The Resurrection: Where is Jesus?!

The Empty Tomb: Jesus rose from the dead!

John’s Resurrection Account:

“Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 

Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.” John 20:1-10

We’ve been talking a bit about Lazarus. Lazarus needed someone to pray for him and he ended up being resurrected, but Jesus – He could resurrect Himself!

Now today, we see that the Bible says (John 20:9) that the disciples “as yet did not know the Scripture that He must rise again…” The lesson in that for us is, let’s make sure we know the Scriptures so we are never caught off guard and we can attest to the reality that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead!

Conquering Fear

The resurrection is as much about new life as it is about conquering fear.

It is because of the resurrection that Paul could say:

“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?” 1 Cor.15:55

When I served as a chaplain, I saw death every day.

Some people were ready to confront that reality while others were definitely not.

Those who had lived for Jesus and had professed a consistent faith in Christ were ready. Even when pain would come, believers have a peace and a preparedness, knowing that death is no longer final and that

Psalm 116:15 “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.”

But fear grips that heart of so many.

One night at the hospital, there was a man there who essentially refused to repent. From what I could tell, he didn’t believe in Jesus, heaven, or hell and he was experiencing genuine agony. Excruciating pain coupled with absolute fear.

When a person has never experienced a life-changing encounter with Jesus, they will fear death in an often terrifying way.

The disciples would have been terrified, too.

They were targets after the crucifixion. Peter denied Jesus for a reason. These people were scared out of their minds!

Their hopes that somehow Jesus would miraculously escape being put to death had been crushed.

They didn’t know that death could be defeated with finality. Yes, Lazarus had been raised up, but a lasting, victorious eternal resurrection . . . they didn’t know that was possible.

The disciples were in hiding. It was probably actually safer for the women to go to the tomb!

But Mary went to the tomb while it was still dark. She was eager and probably couldn’t sleep, but she, like Nicodemus going to visit Jesus under cover of darkness, took advantage of the darkness to go out.

Mary Magdalene’s discovery at the tomb

John 20:2 “Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

They have taken away the Lord!

At first glance, it seems Mary immediately blames Rome.

Could it be? The empire has done this.

Those wicked soldiers have taken away her dearest Jesus.

After all, it is easy to cast blame when we are upset.

But Luke’s Gospel fills in more details about the Resurrection. Let’s turn to Luke 24.

Luke’s Resurrection Account

Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 

And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ ”

And they remembered His words. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.” (Luke 24:1-10).

Mary was with Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and other women. They had brought prepared spices for the body of Jesus.

They’ve taken the body?


The angels?

Mary and her friends were “greatly perplexed” (verse 4) about where the body could be.

And then the 2 angels appear and ask the perfect question:

“Why do you seek the living among the dead? And they reminded the women of Jesus’ words.

But the women still don’t grasp this fully because John says they came back saying that they didn’t know where the body was lain.

Between the shock of it all and having just received an angelic visitation, the women’s story when they came back sounded like gibberish to the men. They have all been traumatized.

Jesus was killed in the most excruciating way possible, crucified on that cross, then He was buried, and now nobody knows where He is.

He’s wanted dead or alive.

Where is Jesus?

Where is the body?


But Peter, he had been through enough in the past few hours, he knew he should go to that tomb. See what is going on.

He sees the folded handkerchief (John 20:7).

John 20:9 Peter and the women and the other disciples did not yet know the meaning of the Scriptures.

Luke 24:12 Peter marveled to himself about what happened.

Jesus appears to Mary

Overtaken by the emotion of the moment, Mary was weeping. She is just so worried about where this body is at.

Do you ever get so focused on something and people around you or the Holy Spirit is telling you – the answer is before you, but you are so distracted that you don’t see it?

God sent angels to Mary and even Jesus Himself and she was still struggling!

John 20:11-18

11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”

14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”

She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).

17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ”

18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.

When Mary thought she was talking to a gardener, she still asked Him, “where did you lay the body?” She is willing to take Jesus’ body anywhere else if they would just tell her where it is.

So Jesus meets her where she is at and calls her by name.

And she recognized His voice.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” John 10:27

Later that day . . .

The disciples gathered together behind closed and locked doors, “for fear of the Jews.” John 20:19

See, this confirms that they were very fearful.

But Jesus appears.

When you find yourself facing a fear or very anxious, turn to Jesus.

The Resurrected Risen Jesus appeared and said, Shalom. “Peace be with you.”

He showed them his wounds because He knew they were incapable of having peace until they had seen some physical evidence.

Jesus repeats His blessing – trying to reassure these panicked, fearful disciples.

And then He immediately commissions them.

He didn’t give them a day to reflect on what had happened. He immediately sends them out to make more disciples. There is no time to waste. Souls need to be saved.

John 20:21 “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you . . . “

And Jesus doesn’t leave them comfortless.

He doesn’t send them out with just a simple Gospel message.

He breathed His very Spirit upon them: “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22)

He sends them out with power.

You need the Holy Spirit. The same power that raised up Jesus from the grave.

John 20:23 has been taken out of context at times because it seems a little confusing. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them, if you retain the sins of any, they are retained. This has to do with the responsibility that Jesus’ disciples have to preach the Gospel to the world. A person who has never heard the Gospel cannot receive life-saving forgiveness. Only God has the power to forgive.

John 2:24-25 “Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”

So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

When Jesus was in the room, and showed them His hands and His side, Thomas wasn’t there.

Don’t miss God.

Why wasn’t Thomas around?

Sometimes people stop going to church, they are no longer accountable, or for various reasons whether it’s past hurts or fears or judgmentalism, they just stop attending. They don’t gather with believers, even though Hebrews 10:25 tells us to never neglect the assembling together because we are encouraged when we are together.

Was Thomas too afraid to be there?

Did Thomas already lose his faith, just completely devastated that Jesus was dead?

That was fast. Some people don’t have unshakable faith. You gotta get to a place where you have unshakable faith.

Doubting Thomas wants to see a sign – and ironically he requests to see the print of the nails and feel the wounds of his hand and side. But Jesus already showed that. Thomas missed the mark.

Thomas wasn’t there to receive the Holy Spirit. His missed out.

Don’t be the one who misses out.

The Resurrection changed everything

Had Jesus never risen from the dead, we would be without hope.

The resurrection changed everything!

Let the reality of the resurrection breathe new life into you today. Meditate on the awesomeness that Jesus has power over the grave, and you, too, will one day rise to be with the Lord!

We know something that not everyone knows.

Like the disciples who encounter the Risen Jesus, we have a testimony that people need to hear.

It’s that age-old question. Where is Jesus? Who is Jesus?

