Join Sharon and Nicole as they discuss Easter Week itself. We'll dive deep into the Word of God as we look back, and we will also talk practically about how to truly stop for a little while this week and ponder the incredibly mystery of God's great grace and salvation toward us. This is a full session and we are so excited to share with you our thoughts and ideas as we approach the highest holiday of all for Christians around the world. A Blessed Easter Week, friends.
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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to the Sweet Selah Moments Podcast. Spring is on its way and with it the very special Easter season. We hope this Easter series will refresh you as you stop for a little moment and listen in. This Sweet Selah Moments podcast is brought to you by Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries.
Welcome to Episode 37, The Greatest Grace. Hello friends, it’s Easter week. How are you doing? Are you a mama with littles like me working on plans to celebrate Easter with your kiddos? Or are you in a different season of life preparing to celebrate on your own or with family or friends? Whatever your season and situation Easter is a high point in the Christian calendar and we hope your heart is beating a little bit faster thinking of the wonderful celebration ahead on Sunday. Sharon, I’m super excited for Easter this year. Last year we celebrated at home and missed out on gathering in person with our church family because of the pandemic. So I’m so looking forward to celebrating the best holiday of the year for us Christ followers and hopefully we can make it to church this year. Church is always the highlight of our Easter day. I used to love to go to the sunrise services before we had kiddos. We’ve tried a few times with the littles, but it did not go so well. So we’re going to try again in a few more years. Before we head to church we like to hide jelly beans all through the house for the girls to wake up to and find in the morning. It gives me a few extra minutes to find clean clothes for them for church.
Oh brilliant! We used to do that too. It was always jelly beans in the morning.
Their so little, you can hide them everywhere. You know, it’s so fun.
They are. So lots to do and then Easter baskets later in the day, and then the older they get, the harder it is to find the spot that’s hard for them to find.
Ray used to take over. He’s like ‘I got it’ and he’d put them in the weirdest places. It was so fun.
It is a lot of fun and you find them sometimes a few months later. Oh, I forgot about that jelly bean.
Well, my Easter is obviously going to be quieter because there are not children. There’s a dog and no, I’m not putting out jelly beans for the dog. Last Easter I decided I was not going to miss sunrise service even though it was the beginning of the pandemic and no one was going anywhere. So I got myself up and I went to my back deck and I literally was in a sleeping bag because it was freezing and I had my warm cup of tea, but I saw, excuse me, I saw the sunrise.
Oh, that’s so special.
And I sang songs, just me and the Lord. It was really lovely.
Oh I love that. I could do that with the kids in bed.
It really was special. It really was, it was sweet. It was worth all of it. So I don’t know if I’ll do that again this year, or if I’ll see if Ray’s willing to maybe go to the ocean depending on, you know, conditions and the weather and everything. But, I’d like to do some kind of sunrise something.
Because that’s when, I mean, that’s when they went to the tomb and Jesus had already risen, you know, it was a really cool moment. The sun rises and the Son rose. Right?
So, and then I’ll probably talk to my far away grandchildren on computer and enjoy them that way. And if not, Easter day depends on the girls’, my daughters’ plans, sometime that weekend we’ll catch up that way. But, mostly it’ll be just me and Ray celebrating and it’s all that we really need because Easter is all about the incredible miracle of the resurrection. So even if it’s not as fancy as I’d like it to be, it will be great. So, anyways, well, let’s get down to talking about the reason behind this amazing season, Nicole. I decided to title the episode, I mean, what do you title an episode that covers everything, you know, the trial and the crucifixion and the resurrection? I decided to call it The Greatest Grace. So let’s start with the definition. I used to think of grace, just in terms of praying before a meal, someone at our family table would look at me and say, Sharon, would you say grace? What is that? So that meant I was supposed to thank God for the food and I suppose his grace in providing it. But that falls so short of the true meaning of that wonderful word, grace. Nicole, would you define it for us?
That word is such a beautiful word. How do you properly define it? So I Googled it and I found this on Got Questions. They define it as: grace is God’s favor on the undeserving or undeserved pardon for wrongdoing. Grace is what saves us.
Oh, so great. Nothing’s greater than grace.
