Easter Scripture Study

I can’t believe that it is already March…and that Easter is upon us.

I love this time of year. The weather is perfect, soon the Orange trees will be blossoming. Best of all, I love thinking about the Savior – His life and His atonement.

Easter Scripture Study
Easter Scripture Study

So…to help you get in the spirit of Easter, I’ve created an Easter Scripture Study Series. (This is the same scripture study series I created last year, with some corrections).

You can download it here – Easter Scripture Study Series

This Easter Scripture Study Series follows some of the key events (though not exactly in chronological order) of the Jesus Christ’s final week in His mortal ministry, then His death, and Resurrection.

There are 10 assignments that will probably take you anywhere between 10-20 days to complete. The assignments include:

  • The Anointing at Bethany
  • The Triumphal Entry
  • The Cleansing of the Temple/Cursing of the Fig Tree
  • Teachings in the Temple
  • The Olivet Discourse
  • The Last Supper
  • Gethsemane
  • Betrayal, Judgment, Denial, and Abuse
  • The Death of the Lamb of God
  • The Empty Tomb/Risen Lord

So…check out the scripture study series, and learn more about the Savior this Easter time. Let me know how your studies go. I will also be posting my own thoughts of each assignment throughout the month, too.

Thanks! I hope you enjoy!

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Easter Scripture Study – The Empty Tomb: Christ is Risen

Empty Tomb of Christ, by James Emery (click image for source)

Find the entire Easter Scripture Study here.

Today is a good day. After ten days of studying the events of the last week of Christ’s life – where each event seemed to get progressively worse for Him, we are finally to the event of His Resurrection. This is what it is all about.

Finding the Empty Tomb
Knowledge of the resurrected Lord begins when a group women — including Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary — went to the garden tomb to anoint the Savior’s body. It was the first day of the week, and the arrived at the rising of the sun. (See Mark 16:2.)

When they arrived at the sepulchre, the stone had been rolled away, and the body of Jesus was gone. The women were confused. They saw two angels who asked, “Why seek ye the living among the dead?

I think that it is important to ask this question to myself. When I think about my Savior, do I remember that He is living, or do I seek Him among the dead? Do I remember that he is accessible now. One of the ways that I seek Him is through the scriptures. That is important, but it is only a part of it. In fact, if I go to the scriptures without having the Spirit, then I am seeking for Christ among the dead. To find Christ, I should read the scriptures – with a prayer in my heart. I should pray. I should serve others. Can you think of a better way to infuse our lives with the Savior – than by doing the things that He did: study the gospel, pray, and serve others?

It is easy to forget that we believe in a living God. In every way Christ is life.

  • Anciently, this lesson was taught when Elijah challenged the priests of Baal. No matter what they did, their God could not save them. In hindsight, we can see why. Their God was their own creation. Baal was like an imaginary friend – perhaps a comfort at time, and easy to confuse with reality. But, in the end – He was imaginary Baal couldn’t save them because Baal didn’t exist. He was dead, and belief in Baal resulted in death. Elijah, however, called on the Lord – in the most improbable of circumstances, and the Lord came. His fire consumed everything. The people responded:

    “And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.” – 1 Kings 18:39

  • Christ, because He is living, can offer us life.

    “Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

    And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit;” – 2 Nephi 2:27-28

    Christ is the living water, the bread of Life, the beginning and the end, the life, the resurrection. He is the I AM. Throughout the scriptures, we are taught that He is living. The angels gently remind the women in the tomb:

    “He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet 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.” – Luke 24:6-7

    The Spirit began to speak to their souls, and they remembered the words of the Savior. Even if they didn’t fully understand what this meant – that the Lord was Resurrected and Perfected, that He had overcome death and sin – they began to remember, and they ran to tell the apostles that Jesus’s body was gone.

    Mary Sees the Resurrected Lord
    This is probably my favorite story in all of the scriptures.

    Mary and the Resurrected Christ

    You may be familiar with the story: Mary is at the tomb, weeping. She double checks the sepulchre. It is empty. He is not there. As she weeps, Jesus comes. She doesn’t know that it is Him. She assumes that he is the gardner, and asks to know where the body of Christ had been moved to. Jesus answers:

    “Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.” – John 20:16

    I hope that I can be like Mary. I hope that one day, when Jesus calls me, I know Him.

