Saturday, March 12, 2011

No Loitering

After Jesus was buried on Friday evening, the apostles hid out; they worried they'd wind up on crosses themselves. What happened on Saturday? Nothing? Well, Saturday was a feast day...what feast day? Easter! Easter? There's no Easter just yet; when's the first Easter? The next day. Yes, Sunday. So what's the Saturday/Sabado/Sabbath eat-the-Lamb feast? Passover! Yes [on the board]. What's the Hebrew word? No guesses? It starts with a P.  Yes, P-E-S-A-C-H, [on the board under Passover] that's ok, it's not easy to remember. So what happened on Sunday? Jesus was alive again! Yes, we call that particular Sunday...Easter Sunday. Yes. What word does Easter have in it? Umm....east? Yes, and where does the sun rise? In the East. Yes. The word Easter refers to Springtime, it's an old pagan word, but now we use it for a Christian holy day...we baptized it so it's a Christian word now. You can't baptize a word! You're right, I don't mean it literally. Hey, cómo se llama Easter en Español? What's Spanish for Easter? Pascua! Yes, P-a-s-c-u-a [on the board under Pesach]. That's how the Spanish say Pesach. In Italian they say Pasqua; in French Pâques; in Holland it's Pasen; in Danish it's Påske. Most countries say "Passover-Pesach" when we say "Easter" because the whole 4 days from the Last Supper on Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday make the Passover, the Pesach, of the New Covenant. We miss out on that in English; but we do call Jesus the Paschal Lamb, which means what? The Passover Lamb? Yes, the Lamb of the New Passover.

So when did Easter start? Sunday morning. What happened? Jesus was alive again. Yes, that's called the...Res...Resurrection! Yes. Somebody ask me how Jesus resurrected. How did He do that? I...don't...know! It's...a...miracle! Yes! Humans can't figure it out. Now, Super-duper trick question: what was the first thing Jesus did after he was buried? Walked out of the tomb? Good guess, but listen:

I believe in God,
the Father Almighty,
Creator of Heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended into Hell.
On the third day, He rose again...

So before Jesus rose? He went to Hell!? Yes, but remember when Lazarus, the dog-licked-scabby-man died, he rested in the bosom of...Abraham! Yes. Was he in Heaven? No. Was he in Hell with the Devil? No. So where was he? The other place that starts with an S. Yes, S-H-E...Sheol! Yes, like Hades in Greek. English uses the word Hell for both Sheol and 'regular' Hell..

Let's look at a great picture of Jesus descending into Sheol [handout]:

This event is called the "Anastasis" in Greek. It means "standing-back-up;" just like "Resurrection" means "surging-up-again." By the way, Anastasia (ah-nah-STAH-zi-ya) is a girl's name in Russian and Greek; it comes from Anastasis. How about that name, girls? It's pretty! I think so, too. Boys? Who cares? Boys- you'll never learn. 

What would you expect a picture of the Resurrection to show? Jesus coming out of the tomb with the soldiers and all. Yes. But the Eastern Churches remember Jesus went to Sheol first, like the Creed says.

Hey, let's check out the Greek on the picture: over Christ's head is HANAcTACIC, Anastasis. To the left is IC, short for IECUC, "Jesus"; to the right, XC for...Christ! XRICTOC, yes, "Christos". Why don't the C's sound like C's?  They do, like the C in "cereal". And the X shows why we abbreviate Christmas as Xmas. Now look at Jesus; what's he up to? He's pulling those people out of Sheol. Yes, pulling them to where? Heaven? Yes. And he's yanking them out by the wrists, he's fired up! Time to get out! Now who are these people? Good people who couldn't go to Heaven? Yes, but now they can, because...Jesus died for their sins? Yes! How long have they been there? A long time? Yes, that's why Jesus is in a hurry, they don't need to be in Sheol one more second. Tell me who the first two people are that Jesus is yanking out...are they two monkeys? It's a man and a woman. Yes, and the man has the longest beard so...he's the oldest? Yes, and so...he's been there...the longest? So, who would this man and woman...Adam and Eve! be, yes Adam and Eve! They're getting out first because...they went there first. Yes. And behind Eve, who's the guy with stick who comes next? What's the stick? A shepherd thing. Yes, a crook. So he's...a shepherd. Yes, so? Who's a shepherd after Adam and Eve? Abel! Yes! And behind Adam, who are the two men with crowns? Kings? Yes..Kings Herod senior and junior? No, they were bad. So? David and Solomon? Yes, which is which? David is the older one. Yes, and his son Solomon is younger. And how about the man with the ragged hair and dull's not obvious...John the Baptist? Yes, genius! Messy hair, a long beard, and plain clothes are some of John's attributes, like Peter's keys and St. Lucy's...eyeballs! Yes!