Maybe you are someone who has heard the Gospel many times, but you need to regroup and regain the sense of awe and power that the Gospel should have over your life.

1 Corinthians 1:18: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Before Lazarus was raised from the dead, Martha was unsure that Jesus could do anything.


John 11:25-26: “Jesus said to [Martha], ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ 

Martha believed in a resurrection, on the last day. But Jesus said, we don’t need to wait for the last day.  If you know me and if you believe my Words, lives can be resurrected right here right now. 

So today, let it be our prayer: Lord, increase our faith!

Lord, make your Gospel real to me!

Lord, let me know the power of the Good News! That I would be motivated by the Gospel to share with others this glorious news!

Lord, make known to me – in a tangible way – who You are.

So that when the question is asked, Who is Jesus and where is He? He is here and His Spirit dwells within you and me and

Jesus is very much alive! He is risen, He is risen indeed!


The 1st Passover in Canaan: Reproach was “rolled away” at Gilgal

(Yehoshua/Joshua 5) B”H 5783

Celebrating Passover in Gilgal

The first Passover celebrated in the Promised Land of Canaan was very significant.

Joshua had successfully led the Israelites across the Jordan, on dry ground (Joshua 3:17). The children of Israel, under Joshua’s direction and the order of the LORD, had taken twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan for each of the 12 tribes of Israel (Joshua 4:8) to carry with them.

Now they had arrived in a place that would be known as “Gilgal” from that time forward.

Why “Gilgal?”

“Gilgal” was a word that expressed “rolling away.”

Some have suggested that Gilgal was an Israelite version of Stonehenge. Perhaps they did set up 12 stones in a formation, but the Scripture does not allude to the Israelites conducting at this point a massive engineering feat – not to mention, Joshua was doing his best to obey the LORD, and most set-ups like Stonehenge are much more pagan in nature than what we would anticipate God doing here.

The Israelites were heading toward confrontation with Jericho, so again, they were probably spending their time in training exercises more so than setting up monoliths. Nevertheless, there IS what is known as a “Gilgal”, concentric circles similar to a labyrinth located at that site in modern day Golan Heights that archaeologists date as being much older than Joshua’s time. It would make sense that God would use that place to reveal a far deeper truth about rolling stones away.

The Reproach of Egypt has been rolled away

Then the LORD said to Joshua, “This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” Therefore the name of the place is called Gilgal to this day.” Joshua 5:9, emphasis added

There they were . . . camped in the Promised Land, and the LORD announces that the reproach, the shame, the mistreatment, the oppression, the horrors of bondage were now




Passover Observed

And then the children of Israel observed Passover.

“And they ate of the produce of the land on the day after the Passover, unleavened bread and parched grain, on the very same day. Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year.” Joshua 5:11-12

The manna ceased and the people had their first taste of what life would be like in the Promised Land.

They had been set free and delivered, and brought into blessing!

The Commander of the LORD’s Army, the Resurrection, and the Seven Shofars

After this, the Commander of the LORD’s army appeared before Joshua with a sword in his hand (Joshua 5:13).

The LORD assures Joshua that Jericho will be defeated. Remember that Jericho was defeated by the shouts of the people and the priests sounding seven shofars seven times on the seventh day of their marching (Joshua 6).

You may know Joshua (Yehoshua) is a type for the future Yehoshua (Yeshua) — Jesus.

This chapter is full of awesome allusion!

First, we see that our reproach is rolled away. Egypt is left behind.

When our Messiah and Savior Yeshua (Jesus) defeated sin and death (the ways of Egypt and Jericho), He brought us into victory with Him!

All reproach was rolled away along with the stone on the day of our LORD’s Resurrection!

Revelation 8ff describes the seven seals and the seven shofars and the seven angels who will announce the coming of the LORD and His army and the final destruction of Babylon.

Again, all reproach will be rolled away!


Resurrection Power

Are you living in the Promised Land of God’s love and affection for you?

Do you have the full assurance that you will one day be raised to new life – eternal life – because of your trust in Yeshua haMashiach, the LORD Jesus Christ?

Have you tasted of the fruits of the Spirit?

Are you wearing the full armor of God and walking in victory as the enemy is defeated all around you?

Are you waiting with joyful expectation for the return of our King of kings in glory and victory and awesome power?

Do you need your sin and past rolled away? There is forgiveness available to you. The LORD is willing to forgive you if you will just come to Him with a sincere and repentant heart.

Let me invite you today to come with us – all truly saved believers – to this heavenly banquet. If you celebrate the Passover meal, it will give you a glimpse into this wonderful Truth. As we all celebrate the Victory of our Risen LORD, you, too, can receive Him into your life and know with absolute hope and confidence that He will raise you to new life, too. When this life is over, we will be joined together with our LORD and we will sit at the banquet table of His love. May today bring you great shalom and joy because Yeshua (Jesus) is our Living Hope!

Behold, your King is coming to you: Zechariah’s Palm Sunday prophecy

(Zechariah 9; Luke 19:28-48) 5783 B”H

It is already nearly Palm Sunday and Passover! We still have snow on the ground here in the northwoods, but the joy of our Savior’s Resurrection warms our hearts and helps us remember that the spring flowers are just about to burst forth.

Zekharyah: God remembers

Have you ever read the full prophecy found in Zechariah 9?

Zechariah (זְכַרְיָה (Zekharyah) was a priest and prophet by heritage and lineage and God used him to reveal one of the most important Messianic prophecies!

The Hebrew name “Zekharyah” means “God remembers.”

God remembers His people, He remembers His promises, and prophecy is fulfilled precisely because the LORD has spoken and His Word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11).

The chapter begins with judgment on Israel’s enemies – highly appropriate given the promise of Zion’s Coming King who would defeat evil. God remembered all that Israel had endured and reassured them that He would send the Righteous One.

Zechariah 9:9-17 contains the prophecies that were fulfilled on Palm Sunday. Additionally, this passage prophesies that the coming King would speak shalom and salvation to the nations:

Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion!
        Shout, daughter of Jerusalem!
    Behold, your King is coming to you,
        a righteous one bringing salvation.
        He is lowly, riding on a donkey—
        on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

I will banish chariots from Ephraim
        and horses from Jerusalem,
        and the war bow will be broken.
    He will speak shalom to the nations.
    His rule will extend from sea to sea,
    from the River to the ends of the earth.
As for you also, by the blood of your covenant,
        I will release your prisoners from the waterless Pit.
Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope!
    Today I declare that I will restore twice as much to you.
I will bend Judah as my bow
        and fill it with Ephraim.
  I will rouse your sons, O Zion
        against your sons, O Greece.
    I will wield you like a warrior’s sword.