    “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” – John 10:27

    I hope to be like Mary: that the Savior knows me by name, and when He calls me, I fall at His feet, saying Master.

    This Easter, I hope to remember that I believe in a living God, that He can be found as I seek Him with the Spirit. I hope to remember not only the pain He suffered, but the Hope He offers. I hope to be like Mary, a humble servant of Christ, who knows her master.

    ***
    I’m grateful for this time of year, and I want to add my testimony of the Savior.

    While I haven’t had very extravagant or dramatic experiences with the Lord, I have had experiences with Him that speak to my soul personally. I know that He loves me. I have felt His guidance, love, and support throughout my life.

    As I have sought Him – through scripture study, prayer, and covenant keeping, I have found Him. I wish that I was good at having His Spirit to be with me all of the time, but I know that it is because of my own shortcomings that I lose that contact from time to time.

    I write this knowing that there are probably some people who may doubt the existence of a God, a living God, and I can’t sit and persuade anyone that He exists. I can only bear my testimony: that I have felt His love for me. I have seen miracles occur in my life. That, as I have studied the gospel, His Spirit has enlightened my mind and uplifted my heart.

    I know that He came to the earth, lived, died, and lived again – for each of us. He loves us. He wants to be able to call each of us by name as He did Mary. I know that He delights in blessing each of us with His best blessings.

    I know that He loves us enough to make it possible for us to covenant with Him. He blesses us with His Spirit and Power. I know that He wants us to be happy. All of what He did in His life, though laced with so much pain, was done so that we could be happy.

    This Easter, I want to add my own testimony to so many others that have been given: I know that Christ lives. I know He loves me.

    ***
    Happy Easter! Please share your testimony of the Savior! If you are searching, find out more about the Savior here.

    ***
    Download the entire Easter Scripture Study Series here

Easter Scripture Study – The Death of the Lamb of God

The Crucifixion of the Savior

For the Easter Scripture Study Series, click here

This is a pretty sad point. I mean, it seems like the entire last week of Christ gets progressively more depressing. You start with the high of the triumphal entry, but then the rest of the week kind of goes downhill. There are good parts (Christ’s healing the blind at the temple, the Widow’s Mite, Mary washing Christ’s feet, and the Last Supper), but it feels like the events get heavier as we get closer to the point we’re at today: The Death of the Lamb of God.

Okay…in general, this concept is too huge to put into one blog post. As usual! But there are three things.

One
Watch this video…

I love the Bible Videos that the LDS Church has put out. They are really good. I feel like they aid in understanding the scriptures because they help to bring us to the event. Yet they are tastefully done. So, check it out.

Two
I’m struck by Simon the Cyrenian. He was passing through and happened to be along the path where Christ was carrying His cross. Simon was compelled by the soldiers to carry the cross of the Savior.

I don’t know much about Simon. I’m not a Bible Scholar. I am just touched by this because I can only imagine bearing the cross of the Savior. Since He was only a passer-by, it seems like he wasn’t there to mock or judge the Savior. He just happened to be there at that time.

Can you imagine helping anyone bear their cross? Then…imagine if you found out that you helped to carry the cross of the Savior?

I have been baptized, and I have covenanted to be willing to “…bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;…”Mosiah 18:9 For Simon, the Cyrenian, he helped to lighten the Savior’s burden.

Obviously, there isn’t much I can do to physically lift the load of the Savior, but I think that I can be like Simon when I help to lift other’s “crosses.” Elder Maxwell put it best:

“Part of discipleship should be to become high-yield, low-maintenance members of the Church,” – Neal A. Maxwell

Three
I am struck by what I consider to be the most difficult part of Christ’s atonement: being Forsaken of God. Of course, I know that Gethsemane was difficult for Christ. He asked that His cup be taken away. This suffering made Him bleed at every pore. I know that He needed to go through it, so that we could repent and return to Heavenly Father.

