This week is the most important one in the Christian calendar. During this week, which is known as Holy Week, we remember the last few days of the life of Jesus on this earth as they lead up to his crucifixion and resurrection. Without the events of Easter weekend there is no Christian faith. If Jesus had not died for the sins of the world, we could not receive new life and forgiveness from Him. And if God had not raised Jesus from the dead, death would not have been defeated. This would have meant no hope for any of us.
Not surprising during Easter weekend there are normally a number of different services and events held to remember this important time. Many churches usually hold services on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. There are open air passion plays held too in our high streets.
This year is different though. In 2020 there will be no services held at our churches. No passion plays in our streets. These events have all been cancelled due to the outbreak of coronavirus. Our Easter will be unlike anything we have ever experienced beforehand. If someone had said to me a few weeks ago that this would happen I would not have believed them. I don’t think any of us would have! But it has. No Easter services!
However, all is not lost. We can still experience the wonder of Easter this year. It’s just going to be different to what we would normally expect. So what will Easter 2020 be like?
Thankfully due to the wonders of modern technology we will be able “to attend” services streamed from our churches. In fact we can see services from various different churches if we so wish. Whilst it is not the same as attending church in the normal manner, we can still encounter God through these services. There are many countries in the world where our brothers and sisters in Christ cannot worship openly due to persecution. We should therefore be grateful that we can still worship God openly.
Additionally there will be various Easter services and programmes on the BBC , both radio and TV, this weekend too. Premier Christian radio station will be broadcasting services too. These provide other opportunities to follow Jesus through the events of Holy Week.
Wintershall will be showing two livestreams of The Passion of Jesus and One Good Friday Story through their Facebook page at 12 noon and 3pm. I have been fortunate to have seen their productions many times and would certainly recommend watching it.
And of course very importantly, as with all other years, we must make time to be alone with God to ponder the events of Holy Week. It’s vital to ensure that we do not neglect private times of bible reading and prayer.
Yes Easter 2020 will be different. But it can still be a special time.
Scandalous is a book written by D.A.Carson that examines five New Testament pieces of scripture to discover what they show us about the death and resurrection of Jesus. The material in the book is taken from five addresses that the author gave at a conference.
The first chapter is entitled “The Ironies of the Cross” and is based on Matthew 27:27-51a. Through this passage we see the irony of what is being played out at the cross. For example: the man who is mocked as King is King. Matthew knows this and in the passage makes it clear to his readers. However, the mockers and the soldiers do not realise this, but the gospel writer knows this, the reader knows this, God knows it and Jesus knows it. He is indeed King of the Jews.
In the second chapter, “The Center of the Whole Bible” the author looks at Romans 3:21-26. He argues that this passage of scripture is not only key to understanding the letter to the Romans but the whole Bible itself. He does this by showing where the passage falls in the book of Romans and what Paul establishes through these verses.
The next chapter is called “The Strange Triumph of a Slaughtered Lamb” and is based on Revelation 12. The author believes that it’s important for us to consider Satan’s rage against the church so we can understand what is happening in Christianity today. He does this by explaining in this chapter: The Occasion for Satanic Rage, The Reasons for Satanic Rage and How Christians Overcome Satanic Rage as outlined in Revelation 12.
In chapter four, “A Miracle Full of Surprises”, we look at the events of John 11:1-53. These verses in John tell the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. D.A. Carson believes that we sometimes miss the element of surprise which is in this text as we have become superficially familiar with the Bible. He then breaks the chapter into four sections each containing surprising elements that we may have previously overlooked when reading this passage.
The final chapter “Doubting the Resurrection of Jesus” examines John 20:24-31 and looks at the apostle Thomas. The author starts the chapter by listing six causes of doubt. However, his argument here is that John is addressing the specific doubt of Thomas and not the universal answer to doubt. He then goes onto discuss: The Cry of a Disappointed Skeptic, The Adoration of an Astonished Skeptic and The Function of a Converted Skeptic.
Including the indexes at the back of the book, which includes a scripture index, the book is reasonably short at 173 pages. However, it is packed full of teaching on the cross and resurrection of Jesus that is clear, enlightening, encouraging and challenging. It is one of those books that should certainly be read more than once. If you are looking to read a book this Easter which reflects on the important events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday then I would recommend this book to you.