Then ADONAI will be seen over them
    as His arrow flashes like lightning.
ADONAI Elohim will blow the shofar
    and march in whirlwinds of the south.

ADONAI TZVA’OT will defend them.
    They will consume and conquer with sling stones.
    They will drink and roar as with wine
        and be filled like a bowl,
        like the corners of the altar.
ADONAI their God will save them on that day
        as the flock of His people.
    They will be like gems of a crown
        sparkling over His land.
How good and beautiful it will be!
    Grain will make the young men thrive
        and new wine the virgin women.”
Zechariah 9:9-17, emphases added

Isn’t this beautiful to picture?

“They will be like gems of a crown sparkling over His land.” Zechariah 9:16b

He loves you so much you sparkle like a regal gem!

As you can see, this Bible passage describes the overwhelming and awesome power of the LORD Most High. His arrows flash like lightning and shofars will sound and the LORD of the Armies will defend us. It is really impactful to dwell on this passage for a time. Meditate on God’s Word! You will always be blessed.

Our Humble King, Owner of all things

Do you notice that the Zechariah passage ends with all such fanfare and victorious imagery, but it sure didn’t start out that way. It tells about a lowly Man, riding on a donkey. But, despite the humbleness of the passage, it does make a bold announcement:

“Behold, your King is coming to you.” Zechariah 9:9

What a statement!

The King was coming! And not just any King – your King. The One who will hold out His scepter of righteous forgiveness and allow you into His Presence with all-consuming love, mercy, and passion.

Do you need to hear that today?

Do you need to know that there is One who holds all Authority, the Majestic King of all kings, and He is coming once again? No one knows the day or the hour of Yeshua’s (Jesus’) Second Coming, but I can assure you this: He is coming back for His own.

As Zechariah records, Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ our Lord) is the Righteous One and He is bringing salvation. He will save you, deliver you, and set you free of your burdens and your sins and even the curse and sting of death. He will give you new life, if you will trust in Him today with all your heart.

Luke documented the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy that the Messiah would ride on a colt. (Luke 19:30ff).

I love how the owners of the colt ask the two disciples in Luke 19, “Why are you untying the colt?” Luke 19:33

That was a reasonable question. The disciples didn’t own the colt, but the Master, the LORD Himself can given them permission to take it! They were instructed to simply say,

“The LORD has need of him.” (Luke 19:34, NKJV).

“The Master needs it.” (Luke 19:34, TLV).

God owns everything, so He owned that young donkey, too.

The LORD needed the donkey because He was absolutely fulfilling in every minute detail the words of Zechariah‘s triumphal prophecy.

Luke describes the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

Even though our LORD chose to use a lowly donkey as His transportation into Jerusalem, the events of that first Palm Sunday were far from lowly.

During what is commonly described as “the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem,” there was now a full multitude of people who would consider themselves Yeshua’s (Jesus’) disciples. They were celebrating because they knew He was the Anointed One, the Promised King!

Scripture says that they praised God with a loud voice!

Do you, too, praise Him with a loud voice?

Do you let it be known that you and your household serve this King?

“When Yeshua came near the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began to rejoice. They praised God with a loud voice for all the miracles they had seen, saying,

“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of ADONAI!”
Shalom in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Some of the Pharisees from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples!”

But answering, Yeshua said, “I tell you that if these keep silent, the stones will shout out!”

As He drew near and saw Jerusalem, He wept over her, saying, “If only you had recognized this day the things that lead to shalom! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will surround you with barricades and hem you in on all sides. And they will smash you to the ground—you and your children within you. And they won’t leave within you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:37-45).

Blessed is the King!

What has often become a repetitive custom to say, “Baruch haba b’Shem Adonai” was in that moment the most powerful declaration of allegiance and praise!

Shalom in Heaven and Glory in the Highest!

Shalom in heaven!

Glory in the Highest!

Doesn’t that reach the depths of your heart?

The joy of knowing the King of kings has come!

I imagine the overwhelming experiential joy that the disciples must have been feeling at that moment!

The Pharisees missed the mark and wanted to hear a public rebuke.

But Yeshua (Jesus) knew the condition of their hearts.

He wept over the Holy City, knowing that despite their daily greetings to one another saying, “Shalom,” they truly didn’t understand shalom.

More than a greeting and more than a temporary condition, true shalom comes only from being in right relationship with the Holy One, learning to love and seeking His mercy. Keeping every jot and tittle of the law could not save the people. They needed to know the Lord of Shalom.

Rejoice Greatly and Shout

Zechariah 9:9 proclaims we are to rejoice greatly and shout because of the announcement of the Coming King!

As we enter this Holy time of Passover and celebrating the FirstFruits of the Resurrection, I pray you will rejoice greatly. That you will not be ashamed to shout praises unto God Most High!

The tomb is empty. Our King will return!

Celebrate! And may we pray for those who do not yet know Him. That they, too, would shout “Hoshiana!” (Hosanna!): Please, save!

Luke: “That you may know for sure the Truth”

(Luke 1) 5783 B”H

I really love the Gospel of Luke and his sequel, the book of Acts.

Luke was a doctor. A learned man. He valued people and wanted to see them live healthy, full lives.

Do you know a doctor like that? Someone who went into the profession less for the money and more for the people? It’s not always easy to find a physician like that, but when you do, it is a blessing.

All too often, doctors rely on their extensive medical knowledge more than they do on God – the Giver of all that intelligence.

But Luke was different.

A doctor who encountered the Healer

Dr. Luke was certainly well-prepared and intelligent, yet he valued the spiritual side of things and was humble enough to recognize that there is an Almighty Healer.

As evidenced by his chronicling of the ministry of Yeshua (Jesus), Luke was very detail-oriented. Like any wise doctor, he would make thorough observations knowing that attention to detail could mean the difference between life and death.

Luke would have known firsthand that human medical practices were limited.

Surely he had been bedside when a patient succumbed to illness or injury and knew the feeling of helplessness, unable to prescribe a curing remedy.

Can you imagine the curiosity Luke must have felt when he witnessed the healing miracles of our Messiah? How perplexing! Was he skeptical at first? Did he try to explain it away using scientific reasoning? Or was he overjoyed that there was a true Healer?

Luke encountered the One who made the true difference between life and death – the One who defeated death and grants new and eternal Life.

As Luke realized that the Great Physician, Yeshua (Jesus) had come, he began to carefully document what he had seen in order to provide an orderly record to his beloved friends in the faith (ie.Theophilus). He must have been so fascinated, so captivated!

