The Weekly Hymn

Here is undoubtedly one of the best modern resurrection hymns, and certainly one of my favourites. Written by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty, “See what a Morning” tells the story of what happened on that first Easter Sunday and explains what it all means:

See what a Morning, gloriously bright
With the dawning of hope in Jerusalem;
Folded the grave-clothes,
Tomb filled with light,
As the angels announce Christ is risen!
See God’s salvation plan, wrought in love,
Borne in pain, paid in sacrifice,
Fulfilled in Christ, the Man, for He lives:
Christ is risen from the dead!

See Mary weeping, ‘Where is He laid?’
As in sorrow she turns from the empty tomb;
Hears a voice speaking, calling her name;
It’s the Master, the Lord raised to life again!
The voice that spans the years,
Speaking life, stirring hope, bringing peace to us,
Will sound till He appears,
For He lives, Christ is risen from the dead!

One with the Father, Ancient of Days,
Through the Spirit who clothes faith with certainty,
Honour and blessing, glory and praise
To the King crowned with power and authority!
And we are raised with Him,
Death is dead, love has won, Christ has conquered;
And we shall reign with Him,
For He lives, Christ is risen from the dead!

Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2003 Thankyou Music

Easter Meditation 8 – He is Risen!

The last in this short series of Easter meditations.

Reading: Mark 16 v 1 – 8

On this Easter Sunday, we read about what happened on the day that Jesus was raised from the dead. It all started with Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome going to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus. However, they were shocked to find that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance of the tomb. They had been concerned that it would be too heavy for them to move. They were even more shocked to find an angel in the tomb. Whenever anyone saw an angel, they would invariably be afraid. That is why here, as on the other occasions recorded in Scripture, the first words of the angel were “Do not be alarmed.” Then he gave them the message that Jesus was alive, he had risen from the dead.

They were given a message to take to the disciples, that Jesus was alive and going into Galilee. Interestingly, they were told to tell the disciples AND PETER! This showed that God wanted to restore him after his three time denial of the Lord.

The women were still absolutely terrified, so they simply ran away, and didn’t give that message to anyone. We do learn from the other Gospels that Mary Magdalene did meet the risen Jesus later on, and recognised who he was. At this stage, though the overwhelming emotion was one of fear.

The important thing is that Christ was risen. That meant that his work of redemption on the cross was completed by him and accepted by the Father. He is risen, so death and his enemies have been defeated. Therefore, we can have eternal life.

Let’s thank God today for that tremendous victory.

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Robert Lowry

Easter Meditation 7 – He was buried

The next in the series of Easter Meditations:

Reading: Mark 15 v 42 – 47

The burial of Jesus is not just an incidental add – on to the main story. In fact, the Apostle Paul maintains it is a vital part of the Gospel see 1 Corinthians 15 v 3 – 5. So why is it so important? After all, he had died, is it not then simply natural that he should be buried.

Well, yes, but… this proved that Jesus really did die. He did not fall into some deep sleep or coma. In fact, we see that Pilate even went as far as to check whether he really was dead. The Centurion on duty confirmed that – he would know as well as anyone else whether someone was dead, he had seen enough of them in his time. Actually, Jesus was dead sooner than expected – those who were crucified would often linger in the last throes of death. If someone was trying to pretend that Jesus had died when he had not, they would wait longer to make it sound more credible.

No, Jesus had really died and therefore needed to be buried. Here we see the faith of Joseph of Arimathea. He was one of the religious leaders, but unlike the others he truly recognised who Jesus was. Therefore he wanted to give him a proper burial. That would have made him unpopular with the others on the council who would have felt that Jesus did not deserve this. However, this man had understood something of the Kingdom of God that Jesus had been teaching and in response carried out this act of kindness.

In John’s account we read that he was joined by Nichodemus, another religious leader who had met with Jesus and his life too had been changed. The two of them took the body of Jesus and put it into a tomb and sealed the entrance with a big stone. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus saw this happening. They would become significant in the next part of the story, which continues tomorrow…

As far as we are concerned, we need to take on board that Jesus really did die. Therefore he was buried. And as he really was dead he took on himself the punishment for our sins. If he did not really die, then that would not be possible. Sacrifices had to be dead not nearly dead. If we believe that, then our response should be the same as that of Joseph and Nichodemus that we will want to do what we can for him in acts of love and kindness.

Low in the grave he lay,
Jesus, my Saviour.
Waiting the coming day
Jesus, my Lord!
(the rest to follow tomorrow!)

Robert Lowry

Easter Meditation 6 – Jesus Dies

For this, our Good Friday Meditation I am not going to comment. Let Scripture speak for itself.

Mark 15 v 25 – 41 (NKJV)

Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him. And the inscription of His accusation was written above: THE KING OF THE JEWS.

