Jesus' Last Passover Celebration

, by Christopher D. Hudson

Jesus’ final week unfolded against the backdrop of preparations for the Passover, a yearly festival that prompted many first-century Jews to travel to Jerusalem. The Passover feast, which commemorated God’s dramatic rescue of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt, provided an important clue as to Jesus’ real mission: it involved the sacrifice of an innocent lamb.

The origin of the Passover Festival is found in ancient Egypt, where the family of Jacob (also called Israel) sought refuge from a famine. There, over hundreds of years, that family grew into a nation of Israelite people enslaved by the Egyptians (Exodus 1:6–14). The Old Testament book of Exodus tells us that when Moses asked for the freedom of these enslaved people, God sent a series of plagues to convince Egypt’s king to comply. In the last of these plagues, death swept across Egypt, taking the firstborn son of every family and firstborn male of all animals. Only the firstborn of those belonging to Israelite families were spared.  As commanded by the LORD, they sacrificed an innocent lamb and marked their doorposts with the blood of that lamb so that the LORD’s angel of death would pass over their homes (Exodus 12:21-23).

God instructed the people to commemorate the Passover yearly from then on. Each time a Jewish family celebrates the Passover, the children are invited to recount the story and all relive the event with a memorial meal.

Jesus, who anticipated his death (see Matthew 20:17–19; Mark 10:32-34; Luke 18:31–34), timed the decisive moment to coincide with the Passover Festival. His whole life seemed to be hurtling toward this moment, reinforcing his identity as the ultimate Passover Lamb, whose sacrifice has everlasting benefits. Years earlier, when Jesus was beginning his public ministry, John the Baptist called him “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). And years later, the apostle Paul wrote, “our Passover Lamb is Christ, who has already been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7).

Article taken from MESSAGES FROM GOD, which I created for Time, Inc and American Bible Society.

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Should Christians Pay Taxes?

, by Christopher D. Hudson

Bring up the topic of taxes with a group of people and you are likely to ignite a heated debate. Are you paying your fair share? Should the government tax you more or less?

Jesus’ perspective on taxes may surprise you. When he lived on earth, Jesus was a citizen of the Roman Empire. Ironically, he would have been responsible to pay taxes that funded the government that eventually gave him an unjust trial and death sentence.

Even though Jesus knew the role the Roman government would ultimately play in his own suffering, he did not advise anyone to opt out of paying their taxes. Instead, he encouraged people to pay their taxes without a second thought. He said, “Give the Emperor what belongs to him and give God what belongs to God” (Matthew22:21, CEV).

How could Jesus commend paying taxes to a corrupt government? How could he support a legal system that supported torture and crucifixion? The answer lies in Jesus’ perspective.

Christ’s eyes were focused on a different kingdom. He was focused on God and his work and did not find his true home here on earth. His true home was heaven, and he encouraged his followers to have the same perspective by giving to “God what belongs to God.”

If we aim to follow God and focus our hearts on heaven, then mundane and earthly duties (like paying taxes) can become less of a frustrating burden.

I wrote the above article for The Bible: 100 Ways It Can Change Your Life published by Time.
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Video Bible Study: Good Friday Reflections

, by Christopher D. Hudson

Join me Friday for a Bible Study on Good Friday. Broadcast is April 18, 2014 @ 11am (Central, USA).

Together we'll take a fascinating look at what happened to Jesus at his trial. We'll see the mistakes his accusers made and how Jesus' intentionally chose a road that led to the cross.

My friend Jeff Lewis who is a Bible teacher and attorney will provide a unique lawyer's perspective on Jesus' trial and the clear mission of Jesus. You won't want to miss this.

RSVP here:
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Video Bible Study: Heaven & Hell (What does the Bible say?)

, by Christopher D. Hudson

Earlier today I hosted a video Bible study on Heaven and Hell.  This 25 minute Bible study was inspired by new book: Heaven & Hell: Are They Real?