I’m confident Luke wondered: how could it be that this Man, Yeshua (Jesus), had authority to cast out sicknesses, heal diseases, and resurrect the dead!?

Luke the Gospel writer knew others were doing the same thing – “undertak[ing] to organize an account of the event fulfilled among us . . . ” (Luke 1:1). The Tree of Life Version gives an appropriate heading to the opening of Luke: “A Doctor Charts the Facts.” Luke wanted to make sure his account was accurate, to give yet another layer of evidence that the testimonies about the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) were indeed true.

In his own words: “Therefore it seemed best to me also, because I have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, to write for you an orderly record, most excellent Theophilus, so you may know for sure the truth of the words you have been taught.

Luke 1:3-4, emphasis added

That you may know.

For sure.

The Truth.

Luke so you may know the Truth

“Many convincing proofs”

Doctors would love to know things “for sure,” but usually they are making the best educated guess possible:

Maybe you have this going on…

We need to rule out x, y, or z . . .

Dr. Luke the Gospel writer was no exception. He didn’t believe that the Savior of the world came just because he saw one or two signs. His acceptance of Yeshua (Jesus) as the promised Messiah wasn’t based on what the crowds of people were saying.

He observed and concluded there were “many convincing proofs” (Acts 1:3) and wrote the second volume to his historical record, what is now known as the Acts of the Apostles.

Here he continues:

“I wrote the first volume, Theophilus, about all that Yeshua began to do and teach – up to the day He was taken up, after He had given orders by the Ruach haKodesh to the emissaries He had chosen. To them He showed Himself to be alive after His suffering through many convincing proofs, appearing to them for 40 days and speaking about the kingdom of God.”

Acts 1:1-3, emphasis added

If you are familiar with the book of Acts, you know that Luke doesn’t shy away from reporting on the miraculous. Luke trusted that what Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah came to do by the power of the Ruach haKodesh (the Holy Spirit) was absolutely true and verifiable.

Yeshua (Jesus) showed Himself to be alive after being crucified

Doctors, even back in Bible times, are trained to read a pulse and understand vital signs. It is thought that Luke probably studied at one of the medical schools in Tarsus, Pergamum, or even Athens.

Obviously then, as a doctor, Luke would know when to pronounce someone dead. And living in the Roman Empire . . . harsh, cruel deaths were commonplace. He knew that Yeshua (Jesus) had been crucified. Crucifixion was one of the worst possible ways to die: a suffocating and bloody death.

Left hanging on a cross: chance of survival 0%.

Yet this Holy Man, this Yeshua (Jesus) . . . “presented Himself alive!”

He showed Himself to the disciples.

And not just once.

Luke tells us He showed Himself to be alive, appearing to the disciples for 40 days!

Who else has died, been buried, and then wakes up and presents themself to people for 40 days?

Had Luke or the disciples thought the resurrection and subsequent appearances were mere dreams or hallucinations, he had the credentials to identify them as such and dismiss them.

Before I became a believer, I heard something that helped me sort out the confusion. Maybe it will help you, too:

Muhammed is dead.
Ghandi is dead.
Buddha is dead.
But Yeshua (Jesus) is still alive.

Yeshua (Jesus) was dead and buried, yes, but that tomb is empty.

To this day, there is a sign at the tomb in Jerusalem that says, “He is not here for He is Risen.”

This is absolutely remarkable and Luke knew it! He knew there was abundant evidence confirming that the Savior of the world was alive and that what He taught was true.

Do you know this Gospel Truth?

Has your life been changed by the power of the Gospel?

If you are a person who needs proof, who needs evidence, then Luke is your guy! We will be going through the book of Luke together, and I hope that you will be convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that Yeshua (Jesus) is indeed the Messiah, the Savior, the Redeemer, and King of all kings!

A Simple Passover in light of the Resurrection

Preparing a simple Passover meal does not have to be complicated. But if you google Passover seder ideas, you may get overwhelmed!

Because Passover is such a central celebration, many wives and mothers love to focus on a beautiful table setting complete with fresh flowers and an exquisite meal.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

I’ve done my share of elegant Passover meals.

But this year, I’m going simple.

Simple can be better. Have a blessed Passover celebration!

Post-Resurrection Passover

What does Passover mean for us, now, post-resurrection? Should we still celebrate the Passover meal?

Of course!

Miraculous things have happened during Passover. Not only does Passover commemorate the Israelites receiving freedom from Pharaoh, the Lamb of God – Messiah Yeshua (Jesus the Christ) was our paschal offering. We have been freed from bondage to sin and death!

“Yet I know that my Redeemer lives and in the end, He will stand on earth.” Job 19:25

Even after the resurrection, Passover remained a central celebration.

In the book of Acts, we see that the believers continued to recognize the various Biblical feasts.

In Acts 12, Peter was captured during Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread, but the LORD sent an angel to break the chains and free him from Herod.

It was yet another sign to the believers that the LORD was with them. They would have clearly understood the connection that Peter was set free during the celebration of their collective freedom.

So yes, we absolutely should have a Passover meal, but Martha, dear, we absolutely don’t need to stress out over it.

Now while they were traveling, Yeshua entered a certain village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. She had a sister called Miriam, who was seated at the Master’s feet, listening to His teaching.  But Martha was distracted with much serving; so she approached Yeshua and said, “Master, doesn’t it concern you that my sister has left me to serve alone? Then tell her to help me!”

But answering her, the Lord said, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and bothered about many things; but only one thing is necessary. For Miriam has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

Remember, Messiah Yeshua took our stresses for us.

Teaching our children

Everyone I know uses a hagaddah for Passover. Hagaddahs are Passover reading guides. They contain lots of Scripture and explanations of why we celebrate Passover at all. The hagaddah can be especially useful for explaining the Messianic fulfillment of Passover to young believers. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it but as the years go along, my little family is getting tired of it. (It is quite lengthy!) Now I know, I know, just because you find something to be (gasp!) a bit redundant or boring doesn’t mean it should be abandoned. But, on the other hand, why do something if you aren’t finding it to be refreshing to your soul? It is ok to take a break!

We are mandated by God to remind and train our children – to teach the generations of the victory won. So we do not abandon Passover! We will still gather and we will still have a wonderful meal together. But we don’t “have to” use a hagaddah.

This year, we plan to do a more simplistic explanation and just enjoy our time together as a family. When we hold congregational seders, I believe using a hagaddah is appropriate, and we have done that many times in the past. If we don’t use it this year, quite possibly we would next year, but give yourself permission to change it up a bit. We don’t want to become “religious” about this. Be led by the Spirit of the LORD – allow Him to help you to teach your children and honor the specialness of the Passover.

