by Leonard Lauriault
Easter is also called Resurrection Sunday because that’s the day Jesus rose from the grave having paid the death penalty for our sins, thereby overcoming that penalty and the one who uses its power against us (Romans 3: 23; 2 Timothy 1: 8-10; Hebrews 2: 14, 15; Matthew 5: 17,18). Easter has come and gone this year; but, the Jewish Passover, to which God actually attached Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, doesn’t begin until April 20 (Matthew 26: 17-20, 26-30; Deuteronomy 16: 1-12). Passover begins on a fixed date on the Jewish calendar and actually came before the resurrection. Consequently, it puzzles me somewhat how Resurrection Sunday and Passover are separated this year. While I won’t expend any effort trying to learn why, some Christians and nonChristians do get hung up on holidays and seasons losing focus on why those days are celebrated, sometimes even to the point that they stumble in their salvation or even worse, fall altogether (Romans 14: 5-8; Colossians 2: 16, 17).
It does interest me that one of the things associated with Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection that’s also used to describe Jesus himself, is something people will stumble over – the stone (1 Peter 2: 6-8). People stumble over Christ mostly because his righteous message offends them (1 Corinthians 1: 18-31; John 17: 17; 3: 16-21; 11: 9, 10; Deuteronomy 32: 4). Read all of Matthew 5, 6 and 7 sometime to see the challenges Jesus placed before us in righteous living.
Many people today accept almost anything presented as historical, but stumble over the stone that was rolled away allowing our risen Savior to exit his tomb (Mark 16: 1-4; Matthew 28: 1-7). The fact is, there were more documented witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection than most other events of that day and those people were so convinced of its reality that they were willing to die for it (1 Corinthians 15: 1-8; Hebrews 10: 32-39; 2 Timothy 4: 6-8, 16-18; Philippians 2: 17; 1: 20-26). Any question about Jesus’ resurrection was illegitimately raised and soon quelled by God with further proof of its reality (Matthew 28: 11-15; Acts 2: 1-41; Hebrews 2: 1-4).
The initial public proof came that first Pentecost after the resurrection, which you just read about in Acts 2. Pentecost, also called the Jewish Feast of Weeks or Harvest, is the fiftieth day after the Passover Sabbath, thus falling on the first day of the week – Sunday (Leviticus 23: 4-22). Christians consider that first Pentecost after the resurrection to be the birthday of the Jesus’ church because that’s the first time the gospel message was preached and responded to and we’ve met on the first day of the week ever since (Matthew 16: 18; 1 Corinthians 3: 11; Acts 20: 6, 7; 1 Corinthians 16: 1, 2; 11: 23-26).
If Passover and Resurrection Sunday (both of which are connected to Pentecost) are separated in time, could that not cause more confusion for the people of the world? They already stumble over the many “Christian” denominations all claiming to stand for the truth, but disagreeing on the basic doctrine of how to become a Christian, which you just read in Acts 2. Read also John 17 sometime where Jesus prays for unity based on God’s word alone. Our disunity is a terrible sin and the only way to overcome it is to seek God’s forgiveness and just do what the Bible says under the new covenant – the New Testament (1 Corinthians 1: 10-17). Like Jesus, Paul may not have done all the baptizing, but he made sure it was done (John 3: 22-36; 4: 1, 2; Acts 19: 1-5).
Again, 1 Peter 2: 6-8 calls Jesus the cornerstone, the stumbling stone, and the capstone. He’s the cornerstone of Christianity because there’s no foundation for life now or for eternity without him (Matthew 7: 24-27; 1 Corinthians 15: 19). Jesus is the stumbling stone because people don’t want to accept his righteous message. Finally, upon his resurrection, Jesus became the capstone, the head of his church – those who submit to his teachings, which include living in a state of continued forgiveness (Ephesians 1: 13-23; 1 John 1: 5-9). Conversely, like the stone that was rolled away opening his tomb, Jesus became the capstone that will roll over (or fall on) and crush those who don’t follow his teachings (Mathew 21: 42-44; 2 Thessalonians 1: 6-10).
What’ll you do with the stone? Will you accept the eternal life God brought about through Jesus’ resurrection and make him the capstone of your life? Or will you stumble over the stone, eventually having it roll back over you?
Now on what day will Pentecost fall in 2008? (That doesn’t matter because we’re to commemorate our resurrection in Christ every Sunday.)