Daily Walk With God

My Daily Journey With God in Athens Ga.

The Rapture

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - May• 24•15

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18: For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

There are many believers who have taken the time to study their Bible and actually know a great deal about what we refer to as the rapture of the Church. However, there are many other believers who are confused and uncertain about that glorious day when Christ will return for His body of believers, the Church. After a lengthy time of study, I am writing to explain my beliefs about the events surrounding the rapture of the Church. I hope that it will encourage you to open up your Bible and study more about that blessed day when Christ returns to gather His Church. As the Apostle Paul reminds us in Thessalonians 4:18, “Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

The word rapture means to be “caught up” or “taken away.” The only place that we find this reference in the Bible is from the Apostle Paul, as he was writing to the Thessalonians. Paul describes believers being “caught up” in the air to meet Christ. Although the word “rapture” is not found in the Bible, this phrase “caught up,” from v.17, is a clear reference to the rapture of the Church. The rapture will bring to a close the Church Age and the Age of Grace.

What is the Church Age? This is the period of time from Pentecost to the Rapture of the Church. This encompasses the complete period of time that the Church is on the earth. The Church Age will come to a close when Christ returns “in the air” to gather His Church. Paul writing in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 tells us what will occur when Christ returns: 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. Our weak and decaying human body will be changed in a instant. We will be given an eternal, glorious body and we will be with the Lord forever.

This will certainly be a public event, not a secretive one, because Paul tells us that the “trumpet will sound” and “the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Those of us who believe in Christ will be taken up to heaven and we will come back with Christ at His Second Coming, at the end of the seven years of tribulation. William E. Blackstone in his book, Jesus Is Coming (chapter 9 – Rapture and Revelation), writes: “At the Rapture, Christ comes into the air for His saints. At the Revelation (Second Coming), ‘He comes to the earth with them. He certainly must come for them before He can come with them…”

When will the rapture of the Church occur? While we don’t know the exact date or time that this will happen, Paul tells us from Romans chapter 11 that the rapture will occur when, “the full number of the Gentiles has come in.” In other words, when the last person has been saved and completes the Body of Christ, the rapture will take place. Romans 11:25: I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in…

The “full number of the Gentiles” refers to the Body of Christ. From Pentecost until now, we have had the out-calling of the Gentiles into the body of Christ, which is the Church. During this time, the nation of Israel has been spiritually blinded, but that will end with the rapture of the Church.When the last believer has been brought into the body of Christ, the Church Age will end and the seven years of Tribulation will begin. This is why I believe that the rapture will occur just before the period of Tribulation. Jesus confirms this for me in Revelation 3:10: “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.” That “hour of trial” will be the seven years of tribulation. This is Jesus’ promise that the Church will not have to endure this terrible time of testing.

In Matthew 24:36, Jesus says, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” And in Matthew 24:50, Jesus in telling the parable of the servant whose master left him in charge says, “The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.” Think about that for a moment. If the Rapture occurred during the mid-point or at the end of the tribulation, we would know exactly when Jesus would return. However, with the rapture at the beginning of the Tribulation, that could occur at any moment.

I leave you with the words of Jesus from the Gospel writer Luke about what the world will look like just before Jesus returns to rapture His Church. You could certainly make a strong case that this is what our world looks like today. Luke 21:34-36: “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

 

The End Times – Daniel

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - May• 20•15

Daniel 12:1-4 (ESV): “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”

I remember hearing a sermon when I was a teenager, that referred to a time when travel and knowledge would increase and the resulting connection those things would have on the end times. You have probably heard a sermon based on this text and it’s likely that many of you may believe that this phrase, “Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” comes from one of the Gospels. This passage is only found in the 12th chapter of Daniel just as God’s vision to Daniel is concluding.

Lately, I have been reading and studying about the signs at the end of the age. God has placed this study upon my heart and I have been reading and trying to fully understand the importance of these things for believers today. There are two reasons why this study is important to me: 1) it gives us as believers – hope! Paul, in Titus 2:13, reminds us of the “blessed hope” that we as believers have as we await the return of Christ, and 2) it should motivate us as followers of Christ to try and reach everyone who is not saved so that they will believe in Christ and not have to face the period of tribulation that is coming on those who do not believe.

