Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sacrament Talk 2013

Aloha Brothers and Sisters,
I am very grateful to have the opportunity to talk to you today. I am also very humbled by the topic and the Holiday which we are celebrating today. Easter is one of my favorite Holidays. I love the colors, the spring time themes, the baby animals and the simplicity of the Egg. The egg is a world wide symbol of Easter. Officially adopted by the christian religion a few years back. It represents life and that is what we are celebrating today. Easter is a celebration of life. It is a celebration of Christ's resurrection. It is a celebration of Hope. It is a celebration of deaths defeat. We are so blessed to live in this time when the world has witnessed literal resurrection.
In all recorded history prior to the birth, life, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ there was no one else resurrected from the dead. All death was an eternal slumber. The sting of death was heavy, lonely, oppressive and unending.
I want to gently review the last 10 days of Christ's life. Each day could be a focus of great discussion so please bear with me as I highlight the points that will help illustrate our focus today.
If we go all the way back to Bethany, a suburb of Jerusalem, and go to the house of Jesus's friend Lazarus, the very same friend that Jesus raised from the dead, you will remember that Mary took some very costly oil and anointed the feet of Jesus. Judas Iscariot who later betrays Jesus asks why she is not selling the oil to help the poor. Judas did not really care for the poor, but his intent was evil and selfish, to possibly steal the oil for his gain. Jesus replies that “the poor always ye have with you, but me ye have not always.” This was his first warning to them that things were going to change.
Next was Jesus's triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Christ tells his disciples to go and get him a donkey. He even tells then that the donkey will have a baby and to bring it along too.
Why did Jesus want to ride in on a donkey? We can turn to the Old testament and read from Zachariah 9:9:
9 ¶Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy bKing cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
Remember that the old testament was the scripture at this time. The new testament had not been written yet. Do you think that some of the people recognized what was happening? I think they did because they started spreading their garments in his path and cutting down branches to lay before him. The people cried hosanna and followed him as he made his Triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
The next day Jesus was hungry and he saw a fig tree with leaves but no fruit so he cursed the tree and it withered away. He continued on to the temple where he became angry because of the filth that had defiled his fathers house. He overthrew the tables of money changers and Jesus taught: Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves Mark 11:17
Do you think that the fruitless fig tree was a symbol of the fruitless people that were corrupting the temple?
Christ was teaching a great lesson in purification in preparation of the coming of the ressurection.
The chief priests and scribes were getting very upset with Jesus, because they had been profiting from the trade going on at the temple.
Now once the money changers were out, there was room for miracles. The blind and the lame came in and Christ healed them. The people again shouted hosanna and again the chief judges were sore displeased because of the attention Jesus was getting.
Good easter questions:
What cleaning do our temples need? What fruits are we bearing?
Jesus then gets questions from chief priests and Pharisees. Jesus is pretty blunt in telling them that they are not humble and that they did not value the knowledge that they preach. He tells them that they are hypocrites. This makes them madder and they want to lay their hands on him, but they fear the multitude of people.
Jesus continues teaching and the disciples gratefully continued recording his teachings. He gave some famous parables like the 10 virgins, the parable of the talents and the goats. These were full of learning on preparation for the second coming. I don’t know how much his disciples understood, but we are still learning from them and they give us hope.
Hope of our resurrection.
It is almost passover now in our timeline review of Jesus's life and he asks the disciples to find a place to keep the passover meal.
The passover is another great scripture story and it is very symbolic of Christ. He is the Lamb that was slain so that we could escape death.
Now the pharisees have not gone out of the picture. They are still very much upset by Jesus and they want to destroy him.
It is important to remember that the passover meal is the Last Supper. At this meal Jesus teaches so much:
  • He washes their feet.
  • He explains that one of them will betray him.
  • He teaches them the sacrament
  • He comforts them
  • He gives then the commandment to Love on Another.
  • He teaches about the Holy Ghost
  • He then prays for his disciples, and prays for each of us as we believe.
These are all easter gifts to ponder on.
After dinner Jesus took his disciples to a garden, it was a garden that he went to often. He asked them to wait for him and he took Peter, James and John with him. He told them that his heart was very sorrowful and he asked them to stay and keep watch. Christ prayed unto the father;
And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. Mark 14:36
An angel came to strengthen him and again he prayed:
And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw call men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.
It was after this horrible experience, where Christ suffered unimaginable pain to redeem us from our sins, that Judas shows up with a multitude and betrays Jesus with a kiss. This was the pre-arranged token that Judas had given the priests, scribes and elders so that they would know which man was the Christ. Christ had descended low in the garden, but he had lower to go to finish the work of the atonement.