Then, there was the mockery, the scourging, and the crucifixion itself. I can only imagine that it was horrible. He went through this for us, too. And somehow, the knowledge that the Lord’s suffering in Gethsemane and on the Cross helps to comfort me when I suffer.

But, the hardest event seems like it was when God forsook Christ. All along, Christ had the help of Heavenly Beings and companionship with His Father. But, while He hung on the Cross at Calvary, He was left alone.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland teaches:

“Now I speak very carefully, even reverently, of what may have been the most difficult moment in all of this solitary journey to Atonement. I speak of those final moments for which Jesus must have been prepared intellectually and physically but which He may not have fully anticipated emotionally and spiritually—that concluding descent into the paralyzing despair of divine withdrawal when He cries in ultimate loneliness, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” 16

The loss of mortal support He had anticipated, but apparently He had not comprehended this. Had He not said to His disciples, “Behold, the hour … is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me” and “The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him”? 17

With all the conviction of my soul I testify that He did please His Father perfectly and that a perfect Father did not forsake His Son in that hour. Indeed, it is my personal belief that in all of Christ’s mortal ministry the Father may never have been closer to His Son than in these agonizing final moments of suffering. Nevertheless, that the supreme sacrifice of His Son might be as complete as it was voluntary and solitary, the Father briefly withdrew from Jesus the comfort of His Spirit, the support of His personal presence. It was required, indeed it was central to the significance of the Atonement, that this perfect Son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong nor touched an unclean thing had to know how the rest of humankind—us, all of us—would feel when we did commit such sins. For His Atonement to be infinite and eternal, He had to feel what it was like to die not only physically but spiritually, to sense what it was like to have the divine Spirit withdraw, leaving one feeling totally, abjectly, hopelessly alone.” – Jeffrey R. Holland

I’m grateful, also, that Christ submitted to this loneliness. I have felt it. As Elder Holland explains, we have all sinned. We have all felt the loss of the Spirit. And, as mortals, we are all separated from God. We can only be united with Him through Christ. The Savior had to be “forsaken” to understand our plight, and because He descended below all, He is able to ascend above all. Because He has experienced this – He can empathize with us perfectly, and He can save us.

And, as I write this, the other idea comes over my mind: He chose this.

Nephi explains Christ – and everything He did – so well:

“He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.” – 2 Nephi 26:24

Everything Christ did was for our benefit. It was for your benefit, my benefit. As depressing as things went for Him in the last week of His life, He did it for us, and we can rejoice.

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Easter Scripture Study – Gethsemane (A Scripture Chain)

For today’s scripture study assignment, I thought that it would be nice to do something a little different. Instead of studying only the scriptures recounting Christ’s experience at Gethsemane, I thought it would also be cool to read a few other scriptures of the prophecies and testimonies of Christ’s time in Gethsemane. It really helps us to understand the magnitude and mercy of this event.

The Garden of Gethsemane (from lds.org)

Find the Easter Scripture Study Series here.

Scripture One – Mark 14:32-39

“And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray.

And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy;

And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch.

And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.

And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.

And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour?

Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.

And again he went away, and prayed, and spake the same words.” – Mark 14:32-39

Here, the Lord begins His work at Gethsemane. He takes Peter, James, and John. It seems like everyone is feeling a little bit heavy and depressed. Some of the apostles are doubting Christ’s Messiahship. I can understand why…they probably thought he was going to save them physically – not in the way that He did. Even though we have the advantage of seeing the Atonement from hindsight – with all of the teachings of the prophets – it is still really hard to comprehend.

Jesus is burdened by the pains of our sins, sicknesses, weaknesses, and infirmities. He was downtrodden by the mortal experience while in the Garden. I can’t imagine it. While Christ suffers, He asks that His cup be taken away from Him – that He wouldn’t have to continue on suffering and going through with the atonement.
Two things: 1. The difficulty of this event was so horrible that even Christ, the Literal Son of God didn’t want to do it.
2. It is okay to ask to be relieved from our trials. Christ asked. Of course, he added the caveat: nevertheless, not what I will, but what thou wilt. So – He had faith to go through with what the Father’s will was. I like this because it is important to know that it is okay for me to pray to be relieved from difficulty and trial. Even the Savior did.