With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.”

And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!”

Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.”

Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.

Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Some of those who stood by, when they heard that, said, “Look, He is calling for Elijah!” Then someone ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine, put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink, saying, “Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to take Him down.”

And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last.

Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!”

There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome, who also followed Him and ministered to Him when He was in Galilee, and many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.

Easter Meditation 5 – Jesus on Trial

The next part of the short series of meditations leading up to Easter.

Reading: Mark 14 v 53 – 65, Mark 15 v 1 – 15

These verses give an account of the trial of Jesus.

Firstly, he was taken to the High Priest together with other priests, elders and teachers of the law. They were already prejudiced against Jesus. They had heard his teaching and did not like the way that it challenged them. They were looking for any excuse to put him to death. But, they could not find anything. So they resorted to misquoting him and making up things. Except that they could not even agree amongst themselves!

Jesus remained silent throughout all of this. Until, that is the High Priest asked him if he was the Christ. He confirmed that indeed he was – in fact he went on to remind them that one day he would return to earth from heaven as King. This was all they needed. They clearly did not believe that he was telling them the truth, and they knew that the penalty for falsely claiming to be God was death.

So early the following morning they handed him over to Pilate who was the Governor. He asked the same question, and Jesus gave the same answer. The chief priests wanted to continue to press further charges against Jesus, but he didn’t answer them – which amazed Pilate. He obviously felt that Jesus was innocent, as far as he was concerned it was a matter for all these religious people to sort out.

Pilate offered to release Jesus. At this time each year, one prisoner would be released. Pilate suggested that it be Jesus. The chief priests disagreed – and stirred up the crowd to disagree too! Instead they wanted to release a murderer called Barabbas. So Pilate gave into the pressure from the crowd, and released this other man. We don’t know what happened to him after this – but if he realised the enormity of what it meant that Jesus should be put to death instead of him, he may well have become a follower.

Pilate was obviously still not happy, as he could not find a reason to put Jesus to death, he saw him as being innocent. However, the crowd became louder, crying “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate gave in, released Barabbas and handed Jesus over to be crucified.

So what is our response to all of this? We see the attitude of the religious leaders who did not like Jesus challenging them. It can be the same for us today, perhaps we don’t like some of the things that Jesus said, or what he wants us to do, so we would rather he was out of the way.

We could also be like Pilate, and see Jesus as being a good man – perfect – the Son of God even. But we could see it as being easier to follow the crowd and disregard him.

Anyway, these events paved the way for Jesus to go to the Cross to take the punishment for our sins. That is what we will focus on tomorrow.

He stood before the court
on trial instead of us;
he met its power to hurt,
condemned to face the cross:
our king, accused
of treachery;
our God, abused
for blasphemy!

Christopher Idle

Easter Meditation 4 – Remembering Jesus

The next in the series of Meditations leading up to Easter.

Reading: Mark 14 v 22 – 26

On the night before he died, Jesus shared a meal with his disciples. During the course of it, he revealed that one of their number would betray him. As we saw yesterday, he knew that it would be Judas.

Jesus then explained to them, using symbols of bread and wine, what would happen to him. He had already told them that this would happen, but here he reinforced it using real, everyday examples.His body would be given in the sense that he would be put to death. Note it does not say broken, neither here nor in the other Gospels, nor in Paul’s account in 1 Corinthians. Not one bone of his body was broken (John 19 v 35 -37)!

There was tremendous significance in the shedding of blood that went back to the Old Testament sacrificial system. An animal would be killed and sacrificed as a symbol for the forgiveness of the sins of the people. Of course, animal sacrifices could not forgive sins, but they foreshadowed what Christ would do when he shed his blood. He was making a new covenant which would truly and completely bring forgiveness to those who avail themselves of it. The old covenant was based on the imperfect animal sacrifice, the new covenant was based on the perfect sacrifice of Christ who willingly gave himself up to death, shedding his blood.

We continue to remember what happened on that night when we gather around the Lord’s Table and eat bread and drink wine (or juice in some cases!). It is a shame that it has been a cause of so much controversy in the history of the church, usually centring around how much and in what way is Jesus actually present. For what it’s worth, and I’m not trying to cop out here or indeed distract from what this passage is teaching, I don’t believe that the elements of bread and wine literally become flesh and blood. However, I do believe that Communion is more than just a memorial, as some would see it. I believe that God does meet with his people in a very real and particular way as we eat bread and drink the wine together.

Jesus said that this was the last time he would do this while on earth, but this would continue when he went back into heaven. As believers, we continue to remember him in this way “until he comes.”

So we share in this Bread of Life,
And we drink of his sacrifice,
As a sign of our bonds of grace
Around the table of the King.

Keith and Kristyn Getty & Stuart Townend