Newsletter 1 April | Walk with Jesus on the road to the cross.

Holy Week - The Triduum

Good Friday - 2 April 2021

Scripture
Matthew 26:36-end; 27
Trial, arrest & crucifixion

The traditional 3-hour Good Friday service lasts from 12 noon until 3pm. Let’s spend time meditating on the events of Good Friday with time for silence in between.
 

1 The garden arrest
(Matthew 26:36-56)

Jesus prays in a place called Gethsemane—an intense moment of anguish and struggle. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” Three times Jesus prays, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”    Jesus finishes praying and submits to his betrayal and arrest by Judas and the crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent by the Sanhedrin Council. He rebukes Peter who tries to defend him, and tells them that what is happening is in fulfilment of the Scriptures.

2 Jesus taken to Annas
(John 18:12-14)

Jesus is taken to Annas, the former High Priest, for questioning. Jesus responds: “Why ask me? Ask those who heard me.” He has spoken openly and has nothing to hide.
 

3 Jesus before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin
(Matthew 26:57-68)

This was the highest Jewish Court, presided over by the High Priest. They unsuccessfully try to find false evidence to put him to death, but eventually accuse him of a more serious charge, trying to destroy the temple. Jesus remains silent. Then Caiaphas asked him a direct question, “I charge you under oath by the living God: tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God” to which he replies, “Yes, it is as you say … you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” At this point Caiaphas tears his clothes. “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses?” to which the Council responds, “He is worthy of death.”
 

4 Peter’s denial
(Matthew 26:69-75) and
Judas’ suicide
(Matthew 27:1-10)

While this is going on, the disciples are in disarray. Peter, despite his earlier vow to be faithful to death (26:35) has denied Jesus by 3am when the first watch ends, known as ‘cock crow’, which may be what Jesus was referring to (Matthew 26:75). Meanwhile, Judas, seeing Jesus condemned to death and filled with remorse, has returned the thirty pieces of silver and hanged himself.    The money was used to buy a burial ground for strangers, fulfilling a prophecy of Jeremiah some six hundred years before.

5 Trial becomes political
(Matthew 27:11-26)

Pilate is dragged out of bed early and the trial is now shifting from a religious to a political one. . The Sanhedrin don’t have the authority to execute Jesus, so they change the accusation to a political crime. Pilate tries a number of things to evade what they are trying to get him to do but eventually asks Jesus a direct question: “Are you the king of the Jews?” to which Jesus gives a direct answer: “You say that I am.”
 

6 Before Herod
(Luke 23:6-12)

When Pilate is told Jesus is a Galilean, he sends him to Herod, king of Galilee, who was in Jerusalem at the time. He hopes that Herod will take responsibility, thus releasing him from making a decision. Pilate is shrewd and knows that it was “out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.”    Herod merely wants to satisfy his curiosity but Jesus remains silent, so they dress him in robes, ridicule and mock him, and send him back to Pilate.
 

7  Pilate gives in to crowd
Matthew 27:20-26)

Pilate, knowing Jesus is innocent, tries to release Jesus by offering the release of one prisoner for Passover as was the custom, but they are adamant that Jesus has to go, and choose the notorious Barabbas instead. “Crucify him, crucify him!” (Luke 23:20-21) Eventually, rather than being man enough to stand up to them and the mob, Pilate washes his hands and says, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. It is your responsibility”. Then they release Barabbas, have Jesus flogged and hand him over to the soldiers for crucifixion.

8 Jesus handed over to be crucified
(Matthew. 27:27-31)

The soldiers flog him with a leather whip with pieces of bone and metal balls at various inter- vals that ‘reduced the naked body to strips of raw flesh’. Jewish law limited the number of lashes to thirty-nine.
Weakened by the brutal whipping, Jesus has a scarlet robe put on him and a crown of thorns set on his head. They spat in his face, mocking him and saying, “Hail king of the Jews”. He is made to carry his own cross (weighing about 135kg) and when he collapses, Simon from Cyrene is co-opted to carry his cross to Golgotha, the place of the Skull, outside the wall of the city. “And there they crucified him.”
 

9 Crucified between two criminals
(Mark 15:25-32)

Jesus was crucified at nine in the morning, (Mark 15:25 says the “third hour”) between two thieves, and it took him six hours to die. They offered him wine mixed with gall which was a kind of anaesthetic, but he refused. He was stripped naked, his clothes were divided amongst the soldiers by casting lots, and passers-by hurled insults at him, and the Jewish leaders mocked him.

10 The death of Jesus
(Mark 15:33-41)

At midday, darkness came over the land for three hours, and at three o’clock in the afternoon Jesus called out, ”My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” and soon afterwards, uttering another cry, he bowed his head and died.  As he died, thousands of lambs were being slaughtered for Passover.  Jesus is our Passover lamb!

 

11 Darkness

At midday, when the sun should have been at its brightest, it was as dark as midnight as Christ, who never sinned “was made the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ”.

(2 Corinthians 5:21)

12 The veil torn in two
(Matthew 27:51-56)

The veil in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. No man could have done that. This was God saying, “It is finished”. Notice the astonishing events that Matthew records. “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
At that moment, the curtain of the temple was torn (schizo) in two from top to bottom.” (Read Hebrews 9 &10 to understand how significant this was.)
“The earth shook, the rocks split (schizo) and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.” 

14 Women watch from a distance
(Matthew 27:55-56)

Matthew mentions some of them—Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph (Matthew
27:56) and John tells us she was the wife of Cleopas. (Emmaus Road (Luke 24). Some think that they were
Jesus’ aunt and uncle. Mark mentions a woman called Salome, who was the sister of the virgin Mary, the mother of James and John, who was married to Zebedee. Matthew mentions “the other Mary” (Matthew
27:61) and John also includes Mary, the mother of Jesus. 