Here's the link to the archived version of the broadcast.
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Embracing Pain

, by Christopher D. Hudson

To say my friend “fell” from the ministry would be an understatement. If I told you what he did, you might want to quit reading. It was bad -- really bad.

When you and I sin, most people never know about it. If a friend or family member is hurt, we can usually smooth it over. However, when this friend sinned, it made TV, YouTube, and the newspaper. 

Years after the events, the dust is still settling … and it may never resolve completely. Still, this man is a brother in Christ. And while what he did was revolting, the man is an old friend of 20 years.

I recently caught up with him and he recounted for me what happened, relived the bad choices he had made, and took full ownership for what he had done.

As someone well aware of my own sins, I was slow to cast stones. Instead, I listened with a heavy heart as he described the life-changing consequences he now endures. And through this difficult journey, he also told me about how Jesus had met him in these dark times. He had renewed hope, embraced a fresh forgiveness and understood life as he had never experienced it before.  

At one point, he said something that struck me profoundly. “You wouldn’t believe the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual hell I’ve gone through. It has been awful and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. But I wouldn’t trade it away, either … because it made me who I am today.”

That’s a stunning statement.

Don’t misunderstand. He was immensely sorry for his sin and broken by the consequences, but the result drove him to the cross in a way he never had experienced before. This horrible, humbling experience was both the worst thing -- and the best thing -- that ever happened to him.

And lest you think I’ve given him a free pass for what he’s done, I haven’t. Still, my friend is a living example of the joy and growth that can come from brokenness. When we put aside our self-righteousness and embrace our pain and sinfulness, God can meet us in a special way.

Most of us like to hide our failures and shortcomings. We smile at church, offering a quick, “I’m doing great. How are you?” After a while it becomes habit, and we begin to convince ourselves that we don’t have needs or problems. And as we strive to maintain this rosy picture, we miss out on the chance to meet God in the pain and difficulty we experience. We miss out on the chance to know his healing and his touch in a special way.

After all, it’s not the healthy who need him, but the sick.

Bible Examples
I’m thankful the Bible is filled with people who met God in a special way as they embraced their pain. Consider these:

Hannah … cried out to a husband who didn’t understand, and was accused of terrible behavior by God’s priest. After she prayed, God met her in a special way and answered her prayer (1 Samuel 2).

Paul & Silas … were beaten and publically humiliated. They shared the experience together, embraced the pain, and found energy to praise God. In return, God shook the ground, broke their chains and freed them from prison (Acts 16).

Jeremiah … was a reluctant prophet who didn’t want the job. He spent 40 years in ministry as a hated, sorrowful man. Thrown in jail for speaking the truth, Jeremiah had a difficult calling. When his prophecies came true and the city of Jerusalem was attacked, destroyed, and burned to the ground, there stood Jeremiahwith tears and a broken heart. And do you know what happened? God met him in his pain. The weeping prophet did not hide his pain but embraced reality. And in the middle of his anguish, he discovered the nearness of God and said, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Or how about David, whose lapse of character and judgment brought agony and pain on himself, his people, and his family. What’s the lesson he learned and subsequently, teaches us? You can meet God in a special way when you own up to your sins. “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are coveredWhen I kept silent, my bones wasted awayThen I acknowledged my sins to youAnd you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32).

Me & You
Life is painful. If it doesn’t hurt now, it will at some point. And in the denial of those difficult times, you may miss the opportunity for God to meet you in your pain.

The problem is often our ego. We don’t want people to see the real us. We don’t want people to see us cry. We think that if we hold it inside, we won’t have to share it with others or with God. The problem is, when we do that, we miss out.

Numbing the Pain
Sometimes that pain is inflicted on us and sometimes we bring it upon ourselves. Regardless of the source, every moment of pain comes with a decision. Will we stuff the feeling deep inside and try to numb it, or will we embrace it and let God meet us in that pain?

