Going Up at Easter

In preparing for Easter this year, I’ve often thought of my trip to Israel last November. Of course, I know not every place I stood is unequivocably the place Jesus stood, but because my feet have journeyed in Jerusalem, I heart feels closer to the center of Jesus’ journey. My heart breaks. My anger is stirred. My compassion pours. My soul rejoices. I am overwhelmed.

I miss Jerusalem. But I don’t have to miss Jesus.

While they were eating, Jesus took some bread and thanked God for it and broke it. Then he gave it to his followers and said, “Take it; this is my body.”  Then Jesus took a cup and thanked God for it and gave it to the followers, and they all drank from the cup. Then Jesus said, “This is my blood which is the new agreement that God makes with his people. This blood is poured out for many. I tell you the truth, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine again until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Mark 14:22-25

After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Mark 14:26

 Jesus and his followers went to a place called Gethsemane. He said to them, “Sit here while I pray.” Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him, and he began to be very sad and troubled. He said to them, “My heart is full of sorrow, to the point of death. Stay here and watch.” After walking a little farther away from them, Jesus fell to the ground and prayed that, if possible, he would not have this time of suffering. He prayed, “Abba, Father! You can do all things. Take away this cup of suffering. But do what you want, not what I want.” Mark 14:32-26 

The soldiers took Jesus into the governor’s palace (called the Praetorium) and called all the other soldiers together. They put a purple robe on Jesus and used thorny branches to make a crown for his head. They began to call out to him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” The soldiers beat Jesus on the head many times with a stick. They spit on him and made fun of him by bowing on their knees and worshiping him. After they finished, the soldiers took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him out of the palace to be crucified. Mark 15:16-20

At noon the whole country became dark, and the darkness lasted for three hours. At three o’clock Jesus cried in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani.” This means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” When some of the people standing there heard this, they said, “Listen! He is calling Elijah.” Someone there ran and got a sponge, filled it with vinegar, tied it to a stick, and gave it to Jesus to drink. He said, “We want to see if Elijah will come to take him down from the cross.” Then Jesus cried in a loud voice and died. Mark 15:33-37

Joseph from Arimathea was brave enough to go to Pilate and ask for Jesus’ body. Joseph, an important member of the Jewish council, was one of the people who was waiting for the kingdom of God to come. Joseph bought some linen cloth, took the body down from the cross, and wrapped it in the linen. He put the body in a tomb that was cut out of a wall of rock. Then he rolled a very large stone to block the entrance of the tomb. Mark 15:43,46

Very early on the first day of the week, at dawn, the women came to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the entrance of the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, two men in shining clothes suddenly stood beside them. The women were very afraid and bowed their heads to the ground. The men said to them, “Why are you looking for a living person in this place for the dead? He is not here; he has risen from the dead. Do you remember what he told you in Galilee? He said the Son of Man must be handed over to sinful people, be crucified, and rise from the dead on the third day.” Then the women remembered what Jesus had said. Luke 24:1-8

Jesus led his followers as far as Bethany, and he raised his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he was separated from them and carried into heaven. They worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem very happy. Luke 24:50-52

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