Now when it happens that your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’  You are to say, ‘It is the sacrifice of ADONAI’s Passover, because He passed over the houses of Bnei-Yisrael in Egypt, when He struck down the Egyptians, but spared our households.’” So the people bowed their heads and worshipped. Then Bnei-Yisrael went and did it. They did just as ADONAI had commanded Moses and Aaron.” Exodus 12:26-28

The important thing is to ensure that everyone seated at the table understands the purpose and meaning of the seder meal as well as related Scriptures.

Happy Passover!

Some suggestions for a simple Passover meal

  1. Set a simple table setting. Use a table runner or tablecloth that you already have. There’s no need to go out and spend extra money (especially with all the inflation right now). Some people like to use a blue runner that reminds of the Red Sea. Be creative! I have an Amazon link below for the table runner I bought this year. (I’m an Amazon associate and I do get a small commission if you decide to buy something, but it won’t cost you extra)
  2. Don’t have a seder plate? You honestly don’t need one. Use any large platter, and just put each symbolic item on there. We choose not to use the boiled egg because of its similitude to Easter’s fertility symbology. We do have a seder plate which does make it seem special.
  3. Make a simple grocery list ahead of time. If you would like to use the traditional seder meal items, you will need a package of matzah (unleavened bread), parsley, apples, horseradish, and a shank bone, if you can find one. There are a million different versions of charoset, but here is one recipe I’m considering trying this year. Charoset is designed to remind you of the mortar used by the Israelite slaves. Decide what your main dish will be, and get everything a few days before Passover so you don’t have to worry about it. I usually find matzah at local grocery stores like Kroger/PickNSave or Publix. If you need it in bulk for a congregation, Amazon sells it that way, too.
  4. Plan when and how you will pray and read Scripture. We love to sing many of the traditional songs, like Dayenu and Eliyahu haNavi. Focus on the continuity of the Gospel, that salvation has come!
“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who sees the Son and trusts in Him may have eternal life; and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:40

Do our Passover observances as followers of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) differ from that of traditional Judaism?

Some time I will write about the significance of each aspect of the traditional seder meal.

As followers of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ), we are able to understand the seder in a more profound way than a nonbeliever. We can see the parallels between the striped and punctured matzah and His bruised and broken body. We can observe that the 3 pieces of matzot represent the unity of the Godhead – the Oneness of Elohim. The seder meal consists of 4 cups of wine. Our Savior drank the cup of judgment/deliverance for us – we do not partake of this. He will drink the fourth cup – the cup of praise and ultimate redemption with us, in the Kingdom.

We have a significant difference in terms of the understanding of Yom HaBikkurim, the Day of First Fruits. You see, this refers to the glorious day of the Resurrection!

Unbelievers certainly would not value the significance of Resurrection Day, but we should be testifying to Jewish people who do not yet know their Messiah that He has fulfilled this important feast!

I long to travel to Israel just to see that empty tomb with this sign on the door: “He is not here – for He is Risen!”

You see, I was raised in a pluralistic environment. I was taught the lie that Jesus was no different than Mohammed or Buddha, and I believed it for a long time.

But you see, you can go visit Mohammed’s tomb.

Same with the Buddha.

Their remains are marked at their burial place.

But if we go to visit the tomb of Messiah Jesus. . . there is no body there. No remains.

For He is not there! He is Risen! He is Alive!

Our Passover observances are filled with this great joy!

I’ve seen some churches hold seder meals that seem kind of solemn. That is totally the wrong way to go about it.

Passover is a true celebration of freedom and salvation!

It should be joyful!

Give joyous witness to the fact that our Savior lives. Just like the early believers went to tell everyone what they had seen and heard, may you be inspired to do the same. Reach out to your friends, family, and neighbors with the Good News of the Resurrection of our LORD!

How will you be celebrating Passover this year? Leave a comment below, and subscribe to our monthly newsletter! Shalom, and Chag Pesach Sameach (Happy Passover!)

The Biblical Spring Feasts

Parashat Emor (V’yikra/Leviticus 21-24)

Are you familiar with the springtime Biblical feasts?

Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of First Fruits, and the Feast of Weeks are special days outlined in the Bible.

Each of the Biblical Spring Feasts can also be called by its Hebrew term:

The Feast of Passover = Pesach

The Feast of Unleavened Bread = Chag HaMatzot

The Feast of First Fruits = Yom HaBikkurim

The Feast of Weeks = Shavu’ot

Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) fulfilled the prophetic meaning of each of these Biblical spring feasts (moedim).

Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread

Perhaps your church has held a Passover Seder meal or you have tasted matzah bread at some point in your life.

Passover is so clearly mentioned in the Gospels and we know the Lamb of God came to take away the sin of the world, so most Christians have at least a basic understanding of what the Passover feast is all about. The amazing Truth of Redemption.

However, most do not realize that Passover leads right into the 7 day Feast of Unleavened Bread.

It is also common for many believers to admit they do not know much about the Feast of First Fruits or the Feast of Weeks.

No worries.

I can help you sort this out.

Before we go any further, let me reassure you, you do not need to be “Jewish” in order to celebrate the “Jewish” feasts.

Followers of Messiah, whether native Israeli or grafted-in, are now part of Israel.

Together, truly a nation under God. Israel’s history is our history. We do not compete with Israel, we do not supersede or replace Israel: we are Israel. We have been united by the blood of the Lamb and saved by His unfailing grace.

More and more Christians are learning about our Father’s established feasts!

He has prepared a banquet before you and you don’t have to wait until you get to heaven to feast and celebrate with Him.

The Feast of Firstfruits

The Feast of First Fruits is about harvest. The LORD established it so that the people would bring the first and the best of their harvest. It was a feast day for this expression of worship. (Leviticus 23:9-14)

So what does this mean for us today? Most of us are not farmers. It seems a bit challenging to fully understand agriculturally-centric feasts, but we can understand the simple Gospel teaching that spiritually-speaking, the fields are white and ready for harvest (John 4:35).

This Biblical feast illustrates the victory of the Gospel in the most powerful and marvelous way possible.

You see, Passover is about freedom from death and bondage. The Feast of Unleavened Bread reminds us that He was buried and in that tomb. The Feast of Firstfruits is about the Resurrection!

“But now Messiah has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Corinthians 15:20

Messiah Yeshua was the first of the harvest – raised into His glorified, resurrected body. If you read about what was involved with the celebration of First Fruits, you will learn that a sheaf had to be waved before the LORD back and forth.

Waving the sheaf surely seems to represent the movement of the wind through the crops.

A mighty rushing wind.