I have known people who try to numb their pain in many ways. I’ve seen people try to drink their troubles away. I’ve known young people with scars on their arms and legs who tried to find relief through cutting. I’ve seen dear friends try to comfort themselves by eating too muchand others try to take control by eating too little.

And me? My usual escape isn’t a substance but rather the busyness of distracting activities … because I know that if I stay busy enough, I won’t have to think about it.

Embracing the Pain
Life rarely works out the way we want. And the surprises that blindside us can be devastating. Even if we manage to dodge the outside forces that can damage us, we still have a tough time evading the effects of our own sin and shortcomings.

So what can we do about it?

Hide it? Stuff it? Numb it? Or embrace it. Yes, embracing the pain hurts. But by being honest with others, ourselves, and our God, we have the opportunity to meet him in a way we’ve never known before. An experience we wouldn’t trade for the world.

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Will Heaven be Boring?

, by Christopher D. Hudson

Do you remember your first real job?

For me, it was right out of college. My fiancée helped me pick out some dress shirts, slacks, and a few ties. I bought my first briefcase. I agonized over selecting the right one, even though my dad had warned me that it would simply become an expensive lunch box. I bought one anyway and eagerly welcomed the start of my new life.

I had accepted a job at a publishing services company that rented space from Tyndale House Publishers. On my first day I arrived at the office early—with my lunch in my briefcase—and collected my first assignments. Although the initial few days were exciting, the days began to drag on. Because I had been hired right out of college, I was not used to sitting at a desk from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. I loved the job, but I quickly learned that nine hours a day is a character-building commitment.

One of my biggest growing-up moments during that first month of employment occurred on the sidewalk, right outside Tyndale’s building. The structure itself is impressive with a tall entryway and beautiful glass doors. In the morning light, the doors serve as a full-length mirror that captures your attention as you walk up the sidewalk.

It was on an early morning in May that a glimpse of my own reflection stopped me. There I was in my shirt, tie, and shiny, professional shoes. In my hand was a black, leather briefcase. And as I looked at my reflection, an overwhelming thought crushed me: I’m going to be doing this the rest of my life.

No, I wouldn’t be working in that building or at that company the rest of my life, but I would be working. The fun life of being a kid and college student was over. The new life of slogging through the workday was all mine. The professional life that I had looked forward to for years was not as exciting as what I had expected.

Don’t get me wrong. I love what I do. I enjoy working on Christian books, teaching the Bible, and serving the church. But it is effort. And, as the case may be for most people, some days it’s just tough getting out of bed.

The memory of that morning in 1994 came back to mind recently as I was reading about what life will be like with God in heaven. Psalm16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (ESV)

Did you catch that? Life with God—life in heaven—is not boring, mundane, or exhausting. When we find ourselves in the physical presence of God, we’ll discover it is filled with joy, wonder, and “pleasures forevermore.”

Sometimes we worry about what we could possibly do to keep ourselves entertained in heaven. After all, eternity is a long time. And while we don’t know exactly what we’ll be doing all day, day after day, we have a promise that we can look forward to: heaven will be an exciting place that we’ll never grow tired of.

I discuss these themes more in Heaven & Hell: Are They Real?. This book was created to answer the 60 most asked questions people have about Heaven and Hell.
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Your Vote Shapes A Future Book

, by Christopher D. Hudson

Proverbs 15:22 "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed."
  • * Would you join my group that helps select Christian book covers?
  • * Would you be willing to help Christian publishers develop stronger books and resources? 
  • * Would you like to share your opinion on what kind of Christian books should be published?

If so, please join my Christian Book Survey Team. I usually contact this team once or twice a month by email to ask specific questions about book ideas or book covers. Sometimes the books are mine and sometimes they aren't. Either way, your voice helps shape the future of a Christian book that may one day land in bookstores.

If you are interested in joining me, you can sign up below. I won't spam you or share your email. And you can unsubscribe at any time.

Join the Christian Book Survey Team

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Will We Have Physical Bodies in Heaven?

