Easter’s 4 Important Dates

Jesus Punctuated Passover as the Lamb of God, Arisen

Jesus Punctuated Passover as the Lamb of God, Arisen

The run up to Easter has 4 important dates. You’ve probably heard of them, but do you know what they are underneath the name?

Palm Sunday: April 13, 2014
Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem on the back of a lowly colt. This normally mundane event took on a supernatural significance as Jesus had developed such a following that the people lined the streets, tossing palm fronds on the ground ahead of him (Matthew 21: 7-8, Mark 11:7-8, Luke 19:35-36, John 12:12-13). He had taught with such authority, healed with such power and acted with such humility that his journey into this major city was both anticipated and welcomed. The traditional Jewish leaders, as well as the Romans, were beside themselves with frustration at this supposed “King of Kings.” This event occurred one week before His Resurrection.

Maundy Thursday: April 17, 2014
The night before his crucifixion, Jesus shared supper with his disciples and washed their dirty feet in an act of humble service. As he did this, he instructed them, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13:14-15). He left them with a mandate to serve others. The word “maundy” comes from the Latin word for “mandate” (mandatum). With His incarnate time running out, he made service to others one of his most important lessons of all. He was later betrayed by Judas and captured by Romans while in the garden praying to His Heavenly Father. These events occurred the night before his crucifixion.

Good Friday: April 18, 2014
The Jewish Sabbath is traditionally the seventh day of the week, or Saturday. Except this week, which has a Passover “high Sabbath.” This particularly week, on the day before the Sabbath (John 19:31), Jesus was accused of being a troublemaker to the Romans and a religious heretic to the Jews. He was tried by Pilate, beaten by the soldiers, flogged by the torturers and crucified high on a cross for all to see. This was the day that a sinless man, doing the will of the Heavenly Father, gave of Himself freely so that  humanity could refer all future sacrifices to that one event. Traditionally, Jews sacrificed a spotless lamb as atonement for recent sins. Jesus became that “lamb” for everyone forevermore, which is why Christians refer to Jesus as the Lamb of God, slain for us. Late in that same day, they took his dead body down and placed it in Joseph of Aramathea’s tomb so the body would not still be there on the Sabbath. These events occurred on the day before the Passover “high Sabbath”, so technically we observe these events a day late.

Easter Sunday: April 20, 2014
Early Sunday morning (literally, “the first day of the week”, John 20:1) Mary Magdelene went to the tomb where Jesus was laid and He was gone. When she reported it to the disciples, they remembered that He said he would be put in the ground for three days and rise again. While this Resurrection event was not a mandated observance, Christians recognize it as the pivotal event of their faith, and the most critical foundation thereof. Without the Resurrection, there is merely death without victory —  sin without salvation. For Christians, Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophesies of the Messiah, who was “broken for our sins” and by whose “wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). While we call it Easter today, named for the dawn (sun rises in the east) and similar to the Anglo-Saxon pagan sunrise goddess Eostre, Paul wrote to the Corinthians and referred to Christ and the Resurrection with the term “pascha”, from the Hebrew word “pesach” meaning Passover. Passover was the event in Exodus where the blood of the first-born lamb was put above and to the sides of the door in order to denote obedience to God.

Perhaps the lamb is a more appropriate symbol of Easter than a bunny or an egg.


Is Amazon Fire TV Worth It?

Amazon Enters Streaming Product Fray with Fire TV

Amazon Enters Streaming Product Fray with Fire TV

And then there were four.

Apple, Roku and Google are already competing for your streaming business. And now Amazon enters the fray with its $99 Fire TV. But is it worth it? It’s a “Version 1” product, with scant few apps (or channels) out of the gate. How does it compare with The Big Three, namely Apple TV, Chromecast and Roku?

Is Amazon Fire TV better than Apple TV?
The Quad-core Qualcomm processor in the Fire TV gives it pure speed — fast menus, fast downloads and fast playback. Meanwhile, the Apple TV is getting long in the tooth with it’s mono-core A5 chip. The Amazon Prime and Cloud Drive services are well-integrated, as you would rightly expect, while the Apple TV works well with your iTunes, Macs, iPads and iPhones. Licensing and/or business strategy probably explains why HBOGo, Disney, MLB and PBS are missing on the Fire TV, and why Amazon Instant Video, Flixster and Pandora are missing on the Apple TV — and why Vudu and MGo are missing from both. With both of these units costing the same $99, the Fire TV is better in a context-free competition, but if you like your Apple environment, hold your cash for the 2014 version of Apple TV.

Is Amazon Fire TV better than Google Chromecast?
Google Chromecast still feels like an experiment in its early stages. The dongle idea has merit but Chromecast has four drawbacks: it’s a dongle that needs an external power source, it doesn’t come with a dedicated remote, its single-core processor is sluggish and it is missing some decent second-tier apps (Crackle, WatchESPN, NBA, Qello and Vimeo). Worse still, as with the Apple TV, Chromecast doesn’t support Amazon Instant Video. By contrast, Amazon’s Fire TV is a thin box, it comes with its own remote, it’s blazing fast and supports more channels. Chromecast does have HBOGo and integrated Google Play support, which are both unavailable on Fire TV, so it’s a viable option for HBO fanatics and Android phone / tablet users, but otherwise, Amazon’s Fire TV is the better choice, despite its size and price tag.

Is Amazon Fire TV better than Roku?
Roku 3 is the comparable box to the Fire TV at the same $99 price point. Both have a very good user interface, are responsive, support Ethernet as well as WiFi MIMO, and come with a remote control. Amazon is touting their voice search as a primary differentiator, so much so that their Gary Busey ad focuses entirely on that feature. But voice search only gives you results within the Amazon ecosystem, ignoring Netflix and HuluPlus entirely, even if you have paid subscriptions to those services. On the channel front, Roku blows all the other competitors out of the water with its 1000+ channels — more than any of us can watch, but enough that all our itches for weird niches get scratched (50-year-old westerns anyone?).  Roku puts up the best fight for the subscription-averse TV viewer by providing so many free entertainment options.

The Amazon Fire TV is fast and works great within the Amazon eco-system. It supports a reasonably decent experience for the casual couch gamer and has excellent voice recognition. If these are important to you, and you don’t intend to stray outside the Amazon Instant, Netflix and Hulu worlds, you’ll be happy with this unit. It’s selling like mad right now, so go load up. If, however, you want access to your iTunes content or want hundreds of channels, wait and give Apple, Roku or Google, whose units are more than a year old, a chance to play leap frog on the Fire TV this summer. The competition benefits all us consumers and Amazon just fired their first salvo — I’m quite glad to have four companies in the mix.

Do you own a box already? Will you get an Amazon Fire TV?

Copyright 2014 Lance Olive, All Rights Reserved.