There are three lessons that I’d like to teach today but since that’s impossible because of time, I’d like to think on:
“Trees in the Life of Jesus”
“Spending a Day at Calvary”
…which we are celebrating today.
We celebrated Easter already, but we should not forget what Easter means to us, as Christians. We should relive the crucifixion and resurrection daily.
We know that all eternity hangs on what happened that day. Jesus just didn’t make a giant leap from the dusty roads, preaching in Galilee right to the cross, but there were some events that took place timely.
I was thinking this week of some of the trees in Jesus’ life. He created the tree.
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, they took His little infant body and laid it in a manger, a feeding trough, made from the rough lumber that came from a tree planted on a hillside, made by the Lord Jesus Himself.
Jesus came to grace that wooden trough, a bed not fit for an earthly king, but a bed in which the body of the King of kings would spend His first hours.
Jesus was taken from Bethlehem to Nazareth and there He grew up in the carpenter’s shop. Jesus spent much time around wood. I’m sure He was the greatest Carpenter that ever lived. Every object He ever made was perfect and beautiful.
As an adult Jesus stood in a boat made from the wood of a tree and preached the glorious Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
When Jesus would steal away to pray, it was beneath the boughs of trees in the Garden of Gethsemane where our Lord related Himself to the Father in times of communion and prayer.
The tree that is the center of all the Christian message, the center of all the Gospel of the ages, was not the tree from which the manger was made, not from the tree which He fashioned the yoke for the oxen or from the tree that the boat from which He preached the Gospel, nor was it the tree under which He prayed in the Garden.
The tree which is center of all the messages of the Christ, is the tree on which He was hanged, and crucified and died.
He could have called ten thousand angels to come rescue Him, but He chose to die alone for you and for me and to whomsoever will come to believe in Him for salvation.
On the tree of Calvary we see the awfulness of crucifixion.
Matthew 21:1-11 (Jesus speaking, verses 2-3)
1And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 2Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. 3And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. 6And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, 7And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. 8And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. 10And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? 11And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.
All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet in Zachariah:
Zachariah 9:9 (Jesus’ words)
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.
Mark 11:2 tells us that the colt upon which Jesus rode had never been ridden before, and yet this animal which normally would not have responded to its first burden, we are told that this animal accepted the Lord Jesus and that Jesus rode triumphantly upon him through the streets of Jerusalem.
Mark 11:2 (Jesus speaking)
And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him and bring him.
Let us not forget that the Rider on that colt was none other than King Jesus Himself Who has dominion over all the beast of the field. He created them.
This happened on Sunday and we’ll call this the day of Royalty. There was something about Jesus that was Royal. This was not just something that He was on Palm Sunday. This was something that was His own very nature: Royalty.
He is the KING of kings and LORD of lords. In Luke’s Gospel Chapter 19:37-44 we read:
Luke 19:37-44 (Jesus speaking, verses 40, 42-44)
37And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; 38Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. 39And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. 40And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. 41And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, 42Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. 43For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, 44And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.
This triumphant entry was prophesied in Zechariah 9:9 (cited above). Zechariah, the prophet, had prophesied how the King would come and yet most people were not ready to receive Him, except His disciples and some of the common people. He did not come like they expected. They expected Him to come to reign like they had envisioned, but as Zachariah said, He came: “The Righteous One.” One day when Jesus the Messiah comes back, after the Rapture, He will come back to rule and to reign on earth in Jerusalem.
They missed the truth of Who He was; they missed Him when He came, but that did not change the fact that He was and is the King of Glory: The Messiah, The Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The fact that they didn’t accept Him or believe in Him or recognize Him or didn’t know Him didn’t change the Loyalty of Jesus Christ: King of kings and LORD of lords!
Many things happened on Christ’s way to Calvary, to the cross. On His way to spend “The Day” at Calvary John 13:4 records for us one of the most beautiful days in the life of Jesus. During the observances, with His disciples, of the Passover meal, Jesus rose from His place and He gird Himself with a towel and He washed the disciples’ feet, including Judas’ feet, who was soon to become His betrayer. Notice Peter’s reaction in verse 8. When He came to Peter, Peter said, “Thou shalt never wash my feet!” and Jesus said, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me.” In verse 9 Peter said, “Not my feet only but also my hands and my head.” Jesus was saying: Peter, those things that are cleansed is not what I’m here for. I’m here to take care of sin, to take care of need and Jesus in a great act of humility washed their feet.
John 13:1-17 (Jesus speaking, verses 7, 8, 10-17)
1Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. 2And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him; 3Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things unto his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; 4He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. 5After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 6Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 7Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. 8Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. 10Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. 11For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. 12So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? 13Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14If I then your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
No doubt, if they had not been filled with themselves, with petty jealousies, wanderings and fears, wondering what was going to happen to them and what they would do if anything happened to Jesus, they would have already washed each other’s feet for that was the custom. The basin was there and the water, but in their concern for themselves, they had not thought of others and as Jesus knelt down to wash their feet, He told them in verses 14 and 15 (above) about a responsibility that was theirs.
