Dear Members and Friends of St. John,
In 2004 the movie “The Passion of the Christ” caused world-wide reaction. There was much opposition even to the release of the movie from Hollywood. But, the movie industry was surprised that the movie did so well at the box office. Many Christians, on the other hand, delighted that the portrayal of the great salvation act of God was shown in a positive light. Christians and non-Christians discussed the movie in churches, and in public.
But, there is a reason the move was named “The Passion of the Christ.” The scenes depicting the scourging, and the beating, and the crucifixion of Jesus were exceptionally violent and bloody. Some wondered if Mel Gibson, as director, hadn’t over-dramatized the violence and the blood. But, the truth is, without Jesus’ death, there would have been no resurrection. More fully stated, without Jesus’ suffering and death to pay for the sin of the world, and for our sin, there could be no salvation for the world, or for us.
The suffering and death of Jesus has always been a hard lesson for people just to hear, and even harder to learn. We are sinful people. Our rebellion, our hard-headed nature, our selfishness, our greed, our lust and anger and hatred and violence, are abhorrent to our Holy Creator and Heavenly Father. Our sin is real, even if we don’t want to admit that fact. We would like to be saved without admitting that our separation from God is something we have caused by our own sinful hearts and our own rebellious actions.
More unbelievable, for the eternal Son of God Himself to die seems so contrary to what our minds think of when we consider the Almighty God working His love and showing His glory. How could God die? That still causes many questions and doubts today.
However, whether or not the violence and the blood of the movie “The Passion of the Christ” was totally accurate, the movie got one very important fact right. Jesus’ suffering and death was necessary. For God to continue holy and opposed to sin, and for God to continue loving and saving His people, it was necessary that sin be paid for by one who was totally without sin and totally righteous. That is why the holy Son of God became man at Christmas. And, that is why Jesus, the sinless God-Man suffered and died, so that the one who had no sin could suffer in the place of sinners. It was necessary, that for us to be saved, Jesus had to pay for our sins because He was holy and did not deserve to suffer and die. Our rebellion, our selfishness, our hatred, our sin deserves God’s righteous and just punishment. We could not save ourselves.
The disciples also had trouble hearing this lesson and believing this truth that it was necessary for Jesus to suffer and die. In Matthew 16:21 we are told of Jesus teaching His disciples, “21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” (See also Mark 8:31, Mark 9:12, Luke 9:22, and Luke 17:25) Time and again Jesus taught this truth to His disciples. Time and again they ignored Jesus, or opposed Him, like Peter did in Matthew 16:22. “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!’" The truth of the suffering and death of Jesus, the Son of God and the son of Mary, and the reason for the suffering and death of Jesus is hard to swallow. It always has been.
That is why Christian churches don’t just celebrate Jesus’s victorious rising from the dead on Easter, but they also observe Holy Week. Holy Week considers all of Jesus’ suffering and His death. Holy Week gives Christians a chance to confess that our sins are so abhorrent to our Holy and Loving God that His own Son had to suffer and die to save us.
This week at St. John, and at many other Christian churches, we will observe Palm Sunday and Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as part of our Holy Week observance. We will celebrate Passover, and receive the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday, remembering Jesus’ last Supper. We will leave in silence on Good Friday after watching again the retelling of Jesus’ death on the cross. And then on Easter, April 1 this year, we will celebrate that in spite of our sin, and in spite of the worst that Satan could muster, in spite of the suffering and death of God’s Son, Jesus rose from the dead and God is victorious.
But, before the victory celebration of Easter, there is the opportunity to confess our sin, and the opportunity to remember the love of God shown in the suffering and death of His Son in our Holy Week observance.
A Child of God, Remembering the Price God Paid to Save Me from My Sin,
P.S. Last week was a BUSY Lenten week. Here are some pictures from LAST WEEK
· Alyeska Ski Day https://photos.app.goo.gl/ICtOJyou3rLMKPEJ3
· New Member Potluck https://photos.app.goo.gl/dlH2UFRY2Dns14yn2
P.P.S. THIS SUNDAY begins our Holy Week Observance. Two events that are important to remember.
· JEWS FOR JESUS PRESENTATION - “Christ in the Passover” – Rob Wertheim from Jews for Jesus will present “Christ in the Passover in both services on Palm Sunday, March 25. This will help prepare us for Holy Week, for our Passover celebration, and for our Easter Celebration. Plan to attend worship this Sunday.
· THE ANNUAL SHANE WOODS MEMORIAL ICE FISHING OUTING will be held at Seventeen Mile Lake this Sunday, March 25 after late worship (beginning around 1:00 p.m.?). We have fished in this lake the last 3 years. Here is a link to the ADFG page for Seventeen Mile lake. http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=fishingSportLakeData.lakeDetail&LakeID=402
The St. John Promise Keepers will provide fishing holes, fishing gear, and bait. They will provide hot dogs, hot cocoa, cookies and chips.
However, a number of our men will be out of town this year. We can use some help from other adults in the congregation.
Here is a link to pictures from last year’s outing. https://goo.gl/photos/EFBUg6ppMDfTMQnw6
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am regularly adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you do not want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message.