Scripture Two – Luke 22:41-46

“And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,

Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,

And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” – Luke 22:41-46

Again, a record of the Lord’s suffering in Gethsemane. In this account, we also learned that Christ was suffering so much that His sweat was like drops of blood…horrible. Yet, as we know, He sought help. The Savior, the Son of God, the One who could control the elements, The Creator of This earth prayed. When completing the atonement, Christ didn’t walk on water or turn water into wine. He simply prayed. His prayer enabled Him to finish this work. Oh, How praying rests the weary!I usually underestimate the power of prayer.

Scripture Three – Mosiah 3:7

And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.” – Mosiah 3:7

The Lord is acquainted with our temptations, pain, hunger, thirst, and fatigue. In some ways, this is the most comforting knowledge that I have about the Savior. What kind of Savior would He be if He didn’t understand what it was like to be tempted, hurt, or hungry? I can’t imagine trusting a Lord that didn’t know what it was like to be tired.

As sad as it is to see the Savior suffer in this way, I’m so grateful that He did.
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Scripture Four – Doctrine and Covenants 19:18

“Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—” – Doctrine and Covenants 19:18

This is just such a good scripture. It is Christ recounting what His experience was like. This scripture is one of the reasons I always feel inspired to repent – even when repentance is hard, I know that it is nothing in compared to suffering for a committed sin.

Scripture Five – Isaiah 53:4-5

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:4-5

Instead of writing something, I encourage you to listen to this:

Scripture Six – Alma 7:11-12

“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.” – Alma 7:11-12

This is one of my favorite scriptures about the Savior, His suffering in Gethsemane, and the way we benefit from It.

We see what he went through, and then Alma teaches us why: “…that He may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.”

Succor = to run to support.

I have experienced this support from my Savior. Even if I haven’t been relieved of some of the pains that I have had to experience, I have been comforted by Christ. And He is able to succor us perfectly because he understands us perfectly. I know that Jesus Christ loves each of us. It is difficult for me to imagine the atonement. It hurts my brain. For me, thinking about the power of the atonement is not unlike thinking about space…I’m overwhelmed by how amazing it is and how small I am. Yet I know that Jesus Christ truly suffered for me and all of us. I don’t understand how, but I know that He did it. I know that He loves me. I know that Heavenly Father loves me. If you do not know that God loves you and the the Savior loves you, I encourage you to seek Him and open your eyes to His love.

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Easter Study – The Last Supper

Click here for the Easter Scripture Study Series.

The Last Supper, by Carl Bloch. (Click Image for Source)

The Last Supper – there are so many amazing lessons to learn from it. You could study it for weeks. There is the symbolism of the Passover. Christ fits into it as He is the lamb that was slain for all of us. Then, there is the actual Last Supper that Christ eats – as He institutes a new ordinance: the sacrament. The Lord is the sacrifice to end all blood sacrifice, so He teaches the apostles to break bread and drink wine in remembrance of the sacrifice that Christ will make. There is Judas, who will lift his heel against the Lord. Christ washed the apostles feet and taught them to love and serve one another. Christ prayed for them…The Last Supper – can you imagine having been there? Watch this video…It will help you to imagine it.

There is too much to say, of course…so I want to bring up one thing that I’ve been thinking about concerning the Last Supper. John records several chapters worth of teachings that the Lord gave to the apostles that evening. He is trying to prepare them for the coming events – when He will be crucified. Even though He will be resurrected, He will not spend much more time with them. The apostles will soon be given the work to do, while Christ reigns in Heaven with His Father. The apostles seem a little anxious at the prospect of Christ leaving them.

I think that I would be anxious, too. I don’t know what it is like, to spend time, physically, in the presence of the Savior. I can only imagine that it was nice! It would have been hard to be an apostle in this situation: The Last Supper was so intimate. He had lovingly washed their feet. They were worshipping together, and He is now teaching them that He will be leaving them. I can’t imagine it, but I think that I would have been a little worried, too.

The Lord senses their concern, and He reassures them: even though He won’t be with them anymore, they won’t be alone.