, by Christopher D. Hudson

Do you like your physical body? Unfortunately, many of us would say, “No, thank you,” and we would be happy to ditch them in heaven. But is that likely to happen? Will we have physical bodies in the new heaven and new earth? Or will we leave our bodies in the grave and become merely spirits? Two-thirds of Americans polled on this topic say "No", but what does the Bible say? 
A reading of 1 Corinthians 15:12-13 would indicate that we are raised along with our bodies.  "But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised."

Could it be that we are raised with real, physical bodies that have been translated into heavenly ones? 1 Corinthians continues in 15:35-40: "But someone will ask, 'How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?'  How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.  But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another."

Paul seems to be saying, that YES, we will indeed have physical bodies but they will be somewhat different than our earthly ones. Just as a seed takes different form when it becomes a tree, so our spiritual bodies will take a different form. (In a sense, it’s as if our earthly bodies become a sort of “seed” for them.)

Christ  himself may be an example of what our resurrected bodies might be like. He was able to eat (Luke 22:42-43), able to have his nail prints touched (John 20:27) and his feet were grabbed by worshippers  (Matt 28:9).

This goes along with Jesus' teaching when he promised earlier that if his body was killed/destroyed, it would be rebuilt in 3 days (John 2:19-21). And while Jesus' body was clearly physical, he was also able to pass through walls. (John 20:19)

Christian author Randy Alcorn adds, "A non-physical resurrection is like a sunless sunrise. There’s no such thing. Resurrection means that we will have bodies. If we didn’t have bodies, we wouldn’t be resurrected! "

From the beginning of creation, one of the aspects that makes humanity distinct from other creatures is that we are both physical and spiritual. Adam was created from the dust of the ground, yet also came to life when God breathed the breath of life into his body. We are a hybrid. We cannot be considered alive or identifiable without our spirits—or our bodies!

On earth, sin has damaged our bodies and broken the connection our spirits have had with God. It makes sense that both our bodies and spirits will be perfected in heaven.

We need both our spirits and our bodies to become the beautiful creations that God intended us to be. Without one or the other, we would not be fully human. So we can look forward to the “reunion” of our bodies, in their perfected states, with our souls in heaven. If that’s difficult to imagine, it’s because we haven’t lived with perfect bodies or perfect souls, nor have we experienced perfect unity between the two. It will come, though. And when it does, it will be amazing.

(If you wish to read all of today's verses in the translation of your choice, you can find them all collected hereSource: Today’s reading is adapted from pages 44-47 of Heaven & Hell: Are They Real?)
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Navigating the Bible (the book)

, by Christopher D. Hudson

Navigating the Bible is a book that was a long time in the making. This title really flowed from my heart to help people read, understand, and apply the Bible.

There are many things I love about this book. First, the 5-minute approach helps make the Bible accessible to everyone. The hope is that any reader can read the background information and an accompanying Bible in just a few minutes and better understand God's word.

Also, the running timeline that appears on every page helps put the Bible in context. With a quick glance readers will be able to put Bible events in order and understand what else occured in world history as the Bible's events took place.

Finally, I love the people profiles. These 40 illustrations offer a short, but helpful biography to many key Bible characters you'll meet as you read.

You can find the book at Amazon for under $12. Check it out here:

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Heaven: What is it? (Video devotional)

, by Christopher D. Hudson

What is Heaven?
     What will be there?

          What won't be there?

Heaven is impossible to imagine because it is outside our experience. Because we've never seen anything like it, we have a tough time describing what it might be like.

One thing I have found helpful is to take a few minutes to imagine what heaven is not. That may sound like a strange approach, but I've found it quite helpful. Watch this four minute devotional video I created for our Facebook Bible study on Heaven and Hell.

The above video is part of our Facebook Bible study, which you can learn more about here. This study began February 2014 and will end in March 2014:

The video above and this study were inspired by my new book published by Thomas Nelson called Heaven and Hell: Are They Real?
This book tackles 60 of the most popular questions people have on the afterlife.

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