Now I'm just guessing about the other people, but they may be Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, & Isaiah...prophets & such. Now look at the bottom, what's that busted-up stuff? Locks? Yes, why? 'Cause Jesus unlocked Sheol? Yes, and those broken doors show people can't be shut up in Sheol anymore. Can y'all see that tied-up man down there? Who might that be? A bad person who won't go to Heaven? Good guess...or maybe he represents Death, or the Devil. This painting is in a church in Istanbul, Turkey, so if you ever go there, you might go see it. Yes? We just learned about Istanbul in school! Yes? Tell us about it. There's a big church there called Hagia Sophia and it was built by Justinian. Yes, I've been to Hagia Sophia a few times, it's the best, it's incredible! Hagia Sophia means "Holy Wisdom" in Greek; Istanbul used to be a Greek city. Here's a word y'all probably know: philosopher. It's Greek for someone who "loves wisdom;" the soph- is the same in Hagia Sophia and philosopher. 

Back to the story: after Jesus "descended into Hell," then what? He rose up out of the grave. Yes, the tomb. "Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran, and went to Simon Peter...and the other disciple...Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb..." Why did young John let Peter go in first? 'Cause Peter was older? Yes, and because Jesus had changed Peter's name, the apostles knew Peter was #1. But John and Peter thought someone must have stolen Jesus's body: "as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead." They didn't have any idea that Jesus would come back to life. "Then the disciples went back to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb...turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus...(She supposed him to be the gardener)." Mary was so sure Jesus was dead that she didn't recognize him! "Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbi!" (which means Teacher)."  Once Jesus spoke to Mary, she knew who he was. She must've tried to hug him, because "Jesus said to her, "Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father." Don't touch me? What?

Later that evening "Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord." They probably thought she was just seeing things. "On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." Can you imagine how excited they would have been? And Jesus appeared to them in a shut room- how'd he manage that? "And...he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." Y'all remember earlier in Jesus's ministry, he stopped doing Baptisms. If you wanted to get Baptized, what would happen? One of the apostles would do it. Yes, Jesus charge! Yes, in charge of...baptisms! Yes. Well, when Jesus tells them "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven" what's he putting them in charge of now? Forgiving sins? Yes; so if we want to get our sins forgiven...we get an apostle? Yes. But they're all dead. Yes. Jesus put the apostles in charge, and they knew they'd die; so in turn, the apostles put...somebody else in charge? Yes, bishops and priests. So if you want sins go to a priest? Yes. But can't we pray to Jesus if we're sorry for our sins? Yes, we can, and do. But we're made of a...body'n'soul, yes. And which parts sin? Both parts! Yes, and for both our soul and our body to experience forgiveness, we go to Confession. We have to confess body and soul to an authorized person, like King David confessed to... Nathan! Yes!

"Now Thomas, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe." We call him Doubting Thomas. He didn't want to have faith, he wanted to...see!  Yes, people say! Yes! "Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them...he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!"  How much faith did Thomas need to stick his fingers in Jesus? Well, not any. Right, and Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."  But I feel better knowing Thomas did stick his fingers in the holes.

Remind me please, on Good Friday, what happened? Jesus died on the cross. Yes, he was dead. Totally dead, not sorta dead, or nearly dead. Completely alive on Thursday; completely dead on Friday. And then on Easter he rose from the dead, much to everyone's surprise. Completely dead on Saturday; completely alive on Sunday! But the Risen Jesus, the new Jesus, wasn't like the old Jesus: chewing out Pharisees, driving out demons, knocking over tables, drawing crowds. It would've been ok to hug the old Jesus. But the Risen Lord didn't want Mary to even touch him.

