today and better for me. Hmmm! I do fudge on his suggestion from time to time just to enjoy another taste.

Maybe God will forgive my vice, because it is not an addiction but a pleasure I have enjoyed since my first instant coffee as a kid. I am glad it got better.

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” -- Romans 14:17

Sunday, March 7, 2010

When is Paris see the Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Every time I have been to Paris I made sure that we would go the Eiffel Tower. The first time we took the elevator up to the first level, which is a very large level with an extremely good view in every direction. The next time that I visited; I went to the very top, which is extremely difficult to get to because the crowds wanting on the elevator make it hard to get on at any given time. I found a long time ago that many times people do not wait in line at tourist attractions and therefore they will push in front of you. This has happened to me every time I have been at the Eiffel Tower.

In any case, it is worth the trip.

Few things symbolize Paris and France like this monument. In fact, the Eiffel Tower is the best-known monument in all of Europe. You don’t have to visit the Eiffel Tower to see it. You can get a sight at this architectural master piece anywhere in the center of Paris.

The first floor displays the history of the Eiffel Tower. You can dine at the Altitude 95 restaurant which is always well visited. I would recommend that you order a table in advance. However, visitors come more for the view than the food.

The second floor is mainly consisted of the Jules Verne, which is one of the most recognized and eminent restaurants in Paris.

To reach this restaurant you have to take a special elevator. Even here it is best to order a table in advance to enjoy the magnificent cuisine. The prices are among the highest in all of Paris. It should also be noted that both levels have souvenir shops and now Internet kiosks.

At the top, you could get a nice view of the city. Because is so high-up, though, it can be difficult to make things out. Across the River Seine you can see the Trocadero gardens.

The Eiffel Tower was inaugurated the 31 march of 1889 as the entrance arch of the Exposition Universelle. It was a marking to the centennial celebration of the French revolution. Since the inauguration of the Eiffel Tower it has been more than 220 million visitors.

I would recommend that you would take your binoculars with you, in order to get the few loose at a great distance. You can see the Sacra Coeur from this vantage point, the Louvre and the burial spot of Napoleon. Of course this is done only if you have a very clear day with bright sunlight in order to see the greater distance.

“And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.” -- Genesis 11:5