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Easter Message!

Dear Brethren, The Death is not a coincidence. All the Gospels identify Jesus’ last week in Jerusalem as occurring near the festival of Passover and the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) identify the last meal Jesus ate with his disciples as the traditional Passover meal.

Passover was never a welcome time of the year if you happened to be the current occupying force in the land of the Jews. It was a time when the Jewish people remembered escaping their slave masters in Egypt and finding freedom and self-rule with God as their only King. No occupiers, from the Persians to the Romans, liked Passover.

The week of Passover, what we now call Holy Week, was a busy one for Jesus. It started with his entrance into Jerusalem. How did it happen that all those people were there waving palm branches and spreading their cloaks on the road? Why were they cheering? Were they the same ones whose children had been healed, had they seen five loaves and two fish feed five-thousand hungry people? Or did they just like Jesus better than the other guy who was entering Jerusalem that day to great fanfare, the Roman Governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate. The next day he did something no one would have recommended – especially if he wanted to avoid a Roman cross – he entered the Temple and drove out the hypocrites. I know, the story says he threw out the merchants who were changing money and selling doves and other small sacrificial animals.

The truth of the matter is this. People had been selling sacrificial animals at the Temple forever. People needed to be able to purchase a dove or a lamb to offer and bringing one from home – often a long journey – wasn’t practical. And purchases could only be made with Temple coin. None of that was inappropriate. It was the corruption, the “one-hand-washes-the-other” attitude between the merchants and the Roman officials that made it wrong. These merchants were getting wealthy, as were the corrupt officials and no one was honoring God.

Let’s just say that Jesus wasn’t pleased. Over the next few days, he taught, had his body prepared for burial by a crying woman, predicted his own death and was betrayed by Judas. And then, it was Thursday. Jesus called two odd, small little thing that happened on the Sunday after Thursday!  of the on why good Friday.

Pastor Frederick W. Semazzi General Secretary --

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