The mob laid their hands on Jesus, his disciples fled and now alone and in the dark of the night they led him to the house of the high priest. It is interesting the note that at this time in Jewish law, it was illegal to arrest a person in the dark of the night. Caiaphas, the high priest finds him guilty of blasphemy, and they bind him and take him to Pontuis Pilate the governor. Pilate questions him but does not find any fault with him, so he tries to let him go, but the voice of the people is strong and they call for the thief barbaras to be released and Jesus to be crucified.

Next Jesus is sent to be scourged. Scourging was a horrible form of punishment or torture where the victim was whipped with several cords of leather with bone or metal wrapped on the ends. These were to catch the flesh and tear it as the victim was scourged. The typical sentence was 40 lashes.

After enduring this, our precious savior was mocked as they placed a purple robe on his back and pressed a crown of thorns on his head, saying “Hail, King of the Jews” He was then led away to be crucified on the hill of Golgotha which ment the place of a skull.

The next hours of recorded history are some of the most uncomfortable events to read. Spikes would driven into his hands and wrists, then into his feet. Some mocked him and others “bewailed and lamented him” As he was lifted up upon the cross Pilate wrote “Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews” on a sign above his head.

Christ in this agony asked his father to forgive those who crucified him, comforted those that were weeping and made sure his mother was looked after by one of his beloved disciples. Even in his extreme agony he was thinking about serving and loving others.

The earth became covered in darkness, Christ endured unimaginable pain and trusted in his father in Heaven even as his father had to withdraw his spirit. Then Christ said “Father into thy hands I commend my spirit” and his earthly life came to an end, because he chose to die. He had the power to live, he choose to die so that we can live!

His body was given to Joseph of Aramathia who had a new tomb, where he lay Christ's body. To Christs friends, he was gone. His end had come and his eternal slumber had started.

After Christ's body had been placed in the tomb and wrapped in linen, the door to the tomb was closed and even sealed with guards placed outside to prevent anyone from stealing or disturbing it. The sealing and guards were ordered by Herod upon the request of the chief judges. The following was the sabbath day and nothing much of note happened other than I imagine that it was a time of great mourning among the followers of Jesus. Then on the third day, being the first day of the week, some women came to the tomb with spices to to dress the body of Jesus.

They found the door of the tomb rolled away and two angels that asked the very important question “Why seek ye the living among the dead?
He is not here, but is arisen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,
Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. Luke 24:5-7
Imagine your self, filled with grief, finding the body of your friend missing and angels telling you that he has risen? What joy, what absolute light and happiness would fill your soul, your heart and your eyes!
Mary Magdalene was the first recorded to see the resurrected Christ. There in the garden outside of the tomb they shared the tender moments that redefined the eternal outlook on the separation and finality of death.
The woman ran sharing the news with the disciples. The news that Jesus was alive. This is the news that we are still called upon to share. The joy of this knowledge fills our hearts just as we fill our easter eggs, the promise of life after death for one and all is as real and possible as a precious baby chick that comes out of its protective egg.
John recorded in Chapter 20 verse
31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
28 Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.

8 Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.

Today I stand before you and I testify that I know that Jesus is alive, that he broke the bands of death. I know that I will live again after I die. The gift of the resurrection is given to all men and all men will live again. It is our privilege and responsibility to share the joy of our knowledge with those we love”
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.