A Free Gift

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January 17, 2022

This week we finished reading the book of John from chapter 18 through chapter 21. These describe Jesus getting arrested, the betrayal from Peter, Jesus’ sentence, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection.

After Jesus was crucified, two wealthy people prepared his body for burial; Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus the Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin. Both of these men were secretly followers of Jesus and now risked everything by preparing his body for burial. When a Jew touched a dead body, they became unclean. Numbers 19:11 says, “Whoever touches a human corpse will be unclean for seven days.” These men were going to be unclean for 7 days and Passover activities were happening that evening. They would miss these and possibly be targeted. They did not care. They still performed this act of love.

John 19:39-42 says “Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.[e] 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.”

There are two interesting points about 75 pounds of spices being used along with the strips of linen for the embalmment of the body. First, the normal weight of spice used for embalmment was only 5 pounds. The weight used with Jesus was usually used for royalty. The men thought of Jesus as royalty. Second, adding this amount of weight to his body would make it even more difficult for someone to steal from the grave.

In John chapter 20 we find that Jesus is no longer in the tomb. Mary Magdalene was the first to find this out, then the disciples. John 20:1-18 says, “Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). 17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.”

After Mary told the disciples the news, they saw Jesus resurrected. The disciples were in a locked room, and Jesus entered. He showed them his hands and his side, and they believed it was him. He appeared to the disciples more than one time.

Jesus not only was seen by Mary and the disciples after his death on the cross but many others in a 40-day period (Acts 1:3). In Matthew 28:9, the other Mary saw him. In Luke 24, two disciples saw Jesus on the road to Emmaus. 1 Corinthian 15:6 states that Jesus appeared to over 500 people. In 1 Corinthians 15:7 he appeared to his half brother James. In Acts 9, Jesus appeared to Saul of Tarsus, and this was his last resurrected appearance.

Because of these appearances, the disciples believed what Jesus had predicted in Mark 9:30-32; Matthew 17:32-33; that he would die and raise on the 3rd day.

The fact that Jesus rose from the dead and is living eternally with his Father is the difference between Christianity and other religions. Jesus gives us the opportunity to live with him eternally in heaven as a free gift (Ephesians2:4-9) “ But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” We don’t have to work at being save. We don’t have to sweat about it. Romans 10:9-10: “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

Only Jesus offers the free gift of salvation that is not based on works. This is because he died for our sins, and was raised from the dead and is sitting at the right hand of God.Other religions require some sort of work to get to heaven or have a good afterlife.

The following summarizes the other 4 major religions.

Islam: Islam believes in one God, Allah. They also believe that if you are good enough you will go to Paradise, and if not, you will go to a place of pain. They believe you must follow the five Pillars of Islam and having a just life. No one is assured where they go.  

Jews: Jews believe in one God. Not all believe in an afterlife, but those who do believe you go to heaven through good works.

Buddhists: Buddhists believe that once a person dies, they are either reincarnated or they enter Nirvana (ending the cycles of reincarnation). A person enters Nirvana by following the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path (more work). If they do not follow these perfectly, they will continue to be reincarnated.

Hindu: Hindus believe in worshiping one god but also recognizes 333 million gods. They believe in many forms of god and that god is in everyone and is everything. Hindus believe in reincarnation which is an endless cycle. They believe that good thought or deed (karma) affects reincarnation positively and bad thought or deed leads to suffering in the next life.

Do you have the assurance that you will be with God in heaven?

Are you trying to please God through good works?

Remember, Jesus is the way to eternity which is a free gift. Won’t you open His gift and accept it yourself?

Next week will begin the book of Romans and read 1-8.

2 thoughts on “A Free Gift

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