The power of the Holy Spirit (Ruach haKodesh) breathing new life!

The Spirit of the LORD stirring up salvation!

We know that in the last days, the harvest will include people from the east and west, north and south.

So back and forth the wave offering was made: prophesying the harvest of the latter days and prophesying the Truth of Resurrection Day!

The Feast of Firstfruits is the Celebration of Resurrection Day!

“The One whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Ruach (Holy Spirit) without limit.” John 3:34

The Feast of Weeks

Speaking of the awesome power of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:1 begins “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come . . . “

The Day of Pentecost as a holy day wasn’t something new.

Bible translators chose to translate the Hebraic term, “Shavu’ot,” with the Greek term “Pentecost.”

Ironically, there are language barriers

It is debatable as to whether those who translated were legitimately trying to help readers understand the Hebrew here or whether they were trying to obstruct it (sadly, it is plausible). Preference for Greek terms in translation led to a loss of the original meanings and intent and propelled the wide separation between the early Messianic movements and later church movements.

Before you start thinking I’m anti-Pentecost, hold it right there.

I love Pentecost. I am an ordained Pentecostal pastor. Yet, using solely the term “Pentecost” actually obscures the fullness of the meaning of the Scriptures here!

We need to become more aware of the deficiencies caused by language. (This is nothing new to us Spirit-filled believers. We know language barriers have been overcome by the amazing infilling power of the Holy Spirit!). The limitations of our vocabulary lead to slight discrepancies in doctrine and practice which over time can become huge discrepancies.

For example: I don’t know any Christians who say, “Happy Shavu’ot Sunday!”

It’s always “Pentecost Sunday” in our vocabulary! And that is ok, in the sense that this is how we understand a word in our language.

But, we are missing half of the meaning!

We know the Holy Spirit came down. However, many do not realize that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit coincided with the ongoing celebration of the Biblical feast day. The disciples present in the Upper Room literally lived the Messianic fulfillment of the feast day.

The reality is, Shavu’ot (i.e. Pentecost) has been celebrated since the days of Exodus!

Exodus 34:22 says “You are to observe the Feast of Shavuot, which is the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, as well as the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year.”

It became traditional to celebrate the giving of the Torah on Shavu’ot. As you can see, the Word which was written on tablets of stone would now be written on the hearts of all who would receive Him. Now we also celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit on Shavu’ot! The LORD never leaves us without instruction and never leaves us comfortless.

The Messianic significance of the omer count

Beginning at the Feast of First Fruits, a special omer count was to begin every year. This was a measurement used for dry goods. Each day, for 50 consecutive days after First Fruits, the day’s omer was to be counted. This had gone on for generations prior to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day we know as Pentecost.

The word, “Pentecost,” is highly appropriate here because it was exactly 50 days after the Feast of First Fruits (Resurrection Day) when the Holy Spirit fell upon the gathered, praying believers and endued them with power from on high.

When the LORD Yeshua (Jesus) walked on this earth, He came to fulfill the prophecies, not to abolish them. He promised that He would send another Comforter (John 14:16, KJV) and that is exactly what He did. Every single action He took and Word He spoke correlated with His mission and He never contradicted Himself.

All of the Biblical Feast Days were established before God sent His Son. Today we are just focusing on the spring feasts, but each Biblical feast day is a part of the divinely orchestrated plan to show us the way of salvation. (If you are interested in the fall feasts, those include what is known as Yom Teruah (aka Rosh Hashanah), Yom Kippur, and Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles).

What shall we do?

On that same Shavu’ot day, Peter preached a Spirit-empowered sermon that resulted in 3,000 immersion baptisms.

When people felt convicted of their need for repentance, they asked, “Fellow brethren,what shall we do?” Acts 2:37 (emphasis added)

“Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be immersed in the name of Messiah Yeshua for the removal of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach ha-Kodesh.  For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far away—as many as ADONAI our God calls to Himself.”

With many other words he warned them and kept urging them, saying, “Save yourselves from this twisted generation!” Acts 2:38-40

The question posed by the crowd should be the same question we still ask.

What shall we do?

And the exhortation of Peter continues to direct us:

  1. Repent
  2. Be immersed (baptized) in water
  3. Receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit
  4. Be saved from this twisted generation

Our journey of faith doesn’t end when we are baptized in water. We must seek the infilling of the Holy Spirit, who empowers us for the task of ministry.

How can we be saved from this “twisted” (some translations read, “perverted”) generation?

By doing things God’s way, not our way.

That includes surrendering our manmade traditions.

The Biblical Spring Feasts are about doing things God’s way, not our way. Learn about why you might consider trading in man’s holidays for God’s holy days.

By Acts chapter 5, there was so much going on in the way of outreach and missions that the Jewish authorities became very upset. Miraculous healings, supernatural deliverances, prison doors being opened . . .

“And the high priest asked them, saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name?

And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!”

But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:27c-29 (emphases added)

Obey God rather than men

This verse isn’t a license to stop listening to the wise people that God has placed in your path. Heed godly counsel. Submit to righteous authority.

But carefully discern what is truly godly.

If we are to obey God rather than men, let me ask you this question today.

Why continue with manmade festivities?

Why not celebrate the LORD in the way the LORD established?

Why allow the world to creep in to our faith practices?

What do the Springtime Biblical Feasts represent?

spring Biblical feasts

Easter, Eostre, and Ishtar

It is no secret that the word Easter has been derived from several pagan sources. Do we really need to “Christianize” these false gods?

Look at the linguistics.

We get the term, “Easter” from Eostre, an English goddess, who is likely the same personage as Ishtar, the Babylonian fertility goddess. It is no surprise then, that we see the reappropriation of fertility symbols such as eggs and rabbits in Easter celebrations.

What, then, shall we do?

Obey God rather than men!

Our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) died to free us from idolatry and sin.

We need to reject the pagan practices that have managed to invade our celebrations of our Savior’s Resurrection.

Resurrection Day exists in Scripture as the Fulfillment of the Feast of First Fruits. We should celebration Resurrection Day! But we really don’t need “Easter.”

Consider celebrating each of the Biblical spring feasts. Consider trading in man’s Lent for God’s teshuvah (time of repentance). Trade in man’s Easter for Yom HaBikkurim (the Feast of First Fruits). In the fall and winter, (I know this one will be controversial) trade in man’s Christmas for the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), the most amazing celebration of the Word being made flesh and coming to dwell with us! If you decide to truly follow what Scripture says rather than what the majority of tradition has invented, you will gain so much!