It is indeed an undeserved pardon. That’s what grace is. And we, to a smaller degree, offer grace to people who have hurt us for example, when we forgive them and don’t demand that they grovel for a bit first. Which we’re very capable of doing as human beings. We offer grace when someone bumps into us and we don’t shove them back, but let it go without a crabby response. Those are little graces, but the greatest grace was when the almighty, self existent, Holy God chose to offer himself in the person of his Son, the second member of the Trinity, as a substitute for us on the cross. Jesus took our sins on himself and said, ‘Don’t punish Sharon. Don’t punish Nicole. Don’t punish this listener on our podcast right now. I will take her punishment on myself. Extend to her pardon because I took the punishment’. Nicole, it’s stunning and inconceivable and yet God did this for us. Our tiny teeny part of the process is simply to receive it. This amazing gift of pardon undeserved though it is. Oh, and a little parenthesis here. (If you, the listener, want to learn more about that Grace, check out episode seven. It’s full of the Grace of God). So today we are going to look at the three T’s as we study this out and marvel at this event. We’re going to look at the Trials and then the Torture and then the Triumph. So Nicole, start us off with the trial , or trials.
All right. Well, the trials were many. Jesus, after the foot washing and the Passover meal and after the Garden of Gethsemane, (such a hard word…that garden!) where he pleaded with God for there to be some other way, was hauled from magistrate to magistrate throughout the night as the Jewish leaders, who disliked him, demanded his execution. Jesus was tired and worn out before it began after praying until he sweat blood in the garden and obviously had no sleep at all after that. He was betrayed and abandoned by his closest friends, the disciples. He was mocked and beaten and the trials themselves were a farce. Before we even get to the actual torture of the crucifixion let’s take a Sweet Selah moment and hear Luke’s account of that long, horrible night. We’ll pick up the story in Luke 23. By this point in time, Jesus’s disciples had all run away. Although Peter and John had come back and were there where Jesus was first tried at the home of the high priest. Peter has already denied Christ three times. And Jesus has looked right at him knowing what he had done. Peter weeps, then Luke 22:63-65 tells us that early on, before the trials really got underway, Jesus gets his first beating. Sharon, would you read those verses for us?
Verse 63, “The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded ‘Prophesy, who hit you?’ And they said many other insulting things to him.
Hmm. The Pharisees then find Jesus guilty of claiming to be Messiah and decide to take him to Pilate who alone has the power to crucify him. Okay. Let’s pick up the story at Luke 23:1 and read through verse 23, Sharon, why don’t you start?
Okay. Well, let me pray before we begin. And here it is, this was the night. So Lord, as we read these words, help us to walk back in time to that awful night and remember all you endured on our behalf. Jesus, your gift to us is priceless. Help us to see and hear what you would teach us today. In your name, Lord Jesus. Amen. Verse 23, “Then the whole assembly rose and lead him off to Pilate”.
“And they began to accuse him saying, we have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a King.”
“So Pilate asked Jesus, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ ‘You have said so,’ Jesus replied.”
“Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, ‘I find no basis for a charge against this man’.”,
“But they insisted, ‘He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here’.”
“On hearing this Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean.” (When he learned that Jesus…Oh, that’s your verse.)
(You had a real short verse.) “When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.”
“When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased because for a long time, he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort.”
“He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer.”
“The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him.”
“Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate.”
“That day, Herod and Pilate became friends. Before this they had been enemies.”
“Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people.”
“And said to them, ‘You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him’.”
“Neither has Herod for, he sent him back to us. As you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death.”
“Therefore I will punish him and then release him.”
“But the whole crowd shouted, ‘Away with this man. Release Barabbas to us’.”
“Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city and for murder.”
“Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again.”
“But they kept shouting, ‘Crucify him, crucify him’.”
“For the third time he spoke to them, ‘Why, what crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him’.”
“But with loud shouts, they insistently demanded that he be crucified and their shouts prevailed.”
“So Pilate decided to grant their demand.”
“He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder. The one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.”
I know. What stands out to you the most, as we read this?
It’s just, it’s the back and forth. It’s crazy. They send him to Pilate. They send him to Herod. They send him back. They could not find anything to pin on him because he was the most innocent man that ever lived.
They couldn’t find anything to…?
Yeah. What an exhausting night. He’s already been mocked and then he’s plied with all these questions and he’s back and forth and back and forth on no sleep, after having sweated blood in the garden. You know, I mean, I can’t even imagine the night that Jesus had. So.
It’s interesting too, that verse about Pilate and Herod becoming friends. I thought that was interesting. I don’t know what that was.
Yeah. I think they sort of cemented in their guilt and you know how you justify something and it’s fun to find someone that will justify with you? Yeah, well we really had no choice, that mob was crazy. We would’ve lost our own heads if we hadn’t given into them and there would have been this massive riot.
