Friday, May 13, 2011

Transformations: After the Resurrection Part 4

By Brenda Cathcart

In keeping with our theme of names, Jesus’ name was given to Him before He was born. When the angel spoke to Joseph about the child Mary was carrying, the angel told Joseph what to name the child.

Matthew 1:21-23 NKJV 21 "And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins." 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."

Did you catch it? Matthew said Jesus was to be given two names, Jesus and Immanuel. The divine nature of Jesus is revealed in these verses. In Hebrew, the name Jesus is Yeshua meaning He will save. Yeshua is a shortened form of the name Joshua, Yehoshua, which means God will save. He is also to be called Immanuel, God with us.  It is interesting that Jesus’ name was Yeshua not Yehoshua. He, Jesus, as Immanuel God with us, would be the one to bring salvation to all who believe.

God says through the prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 44:6 NKJV 6 "Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: 'I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.

How did Jesus bring salvation to all who believed? He died for our sins on the cross at Passover and rose from the dead on the third day. The third day just happens to be a Feast day called the Feast of Firstfruits. After His resurrection, He appeared to the disciples and finally on the fortieth day, He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the father and pour out the gift of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.

Acts 2:32-33 NKJV 32 "This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 "Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.

This morning and this afternoon, we will follow Jesus from His resurrection on the Feast of Firstfruits to His ascension forty days later. This evening, we will examine the events of the Day of Pentecost which is also a feast day called the Feast of Weeks.

Luke tells about the morning of His resurrection.

Luke 24:1-2 NKJV 1 Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb.

His resurrection is on the first day of the week, the day after the Sabbath. Leviticus tells us that this day is the Feast of Firstfruits that occurs in the midst of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Leviticus 23:4-11 NKJV 4 'These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. 5 'On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD'S Passover. 6 'And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. 7 'On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. 8 'But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD for seven days. The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.'" 9 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 10 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. 11 'He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.

There are a few points I want to highlight in this passage:
1. Passover is on the 14th day of the first month called Nisan. This is the day Jesus was crucified.
2. The next day, the 15th day of the first month is the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It is to be observed as a Sabbath even if it doesn’t fall on a Sabbath! It is called a High Sabbath.
3. The Feast of Firstfruits is to be observed on the first day of the week; that is the day after the weekly Sabbath.

In Jesus’ day, the priests would begin preparing for the Feast of Firstfruits early on the 14th day of the first month. The priests would go to a barley field near Jerusalem and tie up a bundle of barley that would be harvested as soon as the High Sabbath of the 15th was over at sundown. Or if the weekly Sabbath followed the High Sabbath, they would harvest it as soon as the Sabbath ended at sundown. That very night, they would thresh, roast and grind the grain into fine flour. They added frankincense and oil to make the bread to wave before the LORD in the ceremony of Firstfruits. As the first day of the week dawned, the ceremonies began. The people of Israel who had come to Jerusalem for this week of Feasts would bring their newly harvested sheaves of barley and their firstfruit offerings to the Temple. The priests would go out to meet them, take some of the sheaves, lift them into the air and wave them in all directions. They proceeded to the Temple with music, praise psalms, and dancing. The priests would offer up the bread made with the new barley along with a single lamb.

Now, correlate this with Jesus’ death and resurrection. On the day of His death, the priests tie the sheaf of barley and get it ready for harvest. On the days before His crucifixion, Jesus compared Himself to a kernel of grain.

John 12:23-24 NKJV 23 But Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.

Then further in the chapter, Jesus says:

John 12:32 NKJV 32 "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself."

Jesus died and rose again being lifted up like the sheaf of barley. Grain planted in the earth grows and produces more grain. Jesus being planted in the earth produced a bountiful harvest. This also applies to us; we need to die with Jesus and be resurrected to new life.

Romans 6:4 NKJV 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

After the priests lift up the sheaf, they offer the newly made grain on the altar. It symbolically rises to God in the smoke from the altar. It is an offering of Firstfruits. Jesus also went and presented Himself to God as the Firstfruits. Early in the morning of His resurrection, He appeared to Mary Magdalene but told her not to touch Him.

John 20:17 NKJV 17 Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'"

Her message to the disciples was that Jesus was ascending to the Father! Paul calls Jesus the Firstfruits of the resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:20 NKJV 20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

 Jesus then returns and appears before the disciples encouraging them to touch Him and verify that He is Jesus returned in His glorified body.

John 20:19-20 NKJV 19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you." 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

Their discouragement and despair turns to gladness. No longer were they hiding and cowering in fear. And so begins the countdown to the Feast of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit would fall on the disciples.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and Be Blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

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