Jesus wasn’t the only would be messiah in the Jewish world. There were lots of them. Let me tell you about some of these messiahs.
About the time of Jesus birth there was a man named Simon son of Joseph. He was a slave of Herod the Great. When Herod died, Simon claimed that he was to be king. Simon gathered an army, burned several Roman castles, and gained a following. The great Jewish historian Josephus says that Gratus, the head of Herod’s infantry, chased down Simon and his followers and cut Simon’s head off. The revolution was over.
In the book of Acts we learn about Judas the Galilean. This Judas was the leader of what came to be called the Zealots. He led an army in revolt. Gratus captured Judas and likely executed him in a state trial. The book of Acts tells us that the revolution was over.
John of Giscala gained such a large following that his army took up the protection of all of Jerusalem and even the Temple itself. In about 70 AD, future Roman Emperor Titus marched on the city and Josephus says he killed about a million Jews. During the fighting, the glorious and newly restored Temple was burned to the ground. John of Giscala was captured and paraded through the streets of Rome in chains. The city was in ruins. The revolution was over.
Maybe the most famous of all was Simon bar Kochba. Simon led an army to a revolt in Jerusalem and held the Romans out for nearly 3 years. The Romans laid siege to the city, killed some 580,000 Jews including slaughtering children in the schools. They completely destroyed Jerusalem and Simon died in battle. The revolution was over.
Jesus, like so many would be revolutionaries, stood before a state trial and was executed as a political revolutionary. If all would have gone as expected, the Jesus revolution would have been over too. But it wasn’t. When they killed this Jesus, the revolution simply exploded. Suddenly the Christians began going around the world with the Good News that Jesus was actually the Lord of all.
What made Jesus different? Why did the Jesus movement grow at the death of the messiah when all other movements failed at the death of the other messiahs? Many scholars today agree that the difference was the resurrection. When Jesus breathed again, it changed everything. Jesus was alive and so the movement was alive.
When you look at the whole movement of the biblical narrative, it’s the resurrection that assures us that Jesus is the Lord of all that we claim him to be. Although the cross is an essential part of God’s salvation plan, the resurrection shows us that Jesus is something more than a failed Jewish revolutionary. When Jesus breathes, everything changes.
In our current worship series called “RISE”, we’ve been discussing what difference the resurrection (Easter) makes in our everyday lives. We are looking at the resurrection stories at the end of the book of John.
On Easter we reflected on this: We no longer have to avoid or fear emptiness in our lives; emptiness became the place where Jesus brings new life, like the empty tomb.
The next Sunday we reflected on this: The Risen Christ shared the power of his Spirit. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is living in you and in this world. Little Easters are happening all around us.
This past Sunday we reflected on this: The risen Christ gives us a place to bring our doubts, like Thomas, and a person in whom we can place our faith. The risen Christ shows us that nothing we face, not even death, can overcome God in Christ.
Stay tuned for this coming Sunday when we look at the resurrected Christ’s conversation with Peter and what that means for us today!
Ministry committees are still submitting their goals for the coming year. We have received the majority and will begin looking to align them. This will include the Administrative Council Chairperson and the Lead Pastor meeting with chairpersons of different committees as alignments are made, then a draft will be brought to Administrative Council. Please hold us in prayer as we discern Christ’s leading in the next steps in ministry. What an exciting time!
We have begun a Spring financial campaign. So many exciting things are happening here at Old Bethel. I know we will want to sustain and further the work of God through these ministries. We all can take part in a concrete way, through financial giving. Look for more information and an invitation to participate.
Our next Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) rotation is April 24-May 1. This is our ministry to families experiencing temporary homelessness. There are many ways to serve – set-up, preparing and/or hosting a meal, doing laundry, driving, helping with homework, engaging in conversation. Contact Marge Ohl at 317-894-0862 or Ric Gasaway at 317-894-1431 to serve this vital ministry.
The Blood Mobile will be here Sunday, April 24, 9am-1pm. Sign up in the lobby area between worship services this Sunday. Walk-ins are also be welcome. Contact Jeanette Tuttle at 317-861-8715 with any questions.
The year’s Annual Youth Mission Spaghetti Dinner, Dessert Auction & Bake Sale is Sunday, April 24, 4-6pm. Tickets are currently being sold between worship services each Sunday. The event will also include a silent auction of items donated by area businesses and a bake sale of goodies priced $10 or less. We ask that you bring your one show-stopping, specialty dessert and/or bake sale items to Fellowship Hall 9am-5pm Sunday, April 24. Contact Angie Shaw at 317-281-9098 with any questions.
Serving Christ Together,