Keep 'em comin'!
1 "Sing, O childless woman! Break forth into loud and joyful song, O Jerusalem, even though you never gave birth to a child. For the woman who could bear no children now has more than all the other women," says the LORD. 2 "Enlarge your house; build an addition; spread out your home! 3 For you will soon be bursting at the seams. Your descendants will take over other nations and live in their cities. 4 "Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. The shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood will be remembered no more, 5 for your Creator will be your husband. The LORD Almighty is his name! He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth.
11 "O storm-battered city, troubled and desolate! I will rebuild you on a foundation of sapphires and make the walls of your houses from precious jewels. 12 I will make your towers of sparkling rubies and your gates and walls of shining gems. 13 I will teach all your citizens, and their prosperity will be great. 14 You will live under a government that is just and fair.
1"Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink - even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk � it's all free! 2 Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen, and I will tell you where to get food that is good for the soul! 3 "Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, for the life of your soul is at stake. I am ready to make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the mercies and unfailing love that I promised to David. 4 He displayed my power by being my witness and a leader among the nations. 5 You also will command the nations, and they will come running to obey, because I, the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, have made you glorious."...
8 "My thoughts are completely different from yours," says the LORD. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. 9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. 10 "The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. 11 It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. 12 You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! 13 Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where briers grew, myrtles will sprout up. This miracle will bring great honor to the LORD's name; it will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.
What does the resurrection of the Messiah mean for everybody else?
A whole new world! The mountains are running and skipping, the trees are clapping, the rocks will cry out, etc., etc. A small band of people from a "backwards" nation will eventually broaden their scope, become emboldened enough to die horrible deaths proclaiming the death and resurrection of their leader (in the promised hope that they too will be resurrected), gain thousands, tens of thousands, eventually millions and now billions of followers, topple the mighty Roman Empire, heal the sick, comfort the fatherless and widows, cuddle burn-victims, AIDS victims, lepers, establish and run hospitals.Yes, many horrible things were done by Christians and in the name of Jesus. But those atrocities are more results of being broken and self-centered than of living in and through the resurrection. More a result of having as Lord Caesar and wealth than Jesus. More a result of neglecting our God and our neighbor in favor of self-interests, rather than loving the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls, minds and loving our neighbors as we love ourselves.
So [the women] rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples - and everyone else - what had happened... But the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn't believe it. However, Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb to look. Stooping, he peered in and saw the empty linen wrappings,; then he went home again, wondering what had happened.
Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. "Dear woman, why are you crying?" the angels asked her.
"Because they have taken away my Lord," she replied, "and I don't know where they have put him."
She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn't recognize him. "Dear woman, why are you crying?" Jesus asked her, "Who are you looking for?"
She thought he was the Gardener. "Sir," she said, "if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him."
"Mary!" Jesus said.
She turned to him and cried out, "Rabboni!"
"Don't cling to me," Jesus said, "for I haven't yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them that I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, "I have seen the Lord!" Then she gave them his message.
Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread. And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. "Peace be with you," he said. But the whole group was startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost!
"Why are you frightened?" he asked. "Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it's really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don't have bodies, as you see that I do." As he spoke, he showed them his hands and his feet.
Still they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder.
The rain and snow come down from the heavens
and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the rain to grow,
producing seed for the farmer
and bread for the hungry.
It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
You will live in joy and peace.
The mountains and hills will burst into song,
and the trees of the field will clap their hands!
Where once there were throns, cypress trees will grow.
Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up.
These events will bring great honor to the Lord's name;
they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.
Easter would hardly have been, for two thousand years, the spring and center of Christian life and prayer, would hardly have provided the focus of Christian worship and the form of Christian hope, if the word Easter were simply the name of something that once happened in the past.
Some of the governor's soldiers took Jesus into their headquaters and called out the entire regiment. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, "Hail! King of the Jews!" And they spit on him and grabbed the stick and struck him on the head with it. When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.**
26 As they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread and asked God's blessing on it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying,"Take it and eat it, for this is my body." 27 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, "Each of you drink from it, 28 for this is my blood, which seals the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out to forgive the sins of many. 29 Mark my words I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father's Kingdom." Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.