The Thief – Easter 2019


Psalm 42: 10 – My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” (NIV)

The fulfillment of this verse is in Mark 15:32 and Matthew 27:44 when Jesus hung on the cross and the Pharisees and the two thieves heaped insults on Him.  John 19: 32 adds to the story of the thieves when their legs were broken so they would die faster.  

Luke 23: 39 – 42 are the verses, about the thieves, that I am interested in for this post!  Here one thief is insulting Jesus and the other is asking to be remembered when Jesus comes into His kingdom.  The thief that switched is the one we will talk about. Why the switch in behavior?  Did Jesus even know his name?  Had the thief seen Jesus before this day?  Had he heard of Jesus before this day?  I will get to these later, first I want to focus on the “threes” Jesus had before the crucifixion and some of the “shadows” that go with this day.

  • Isaac as a type of Jesus.  The story is in Genesis 22.  The fire, the wood, and the burnt offering (sacrifice) are the three elements in this story.  The wood for the fire was on Isaac, this symbolizes the cross.  Abraham, the father of the faithful, had the fire (judgement) and God was going to supply the ram (offering).
  • Nehustan – Numbers 21 is the story of the copper snake that Moses made to save the people if they were bitten by serpents.  Moses lifted it up on a pole (cross).  I think of it hanging between the living and the dead.  Just like Jesus hung between the thief who would live again and the one who went to hell.  2 Kings 18:3 tells of the abuse of the symbol and its destruction.
  • The Transfiguration – 1. Again, I put Jesus at the center (or in-between) of the disciples and Moses (the Law) and Elijah (the prophets).  The Law and the prophets were “dying” and the disciples were about to be saved by grace.  2.If we view this “three” a little differently, Jesus was in-between Moses and Elijah with the disciples looking on.  A thought here is that Moses had died while Elijah had not.  Jesus was between the living and the dead, or the Law was now “finished” and the prophets were still “living”. 

Answers to some questions will come only in heaven.  But it would be probably that the one thief had at least heard of Jesus since His fame was spread around the country.  For sure though the thieves saw everything that occurred from when they left the prison. Jesus’ behavior was different!  He was not yelling and cursing.  People were harassing Him about God and Jesus was not answering them back.  Add in the darkness and the other things Jesus did and all of this made the one thief change his mind/words about Jesus.

That one little request by the thief actually carries a lot of deep truth.  First, he acknowledged the divine nature of Jesus by referring to His Kingdom and that He was going there after death.  Second, the thief saw past the military aspect of a Messiah and realized the Kingdom was not limited to the physical earth.  That is really impressive since he did not have the learning of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.

Was the redeemed thief on Jesus’ left side or on His right? I will give you two verses and let you form your own opinion – Matthew 25: 33states that the sheep will be on the right hand and the goats on the left on the day of judgment.  Ecclesiastes 10: 2states the heart of the wise goes to the right while the heart of the fool goes to the left.

Pic – http://www.freebibleimages.org/illustrations/tis-jesus-cross/

Joseph of Arimathea – Easter 2019


Reports!  Reports are coming in from Galilee!  Someone is telling the people to repent for the kingdom of God is near.  The Baptist is bad enough but he is by the Jordan.  The messages form Galilee also have stories of healings and large crowds.  

These reports produced two responses in the Council in Jerusalem – Fear and Finally:

Fear– Another crazy rabbi stirring the people!  Another revolt against Rome.  He is not part of the Council, Pharisees, or Sadducees.  God stopped doing miracles hundreds of years ago, this cannot be of God. This rabbi will have to be stopped or there will be trouble!  

Finally– The Baptist preached repentance but he had no miracles.  Many people are being healed just as the Prophets said.  Could the Messiah really have arrived?  Were the Magi after the census correct, our king had been born?  We need to see this rabbi and hear his message.

This is the ocean of emotions that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus found themselves in.  We know very little about these two men and their relationship with Jesus, but their ripple in the water is worth noting.  Luke 23: 50and Mark 15: 43 state that Joseph was waiting for the Kingdom of God.  Matthew 27: 57 and John 19: 38 add to Joseph’s story by identifying him as a member of the ruling council, a secret disciple, and one of the two men who asked for Jesus’ body and prepared it for burial.  Nicodemus, the other man, in the Easter story is only found in John 3, 7: 50, and 19: 39.  He realized that those miracles could only come from God.  Jesus explained the born again experienced to him, Nicodemus sought a proper trial for Jesus, and was a secret disciple.  Well, this is until they asked Pilate for, and prepared Jesus’ body for burial. 

Did Joseph and Nicodemus go on the missions, from the Council, to ask Jesus questions?  Were they part of the 120 in the prayer meeting on the day of Pentecost or were they part of the 3000?  How many miracles did they see Jesus do?  What kind of “Kingdom” was Joseph waiting for?  Since I can not answer any of those questions, I will settle for the statement that “Joseph was waiting for the Kingdom of God”.  Because Joseph choose to identify with a dead Jesus, I hope his view of the “kingdom” was more than a military/civil leader to free Israel from the Romans.  (If a military kingdom was what he hoped for, why bother with a dead man?)  I want to/have to believe that Joseph had heard Jesus teach on the kingdom and had grabbed a vision of Jesus’ kingdom.  