If following the LORD at His Word is important to you, please comment below! If you have questions about the Biblical spring Feasts we would love to help you! And most importantly, if you have questions about the Messiah, please let us know and we would love to share the Good News with you. Please subscribe so you don’t miss any new posts! Shalom!

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A cure changes everything

Parashats Tazria-Metzora (V’Yikra/Leviticus 12-15) 5782 B’H

This article contains a few links to related books you may be interested in. I do want to disclose that I am an Amazon affiliate which means I would earn a little from your purchase, but it won’t cost you extra.

The pandemic has actually helped us be able to understand Leviticus 13 better

Any time there is an incurable and highly contagious disease, protocols must be kept to prevent the spread of disease.

God commanded Israel to develop quarantining and cleanliness practices well before scientists figured it out.

A cure changes everything Lev 12 15

Prior to the pandemic, few of us had ever experienced quarantine. We would hear about travel quarantines from time to time, but all in all it was difficult to relate to and understand the isolation and quarantines described in Scriptural passages like Leviticus 13.

According to Leviticus 13, when someone had symptoms of a contagious skin disease, they were subjected to a 14-day quarantine (with examinations each week).

It had to be clear that the individual who had tested positive was not a threat to the rest of the community.

This became standard practice that we see evidence of still today. Hospitals didn’t invent these rules, the LORD did!

Sickness & Loss of Identity

Leprosy used to be one of those diseases that resulted not only in quarantine but in complete ostracization. Sadly, the leper’s affliction became his or her identity.

 All the days during which the plague is on him he will be unclean. He is unclean. He is to dwell alone. Outside of the camp will be his dwelling.” Leviticus 13:46

Covid-19 started out that way. You were either Covid-positive or Covid-negative. It didn’t matter who you were. You would be alone. Sad. Afraid. Isolated.

God-given knowledge and medical breakthroughs bring hope

During the pandemic, I read a book to my children called The Polio Pioneer by Linda Elovitz Marshall. It explains the incredible achievement of Jewish research doctor Dr.Jonas Salk who invented the polio vaccine in 1952.

When medical breakthroughs occur, everything changes. Suddenly, there’s hope and the disease doesn’t have to define people anymore.

That’s miraculous!

What I have personally found exasperating throughout the Covid-19 pandemic were the number of people who refused to wear a mask or support vaccination research. Medical breakthroughs like vaccines have saved so many lives in so many nations! Polio is such a great example. According to that children’s book, our grandparents couldn’t swim in public swimming pools for fear of getting debilitating polio! Our generation never had to worry about getting that disease.

If we pray that our Great Physician will inspire and lead the hearts and hands of doctors and bring healing and wholeness, shouldn’t we have rejoiced at the God-given knowledge researchers had to make a Covid-19 vaccine possible?

Honestly, Covid should never have become political. For believers, if we truly love our neighbors as we love ourselves, we can put on a mask for a few weeks. That mask doesn’t rob us of our identity the way the disease itself can.

Many Christians in the United States were adamantly against the quarantines and health mandates while Christians in other countries supported and insisted upon their use. None of us like governmental overreach, so perhaps some of the “mandates” in the US went too far, but if we are true believers trusting in the LORD not in man, we should not jump so quickly to conclusions that the public health policies were intended to restrict our freedoms so much as they were legitimately trying their best to protect the vulnerable from a deadly pandemic.

We need to give one another grace.

And the Bible sets a precedent for protecting a community from sickness and plague.

We learn the rules and the mandates in Leviticus 13. Though grace is present even in Torah (aka the Pentateuch), it is more obvious for us to understand it through Messiah Yeshua’s (Jesus’) teachings and actions.

We live in a sin-sick world. The consequence of sin is death.

“For sin’s payment is death, but God’s gracious gift is eternal life in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.” Romans 6:23 (TLV)

Stated differently,

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 (NKJV)

The problem is, sickness is associated with sin.

“As Yeshua [Jesus] was passing by, He saw a man who had been blind since birth. His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?”

Yeshua answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned. This happened so that the works of God might be brought to light in him.” John 9:1-3

Miryam’s leprosy was a punishment for her sin of speaking against Moshe (Moses). Often times, our spiritual condition does end up reflected in our physical health.

But not every sickness is directly related to a specific sin like Miryam’s.

The disciples didn’t understand that, though, which is why they (as was customary) assumed the blind man (or his parents) had committed a sin which directly caused his blindness.

I know many a hurt believer who has been told they “must’ve sinned.” Supposedly that’s why they are dealing with a difficult diagnosis.

It’s not quite that simple. Our Savior Yeshua (Jesus) demonstrated that in His response to the disciples: neither the man nor his parents had sinned. The man’s condition was permitted so that God could be glorified through him.

Surely you know a faithful believer who has struggled through terrible illness. While we cannot always comprehend it, oftentimes it is so that God can be glorified.

There is sickness in this fallen world and it can affect anyone. We must rely on the LORD to help us through.

We are in need of a cure.

There is one cure you need to know about

On this earth, in this life, there may never be the one cure you or a loved one desperately needs, at the time in which it is needed.

The disease might not respond to treatment, or the injury might be too severe. The illness might be too advanced or the trauma just too damaging.

But if your heart is hurt and in need of mending, I assure you there is a cure.

It might not seem so instantaneous as we might like, but I assure you, it is one hundred percent effective.

The cure is this: putting your trust, your faith, and all your hope in the Messiah, the Savior of all mankind – the One who was and who is and who is to come, Yeshua, Jesus the Christ.

Because He is the cure.

Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) is the cure

He is God’s Son and He died on the cross to repair all the damage that had been done by sin. He took all the fallenness, all the sinfulness, all the destruction, all the diseases, all the afflictions, every single problem upon Himself. He was nailed to that wooden cross along with all the guilt, all the pain, all the grief, all the sorrow that this world contains to lift it up off of you. He bore our iniquities. He was wounded for our transgressions. All the debts, all the terror, all the war, all the rage. All the loneliness. He absorbed it all.

Death thought it had its victory.

As the body of the LORD hung in what appeared to be final surrender, the devil smirked. The physical damage was done. Yeshua’s (Jesus’) body hung as blood gushed out from him. His body bruised and beaten, seemingly no match for hope. Where was the cure now? Where was the victory? Could the battle be won?

Absolutely. He won the victory. Death couldn’t hold Him down. He rose again in victory, resurrected in power!

Yeshua Resurrection Victory

You see, He Himself is the cure. The cure for all of humanities ailments. The cure for lost identities and the cure for the darkest depression.

His blood washed the earth anew. The blood of the perfect, spotless Lamb had been sacrificed on the biggest altar ever known.

So now there is hope for you and me.

