Lucy and I had the privilege of being in Jerusalem last week, part of an 8-day tour of Israel. It was exhilarating to be in the places where our Lord walked, performed miracles, taught the multitudes, and eventually was crucified for us. Our time there coincided with an unusual occurrence: the overlapping observances of Ramadan, Passover, and Easter. Consequently, the city was crowded and chaotic – overflowing with tourists, pilgrims, and protesters. Commerce, religion, and politics all colliding in the small space that is Jerusalem.
It was easy to imagine a similar turmoil for the last days of Jesus in this great city. We stood on the Mount of Olives, walked through what may have been Gethsemane, prayed in front of the Western Wall of the destroyed temple, and ended our tour at a garden tomb, hewn out of a rock wall, under the shadow of a hill that may have been Golgotha. While the precise location of some of these events may not be certain, what happened in Jerusalem 2000 years ago is.
Twenty-six Sunday mornings in the Gospel of Luke have taught us indisputably that our Lord Jesus was moving with purpose to His suffering in Jerusalem and to His death on Calvary. In His final days, religious leaders and political powers conspired together to destroy the Son of Man. The city was brimming with hatred, chaos, darkness, and despair. But God was in Christ accomplishing His predetermined plan to redeem us, to forgive us, and to give us eternal life.
The final words of Jesus exude confident certainty:
“This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
“This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
“It is finished.”
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
After His resurrection, even more certitude:
“Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”
“You are my witnesses of these things.”
“Have you anything here to eat?”
He’s definitely ALIVE! The tomb is empty. The debt of sin is paid. Despair was overcome by hope. Guilt gave way to forgiveness. Fear was swallowed up by purposeful mission to spread this Good News for All People. May the certainty of the death and resurrection of Jesus bolster your confidence to share the good news. Someone in your world needs to hear it. This weekend would be a fabulous time to invite them to church!