You know, I suspect that it was their mutual justification kind of thing going on. I don’t know but that is interesting
Yeah, because I wonder what that verse meant, but that does make sense.
Yeah, I think it’s interesting that Herod got no answer because Herod was like, Oh cool, maybe he’ll do miracles for me.
And Pilate, who at least tried harder to be fair, you know? And he asked him one of the versions of the gospels, what is truth? You know, he had a little bit more of a seeker heart. And so Pilate got a couple of answers from Christ. Herod got nothing. And I think that you see that throughout Jesus’ life, pretty consistently. If you are seeking, he will respond. If you are there for the show, no, no.
He just won’t because he has no purpose in that.
So okay. So those were the trials, the all night long trials. So going into the crucifixion, he’s exhausted. Nicole, I don’t last till midnight without being tired. And the adrenaline rush of the whole thing, watching Peter weeping his eyes out because he couldn’t… You know, just so much going on. I can’t even imagine how Jesus felt then, before even.
Yeah. I never thought about what happened before.
And just exhausted.
Yeah, he’s already completely depleted.
Yes, yes. And he also washed feet less than 24 hours before too, you know?
Oh that’s right. It was a rough 24 hours!
I mean, this is unbelievable, everything that happened in that period of time. So, okay. Well that’s the first T, the trials, and I think that’s a good background for us because it makes us appreciate even more how well he handled his crucifixion in light of his exhaustion.
Right. The extent of the sacrifice.
I’m not nice when I’m exhausted.
I’m not either, I don’t even function. I can’t think clearly or speak clearly. So for him to go on trial, to defend, you know, he didn’t defend himself.
So, okay. We’re now going to get to the actual torture of the cross, the second T, and no, we’re not going to describe it in vivid detail. Suffice it to say, every breath Jesus and the criminals crucified with him took was torture-some. We’re going to read the story of the crucifixion from John’s perspective, noting the sweet detail that in the midst of Jesus’ suffering, he made sure his mama was taken care of.
That’s so sweet.
Oh my goodness. So let’s listen to this part with awe and wonder as we remember the size of this greatest grace, God gave us. So Nicole, why don’t you start the reading?
All right, John 19, starting at verse 16, “Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.”
“Carrying his own cross he went out to the place of the skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.”
“There they crucified him and with him, two others, one on each side and Jesus in the middle.”
“Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read ‘Jesus of Nazareth. The King of the Jews’.”
“Many of the Jews read the sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city. And the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek.”
“The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, ‘Do not write the King of the Jews, but that this man claimed to be King of the Jews’.”
“Pilate answered, ‘What I have written, I have written.”
“When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares. One for each of them, with the undergarment remaining, this garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.”
“Let’s not tear it they said to one another, let’s decide by lot who will get it.”
“This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said, ‘They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment’. So this is what the soldiers did.”
“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Clovis and Mary Magdalen.”
“When Jesus saw his mother there and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son’.”
“And to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother’. From that time on this disciple took her into his home.”
“Later, knowing that everything had now been finished and so that scripture would be fulfilled, ‘Jesus said, I am thirsty’.”
“A jar of wine vinegar was there. So they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.”
“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” Huh! Well, we learn different details about the crucifixion from each gospel writer. Jesus, for example said, at one point looking at those who had crucified him, ‘Father, forgive them for, they do not know what they are doing’. He also heard the man on the cross beside him ask that he be remembered in Jesus’ kingdom. And Jesus said to him, ‘This day, you will be with me in paradise’. Wow. You know, it’s really worth it to sit on Good Friday and read each gospel account of Jesus’ death. Like all eye witness accounts of an event, different people remember different details. And each detail adds to the tapestry of the incredible courage and calm of our Lord Jesus as he was being crucified,. He thought of others, like his mother and the guy on the cross beside him. He even asked forgiveness for the ones that were torturing him.
Nicole, what stands out to you the most?
I do love the part that he takes care of his mom in the middle of dying a terrible death. He looks down and says, take care of my mama and tells John, take care of her for me.
Isn’t that Incredible? He must have seen her in her suffering.
You know, can you imagine watching your child be killed?
Oh my gosh, it’s awful.
I love that despite what he was going through, he had that tenderness.
He cares so much more for us. I mean, even in, we talked about before him preparing the remembrance table before his death, he was always thinking about us and his disciples and everyone around him, despite him going through a horrific trial.