Prayer 

Eternal God, in the cross of Jesus we see the cost of sin and the depth of your love: In humble hope and fear may we place at his feet all that we have and all that we are, through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Collect for Good Friday.)

Holy Saturday - 3 April

Scripture
Matthew 27:57-66

Burial of Jesus and guarding of the tomb

Jewish law forbade the body of an executed person to be left hanging all night. It had to be buried by sundown (Deuteronomy 21:22). But none of Jesus’ relations owned a property or tomb in Jerusalem since they were from Galilee. (Isaiah 53:9 tells us that Jesus will be killed alongside wicked men and buried in a rich man’s tomb). Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy man and member of the Sanhedrin was a secret admirer
of Jesus. Luke 23:51 tells us he “had not consented to the deed” and now musters up the courage to ask
Pilate for permission to give Jesus’ body a proper burial. The actual burial is recorded with few words  and was done in accordance with Jewish custom.
The next day, although it was Passover Sabbath (v62) the chief priests breach the Sabbath law to ensure that Jesus is really dead and gone. Pilate agrees to seal the grave and place a guard so nobody could steal the body and claim that Jesus had risen. We know what they did not—that no guard, seal or huge stone would succeed in keeping Jesus in the tomb. Praise God. 

Prayer

In the depth of our isolation we cry to you, Lord God: give light in our darkness and bring us out of the prison of our despair; through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Collect for Easter Eve)

Easter Sunday - 4 April 2021

Scripture
Matthew 28:1-15
He is not here, He is risen! Hallelujah!

We greet each other on Easter morning, ‘Christ is risen!’ and respond, ‘He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!’
The resurrection of Jesus is at the very heart of the Gospel and because of it, we have good news to share. The slight discrepancies recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, to my mind give a ‘ring of truth’ to the resurrection accounts. These were not a conspiracy theory but real people bearing witness to what they saw and heard, and their transformed lives were living proof that indeed, Jesus was not dead but alive! Let’s look at some of the witnesses Matthew focusses on: 

1 God’s witness 

An earthquake and an angel at the tomb are two signs of God’s heavenly power at work (Matthew 28:2).    In Acts 3:24, Peter proclaims: “But God raised him from the dead because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” 

2 The women’s witness

The women were first to know that Jesus had risen! After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary go to the tomb expecting to find a dead body. The tomb is open (not to let Jesus out but to prove that it was empty) and deserted – the earthquake, the angel and the stone being rolled away must have spooked the guards. The angel tells the women not to be afraid, shows them where the body had been and tells them: “Jesus, who was crucified, is not here for he has risen, as he said.” (vs5-6) God gives them the task of telling the disciples the news, which is astonishing because women were not allowed to give witness in a court of law, but God chooses them as the first to know and the first to bear witness.

3 The empty tomb

There was no disputing the empty tomb. Despite the stone and the guards, the tomb was empty on that first Easter Day. Because there may have been rumours around that Jesus did not rise from the dead and that the disciples had stolen the body, Matthew addresses this head on. From that grave, two messages have gone out:
•    One to the disciples, carried by the women to the effect that Jesus is alive. 
•    The other to the chief priests, carried by the soldiers, to the effect that the body has been stolen.
Nobody could deny that the body was gone and that the tomb was empty. There had been a guard and it had not prevented the resurrection. They had fled in terror and reported to the priests who bribed them to
circulate the story that the disciples had stolen the body. Resurrection appearances Many of these are recorded in the Gospels and 1 Corinthians 15.
For forty days, until the Ascension, Jesus continued to show himself to his followers, proving that he was alive. So let us rejoice that Jesus, the risen Lord, meets with us still, and sends us out to share the good news that he has triumphed over death, and is with us, even to “the end of the age”.

Prayer

God of glory, by the raising of your Son, you have broken the chains of death and hell: fill your Church with faith and hope for a new day has dawned and the way of life stands open in our Saviour Jesus Christ. (Collect for Easter Sunday)

All sermons are available on our website. Click here.

If you are able to donate any baby clothes and/or nappies, please bring to the office.

Knitting friends of Centre of Concern, winter will be here very soon. Please remember to knit jerseys & beanies etc for those in need this year. 
Centre of Concern is also collecting 1L yoghurt tubs for the soup kitchen.

Spring cleaning this Easter?

Please remember that we collect and distribute clothes to our various outreaches.  We also are collecting for our Organ Fund and for our Outreach Mission fete, so any furniture, bicycles, household goods, records, CD’s, books  etc are all welcome. We can even arrange to collect if the items are too bulky to be dropped at church. Contact Allan Anderson (076 906 6334).

Please pray for all our mission families celebrating Easter. May it be a time of deep reflection and joy for all. This is also a vulnerable time for churches in many persecuted countries so please pray for protection for churches. Pray also for opportunities for non-believers to hear the gospel.

Lockdown prayers every Thursday @ 2:30pm. All welcome!

Please contact Andrew (083 546 2451) for the Zoom link.

Dedicated Giving

We would appreciate it if you could deposit your dedicated giving contributions via EFT into our bank acount: 
Standard Bank
    Branch Code: 050417
    A/C Name: St John the Baptist Church
    A/C Number: 080281206
(Please make sure your number & reference is included)
Contact Allan at allan@stjohnswalmer.org.za if you do not have a pledge number.

Look out for articles featuring St John’s in the latest Iindaba.
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General Notice

Please be aware that the recycling area is currently closed until further notice.