So, Joseph may have understood the parables and the “kingdom of heaven is like a____” statements.  I can even believe that he understood when Nicodemus talk to him about the “born again” experience in John 3 (you know he did).   These two learned and powerful men were certainly the exception rather than the rule in Israel!

http://www.freebibleimages.org/illustrations/jesus-crucified-dies/

Jesus’ Last Supper or Passover


For Jesus to fulfill Scripture He had to be the PassoverLamb!  This means that His death on the cross had to be at the time when the lambs were being killed for Passover.  This would make “The Last Supper” His last supper and foundation for Easter and other Christian practices, not the Seder Meal of Passover! 

John 19: 31 + 42, Luke 23: 54 – 56, Mark 15: 42, Matthew 27: 62 are verses after Jesus’ death and they refer to the Day of Preparation and a special Sabbath.  This would mean that Passover had not occurred yet. 

Does Jesus’ life need to be intertwined with Passover – Yes!  Is Easter and Passover related – Yes!  Can we learn from Passover customs and practices – we should!  I feel that this article does a great job examining the issue – https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/jesus-historical-jesus/was-jesus-last-supper-a-seder/  .  

Okay, do not take up arms or keyboards!  The important thing here is Jesus died on the cross and paid the price for our sin!  Man’s traditions and religious customs do not compete with Jesus’ finished work.  

pic from http://clipart.christiansunite.com/1395312061/Communion_Clipart/Communion005.jpghttp://clipart.christiansunite.com/1395312061/Communion_Clipart/Communion005.jpg

Two Gardens – Easter 2019


Okay, maybe it was three gardens – Eden, Gethsemane (olive grove-John 18), and where the tomb was (Mary thought Jesus was the gardener – John 19).  Since this post is all about shadows and types I am sure that “finer lines can be drawn” but my pen is wide today.  I am also aware that I may/will not catch all of the similarities.  I will add as more become apparent.  Perry Stone makes a case that the gardensare in the same geographical location, that Eden and Jerusalem occupy the same ground. 

  • Adam – The first Adam let sin in; the second Adam (Jesus) made a way out of sin.
  • Tree – Eden had the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden. Jesus’ tree was in the middle and separated the good from the evil.  One man asked to go to His Kingdom while the other man mocked Jesus.
  • A choice – Adam choose to eat the fruit and disobey God for earthly gain.  Jesus choose to drink from “the cup” for a heavenly gain.
  • Deceived – Satan-> Eve-> Adam; Satan-> Elders/Judas -> The Crowd-> Jesus. Part of this is also betrayal – Adam betrayed God, Jesus did not.
  • A woman – The First Adam had his First Eve. Jesus, the Second Adam, would have the Church.  The First Eve became the “mother of all the living”, the Second Eve is the mother of all those who are born again.
  • Sweat – There are two references to sweat in the Bible – Genesis 3: 19 and Luke 22: 44. Both mention the ground!  Adam’s work would produce sweat and Jesus’ work caused Him to sweat “great drops of blood” that fell to the ground”.
  • Thorns – Adam would have to fight with them. Jesus would have to wear them! (See Thorns.)
  • Fig Tree – (See Figs) I still believe the “desirable fruit” was a fig.  Adam and Eve clothed themselves with its leaves, and Jesus cursed a fig tree on Tuesday of Holy Week.  Jesus’ teaching on Tuesday, as recorded in Matthew and Luke, are about His Kingdom and show how the “fruit” of the Kingdom of God is what is important (Matthew 21: 43,44).

Thorns – Easter 2019


Thorns, thistles, briers, nettles, and brambles are some of the names and plant parts that have pointy things that cause discomfort.  What do these have to do with Easter?  Okay, I will get to the point of this post.  These were part of the curse found in Genesis 3: 17 – 19 for Adam because he ate the forbidden fruit.  Matthew, Mark, and John add thorns as part of the misery that the Romans gave Jesus at the time of His crucifixion.  I will attempt to bring these events together in this brief study of thorns.

Hebrews 6: 8 beautifully brings together the spiritual and physical aspects of thorns by being part of the “basic teachings” and blessings mentioned in the chapter.  It mentions them being a curse, worthless, and getting burned. This verse fits well with the parables when Jesus used them to show the “deceitfulness of wealth and the worries that choke the good seed”. (Matthew 13: 22) Most of the references to thorns are about them causing problems and having to be beat down and burned.  In a land where wood was precious, thorns were not, so they would be used for fuel to cook with.

Foreshadowing verses for the crown of thorns and what will happen to them are in Isaiah and Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 2: 6, which is his call to ministry, God tells him that he will be surrounded by thorns, thistles, and scorpions.  This is a good picture of Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion.

Isaiah 27:4 speaks to the redemptive work of Jesus with the plea that He guards His vineyard to protect it. He would prefer people to make peace with Him but if not, He will burn them up.  Isaiah 10: 17 speaks of the “day” (judgement) when the Light of the world will burn the thorns and thistles.

Mark 15:17, John 19:2, and Matthew 27: 29 mention the crown of thorns.  Matthew is the most detailed and talks about the thorns being twisted and then being beaten onto Jesus’ head.  So why the thorns?  They are part of the curse that Jesus was dying to end. Mostof the references for redemption are about people/Israel.  He will make a new heaven and a new earth but Jesus came to break the curse.  Creation groaned waiting for Him, trees of the field will clap their hands for Him, and He will bring rest to the Land, even the rocks can cry out for Him. Isaiah 35: 1 and Jeremiah 50: 34 are verses that mention good things about the Land.  

Thorns also represent worries and cares that bother our minds.  He took those on His “mind” to the cross.  And just as thorns were beaten to prepare them for burning, so the crown was beaten into His head.      

Remember, with the beatings, nails, cross, and His blood the crown of thorns also carry important symbolism.

Below are two good websites about thorns and thistles.