~ Carl Gustaf Chewning ~
I can’t think of any bigger understatement than saying, what we celebrate this weekend is ‘significant’. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus absolutely changed everything! When Jesus died and rose again – three days later – it reversed the centuries old curse of sin and death that was over all humanity.
Jesus fulfilled hundreds of impossible to fulfill prophecies about the messiah that had been written centuries before but the most amazing of all was that after three days in a grave,he was alive! What did this mean? In the history of the world no one had ever lived and died a sinless life. Jesus – God in the flesh – did. In that instant the sin that we’re all born into was stripped of its power. Things on this Earth would never be the same. As John ends his account of Jesus life he says, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”His resurrection proved he was who he said he was
What does this mean today? It means absolutely everything! What Jesus did made a way to be free from the power that sin once held over us. Where sin makes us strangers and even enemies of God, Jesus death and resurrection makes us sons and daughters of God. This type of reconciliation had never been known and now it’s accessible to anyone who believes. In Romans 5:10-11 the Apostle Paul says, For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Not only did Jesus resurrection set into motion the reconciliation available to all who believe but we now get to be agents of his reconciliation while we await the restoration of all things. The book of Revelation tells us of this day that will come: And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
Resurrection, Reconciliation, and Restoration; this is the good news of the Gospel of Jesus! This Easter and in the days following let’s not only be reminded of the power of what Jesus did but let’s be actively living in the reality of it.
“With his stripes we are healed.” — Isa 53:5
Pilate delivered our Lord to the lictors to be scourged. The Roman scourge was a most dreadful instrument of torture. It was made of the sinews of oxen, and sharp bones were inter-twisted every here and there among the sinews; so that every time the lash came down these pieces of bone inflicted fearful laceration, and tore off the flesh from the bone. The Saviour was, no doubt, bound to the column, and thus beaten. He had been beaten before; but this of the Roman lictors was probably the most severe of his flagellations. My soul, stand here and weep over his poor stricken body.
Believer in Jesus, can you gaze upon him without tears, as he stands before you the mirror of agonizing love? He is at once fair as the lily for innocence, and red as the rose with the crimson of his own blood. As we feel the sure and blessed healing which his stripes have wrought in us, does not our heart melt at once with love and grief? If ever we have loved our Lord Jesus, surely we must feel that affection glowing now within our bosoms.
“See how the patient Jesus stands,
Insulted in his lowest case!
Sinners have bound the Almighty's hands,
And spit in their Creator's face.
With thorns his temples gor'd and gash'd
Send streams of blood from every part;
His back's with knotted scourges lash'd.
But sharper scourges tear his heart.”
We would fain go to our chambers and weep; but since our business calls us away, we will first pray our Beloved to print the image of his bleeding self upon the tablets of our hearts all the day, and at nightfall we will return to commune with him, and sorrow that our sin should have cost him so dear.
~ Charles H. Spurgeon ~
The Bible is filled with stories about people disobeying God. One notable exception is Abraham, a man who, though not perfect, obeys God’s command to leave his homeland in Mesopotamia and venture to an unknown Promised Land (ancient Canaan; later Israel). God promises Abraham that his descendants will become a great nation, through which all the people of the earth will be blessed.
The tales of Abraham and his wife, Sarah, are a roller coaster of dramatic events that repeatedly jeopardize God’s promise. Ironically, the biggest threat to God’s promise is when God Himself commands Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham sets out to do just as God orders, but right before Abraham delivers the fatal blow to his own child, God stops the sacrifice. As a reward for Abraham’s faith, God fulfills His promise to make Abraham’s descendants a great nation, as Isaac’s son Jacob eventually has 12 sons, whose descendants become the nation of Israel.
Today, three of the world’s major religions — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — trace their roots to Abraham.
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never fail you nor forsake you.” Therefore we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me?”
I have found at least four illustrations of how hope moves and sustains love.
1) Luke 14:12–14: “When you give a dinner or banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
If your hope is firmly fixed on the superiority of the final heavenly reward over the brief earthly reward of human recompense, then you will have the power and freedom to invite unsavory people with real needs for dinner.
2) Matthew 7:7–12: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. . . . What man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? . . . If you then who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Therefore whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.”
Note the word “therefore.” If you turn it around (by making it “because”), it reads, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto youbecause God has promised to give you all you need.” Great hope impels the golden rule!
3) Hebrews 12:2: “Look to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
The greatest act of love in the world was driven and sustained by hope.
4) Hebrews 13:5–6: “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, ‘I will never fail you nor forsake you.’ Therefore we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me?’”
All the sins that cling to the love of money can be replaced with contentment and truthfulness and generosity if we set our hope fully on the promise: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
~ John Piper ~
The Sermon on the Mount produces despair in the heart of the natural man, and that is the very thing Jesus means it to do, because as soon as we reach the point of despair we are willing to come as paupers to Jesus Christ and receive from Him. “Blessed are the poor in spirit”—that is the first principle of the kingdom. As long as we have a conceited, self-righteous idea that we can do the thing if God will help us, God has to allow us to go on until we break the neck of our ignorance over some obstacle, then we will be willing to come and receive from Him. The bedrock of Jesus Christ’s kingdom is poverty, not possession; not decisions for Jesus Christ, but a sense of absolute futility, “I cannot begin to do it.” Then, says Jesus, “Blessed are you.” That is the entrance, and it takes us a long while to believe we are poor. The knowledge of our own poverty brings us to the moral frontier where Jesus Christ works.
~ Oswald Chambers ~
Teacher, they said, We know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are.
Father God, today, how easy it will be for me to allow those around me to define me and make me who they think I should be. Help me to not get caught up in the opinion of others, but more what You think. Amen