If you missed Sunday's broadcast, please catch up by following the link below. (For the foreseeable future, we be running our Sunday morning services digitally. Please go to our website on Sundays at 10:30 to join in)
This week, and next, we will be focussing our devotions around the Easter theme. We will focus on two chapters only - Luke 23 & 24.
We believe that Jesus was both God and man and that that He actually died. We believe this because God’s word teaches this, but also because there are more good reasons to believe this than to reject it.
Please read Luke 23:50-56
Jesus’ death is promised throughout the Bible, Nikky Gumbel has written,
‘In the case of Jesus, he fulfilled over 300 prophecies (spoken by different voices over 500 years), including twenty-nine major prophecies fulfilled in a single day – the day of his death.’
Even the manner of his burial fulfilled God’s word, Isaiah prophesied some 700 years before Jesus’ death,
‘He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.’ (Isaiah 53:9)
Jesus died alongside criminals, but was buried is a wealthy man’s tomb. Jesus was laid in a tomb and we have the testimony of prophecy. There are two possible sites of this tomb:
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem, and
The Garden Tomb outside the Damascus Gate.
The point is, this was a real event in a real place. Jesus died on a cross and was laid in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.
Evidence of trustworthy witnesses
Joseph is described as ‘a good a righteous man…he was looking for the Kingdom of God (50-52); of the women, it is said, ‘they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.’ I mention this because, Luke, the author, is highlighting the reliability of the witnesses. Jesus was laid in a tomb and we have the testimony of reliable witnesses.
Jesus terrible torture and crucifixion make it highly unlikely that He was not actually dead when He was taken from the cross. John writes,
‘One of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.’ (John 19:34-35)
The flow of blood and water, is also a significant piece of evidence on the authenticity of Jesus’ death. A. Metherell M.D, P.H.D. Interviewed by Lee Strobel (The case for Christ) said,
“John’s description is consistent with what modern medicine would expect to have happened…the hypovolemic shock caused sustained rapid heart rate that would have contributed to heart failure, resulting in the collection of fluid…around the heart…as well as around the lungs...”
We have to ask the question, why would anyone make up the fact of Jesus’ death or His resurrection? What was to be gained apart from living a lie and being persecuted for that lie!
Jesus died for us and was laid in a tomb. Let’s thank Jesus that His death has brought us life, and that, ultimately, is why the devil seeks to undermine our trust in His death!
A good book on the evidence of Easter is ‘The Case for Easter’ by Lee Strobel.
Here's a song to help you to worship on this theme of Jesus' death,
COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY – JESUS GOES TO THE CROSS
What aspect of the Easter story do you find most powerful and why?
Introduction - please read in your group
This week, and next, we will be focussing our devotions around the Easter theme. This week we are thinking about the death of Jesus, principally, from Luke 23. All four of the gospels tell of this notice being placed on Jesus’ cross,
“There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.” (Luke 23:38)
Although the authorities were mocking Jesus with this sign, it is also a great truth - Jesus is the King of Kings. Jesus is the King by virtue of being God. His death was a great act of humility and service to this sinful world.
Please discuss/share together
i) Please read Luke 23:26, 9:23, 14:27 – What does it mean for us to carry the cross in our lives? Do you have any examples that you would like to share?
ii) Please read Luke 23:38 - Jesus is being presented through this account as a king (the word king or kingdom appears 6 times in this chapter). What might God's reasons be for highlighting Jesus' identity in this way to us? How does His Lordship affect your everyday life?
ii) Please read Luke 23:44-46 – What does this say about how the cross saves us?
If you can, please connect in groups of men or women. On Sunday we spoke about temptation from Matthew 6:13. Is there any temptation that you are dealing with that you'd like to share and pray about?
If it's not possible to get into gender groups, please go around your group, each one sharing what they would like prayer for at the moment. Pray for each person in turn.
Please pray for our nation, government and Boris Johnson, currently in hospital.
Pray for our Easter Sunday service.
Please share from this week’s Church News.
MOST IMPORTANTLY - SHARE THE INVITATION TO OUR EASTER SERVICE WITH YOUR FRIENDS!