“The Lord God Jesus Christ reigns, whose kingdom shall be for ages of ages.” - True Christian Religion §791
Kempton New Church

March 2004

Dear Neighbor,

As we approach Easter, some people will be going to see the new film about the Lord’s passion. Since fewer people are reading the Bible, the film will give them an idea of the Easter stories.

The Lord gave us the story of His life by the written Word. Even the most sincere person retelling the great story, whether in stained glass windows, painting, music or film, cannot compare with our Lord’s own Word. He is “the Word made flesh” (John 1:14). We can read the actual account of the events from the last night through the resurrection in Matthew, chapters 26-28; Mark 14-16; Luke 22-24; and John 18-21 – about 23 pages in all.

Some people have commented on the cruelty that is graphically portrayed in the movie. In Matthew 27:26 it says, “and when he had whipped Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.” A little further on it says, “And spitting on Him, they took the reed, and smote Him on the head” (v. 30). “And they crucified Him, and parted His garments, casting lots…” (v. 35) Perhaps the film, simply because it is visual, emphasizes the physical torture more than the Word itself does.

But we cannot take these deeds lightly. In abusing Jesus, they were trying to destroy the Word. They hated Him because of the truth and the life that He taught. Jesus had criticized them, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithes of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith…” (Matthew 23:23) “If you had known what this means, ‘I will have mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless” (Matthew 12:7).

We human beings will always have a tendency to torture the meaning of the Lord’s Word to excuse ourselves from making the judgments we need to make about our own bad habits, and from extending mercy to others, and from having faith in the Lord. That is one reason why we need to keep being reminded of these awful events, year by year. In His willingness to lay down His life for us, we see how greatly the Lord loves us. By letting them kill His body but then rising again, the Lord conquered and subjugated the demons that were possessing people physically and mentally. He set us free, and He led us to think of this life as preparation for eternal life. We worship the risen Lord, who is the way, the truth, and the life.

You are always welcome to the Kempton New Church. Services are at 10:00 a.m. Wherever you worship, whether at church or at home, I hope you have a reflective, joyful Easter, remembering our Lord. “And the angel, answering, said to the women, ‘Fear not, for I know that you seek Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, for He is risen, as He said!” (Matthew 28:5-6)

Sincerely,

Rev. Lawson M. Smith