Going back to the Daniel 12:4 text, we recognize that Michael is the archangel who is essentially the spiritual protector of Israel, God’s chosen people. Daniel’s prophecy reveals to us that, at the Great Tribulation, Michael will emerge (“shall stand up”) as he continues to wage spiritual battle for Israel. I believe that this period of tribulation will begin after the church has been taken away (raptured) and the last seven years of God’s dealing with Israel will begin.

In Daniel 9:26, we can understand that out of the 490 years that had been determined on Israel, 483 of those years ended at the Crucifixion of Christ. The 7 remaining years are believed to be the 7 years of Tribulation. At the beginning of the Tribulation, the Anti-Christ will emerge and will sign a peace treaty with Israel, that will only last for the first three and one-half years of the Tribulation. The second half of the Tribulation will unleash Satan’s fury against the Jewish people and the world will also see many judgements from God, making this period of history unlike any other.

Daniel 12:4 (ESV): “But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” Many of us only think of world knowledge when reading this passage but God also intended for it to include biblical knowledge. Remember in Daniel’s time, Daniel did not have any knowledge of the Church Age, he could only recognize what God had revealed to him and the Church Age was not a part of Daniel’s understanding. In our day and time however, God has opened up our understanding of Biblical knowledge, as we are on the other side of the cross, in comparison to Daniel and his contemporaries. We are able to more fully discern scripture and its meaning that the people of Daniel’s time simply could not understand. 

In his book, The Final Generation, Mike Evans writes (p.48): “When a vision of the end times was given to Daniel in the last three chapters of his book, he was told to seal it up for the generation in which “many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase” (Daniel 12:4). No generation in the history of the world has traveled so much or seen knowledge increase so quickly as ours. Today, we can be anywhere in the world in hours and have even stepped from Earth to the moon within days. What humanity knows, is inventing, or is discovering is increasing at an exponential rate. Literally anything you want to know in the world is accessible through a few keystrokes or clicks of a mouse.” Evans make a valid point that we are certainly living in the age where knowledge is increasing at an incredible rate.

Daniel 12:3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. This verse is perhaps the most important to me as I continue to study end time prophecy. While scripture tells us that we should pay attention to the signs of the end of the age, our most important focus should be to bring those who are lost to belief in Christ. That is the assignment that Jesus gave to his disciples as he ascended into heaven and that same mission is ours today. God doesn’t want anyone to suffer the wrath that will be poured out onto this earth during the Tribulation and it is our duty as followers of Christ to do our part to save as many as possible. And as we lead unbelievers to righteousness, we are given the promise that we “shall shine…like the stars forever and ever.” We will live in the presence of God in heaven, and will receive our reward for being faithful to our calling, while living out our time on earth.

Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 28:19-20 NIV.

Strength In Christ

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - May• 14•15

Colossians 2:6-8(NIV)
6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul refers many times to the believer’s spiritual union with Christ. For Paul, it is essential for the believer to always be mindful of the presence of Christ in their individual walk of faith. Paul writes, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:1-2). It’s not always easy to do, but as believers, we must set our mind on heavenly matters instead of falling in love with this world that we live in. The things of this world are temporary but our reward in heaven is eternal.

I turn to this text often to remind myself just how important it is to live for Christ and not for the world, or even for myself. It’s often difficult for us to do so because at present we live in this fallen world. We are drawn to the things of this world and we often are deceived into believing that we can find security and peace of mind here on earth. I believe that Paul’s words are just as crucial for us today as they were for the early Christians. For the believer, our focus and guidance must come from Christ, who died for our sins and who will in the end, raise us to eternal life. Christ’s power and victory over death is something that the “world” cannot duplicate.