He’s a very good God.
Absolutely beautiful. Yeah, yes.
I thought it was also interesting, the sign that Pilate had made. It was like he had a change of heart toward the end or maybe he realized that Jesus really was who he said he was.
I was fascinated by that. What did that mean Pilate? Did that mean you really thought he was the King of the Jews or were you poking at the Jews that you should not really have crucified him? I don’t know.
Yeah, it was like his final little word. Like he seemed like he did not want him to die. He tried to release him.
So many times.
And in one of the gospels, his wife comes in and says, I had a dream.
Oh, that’s right. Yes, don’t do this.
Right. I had a dream, don’t do it. Do not do this. And that’s why he’s washing his hands, washing, washing his hands, trying to make himself clean from condemning this innocent man. I wonder if Pilate somehow did see the King in Jesus?
Maybe he’ll be in heaven.
I can ask him then.
Wouldn’t that be amazing?
You never know.
You never do. There’s no sin too big that Jesus did not die for it.
Absolutely. That’s really incredible to think about.
Wow, that’s kind of a fun thought.
You know what I was fascinated by, was the soldiers throwing dice or whatever they threw, to figure out who got the undergarment.
Isn’t that strange?
Yeah. It’s like how numbed they must have become to killing, to get to the point or maybe that was how they distracted themselves from torturing people? What would that do to you? You know how we have soldiers that come back with PTSD, they didn’t have a label for it then, but I can’t imagine what it would do to a human being to constantly be crucifying people.
That must have been awful!
So I’m just watching them in my mind, throwing dice and saying, Oh, you can get this. Let’s keep that, that garment’s pretty nice. Let’s not tear that one apart.
And they must have been poor too, that they cared about things like that.
About a fourth of a garment.
I know. What is that? So, and yet there’s a prophecy that says it, that says that they would divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.
Isn’t that interesting?
So isn’t that fascinating that God showed a prophet hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years before, soldiers, gambling, casting lots for Jesus’ garments? It’s details like that that are just so stunning to me that I’m like, yes, the Bible is the word of God. Yes, God speaks.
For a detail this tiny and this kind of, strange, I mean that’s amazing. It’s a complete picture.
It is. Oh my goodness, so…
Well that was Good Friday. Not so good for Jesus, but really good for us.
Then on Saturday it got really quiet because it was a Sabbath and everyone rested. Sharon, do you do anything special on Easter Saturday?
Not a whole lot. It’s sort of this quiet in between day. Sometimes I take my homemade hot cross buns to the neighbors on that day with a note attached.
Oh, that’s fun.
Yeah. Yeah. I do enjoy that. And just tell them Happy Easter. It’s sort of my way of saying Easter is a big deal at our house. It really is and they really like them. In fact we had neighbors that lived next door and the husband still writes me every year and says, I really miss your hot cross buns.
Oh! That’s cute, cause you make them homemade, don’t you?
Yes, from scratch, with yeast, the whole deal. Absolutely.
Oh, that’s so special.
So, but that’s about it. I feel like Saturday is a waiting day. It’s just a waiting day. We’ve been through Good Friday and we’ve probably been to a Good Friday service. I’ve at least, you know, done my readings. I like to read all the gospel accounts and just sit with it for a bit, but nothing really happened on the Saturday. And I can’t imagine how miserable a day it must have been for those disciples.
It must have been so awful.
I mean the ones that ran away. And he’s dead and he’s buried and what now?
It must’ve been awful, awful for them. I mean, it was the man they had given up their lives for and followed for three years, they left everything and the man who had taught them and loved them and who they all loved, he was just killed before their eyes. And at this point the disciples had no hope of resurrection. I mean, they’d seen Lazarus but I don’t think they connected those dots yet. So it would have been pretty hopeless I think. I don’t think they fully understood what Jesus was doing at that point.
I don’t think they did.
Yeah, we don’t do much either. Sharon. We, I think I told you that we do the little Bible readings with the girls, but there’s no reading for that day. It’s kind of, it’s good. I think it shows how kind of like somber and quiet that day must have been for his followers and how everyone’s just kind of like holding their breath, waiting to see what happened.
Right, right. Huh. Well, let’s get to the best part. We’ve seen the trials and we’ve seen the torture. We now get to talk about the triumphant Easter morning when Jesus triumphs over death itself and walks out of that grave. Halleluah!
