Background Text: John 6:51
Devotional Text: Matthew 26:26-29
Easter Sunday, also known as Resurrection Day, brings the life of Jesus together for us into eternity. In today’s column, I’m writing about the essence of the living Lord as identified in the book of Isaiah, and as he hosted the Last Supper, referring to his body “as the bread broken for you.”
Last week, we looked at the four servant songs found in Isaiah. This week, I also begin with Isaiah, but this time showing Scripture that speaks of eternal life found in Christ.
Beginning with the words found in Isaiah 9:67, when the prophet refers to the birth of Jesus, he adds that he will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” As a descendant of King David, Jesus was destined to be the one to hold David’s throne forever, “and of his peace there shall be no end ... from that time forward, even forever.”
In Isaiah 12:2, we read these words as they refer to Jesus: “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. For the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he also has become my salvation.”
One more from Isaiah, chapter 26:4: “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.”
Backed by the Scripture from Isaiah that Jesus lives forever, let’s move to John 6:51. Although this is prior to Jesus instituting the sacrament of Communion at the Last Supper, it is an important piece of the puzzle surrounding his statement of “being the bread of life.” In this chapter of John, the crowds had followed Jesus across the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum,
Asking him what they must do in order to fulfill the works required of them by God (verses 28-29), Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
In the next verses, there is a discussion about God giving manna, the bread of heaven, to the people of the Exodus as they traveled across the desert. In verse 33, Jesus tells the crowd, “It is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
Jesus followed this statement by telling his listeners that he is “the bread of life,” adding that “he who comes to me will never go hungry; and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”
As Jesus continued speaking to the people, he said, in verse 40, “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
At these statements, people began to grumble amongst themselves, wrestling with the words of Jesus. Again, in verse 49, Jesus mentions the manna in the desert, saying even as the people ate it, they still faced death. However, as he continued speaking to them, he added that “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
Jesus, the bread of life. To believe in him is to receive by the grace of God, life eternal.
An Empty Tomb, a Fulfilled Promise
This Easter Sunday falls on the first Sunday of the month. It’s the time that many churches also hold their Communion services. How fitting it is to celebrate this sacrament just at the time we also celebrate the great sacrifice made by Jesus in the day following The Last Supper with his disciples.
Having supper with his disciples can be found in Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:14-20 and John 13:21-30. In all but one, the gospel of John, we find the words of Jesus referring to the bread and wine as his body and his blood.
In each of these three gospels, Jesus raises the bread, saying, “This is my body broken for you, do this in remembrance of me.” Then, taking the cup, he states, “This is the cup of the new covenant in my blood which is poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sin.”
Jesus, son of God and son of man, born of a virgin, having human flesh and qualities, came to teach us about life as we choose to follow God’s ways, and to suffer as our savior to give us eternal life — just as Jesus demonstrated to us that day so long ago on Resurrection Sunday. That glorious Easter morning that we celebrate today.
Let’s look at what the gospels show us at the tomb on Easter.
Many churches hold a sunrise service on Easter morning and re-enact the arrival of the women, and the disciples Peter and John. It is a glorious sunrise, and the light of the one who gives us life radiates from the tomb.
Following his death on the cross on Friday, Jesus was quickly taken down and laid in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, a man who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Due to the hour, there was no time to prepare his body with spices for the burial. The women had agreed to come the day after the Sabbath to prepare the body of Jesus.
Meanwhile, the Pharisees voiced concern that perhaps the followers of Jesus would steal his body, thus perpetuating what they believed to be the “myth” that he would rise again. It is interesting that the followers of Jesus, who were in mourning, never gave such an action a thought.
To appease the Pharisees, Pilate ordered a seal to be placed around the large stone that was rolled into place to guard the tomb. This seal was a rope that was placed end-to-end around the stone and sealed at each end with a clay mixture to hold it in place. The tomb was also placed under guard.
Matthew 2:57-28:17 tells the remarkable story of the empty tomb. After all, can anyone or anything stop the power of God? It was written that Jesus would rise again on the third day. He would arise by the resurrection power of God, and he certainly did!
Easter morning, it began as a solemn event to honor the body of the dead by preparing it with ceremonial spices. Instead, the day took on the true meaning of glorious joy, and hope, and salvation for humankind. It is the joy of the resurrection. Jesus lives!
Next week, we will continue with Scripture showing us what took place that Sunday morning and the messages of the disciple writers proclaiming God’s gift of eternal life.