April 2019

7th April:  Lent 5:   John 12 1-8

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, the hometown of Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead.  So they hosted a dinner for Jesus there. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with Him.  Then Mary took about a pint of expensive perfume, made of pure nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was going to betray Him, asked, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?”  Judas did not say this because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief. As keeper of the money bag, he used to take from what was put into it. “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “She was intended to keep this perfume to prepare for the day of my burial. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have Me.”

 Today is known as Passion Sunday and the word ‘passion’ is from the Latin word meaning suffering.  As Jesus approaches Jerusalem for the last time before his acute physical and mental suffering of the last week of his life on earth, he spends some time with friends.  Mary’s generous expression of love for Jesus is sternly criticised by Judas, who describes it as wasteful.  However, sometimes an outpouring of love is the best thing a person can give another.  Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is the most generous act anyone has ever done for anyone else – and he did it for us.

How can you be genuinely generous this week as we draw nearer to Good Friday?

 

14th April:   Palm Sunday:   Luke 19 28-38

After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.  As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.  If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’ ” Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them.  As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They replied, “The Lord needs it.” They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it.  As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:  “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time on what we now call Palm Sunday.  He rode into the city – not as a triumphant king on a war horse – but in humility on a donkey.  The rejoicing disciples did not understand what Jesus was doing until much later.  He was acting out a parable to show that he was not the kind of king the Jews were expecting.  His rule would be one of love, gentleness and sacrifice.

How can we show that it is through an example of loving self-sacrifice that God will win the world – not the power of any army?

 

21st April: Easter Day:  Luke 24 1-11

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.  In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:  ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words. When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others.  It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.  But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 

When Jesus died on Good Friday it was afternoon and the Sabbath was approaching. The women did not have time to anoint Jesus’ body and place spices in the folds of his shroud as was the Jewish custom.  So they returned immediately after the Sabbath to find that Jesus had risen from the dead.  He was alive. They hurried back to the disciples to tell them the wonderful news, but the disciples did not believe them.  Eventually Peter went to look for himself.  At first that seems a sad end to the Easter story, but it is not.  It is a positive one for us because it is challenging.  We too have wonderful news to tell, but many in our world do not believe yet.

How can we convince people that the resurrection of Jesus is true?  May we all be filled with the joys of Easter.

 

28th April:  Easter 2:  Acts 5  27-32

The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest.  “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!  The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross.  God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Saviour that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins.  We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

After Easter, our readings tell us about the life of the early church.  Today we hear how some of the disciples were brought before the Sanhedrin – the Jewish Council – for preaching ab out Jesus’ resurrection.  Good news must be shared!  We, too, have been challenged to share the good news of the Gospel.  At first this may seem daunting but the Holy Spirit will support us if we step out in faith.  After all, we would not know about Jesus now if the disciples had not taken up the challenge all those centuries ago and others had not continued to do so.

Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you find ways of sharing your experience fo Jesus.  The news is too exciting to keep hidden!




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