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Lamentations 3:52-58 1
52 Those who were my enemies without cause hunted me like a bird. 53 They tried to end my life in a pit and threw stones at me; 54 the waters closed over my head, and I thought I was about to perish. 55 I called on your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit. 56 You heard my plea: “Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.” 57 You came near when I called you, and you said, “Do not fear.” 58 You, Lord, took up my case; you redeemed my life.

img213Background 2

Jeremiah is the author of the Lamentations. The book was not written until after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans. Nebuchadnezzar II laid siege to Jerusalem, culminating in the destruction of the city and its temple in 587 BC. Lamentations leads us to consider sin as the cause of all our calamities, and under trials of life, to exercise submission, repentance, faith, and prayer, with the hope of promised deliverance through God’s mercy.

Biblical Truths

Verse 52 This is probably the prophet speaking of his personal sorrows.

Verse 53 It appears that Jeremiah’s life was threatened by his enemies casting him into a cistern, and covering the opening with a stone.

Verse 54 Is a figurative expression for great mental trouble.

Verses 55-66 Represent a prayer for deliverance and for vengeance upon his enemies.

  • Lamentations 3:55: Out of the low dungeon – Jeremiah 38:6 adds more: “6 So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkijah, the king’s son, which was in the courtyard of the guard. They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud.”
  • Lamentations 3:56: Jeremiah rejoices that God hears his prayer – He sends Ebedmelech to deliver pull him out of the cistern.
  • Lamentations 3:58: God now appears as the prophet‘s next of kin, pleading the lawsuits of his soul, i. e. the controversies which concern his salvation. and rescuing his life, defending Jeremiah against his enemies.

Items for Discussion

  • Why does it take a crisis to wake people up and call on God for help?
  • If God is the judge, what type of attorney and qualifications/experience would be most comforting to you?
  • Why can’t we defend ourselves before God?
  • Why is Christ the perfect attorney for mankind?
  • What kinds of witnesses would you like to have who would testify on your behalf?

 

John 20:1-18
1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” 3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying. 11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). 17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Background

This is probably the best known story of our Lord and Saviour, his resurrection after He was crucified. The Apostle John was there. He is giving us a personal accounting of what happened. In these verses we learn that Christ’s tomb is found empty. (1-10) Christ appears to Mary. (11-18) He appears to the disciples. (19-25) The unbelief of Thomas. (26-29). It is in Chapter 20 that John tells us why he wrote the Gospel, John wanted his readers to believe ‘that Jesus is the Messiah, God’s Son’ (John 20:31).

Bible Truth 3

Verse 1 This is the second reference to Mary from Magdala in John’s Gospel. The other Gospels tell more about her. Jesus made 7 evil spirits leave her. She became his loyal follower. She was probably the leader of the group of women who travelled with Jesus and his disciples. These women paid for the things that they all needed. They looked after Jesus and his disciples in a practical way. Mary from Magdala was present when Jesus died on the cross. The other Gospels tell us that some other women went with Mary to Jesus’ grave.
Verses 2-10 Mary was not expecting Jesus to become alive again. When she saw the open entrance, it upset her. She thought that somebody had moved the stone in order to remove Jesus’ body. So she ran to Peter and the other disciple to tell them. They ran to the grave themselves to see what had happened. The other disciple, ‘whom Jesus loved’, is probably John himself. See John 13:23. When he arrived, the other disciple did not rush inside. He just looked in. He saw the position of the cloths. It seemed as if Jesus’ body had just passed through them. If somebody had stolen the body, they would not have left the cloths like this. But Peter rushed inside first. And he did not seem to realize the importance of these details.

When the other disciple saw the position of the cloths, he ‘believed’ (verse 8). He did not believe that Jesus’ spirit had gone to heaven. This disciple believed that Jesus’ body had actually become alive again. But it was a new kind of life, because his body was able to pass through material. It was not the same as when Lazarus became alive again. Lazarus’s body was the same as before. And his body would become old and he would die in the end. But Jesus’ body was not the same as it was before. He would never die again. Both Jesus and the scriptures said that after his death, Jesus would become alive again. But the disciples had not realized what this meant before. They had not expected the grave to be empty. But the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection was in the scriptures and in the empty grave. The other disciple examined the evidence and he believed! Jesus’ resurrection proved that he was really God’s Son. He had defeated even death. For Christians, death is not the end, but the beginning of a new life with God.This passage is strong proof that the story is a true record of real events. John recorded that a woman first saw Jesus alive again. If he had made up the story, he would not have written this. This was because, legally, there had to be two male witnesses to an event. Then people would believe that it had really happened. They did not allow female witnesses in a court of law.

Verses 11-16 Mary was crying. And she could not stop. Even when she saw the angels, she did not stop. She did not understand what had happened. She had expected to see Jesus’ body in the grave. But it had gone. She certainly did not expect to see Jesus alive. Perhaps her tears made it difficult to see. Perhaps it was still dark. Whatever the reason, she did not recognize Jesus until he said her name. Then she recognized him. He used the Aramaic form of her name. And she answered him in Aramaic. It was the familiar language that Jesus and his disciples spoke. The author John wrote his Gospel in Greek. But he recorded the actual Aramaic words that Jesus and Mary used. This emphasized how personal this meeting was. John was very careful to include these details. He was repeating the report of somebody who was actually present there. Jesus knows us all personally. He knows each one of us by our name. When we pray, he speaks to us in our mind and our spirit. Like Mary, we will recognize his voice (John 10:1-6). And we must answer him. He is our Teacher, our Lord, and our King.

Verses 17-18 Jesus had not become alive again so that he could remain on the earth. He had not returned to life so that he could stay with his disciples. He knew that, soon, he had to return to heaven. Then the Holy Spirit could come, as Jesus had promised (John 14:15-31). So he could not stay with Mary in the garden. Mary had to leave too. She had an important message to give to the disciples. Jesus was alive! She had seen him. Jesus had called his disciples ‘friends’ rather than ‘servants’ (John 15:14-15). But in verse 17, he called them ‘brothers’. Because of his death and resurrection, they had become God’s children. God was their Father, too. But he was their Father in a different way from the way that he was Jesus’ Father. This is because Jesus, the Son, has always existed with his Father and the Holy Spirit. Jesus is also God. But everybody who believes in him receives the right to be called God’s child. God adopts such people into his family.

Items for Discussion

  • If Good Friday represents the gift of forgiveness from God, what should Easter, the day of resurrection represent to all humans?
  • What evidence have you personally found in Scriptures that Christ overcame death?
  • Why is it not possible to understand God without understanding who Christ is?
  • Which do you personally consider the greater of gifts, the forgiveness of sin (the cross) or the proof of everlasting life (the resurrection)?

Discussion Challenge

  • How will you celebrate Easter so that your friends, family and neighbors get to know Christ better? 
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