There are three things that stand out for me in this passage from Colossians. 1) We are “rooted” in Christ, 2) we are being “strengthened” in our faith, and 3) our lives should “overflow with thankfulness.” If we are “rooted” in Christ, that just means that we look to Christ to lead us in our daily lives and our decision making. Christ, through the Holy Spirit, will start to have us look at daily life differently and we will let go of things that were once important to us. Instead, we will be drawn to the injustices of this world that Christ wants our attention focused on. We will grow to become more compassionate and caring to everyone that we encounter. And as we follow the leading of Christ and the urgings of the Holy Spirit, we will be strengthened in our walk of faith. And finally, all these things should lead us to become overflowing with thankfulness to God for loving us so much that he gave us His only Son as a sacrifice for our sinful nature. I thank God daily for His grace and His mercy upon my life. 

If you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior and believe that He died for you sins, then the Spirit of Christ lives in you. And because the Spirit lives and dwells within all believers, we are given an incredible power that enables us to say “no” to the things of this world and “yes” to the leadership of Christ in our lives.

 

Blessed Are The Peacemakers

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Apr• 23•15

Matthew 5:9 (NIV)
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

I believe that most people want to live in peace. After all, why would anyone want to be filled with anger, jealousy and bitterness and allow those feelings to control their lives? Well, the reality is that some people seem to actually thrive on living under those conditions and it eventually defines who they are as a human being. We all know people who seem to take great pleasure in quarreling and tearing down other people. And it’s especially sad, when we encounter people like this who call themselves Christian. Jesus clearly teaches that his true followers will be those who love one another: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).

I am proud that I have taught my children how to respond to those who use hurtful words in an attempt to tear you down. I will admit that I am certainly not a perfect man by any means. There was a time when I allowed my emotions and my anger to get the best of me. However, over time, God has taught me how to respond to people that only want to cause trouble. My family has once again been exposed to those who want nothing more than to get a reaction out of me in order to provoke me and start an argument. And once again, this has provided me an opportunity to show them how to best live out Christ’s command to “love one another.” I am thankful to God for giving me the opportunity to show my family how to best respond to anger and bitterness.

The Apostle Paul had some great instructions on how to conduct yourself when faced with quarreling people. Paul, writing to the church in Rome, tells believers how to best react to those who try to provoke you. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord (Romans 12:17-19).

Many of you reading this today most likely knows someone who tries to provoke you in order to get a reaction out of you. They will go to any lengths to draw you into an argument or confrontation and they become extremely frustrated and even more angry when you refuse to respond to their immature attacks. I believe that God gives each of us the Holy Spirit to help us to know what to say and how to respond in these types of situations. When we choose to follow the urgings of the Holy Spirit instead of the evil one, we choose to follow Christ’s command to love even those who say hateful and hurtful things about us. We are choosing light over darkness, we are choosing life over death, and we are choosing to follow Christ and His commandments instead of the evil and destructive desires of Satan.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Sometimes peace is just not possible because some people do not want to live in peace. Paul offers some great advice on what to do if you try to live in peace and others do not want peace. He says, “as far as it depends on you.” We can only control ourselves and our own behavior – how others behave is entirely up to them. There will be instances when other people simply do not want peace. So Paul says that if we have done everything we can to live in peace with one another, and others do not want peace, then we must let them go and let God take control. That’s good advice that I try to live by. When I realize that peace is just not possible, I turn that over to God and I go on living out my life by allowing the peace of Christ to transform me and I leave judgment and condemnation up to God.

Paul ends the 12th chapter of Romans with this message: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). That’s good advice for all of us to take with us each and every day of our lives, especially in the world that we are living in today. May the peace of Christ be with you today and always!

Christ’s Power over Human Weakness

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Apr• 18•15

2 Corinthians 12:7b-10: Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. But he (Jesus) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul was taken up to the third heaven, to the very presence of God and Christ, where he was given revelations that he could not even speak of. Now we don’t know if Paul was actually there in body or in spirit, and quite honestly it really doesn’t matter. It’s hard to deny that Paul saw and heard things that no one else had. Paul would have every reason to brag and become conceited about such a grand vision, but he instead talked about his weaknesses.

Paul had a “thorn in his flesh”, some type of unknown affliction that caused him great distress. So Paul asks the Lord to take away this infirmity but the Risen Christ tells him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Human weakness is where the divine power of Christ can be displayed in a powerful way.

