There is a visible characteristic that is present amongst a majority of religious leaders: pride. The presence of this attribute is one of the reasons that so many people are turned off from church or religion. The pretense of many men and women who espouse religious principles, from their great arrogance, is a great obstacle for many people.
When we examine the words and manner of living for Jesus, we see something far different. Although we learn much later that He believes Himself to be God, in every area of His life in which He presents Himself to us, we see a deep and abiding sense of humility. Continue reading “Many god’s, Only One Became Our Servant”→
“These things were written so that you might believe”
How would you feel if you had a son and he went into hostile territory to seek out and save people who would never thank him for what he had done? What would you do if these individuals falsely accused your son of crimes he did not commit and had him arrested, beaten, and executed?¹ What emotions would you feel if your son cried out to you to forgive the men who were torturing your son, and he asked you to not hold these crimes against them?² What would you do to these men, when they treated the love that your son gave to them, as garbage to be thrown out and disregarded?³
Crucifixion is described as one of the most horrific ways to put a man to death. Reserved for only the worst of criminals, what had Jesus done that warranted such vicious treatment?
As we read the accounts of His life in the four gospels, we see a man who is full of love and compassion. Every sick person who came to Jesus—He healed. Every hurting man or woman, Jesus loved and encouraged. Every lost sinner who came to Him in sorrow for their sins, Jesus forgave and bestowed a new life.
Jesus stood against injustice, religious hypocrisy, and pretentiousness by those who claim to know God. When the woman at the well sought to turn the discussion to religion, Jesus turned her back to a relationship with God.
Everything that Jesus did, was good, righteous, and Holy.
The testimony of those who had been with Him every day of His three and one-half year ministry, described Him as perfect and without sin (Prophecy 21). None of the people from Nazareth came to Jerusalem when Jesus proclaimed Himself as the Messiah and opposed Him on grounds that He was a sinful man. Every person who listened to Jesus and watched the way that He treated people was struck by His grace.
This was no ordinary man, this was no sinner, this was not a man who deserved to die by crucifixion.
This morning, just an hour ago, I spent a little time in the waiting room of a hospital near our home. While waiting to be called for a blood test, there were many people who were also waiting. A lady sitting next to me was wearing a mask. Her face was drawn, her hair swept and unkempt. She looks frail and had a plastic bag strapped to her right lower leg with urine flowing into the device. She looked across the room at a man in the distance and said: “hey aren’t you the guy who helped us the other day at the airport.” The man returned her question: “Yes that was me, how are you?”
As the conversation continued, all of us who were sitting nearby, understood that these two had been on waiting lists to receive a new kidney. We didn’t learn what had happened in their life that necessitated this new organs, only that they had been sick, for a very long time. The man who had helped the lady next to me had stated that this was his second kidney transplant. The first had lasted on a year before it failed. He had not been able to urinate for over six years, his bladder had shrunk to the size of a walnut. For six long years, he has endured terrible suffering and pain. Each week he was forced to endure kidney dialysis and after this most recent transplant, he must wear a painful catheter—24 hours a day. Continue reading “Be Thankful, Your Life Could Be a Lot Worse”→
During the course of crucifixion, on rare occasions, it was necessary to break the shin bones of the condemned person hanging on the cross—in order to hasten his death. For the crucified, breathing was a nearly impossible task, accomplished only by pressing down with both feet, onto the wooden platform that was secured to the cross. By attempting to stand and relieve the pressure exerted on the lungs—due to the outstretched arms that were nailed to the upper cross member, the nail that was driven through the flesh and bones of both feet, would cause the tissue to be torn and bleed profusely. The act of raising the body up to accomplish a breath was further complicated by the raw tissue of the back, which had been torn to ribbons during scourging. Upon every breath of air, as the back would slide up the splintered wood of the cross, excruciating pain would shoot through the body.
The pain that was necessary to complete the simple process of breathing became a continuing self torture. The condemned would have to choose between the intense pain of raising himself up to breath, or dying from a lack of oxygen.