“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” – John 14:16-18

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:26-27

The Lord will be giving the apostles the gift of the Holy Ghost. He teaches them about the power of the Comforter. Even though the Savior is not with them, they are not alone. The Lord perceives that they are a little troubled and afraid, and He comforts them with His words. Soon, His Spirit will also comfort them – which is the true source of peace and comfort. The Holy Ghost is such a powerful gift and blessing in our lives.

We cannot have this gift without a little qualifying work. In John 15:1-11, Jesus teaches the allegory of the vine. If we want to have His spirit with us, then we need to abide in Him. We need to love Him and keep His commandments. Then, we qualify for the Spirit; then, we can feel the peace and comfort that we seek.

In John 17, the Lord gives the intercessory prayer. As I think about it, I find this to be so incredibly humbling. Christ put so much energy into us – into you and me. It is because of His love for us that we could have the gift of the Spirit. We aren’t even qualified to receive it from God without Christ. It is when we take on His name through baptism that we receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Then, the comforter can be our constant companion. We need the Lord. I love that we have a record of His prayer for us. We have a record of how humbly He approaches Heavenly Father. I’m amazed and humbled by Christ’s gentle kindness, humility, and complete selflessness. It is through these chapters that I feel His love for me.

Even though the Last Supper would have been a pretty sad time – the suffering and death of Christ was at the door, there is so much beauty: in Christ’s service, His teachings, and His prayers.

As Easter approaches, I hope to do more to abide in Christ, serve and love others, and qualify for the Spirit of the Lord. I hope to be more reverent at Church each week when I partake of the Sacrament – commemorating the Lord’s Last Supper and the covenant I’ve made with Him.

I’m grateful that I have been blessed to covenant with the Lord and receive blessings that help me through my life. I hope to remember and truly internalize Christ’s comforting words:

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

What is something you find especially striking about the Lord’s Last Supper? What do you do to keep the lessons taught from this event fresh in your heart and life?

***

Easter Study – The Olivet Discourse

For the Easter Scripture Study Series, click here.

After Jesus teaches the Pharisees at the temple, He goes with His apostles to the Mount of Olives. They are wondering what He means by the destruction of the temple, the destruction of the Jews, His coming, and the end of the world.

Olivet Discourse

I’m not a bible scholar, so I don’t understand everything that the apostles know or understand, but it seems to me that they are still having a hard time grasping the fact that He will be dying a few days later; that His life with them was His coming to the earth where He would overcome sin and death through the atonement and resurrection, but that it wouldn’t be the end of the world or righteousness. That would happen later.

I have a feeling that they were aware of some of the prophecies, but it is important to remember that Christ – dying and then being resurrected – was unprecedented. I can’t see why they would understand it perfectly.

Signs of Christ’s Coming
Throughout Matthew 24 (or Joseph Smith—Matthew) the Lord gives various signs of what the world will be like before and when He comes.

One of them sticks out to me. He talks a lot about being deceived:

“…Take heed that no man deceive you;” – Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:5

“For many shall come in my name, saying—I am Christ—and shall deceive many;” – Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:6

“And many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many;” – Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:9

“For in those days there shall also arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch, that, if possible, they shall deceive the very elect, who are the elect according to the covenant.” – Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:22

The part of the warning that really stands out to me is the idea of being deceived. Have you ever been lied to? I have. Sometimes the lies are little – no big deal. Other times, they are big and I end up believing…There are lies that I’ve believed for years. So, when I see this warning: not to be deceived, I feel a little puzzled at first. How?

Jesus tells us the answer:

“And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived,…” – Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:37

We need to treasure the word of God. Not only that, but we need to be sure that when we do treasure up His word, we let it infuse our lives with the Spirit. It is through the Holy Ghost that we will know truth. We can also rest assured that the Holy Ghost will not testify to something meant to deceive us because the Holy Ghost cannot bear false witness. So…in order to have the Holy Ghost in our lives, we need to treasure the word of God: learn it, know it, and live it.

Jesus reiterates the nature of His second coming by relating the parables of the fig tree, the ten virgins, the talents, and the sheep and the goats.

I’m not going to reiterate these parables here, but I will say that you should check out this post about the ten virgins.