On one occasion Jesus runs into two apostles on a road, the Road to Emmaus. They talk and walk with Jesus for a long time, and don't recognize him until dinnertime; as soon as they recognize him, he disappears!

Then two times the Apostles were more or less hiding in the upper room, with the door shut. Each time, Jesus appears among them without coming through the door, and apparently leaves without going through the door.

Sometimes Jesus eats; sometimes he doesn't. Sometimes he doesn't want to be touched, as Mary Magdalene learned; but what did Jesus tell Thomas to do? Stick your fingers in the holes! Yes! Sometimes he's here, then vanishes, then he's somewhere else. People have no idea when or where Jesus'll be or how long he'll stay if he does. Sometimes he says important things; other times he hardly makes a peep.

Trick question: when Jesus would disappear...where'd he go? Umm, heaven? Maybe so; maybe he spent time with his momma, too. Now, remember Adam & Eve in Eden: sick? No! Old? No! Hang out with God the Father all day? Yes! What messed up this good deal? Sin! Yes. Now, before the Resurrection, could Jesus get sick? Yes! Get old? Yes! Die? Yes! Good. Trick question...was Jesus a sinner? No! So how come he could have bad stuff happen to him? No guesses? Go back to Eden: in Eden could a lamb get eaten by a lion? No! How about after Eden? Yes! Did the lamb become a sinner, and so that's why it could get eaten, get sick, and die? Ha, no, animals can't sin. So why did bad stuff happen to animals? 'Cause Adam & Eve messed everything up? Yes, the whole world suffered because of sin. So why did bad stuff happen to Jesus? Well 'cause he was in the world? Yes. Even the innocent suffer. How about after he rose again; could bad stuff still happen to Jesus? Right, why not? Well, he had risen from the dead. Yes, so? OK, if we die in a state of grace, where do we go? Heaven. Yes, our souls go to heaven; our bodies go...into the ground! Yes. When Jesus died on the cross, where'd his soul go? Heaven? Yes, he opened heaven. But Jesus' soul couldn't just stay in heaven while his body decomposed in the tomb. Why not? Umm, he had to show people he was God? Yes. When Jesus rose physically, he showed that all that stuff he'd been saying for the last 3 years was true; that he had conquered sin body'n'soul. But his new, glorified body was different...y'all guessed right that he couldn't get sick, grow old or any of that. Who does that sound like: no sickness, no growing old, no death...? Adam and Eve? Yes, in Eden. So Jesus' risen body is free from the bad things that come from sin. But even though he's risen, he still appears in the sinful world. If your body'n'soul is free from sin, where should you be? Heaven? Yes, and that's where Jesus wants to be, just like we would, but he has to tie up some loose ends. He appears to a few people (especially Thomas) so they can be sure he really rose from the dead; he eats a little food so they see he's not a ghost; Jesus shows the Apostles how the Old Testament is full of prophecies about himself; and he gives them an extra dose of the Holy Spirit so they can forgive sins. But Jesus doesn't stick around more than necessary. Living in the sinful, fallen world just isn't comfortable if you should be in heaven; it's not normal. Jesus doesn't want to get very involved in the world like he used to, it's not his home anymore. He just lingers a bit here and there....he's disengaged, that's a good word for y'all to learn. Remember Jesus told Mary Magdalene right after he'd risen, "don't touch me, I haven't yet ascended to the Father." He wasn't used to his glorified body yet, and didn't want to be touched by the sinful world; he just wanted to be in heaven. Later on, he did let Thomas touch him, but I imagine Jesus had to prepare himself for that. So during the forty days after Easter, most of the time he must've been in heaven, because he visits Earth only a few times, and never for more than an hour or two. Jesus exists between heaven and earth, he appears and disappears, but he's not a ghost. Remind me about 'forty days,' please. It means a long time. Yes, a long time of what? Preparation! Yes. So this 40 days is about Jesus preparing to do what? Umm, stay in heaven? Yes, where he belongs.

In next week's class Jesus will go to Heaven; and the apostles will get fired-up about their new job: setting up the Church.

Class over!