That’s my favorite day. So instead of reading the traditional gospel readings for this part, we are actually going to read from Paul’s writing about Jesus’ triumph over death in First Corinthians 15. We’re just reading the highlights of this chapter but that whole chapter is wonderful. I recommend it. And it’s full of victory. It’s like a victory cry. This incredible true news that Jesus walked out of that grave is the linchpin of our faith. His taking the punishment of our sins was successful. The debt has been paid in full. The proof is in the Resurrection, listen and rejoice.
Yes. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, “I pass onto you what was most important and what has also been passed on to me, Christ died for our sins just as the scripture said. He was buried. He was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the scripture said. He was seen by Peter and then by the twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time. Most of them whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. Last of all, as though I’d been born at the wrong time, I also saw him. After, the end will come and he will turn the kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power.”
And further down in 1 Corinthians 15, starting at 51, “But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed. It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. Oh, death, where is your victory? Oh, death. Where is your sting? For sin is the sting that results in death and the law gives sin its power. But thank God. He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So my dear brothers and sisters be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord for, you know, that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”
I love that. I love verse 58, we can be strong and immovable, always working enthusiastically, because nothing we do for the Lord is useless because we live forever.
This is the coolest news. I mean, when we talk about good news?
This is the best!
It just is. We are working for a kingdom that has no end. When we die, we don’t. That’s the coolest thing. We transform into new bodies and a new, incredible life with our King who went before us. Easter is a day of incredible victory.
Oh, it really is! I love verses 55 through 57. Where I just want to shout that out. “Oh, death, where is your victory? Oh, death, where is your sting?” Cause death was defeated. It was just amazing.
Yeah, yeah, I do too. And I really feel like when a Christian dies, there’s such a different flavor to it because you know, you’re sad, they’re dying, but you’re also a little jealous, you know?
You get to go home before me.
Like, ‘Yay!”, that’s right. And your thinking of them is so different because even though, you know, it leaves a terrible hole, when somebody leaves you.
You know that they’re so fine and so well. And if they had been crippled in some way, like my dear father-in-law was so crippled at the end and could do so little. The thought of him in heaven, Nicole reunited with Mom Gamble, who he loved so much, totally healthy and laughing at how long it took him to realize that Jesus was real. I can’t wait to get there and hug him and say, I told you so Honey.
Isn’t it amazing?
It’s just so great. So it changes everything in our lives to know that we will always be loved. We will always live and that what we do here matters because as we grow in character, that character comes with us into a new life and the people we bring with us because we share Jesus with them,
Get to be part of this victory over death.
That’s so amazing.
I mean it is stunning good news. It’s no wonder the disciples couldn’t stop talking about it. Even when everybody kept saying to them, hush, don’t talk about Jesus. And they’re like, are you kidding me?
We saw a dead man walking. And we saw the Son of God defeat death. And you want us to be quiet? Forget it.
Impossible. I know. And what a gift we have that we don’t have to fear death. There’s no fear in death anymore for us Sharon.
Because God, Jesus, did it. He died and he conquered it and he rose again. And we know the same is going to happen to us. We don’t have to fear it.
Yes. Yes. And I don’t have to desperately try to make myself look young all the time. I’m going to get a new body; kind of happy about that, you know?
And I’ll still be just me because God makes me me. But I’ll have a body that doesn’t get old and wrinkly and that will be kind of fun. So, well, listeners, I want to pray for you as you go into this week and you just kind of walked through it early with us on Tuesday, but I just want to pray that this is a rich time for you. So let’s pray. Oh God, thank you. Thank you that you reign, that there is no power greater than you. That there is no one above you that you were and you are, and you always will be. We praise you for your victory over death and sin. We are forever grateful for the grace, the undeserved pardon you lavished on us that we get to be with you in your kingdom. Hallelujah. This week, Lord, help us to remember you, help us to celebrate, help us not to lose the awe of what the good news truly is. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Amen. Happy Easter season friends. May this week be a wonderful time of remembering and celebration for you and your friends and family. Next week, we’re going to look at poor Peter who did not exactly win the prize for courage the night before Jesus died. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? We want to be brave, but we chicken out. We’re calling Episode 38, Restoring the Broken. Join us for a look at what happens when we, or someone we love fails and fails badly. Until then raise your voice in songs of praise for our Redeemer lives.
Speaker 1 (31:03):
We are so glad you stopped for a while with us. Sweet Selah Moments is a co-operative production of Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries. More information about this podcast, including show notes can be found at sweetselah.org and at wordradio.net. Thank you for joining us.
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