Then Jesus chose a way for us to remember Him, to commemorate His sacrifice for us. Jesus chose a simple supper. He chose to allow bread to represent His broken body and the fruit of the vine to represent His shed blood and there instituted a time of fellowship with this supper of communion with our Heavenly Father, a time of worship.
He then prayed that great High Priestly Prayer that is recorded in John’s Gospel for the unity of the disciples, that we would be one in Him. Before walking that path to Calvary to die for our sins, Jesus not only taught us, but he stopped long enough to show us unity of Spirit, humility of soul and to pray for us that we would be one, united in Him.
From that supper in the Upper Room, He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. There, through the blood and the sweat of His brow He prayed to the Father that He might meet this ministry that He had upon this earth.
Even in His agony, He went to Gethsemane and there He prayed, surrendering, knowing that He was facing “the cup,” the cross. Jesus did battle, praying to God His Father, agonizing prayers, but He came through victoriously, with serenity and security when He was able to pray “Not My will, but Thine be done.”
We will miss blessings if we don’t take the time to acknowledge the security that comes to one who is in the will of God. If we want understanding and power in our lives, we must know that God is Sovereign and when we can surrender our will, submitted to His will, and we can pray, “Father, not my will but Thine be done,” then we are ready to serve Him and share Him with others, empowered by His Holy Spirit, a gift from God to every believer. Let us learn the security of being in the will of God.
While in the Garden, Judas was on his way there to betray Him. At a time when Jesus needed the love and unity of His inner circle, one of them betrayed Him but Jesus had been in prayer and on His way to Calvary His purpose was to be in God’s will. Jesus in Gethsemane’s Garden came forth secure that God’s purpose would be won.
We see Jesus, not only in security, but in adversity. He was betrayed by a sign that was supposed to be a sign of affection and trust and a friend. The kiss came not from an outsider, but one from the inner circle.
Jesus knew what adversity was, and He handled it so beautifully, the security of being in the will of God and the serenity of knowing the Father’s ability to handle the adversity, so from His death and resurrection He also gives to us the ability and the strength to handle anything that the enemy will throw at us. Jesus lives!
Three days after Jesus was crucified, He arose victoriously and is now sitting at the right hand of God interceding for you and for me, and all who know Him in the free pardon from their sins.
Jesus appeared to many people from all walks of life before He ascended back into Heaven.
Jesus predicted His death and His resurrection long before it happened. There are many Scriptures concerning Christ’s resurrection, some here in Matthew, when Jesus predicted His resurrection.
From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priest and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
Matthew 17:9 (Jesus speaking)
And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.
Matthew 17:22-23 (Jesus speaking)
22And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: 23And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.
Matthew 20:18-19 (Jesus speaking)
18Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, 19And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.
Matthew 26:32 (Jesus speaking)
But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.
The fact that He said it and that it was accomplished is one of the major miracles of the Resurrection. This was one of the evidences of the “Deity of Christ” that what He said He would do, He did.
The grave is empty and the proof of the resurrection is by His many appearances. Several examples of his appearances can be read in
1 Corinthians 15:3-10 (Speaker is Paul.)
3For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of who the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. 9For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
After Jesus came out of the grave, we have ten appearances by Him to His followers. These appearances were under a variety of conditions, made to men and to women, to groups and to individuals.
Appearances occurred in the house and out on the street, in different localities and at different times of the day…to His disciples who were sad because of His death.
He appeared to Mary Magdalene. He appeared to the women who were returning from the tomb. He appeared to Peter later on in the day, to the disciples on the way to Emmaus, to the apostles, when Thomas was absent, then later when Thomas was with them.
He appeared to the seven disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, also to a multitude of five hundred believers. He appeared to James and to the eleven disciples. Those are the 10 post-resurrection appearances but you can add to them His appearances when he ascended and His appearance to Saul (later named Paul) on his way to Damascus and His appearance to Stephen on the day of Stephen’s death.
He also appeared to Paul in the Temple, Acts 11, and to John, on the Isle of Patmos in the Book of Revelation. Some of these appearances were made over a period of forty days following his resurrection, at different times and in different places.
Those following Jesus were willing to give their lives for their belief in Jesus, and many did.
What a Savior! What love He revealed!
Returning to “Trees in the Life of Jesus,” the beginning of theme of this lesson:
And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.
The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.
And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.
1 Peter 2:24
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
Revelation 22:1-2, 14
1And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
14Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
Author: Nannie Mae Jordan
(Transcribed by Joyce Carter Transcribed and Formatted by Jerry Knight)