I have mentioned before on this blog how I am amazed when God reveals something new and fresh to me in the stories in His Word no matter how many times I have read them before. I can count on Him every Christmas, Easter, etc. to bring to my mouth a fresh and fascinating morsel for me to savor. Thank you, Father, that Your Word never becomes stale or stagnant. It is the living, breathing, Word of God!
This Easter I have been listening to a sermon series from our pastor Bro. Brent Summerhill in Cabot, AR. As usual, all of it has been wonderful and has ministered to my heart. One of the things I so enjoy about Bro. Brent is his ability to tell a story and the way he will bring in history and background into a verse/passage to make it more real and relevant. In his sermon "Betrayed", Bro. B brought to light for me SO many wonderful truths that I just have to share a couple of them.
Picture the night of Jesus' betrayal in the garden of Gethsemane at the hands of Judas. Prior to their arrival, Jesus and His disciples (as recorded by John) crossed over the Brook Kidron to get to the garden. It is the dark of night and these men are crossing this body of water in the valley east of Jerusalem. There is striking symbolism here that I have never taken note of before. It is this same Brook Kidron that 2 Samuel tells us David waded across as he fled from his traitor-son Absalom and the capital city. Jesus, too was dealing with a traitor; but God's son "went forward" (Jn 18:4) to face His traitor. Some theologians believe it was while journeying through that same valley and across that same brook that David wrote the beloved 23rd Psalm. Jesus, too, was walking through the valley of the shadow of death. For that night He would give himself over to be crucified.
After spending much time praying and talking with His disciples, Jesus goes forward to face the accusers who have come to the garden to besiege Him. He starts the conversation by asking who they're looking for (as if He didn't know!). Their reply was "Jesus of Nazareth". Do not miss the significance of what He says next. He doesn't raise His hand and say, "That's me" or "I'm Jesus". No. He chooses to state the very phrase that was spoken from the burning bush to Moses...the very phrase that nearly had Him stoned by the Pharisees and Saducees...He says "I AM" (the he in italics that is added is not there in the original manuscripts). That is NOT the equivalent of Him saying "I am Jesus". Again, no. He is unmistakably equating Himself with YHWH. Can you imagine what was fulfilled in that statement? Thousands of years of prophecy along with the hope of all mankind. The power contained in Jesus' words was enough to knock Judas and all those with him down on their backsides. To me, the significance of this is right up there with the time that Jesus stood in the temple for His first Scripture reading. What did He choose? Isaiah, of course. "...the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor..." Oh to have been there for both of those occasions! To have heard the Savior fulfill the Scriptures and declare His place in the trinity and at God's right hand! Yet what do Judas, the guards, and the temple priests do? They rise again, not in belief of who He is, but to continue in their unbelief and carry out their arrest. Jesus is unfazed by all of this and asks them once again who they are looking for. Still, they do not see. Still, they do not believe. Not even when face to face with Him. Not even after having heard His words and been affected by His power do they believe. It is no wonder we see so many around us who, inspite of up-close encounters with God, still choose to turn away from Him.
I am challenged this Easter to look at Jesus in light of His connections to the old covenant. The story of Easter is one with roots deep into the Old Testament. From Moses to David, Jesus reveals to us the master-plan of His Father. A plan that would cost Him His life, but give us back ours.