Lenten Prayer Guide: Easter Sunday
By Carl Chang
Senior Financial Analyst
Reflection 1: Sunday, April 4
Scripture: Mark 16:6
‘Alarmed’ means to be terrified, to be amazed, so these words are akin to the familiar
phrase “do not be afraid.” How many times have we heard the words “do not be afraid” or “do not fear?” We have heard them from our parents or guardians growing up or we have used them with our own kids, nephews and nieces. How many times have those words been used in the Bible? It is usually an expression to calm you, to put you at ease.
The scriptures have many examples of angels telling people do not fear or do not be afraid, such as in Daniel 10:12, 19 and Luke 2:10. The women who were there at the tomb were Mary, the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Mary the wife of Cleopas among others. We can assume they felt much anticipation and anxiety when they went to the tomb. For us this year, fear and anxiety may be especially familiar emotions. For many 2020 was a year of fears. The fear of contracting a virus, of dying, of being financially dependent, of losing livelihoods and a plethora of other fears. Fear is the root cause of believing all kinds of theories and conspiracies. The word of God, however, has a lot to say about fear. As believers, let us trust God completely. He has promised never to leave us or desert us.
Isaiah 41:10 tells us, “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”.
Let us hang on to God’s promises and immerse ourselves in his word and pray unceasingly, and the fear factor will fade.The Mark passage then refers to “Jesus the Nazarene.” A Nazarene is simply one from Nazareth, but in digging a little deeper, we see that the Hebrew for Nazareth is from a word that means “branch” or “sprout.” Why might this be important? Because one of the most famous messianic prophecies in the Bible is found in Isaiah 11:1-2, “a shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots, a branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding.” Matthew also refers to Jesus as the Nazarene in Matthew 2:23, “and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.” The Messiah is also referred to as “branch” in Zechariah 16:12, Jeremiah 23:5 and Isaiah 4:2.
Returning to the scene at the tomb, it is the rest of the verse in Mark that gives us believers and followers of Jesus so much hope and reason for rejoicing. Look how the tense changes over the last part of the verse: “who was crucified.” The past tense suggests an event that has taken place; it is past. Our Lord was crucified, and he died on the cross. However, after the nadir comes the zenith: “he has risen.” Because “he is risen, he is alive,” we know we serve a living God. We reflect on the resurrected Christ: his birth, his humble and lowly life on earth, his death on the cross and all the events associated with it, and we see a new meaning in all of this. The end of Jesus’ time on earth culminated in a new birth, his resurrection. This is a witness to his divinity. Christ’s resurrection is one of the central truths of the Christian faith (1 Corinthians 15:4) and the only plausible explanation for the empty tomb.
Jesus’ resurrection gives us believers so much joy, the grief of the crucifixion is totally dispelled. Jesus’ resurrection reminds us why we worship and praise a living God.
Reflection 2: Monday, April 5
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15: 17
Ponder: What does the resurrection mean to you?
Reflection 3: Tuesday, April 6
Ponder: Does your focus on Christ and the resurrection intensify before or after Easter or is it at the same level? Why is this so?
Reflection 4: Wednesday, April 7
Scripture: 1 Peter 1:3
Ponder: What is the greatest gift of Easter for you?
Reflection 5: Thursday, April 8
Scripture: Romans 10:9
Ponder: Why is the resurrection important to you?
Reflection 6: Friday, April 9
Scripture: John 14:19
Ponder: According to Martin Luther, our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime. What else or where do you see the promise of resurrection?