Good morning. I pray you have been the recipient of some of this beautiful weather we have been having and were able to take advantage of it for your Easter celebrations. I also pray you were able to be in church and that you had a wonderful Easter filled with love, family and the presence of God.
Today, I want to talk to you about “Traditions”. We all have them for different times and seasons. Some of us go crazy worrying about Friday the 13ths, like the one coming up this Friday. But what about Easter? What are your traditions?
God established many traditions in the Old Testament for those to follow. Times for those to come together and celebrate different feast and to celebrate the times of harvest. But, none is more important than the time of the Holy Week.
The Gospel writers devoted much of their material to the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus. The final week of His earthly ministry began with the triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the “Hosannas” from the crowd that changed to cries of “Crucify Him” before the week was over. Jesus apparently spent most of the week teaching in the temple area during the day. His evenings were spent in the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus in Bethany. Significant events during this week included the plot of the Sanhedrin, Jesus' betrayal and arrest, the trials of Jesus, His journey to Golgotha down the Jerusalem street known today as the Via Dolorosa, and the Resurrection. After His resurrection, Jesus ministered another forty days before His ascension.
There is no way in the limited space I have in one of these to adequately portray the events of this weekend. I am going to try to condense as much as I can, and depend on you to look up the scripture when you can. Judas Agrees to betray Christ, Luke 22:1-6. The Passover is celebrated, Luke 22:14-18. The Lord's Supper is instituted and Christ predicts His betrayer, Luke 22:19-23. Christ predicts Peter's denial Luke 22:31-34. Christ prays in Gethsemane, Luke 22:39-46. Judas betrays Christ, Luke 22:47-53. Peter denies Christ, Luke 22:54-62. Christ is beaten, Luke 22:63-65. Christ goes through the trials of the Sanhedrin, Pilate, Herod and Pilate again, Luke 22:66-23:25. Christ is crucified, Luke 23:26-49. Christ is buried, Luke 23:50-56. Then THE RESURRECTION, Luke 24:1-12
You may be saying, “what is the point to all of this and how does “traditions” play a part in this?”. Well, again, I'm glad you ask. Many people practice the “tradition” of the Easter Bunny. Coloring eggs and hiding them for all the little children to hunt and find. They have big elaborate baskets filled with all kinds of candy and toys. They put on their very best dresses and suits and head off to church and then enjoy a nice big family meal. You may be saying, “this describes our Easter Sunday's to a tee”.
If I have described your typical Easter celebrations and that is the end of it, then herein lies the problem. Many adults today cannot tell you the REAL reason for this celebration weekend.
If the adults cannot recall the reason for the celebration, then you know the children will not be able to and then the “tradition” of the “bunny” lives on forever, while the story of sacrifice, God in the flesh, willing to die, be brutally beaten, nailed to a cross and then die and rise on the third day, becomes some scarcely known fable.
What is wrong with this picture? It is the same thing that we are allowing to go on all over the world. We are becoming too busy to be able to sit down with our families and children and teach them of the “truths” of what Jesus has done for us and continues to do for us every day.
Then we have those who can tell you part of the story but not all of it. It is good to be able to tell our children that, “the stone was rolled away and nothing but the grave clothes were found”. But as they get older, they need to know what it took for Jesus to get to that point. How He chose to live a sinless 33 years so that He could be the sacrificial lamb, without blemish. How He could have called thousands of angels to come to His rescue, but He didn't. He chose to be abandoned, convicted while innocent, beaten beyond His own families' recognition, nailed to a cross like a common criminal, have His Father turn away from Him, die, be buried and then arise so that your sins, my sins and the sins of the whole world could be forgiven, and to prevent us from having to face such a death.
Take the time to establish good family traditions that include God and what He has done for us and will continue to do for us. The bearded man and a bunny are ok, but they have no eternal value, and after all, isn't that the most important tradition, (that God loves us and how we can spend eternity with Him), that we can pass down?
Remember: A tradition without the proper meaning, is like a newspaper without any ink.
Until next time, please continue to pray for each other, and me, as I continue to pray for each of you. Love in CHRIST,
Bethel Baptist Church