We live in a world today where most people don’t like to admit their weaknesses. Most of us want to appear strong and in total control of every detail of our lives. We strive to maintain the appearance that everything is all-right and our lives are perfect. Most of us know that this is not reality. Even among our brothers and sisters in Christ, we would rather not dwell on our weakness as a human being; we want everyone to think that we have it all together. Paul encourages us to acknowledge our failures and limitations in order for the power of Christ to rest upon us and sustain us.

Paul is inspiring us to draw upon God’s “all-surpassing power” (2 Cor. 4:7) that can help us to persevere and endure all kinds of life’s difficulties. When we begin to realize our frailty as a human being, that’s when this “all-surpassing power” from God (and not from ourselves) can sustain and renew our lives. It is only then that we can begin to live a life that goes out into this fallen world and shines the light of Christ into a world that so desperately needs the light.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (NIV): But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

 

The Blessed Hope

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Apr• 14•15

Titus 2:11-14: For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.  It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

The early church called the Glorious Appearing of Christ – the “blessed hope.” Paul penned this in the writing of his letter to Titus and the early church used this phrase to describe Christ’s return for his church quite often. I wonder how many in the church today even know about this phrase which anticipates the Second Coming of Christ. We don’t hear many sermons preached on this topic and I believe that to be very unfortunate. The Glorious Appearing of Christ should excite and motivate all Christians but the “blessed hope” is too often ignored.

Paul was given special insight by Christ to certain “mysteries” and it can often be difficult to determine just exactly what Paul is saying. However, the above passage from Titus is not one of those occasions. Paul clearly tells us that it is only by God’s grace that we can obtain the gift of salvation. Christ accomplished that work completely on the cross at Calvary and God raised him from the dead to conquer death and sin once and for all. So if we accept God’s grace and believe in Christ as our Savior, we naturally should say “no” to those things in our world that are ungodly and worldly.

Too many people in the church today are worldly people. They spend their time chasing after worldly gains and they don’t give a second thought to the things that God wants us to pay attention to. They are consumed with going after the things of this world and receiving praise from the world for their accomplishments. Many often seek the titles that the world bestows upon them rather than seeking the things of God and working behind the scenes. We want to be seated at places of honor and to be noticed instead of being the least and dedicated to serving others. 

Paul exhorts us to live “self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” while we anxiously wait for the “blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” There is absolutely nothing wrong with joyfully thinking about and hoping for the glorious return of Christ in the near future to gather his church, his believers. This is the good news that should be proclaimed from pulpits, especially in our present day and age. So many people have lost all hope and they need to have it restored. What greater hope is there than the day the Lord returns to take us home to heaven?

The words of Paul: Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).

The Day and Hour Unknown – Watch!

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Apr• 12•15

Mark 14:32-33, 37: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!'”

Zechariah 14:4: On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.

Acts 1: 10-12: They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”  Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city.

Most Christians today have some basic understanding of where we currently are in relation to God’s prophetic timeline. The Church Age, which is the Age of Grace, is where we find ourselves today along God’s biblical or prophetic timeline. What many Christians don’t know or disagree upon is exactly when the Church Age will come to a close. Many believe that the Church Age will end before the tribulation and others are of the opinion that the Church Age will end either at the mid-point or at the end of the tribulation. There are some, of course, who do not believe there will be a time of tribulation.

For me, the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians reveals exactly when the Church Age will end. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

The Church will have been taken away (raptured) and the seven year period of tribulation will begin. This will not be a secretive event as described in many popular books like the Left Behind series. It will be a public event that will be heard and seen by all the people of the earth as Paul describes in the above scripture reference. Paul famously referred to Christ’s return as the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13).

Read carefully Paul’s words from 1 Thessalonians 4: 17: “we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them (the dead in Christ) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” Paul is describing Jesus coming back for his Church before the beginning of the time of tribulation. This is not Jesus’ second coming where he physically stands on the earth. That will take place after the period of tribulation when Jesus will come with power and great glory (see Matthew 24:30) and stand again on the Mount of Olives (see Zechariah 14:4), from which he ascended into heaven (see  Acts 1:10-12).

