Newsletter April, 2006



April 2006

Christ's Life of Resurrection

(John 12:1-3, 12-16, 20-24)

Jesus Christ the Son of God came to the earth to fulfill His work of redemption by taking up the form of a man. He gave Himself and shed His blood for us on the cross, so we may have a way back to God. In His resurrection He gave us the new life in which we may live the heavenly way.

Jesus grew up in a Jewish home. He went to Jerusalem at the determined time in order to fulfill the will of the Father. Everything He did on earth was in accordance with God's plan, so everything happened at the exact time and place that was supposed to be. For instance, humanly speaking it was impossible for the Lord Jesus to die on the day of Passover, because it was a big day for the Jews. They would never allow a person to be left on the cross for that day. That was why they asked for the legs of the thieves and Jesus be broken, and their bodies by removed from the cross. But Jesus died on that day, because He was the lamb of God. It was like the Israelites in Egypt, where God asked them to prepare a lamb for their salvation out of Egypt on that Passover night. Jesus came to fulfill that story. Beneath His precious blood we may escape the wrath of God and be saved from our sinful Egypt, heading for our Canaan. So you see that everything the Lord did on earth was determined for a reason. Today we read from John 12, which described the three things happened when Jesus came to Jerusalem, namely, the anointing of Jesus by Mary, His entering Jerusalem and the seeking of the Greeks to see Him. What do these events mean to us?

First, six days before the Passover, it happened in Bethany that Mary came to anoint Jesus with very costly perfume of pure nard. As she anointed His feet and wiped them with her hair, the Bible said "the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume." People were eating and talking, and paid little attention to Jesus' presence. Suddenly, they smelled the fragrance and turned to see where it came from. Now their attention was all focused on Jesus.

The Lord Jesus was the Son of God. In Him was the holy divine life. Now He was on His way to the cross, where He would die, and water and blood would flow from His broken body. The Apostle John explained that this is to testify He being the Son of God. As this life was revealed, His fragrance filled this earth. We who only pay attention to the materialistic world would now turn our attention to Him. Therefore, Jesus said "if I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto Myself." When we turn our attention to Him, His fragrance of life came into us, such that we may manifest this sweet aroma of the knowledge of Christ. In this world, our lives would be so plain and tasteless without Christ. But, He died for us on the cross in order to release His life of fragrance unto us. As we experience this life of His, the fragrance will also flow out from us unto others. Once in London was a special hospital for the terminally-illed. Every patient came in would yell and fight and complain of their bad luck. The staff found a unique way to cure that problem. The patient would be housed in a room with a special resident, who was a retired missionary from India. She gave her life for the mission field, but acquired a fatal disease. But, as she waited for this mortal life to end, no one smelled death in her. Meeting her was like having met an angel. Any new noisy patient would quickly calm down in her presence, because from her out flew the fragrant life of Christ. This was what Christ has accomplished for us on the cross, so we may touch others with such a life.

Second, Jesus entered Jerusalem by riding on a young donkey. The disciples and others threw their garments on the donkey for Him to ride on. People cried out "Hosanna, hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel." They were looking up to Him to deliver them out of the hand of the Roman soldiers. They professed that He was the King, prophesized by the prophet Zachariah. When we read this passage, the impression may be that only a small bunch of disciples and Galileans, plus some from Bethany and perhaps some children came to enter the city with Him. The Jewish historians actually told us that on that day it was estimated more than thirty thousand followed Him. During the Passover festival, the Roman governor would display his army in the city to prevent riot or revolution by the Jews. But he did not seem to mind the crowd and the Galilean carpenter on the donkey. They would expect a king to be riding on the white horse with a mighty army. A carpenter on a donkey was not worthy of their attention. But our King did not seek for a kingdom on this earth. His power was not in the arms, but in the changing heart of people. Therefore, He came so humbly on a colt, to humbly die on the cross, and to humbly empty Himself as a slave. As a result, God exalted Him to the highest glory. The disciples did not understand this at the time until Jesus was glorified. This life of humility does not exist in our natural man. We always feel that we are the best and the greatest. As a child, we learn to sing "My dog is better than your dog." But Jesus came to bring another kingdom, in which the least will be the greatest.

Afterwards, Jesus had the Passover meal with the disciples. Then, He picked up the towel and washed the disciples' feet. That was normally the duty of a slave girl, and none of the disciples cared to do it for the others. But the Lord Jesus humbled Himself to wash their feet. The Jews of that day ate by reclining at the table. So Jesus had to really lower Himself and kneel to wash their feet. That was the Lord Jesus! No wonder the prophet Isaiah said, "He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth. Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth." For the proud and hardened like us, He came to die and to manifest that humble life. With His death on the cross, we may also have that humble life. By living in that life we may one day enter into the glory with Him.

Third, some Greeks came to seek Jesus. The Passover was a Jewish event, but here some Greeks came as well. They must have heard of Jesus and His miracles, so asked to see Jesus. At that moment, Jesus said "the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." He was saying that it was time for the cross. In v. 27 He pleaded for the Father to save Him from the hour, but He immediately proclaimed "for this purpose I came to this hour." The Book of Hebrews said that He offered prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to be saved from death. But He gave Himself by saying "not My will but Thy will be done." Therefore, He said "unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit." When He died on the cross, and was buried, and rose again on the third day, He gave out that resurrected life to many. This is the mystery of His resurrection: to go through death unto abundance of life. This life is not just for the Jews of that day, but also for all who seek Him, like the Greeks at the feast. Jesus went to the cross, for God so loved the world and gave His only begotten Son. Whosoever believe in Him will have everlasting life. This life of resurrection is like a river of living water entering into us. We thus become a channel of life to enrich others around us.

This resurrection life can be ours if we open our hearts to receive Him. This life will flow from us to give out the fragrance of Christ, to manifest His humility and to enrich us with much fruit. May the Spirit of God illuminate from within that we see in the three events of the last days of Jesus' earthly ministry the mystery of His life. May this life be a reality in all of us. Amen!