In parables of the virgins, the talents, and the sheep and the goats, there are examples of people who were prepared for the coming of the Lord and those who weren’t prepared for it. None of the people knew when their master would return. They just knew that one day the bridegroom would come, there would be a reckoning of talents, or the sheep would be divided from the goats. Those who were prepared for the coming of the Lord had done work in one way or another. They were wise. They may not have had as much fun, but they were ready when it mattered. None of them were deceived.

As Easter nears, I hope to do a better job remembering that not only did Christ live, die, and then live again for me, but that He will return. The time before His return will be trying. Many people will try to deceive (and may even accomplish this) the very elect. I don’t want to be deceived. I want to keep my eye on the Savior – the Word, and let His Spirit infuse my life, so that I will understand, recognize, and rejoice in truth and be ready when He comes again.

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Easter Study – Teachings in the Temple

I don’t have much time or energy to post this right now, but I wanted to write a little something about today’s scripture… (for the Easter Scripture Study Series, click here.)

Dispute of Jesus and the Pharisees over Tribute Money, by Gustav Dore
Click here for source.

While in the temple, the Lord directed some of His teachings to the Pharisees after they asked the Savior what the source of His authority was. Interesting, really, when you think of it. They claimed to have authority because they were leaders of the Jews, and where did they get their authority? From Jehovah? Christ was Jehovah. they proclaimed to be members of the House of Israel, awaiting the Messiah, their God. And when Jesus came, not only did they not recognize Him, but they hated him. It is a horrible paradox. There is too much I don’t understand about the Pharisees, so I can only guess. But we don’t need to know much about them – we can still learn from them.

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” – Matthew 23:27-28

The Pharisees look great on the outside, yet within they are horribly disgusting. They have no integrity, are not honest, and are judgmental. In some ways it seems like their sins are worse than someone who is at least honest about his sinning (not sure if this is making sense).

I think that the reason why the rebuking of the Pharisees really hits home to me is because it is easy to be like a Pharisee. It is easy to become proud of supposed righteousness. We begin to get so caught up with our own “goodness” that we begin to judge others, make assumptions, strain at gnats, and swallow camels. I know that I have a tendency to do this.

The Pharisees were completely void of Charity. They were absolutely un-Christlike. Even though proclaimed to know that gospel, hung out at the temple, wore broad phylacteries, they didn’t have the gospel written on their hearts. The Pharisees sacrificed their time and paid tithes, but they forgot the weightier matters of the law. Those weightier matters are the ones that matter!

The Pharisees were like the wicked husbandmen, corrupt and bent on usurping power from the Lord of the vineyard. The Lord tells the Pharisees the parable:

“Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:

And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.

And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.

Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.

But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.

But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.

And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.” – Matthew 21:33-39

This is just the saddest parable! It is mostly sad because it directly reflects what happened with the Lord’s kingdom and some of the wicked Jews and People of Ancient Israel. They killed the prophets, and they crucified the Lord – their God.

So…I don’t want to be like that. I know that I have the gospel, and consider myself to be a member of the House of Israel now. How do I ensure that I don’t fall into the same trap as the Pharisees? I have to work hard to keep my inner vessel clean. I have to repent and pray daily. I need to be willing to look inside of myself and identify my sins and do all I can to repent and be forgiven.

I have to admit, I don’t know the hearts and thoughts of the ancient Pharisees. Perhaps they misunderstood and truly thought that Christ was an impostor. Maybe they meant well in their vehement hatred of Him. This idea is also problematic for me, though. How do you go about worshipping a God, then unable to recognize Him when He comes?

Again, it goes back to keeping our inner vessels clean. If we stay close to the Lord, keep our hearts pure and full of purpose, then we can have the Spirit to be with us. Then we will not be deceived. We will receive witness of Christ. When we have the Spirit, we will receive gentle correction as needed, we will be able to have our hearts full of God’s love, and we will not be like the Pharisees.

So…this Easter, I’m going to try to remember the teachings that Christ gave at the temple to the Pharisees. I’m going to do what I can not to be like them, but to keep my covenants with inward integrity and devotion.

What do you do to keep yourself from being like a Pharisee? What did you learn from the teachings that Christ gave in the temple?

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