The Bible says that by His wounds, you have been healed. The crucifixion, death, and resurrection of the Messiah was prophesied at least seven hundred years earlier:

“But He was pierced because of our transgressions,
crushed because of our iniquities.
The chastisement for our shalom was upon Him,
and by His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

If you are in need of any type of healing, turn your heart and your prayers to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He has made a way for hope to reign and the possibilities of innumerable healing miracles and restoration.

Don’t be defined by your pain.

Or your diagnosis.

Don’t allow the devil to rob you of your joy.

If you are a child of the King, a child of God, you were bought for a price and no one can take your future away from you.

The Son of God has made a way:

That cure changes everything.

Have you put all of your trust in the Savior? Do you have a true relationship with your Heavenly Father and with His Son, the Messiah, Yeshua haMaschiah (Jesus the Christ)? Are you in need of healing? Wholeness? Peace? Do you need His comfort? The Holy Spirit comforts us in our times of need. Please, leave a comment with your thoughts and we would love the opportunity to pray for you. Please consider subscribing as well so you can stay up-to-date on our latest Bible studies and teachings. During this season of the Spring Feasts when we focus even more on the resurrection victory, I invite you to check out this free PDF of the Biblical Feast Days and other important holidays that you might like to print out and keep with your calendar or on your refrigerator!

Review: “Witness at the Cross: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Friday” by Dr. Amy-Jill Levine

Witness at the Cross: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Friday by Amy-Jill Levine

Abington Press has generously provided me with a copy of Witness at the Cross: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Friday by Dr.Amy-Jill Levine, Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School in exchange for my honest review. Thank you both to Abington Press and to Audra Jennings for the arrangement.

Last September, I had the privilege of being asked to review Dr. Amy-Jill Levine’s book, The Difficult Words of Jesus (here is a link to that review, if you are interested).

Now, as of December 2021, Dr.Levine has released a new book titled, Witness at the Cross: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Friday and once again, I have the privilege of reviewing it for you! It is timely with Passover and the celebration of Messiah’s resurrection coming up so soon.


Witness at the Cross reads like an advanced Bible Study – something aimed at first or second year seminary students, but accessible to anyone willing to look deeply at the Scriptures.

I found the book’s topic intriguing because there are few authors willing to focus specifically on the events of the crucifixion day, since all of us want to jump past that to the magnificent victory of Messiah’s Resurrection. Dr. Levine does not avoid discussing the somewhat unpleasant details related to Jesus’ (Yeshua’s) death and subsequent burial. For example, she explains the significance of when Pilate granted the “corpse” released to Joseph of Arimathea rather than the “body” (Levine, 119) and the Roman tradition that “corpses of people executed by the state could be returned to friends and family as part of the celebration of the emperor’s birthday” (Levine, 120).

As I clarified in my review of The Difficult Words of Jesus, Dr. Levine is a Jewish feminist theologian who teaches New Testament at Vanderbilt. I point this out because Witness at the Cross is aimed at Christian readers, yet Dr.Levine denies the divinity of Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God. She offers up some certainly unique and interesting considerations, but there are some serious matters that would need to be addressed if this book were being used in a congregational setting.

Book Review

In the introduction to the book, Levine jumps right into some heavy topics like ethnic cleansing, matters of conscience, and credibility. But she does so in her characteristic style that makes it totally accessible. If her classes are anything like her writing, I’m guessing Levine is a very popular professor with her students! She introduces the reader to the idea of looking to each of the witnesses of the crucifixion to gain greater perspective into the Gospel accounts.

Throughout the book, Levine consistently compares the different Gospel accounts and helps clarify some of the differences between the Synoptic Gospels and John. Levine gives voice to those who often get ignored such as the bystanders and the scoffers who witnessed the events on Calvary’s hill. She begins chapter 2 describing classes she teaches at a prison in Tennessee and talks about the different perspectives of criminals, victims, and the reality that one person might call someone a terrorist who for another is a freedom fighter. Chapter 3 is focused on the soldiers, 4 on the beloved disciple, and 5 on the women.

Chapter 6 discusses Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. Most of what Dr.Levine shares here is very interesting. However, let me quote her so you will get a sense of her own attitude toward discipleship. Dr. Levine writes, “Once again, Nicodemus does the right thing, and once again he does not become a disciple. I am liking him more and more” (Levine, 133).

I have sat in Divinity School classes where a comment like this might make us laugh (albeit uncomfortably) and to the right audience, Dr.Levine’s humor and conversational style is attractive. But, as I suggested earlier, a book like this would have to be used with care and in the right context.

My recommendation:

If you are looking to supplement your Bible study time with a book that will get you focused on the witnesses of the crucifixion and their roles in the unfolding of history, you will enjoy this book. I would recommend it to mature, discerning students of the Bible.

Pastora Jennifer Mieliulis Fuentes, M.Div., Duke University

About the Author: Dr.Amy-Jill Levine

Amy Jill Levine

Amy-Jill Levine (“AJ”) is Rabbi Stanley M. Kessler Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Hartford Seminary and University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies Emerita, Mary Jane Werthan Professor of Jewish Studies Emerita, and Professor of New Testament Studies Emerita at Vanderbilt University.

An internationally renowned scholar and teacher, she is the author of numerous books including Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial RabbiEntering the Passion of Jesus: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy WeekLight of the World: A Beginner’s Guide to AdventSermon on the Mount: A Beginner’s Guide to the Kingdom of Heaven, and The Difficult Words of Jesus: A Beginner’s Guide to His Most Perplexing Teachings. Her latest release is Witness at the Cross: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Friday. She is also the coeditor of the Jewish Annotated New Testament.

 Levine is the first Jew to teach New Testament at Rome’s Pontifical Biblical Institute. In 2021 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. AJ describes herself as an unorthodox member of an Orthodox synagogue and a Yankee Jewish feminist who until 2021 taught New Testament in a Christian divinity school in the buckle of the Bible Belt.

Professor Levine has done more than 500 programs for churches, clergy groups, and seminaries on the Bible, Christian-Jewish relations, and Religion, Gender, and Sexuality across the globe.

Witness at the Cross: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Friday by Amy-Jill Levine

Title: Witness at the Cross: A Beginners Guide to Holy Friday
Author: Amy-Jill Levine
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Release Date: 
December 28, 2021
Genre: Religion/Holidays/Easter&Lent

ISBN-13: 978-1-7910-2112-2

PURCHASE LINKS:  Amazon Barnes & Noble | Christianbook Books-A-Million

witness at the cross Amy Jill Levine

Thank you for taking the time to read this book review! Have you had a chance to read Dr. Levine’s book yet? What did you think? Leave a comment!