Jesus himself gave us signs to watch for so that His followers would know when the Age of Grace (Church Age) would begin drawing to a close. Israel, as God’s chosen people, is where all believers should watch for signs. When Israel officially became a nation on May 14, 1948, God’s end time clock began to tick even faster. Knowing the threat that Iran and other nations pose to Israel, the national security and protection of God’s chosen people continues to be of utmost importance. The prudent believer will most certainly keep their attention and watchfulness focused on Israel in the days and months ahead.

Revelation 3:10:  Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

Easter Sunday 2015

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Apr• 04•15

The Empty Tomb: John 20: 1-22

1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

 3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 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.

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

On this glorious Easter morning we awake to a world that is filled with hope instead of despair. A morning that is full of light instead of the darkness of Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Christ is risen and He is victorious over evil.This Easter morning we join with believers throughout the world in proclaiming: Christ is Risen, Christ is Risen indeed!

Passion Week – 2015 – Saturday

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Apr• 03•15

Today is referred to as Holy Saturday or Black Saturday. It is the last day of Holy Week, in which we await the resurrection of Christ on Easter morning. On Holy Saturday we remember the day that the body of Christ lay in the tomb.

From the book of Matthew we find this event occurring on Saturday, which was the Sabbath. Matthew 27:62-66: The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

The words of Jesus from John 16:20-22: I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

On this day, I am certain that the disciples were confused and scared. Jesus had been crucified and all may have seemed hopeless and lost. We know that the disciples struggled often in their walk of faith and on this dark day they probably could not begin to comprehend what was about to take place the next morning. The despair they must have felt and the guilt of abandoning Jesus would have been a heavy burden to bear. They probably could not comprehend or imagine – the light and the hope that would forever change the world – come tomorrow morning. Even though it may have seemed that evil had prevailed we know that evil will never prevail against God’s Kingdom. Tomorrow we can say with complete joy and confidence that – Christ is risen – Christ is risen indeed!

 

Passion Week 2015 – Friday

Written By: Rev. Darryl Mathis - Apr• 02•15

The Jewish and Roman trials of Jesus

Jesus’ trial took place in two stages: a Jewish trial and a Roman trial, each of which had three parts. The Jewish trial consisted of: (1) the preliminary hearing before Annas, the former high priest; (2) the trial before Caiaphas, the ruling high priest, and the Sanhedrin; and (3) the final action of the council, which brought to a conclusion its all-night session.  The three episodes of the Roman trial were: (1) the trial before Pilate; (2) the trial before Herod Antipas; and (3) the trial before Pilate continued and concluded. [1]

The first trial occurred during the nighttime hours before Annas. In the second trial before the Sanhedrin, Jesus is pronounced “worthy of death.”  Matthew 26:67-68: Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?” The third trial occurred immediately at daybreak and the council condemns Jesus and leads him off to Pilate.

Matthew’s Gospel tells us that when Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, saw that Jesus had been condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself (Matthew 27:3-5).

Still early in the morning, Jesus goes before Pilate. When Pilate realizes that Jesus is a Galilean, he sends him to Herod Antipas, because Galilee was under Herod’s jurisdiction. Luke tells us that 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 some miracle. Luke writes that 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 (Luke 23:11-12).

Pilate then examines Jesus and cannot find a basis for a charge against Jesus. Pilate wanted to release Jesus but the crowd kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” (Luke 23:20-21). Herod then speaks to the crowd for a third time telling them that he will have Jesus punished and then released. “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.

Jesus is crucified (from approximately 9 AM until Noon)

Mark’s gospel gives us the following account of Jesus’ crucifixion. A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get (Mark 15:21-24).

John 19:25-27: Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Luke 23:44-49: It was now about the sixth hour (noon) and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour (3pm), for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

Jesus Burial

 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 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. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Jesus’ body would have been wrapped and placed in the tomb before sunset, when the Sabbath would begin and no work could be done.

Good Friday has ended with our Lord and Savior placed in the tomb.

[1] Zondervan NIV Study Bible, 2002, page 1559