Empty Grave Faith God of the Unexpected

What’s So Special About an Empty Grave?

In the aftermath of the Easter weekend, I’m taking time to reflect on the significance of the resurrection. It’s something that we can easily overlook, or take for granted, because it’s such a familiar event – the linchpin of our Christian faith. I spent some time thinking about that first Resurrection Sunday, and how putting ourselves in the place of those who witnessed the empty tomb can deepen our faith today. Read: John 20:1-10 When Jesus rose from the grave on Resurrection Sunday, He didn’t do so with a great fanfare. He didn’t wait for a crowd to be gathered to witness Him rolling away the stone and walking out of the tomb that had been meant to hold Him. No one watched Him fold the grave-clothes. We know that a bunch of Marys arrived […]

Jesus Seven Last Words from the Cross Good Friday Easter Meditation

Easter Meditation: Jesus’ Seven Last Words From the Cross

Easter is a time when we remember the sacrifice that Jesus gave that we might be extracted from the jaws of sin and death. Good Friday marks the moment that God used the devil’s trap and turned it into a triumph as Jesus gave His life up as full payment for our sins. It’s a poignant reminder that God can turn the most impossible situations around. This Easter, let’s meditate on Jesus’ seven final “words” (or phrases) from the cross, and what they mean for our lives today.    1. Forgiveness Luke 23:34 Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for His clothes by throwing dice.  This word invites us to open our eyes to the full extent of God’s forgiveness.  Even as Jesus hung […]

When the Sun Stopped Shining

Reading: Matthew 27:1-56 There have been many dramatisations of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, each depicting the determination of the Jewish leaders, Jesus’ stoicism before both the Jewish leaders and Pilate, and the gruesome treatment that Jesus received at the hands of the Roman soldiers. There is one verse in the account, in Matthew, Mark and Luke’s gospels, however, that stands out as somewhat different to the brutality that has gone before it. From noon until three in the afternoon, darkness came over all the land. (Matthew 27:45) Up until that point in the crucifixion, the events, whilst happening at the will of God, were being inflicted upon Jesus by men. But no human power could cause the sun to stop shining for three hours in the middle of the day. This astounding aspect of […]

The Garden of Gethsemane

Reading: Matthew 26:36-46 When we think of the last evening of Jesus’ life on earth, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the Last Supper, where Jesus initiated the act of communion, the breaking of the bread and the taking of the wine, that is still celebrated today in remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice. But it is in the garden of Gethsemane, after the Last Supper, where we get the greatest glimpse of the emotional agony that Jesus was going through before ever He was arrested and taken to be beaten, flogged and crucified. More often than not, we concentrate on His physical suffering, as He died for our sins, but the garden of Gethsemane reminds us that whilst Jesus was fully God, He was also fully human, and He experienced the same emotional […]

Anointed at Bethany

Reading: Mark 14:3-9 Whilst the Jewish leaders were plotting to kill Jesus, two days before the Passover, Jesus was being prepared for His death in a very different way. The story of the woman with the alabaster jar of expensive perfume is a famous one, as Jesus said that it would be. (Mark 14:9) It is often the case that we will complain about the waste of some expensive commodity, as the people at the house of Simon the leper did. They were upset because of the value of the perfume that they considered to have been wasted. They were focusing on what had been lost so much that they couldn’t see the value the the woman’s act had. Jesus pointed out that there will always be more opportunities to gain material goods or perform acts of charity, […]

Jesus and the Fig Tree

Reading: Mark 11:12-26 The story of the fig tree that Jesus cursed on His way from Bethany to Jerusalem, which withered and died right to the roots, is a familiar one. It demonstrates Jesus’ authority over all things – and the power of faith. Jesus tells His disciples, who are astonished that the tree has died, that faith is the key to achieving those things that seem impossible. It is this passage that gives rise to the very familiar saying, “faith that can move mountains”. Perhaps the most important aspect of the story, however, is the conditions that Jesus places on the disciples – and subsequently, our – ability to move mountains. That is, the need to have absolute faith. To see miracles, the kind of things that only God can do for us if […]

Righteous Anger – Jesus and the Money-Lenders

Reading: Mark 11:15-19 All four of the gospels tell of Jesus going into the temple and overturning the money-lenders and traders tables. Although the details differ in the synoptic (Matthew, Mark and Luke) gospels from the story John tells us in his gospel, there is still a commonality: they show Jesus displaying anger. The Bible discourages certain kinds of anger – in particular the types of anger that will lead to bitterness and to sinful thoughts or behaviour – but it does not claim that anger in itself is sin. The anger that Jesus exhibited in the temple the day after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem is an example of what is known as “righteous anger”. His fury at the money lenders and the salesmen was justified, because not only were the people defying God’s law, […]

Triumphal Entry

Reading: Matthew 21:1-11 When we read about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, it’s hard to imagine that less than a week later the same people who were welcoming Jesus as a King and praising His name would be crying out for His crucifixion. The reception that He received showed the respect that the people had for Him, so what changed over the course of just a few days? What made the people change their minds so quickly? Whilst we cannot profess to know what went through the minds of the people of Jerusalem during that week, we can assume one explanation for their sudden change of heart: fear. Fear is a great motivator, and it is one of satan’s greatest weapons. The Jewish leaders, whilst under the rule of the Roman Emperor, still had considerable power […]

He is Risen!

As Easter Sunday approaches, and the supermarkets are full of brightly packaged, alluring chocolate eggs, Christians all around the world are – or should be – preparing to celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Surprisingly, much more focus in some spheres of influence seems to be given to the horrific events of Good Friday, when it is the empty tomb on Easter Sunday that we should be firmly fixing our eyes upon. Are we, as Christians both young and old in our faith, running the risk of leaving Jesus hanging on the cross? It is, in fact, an easy thing to do, to put our focus on the suffering and death that Jesus endured in order to pay the price for our sins, or to keep our gaze fixed on the […]