When a crucifixion took place on the day before the Sabbath or a special feast day, Jewish law required that the body of the condemned must not be left hanging on cross (tree) overnight.
Deuteronomy 21:22-23 “If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day…”
When the Roman soldiers came to break the legs of Jesus in order to hasten His death, they found that He was already dead. These men unknowingly became instruments in fulfilling the three prophecies of the Old Testament which specifically state that the bones of the Passover Lamb could not be broken.
It seems that this specific aspect of the Messiah’s death is of particular importance to the Lord, as it is reported in three different prophecies. Upon examination of the circumstances surrounding this event, we can see why. Continue reading “A Prophecy Impossible to Fulfill”→
The New Testament gives us a strange view of Jesus as He is praying also for all those who are driving the nails into His hands and feet and tormenting Him while He is on the cross.
Luke 23:33 And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Luke 23:34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
Since Jesus death and resurrection, it has been His continuing role to pray for all those who have placed their faith in Him as their Savior.
Paul described Jesus as our High Priest, who ever lives to make intercession for us. Jesus’ continuing ministry since His resurrection is to pray and intercede for those who have come to Him for salvation. A knowledge of these truths should be a great source of comfort, knowing that at this moment, Jesus is in heaven praying for each one of us.
Whatever it is that you may be going through in your life right now, Jesus is aware of your situation, and He is praying for you. If you are suffering and wondering why the Lord has not rescued you from your trouble, have you considered that He is praying for you?
It is a truth that is often displayed throughout the Bible, that the Lord is more interested in our character than our comfort. Just as any loving father will make the life of his child difficult sometimes to teach important principles and develop character, so also does our Father in heaven. God allows suffering in the lives of those who have come into a personal relationship with Him by Jesus Christ, for good intentions.Continue reading “The Lord is More Interested in Your Character Than Your Comfort”→
Although the prophecies of the Old Testament describe the Messiah as God, specific predictions such as the prophecies written by Isaiah, also define Him as: pouring out His soul unto death. Possessing the power of creation and destruction, the Savior of the world will use His great abilities to save, not destroy.
Isaiah 53:12b Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death...
One of the great mysteries of the universe is that it pleased the Father to bruise His Son and put Him to death for the sins of all people. Why God would allow His Only Son to suffer so greatly for sinners is an unsearchable question that all of us will ponder throughout eternity.
It is certain that one of the reasons why God permitted Jesus to undergo such great trauma is because it brought such great glory and vindication to His name. Satan has made continued accusations that God is not really righteous and fair. These allegations are fully answered by what Jesus has accomplished at the cross. God is not angry and vindictive, as some have believed, but willing to take whatever steps necessary to reveal His hatred of sin and love for people. Much in the same way that a loving parent who observes the suffering of his child because of drugs or alcohol would do anything to eradicate their suffering. So also has God, as a loving Father, sought to eradicate the plague of sin from the lives of all people whom He loves so fervently. In freeing us from our suffering, He was made to watch His own Son suffer unimaginable pain. He allowed this for our benefit. Imagine the intense pain that God felt at seeing His Son tortured to death by evil men. While Jesus had done nothing evil Himself, He was fully committed to allow those who desired His death, to do whatever they wanted to Him. He permitted all of this knowing that His death would free us from our own torture and torment.Continue reading “Jesus Suffered For, and Took the Sins of, Those Who Would Never Receive Him”→
Isaiah 53:5b …The chastisement for our peace was upon Him…
Colossians 1:19-20 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
Isaiah speaks of a chastisement that the Messiah will endure from God in order to make peace possible for us. The Bible is clear that all human beings are in a state of enmity with God in their pre-redemptive state. Because of our sins, we are alienated from God and we cannot have fellowship with Him. In order for fellowship to be possible, all of our sins must be taken away. According to Biblical principle, this can only occur when the penalty for our sins has been satisfied. Isaiah’s prophecy describes the Messiah taking the penalty we deserve and bearing the full wrath of God that was directed at us.
Understanding the wrath of God
One of the most misunderstood attributes of God is His wrath against sin. In the Old Testament, we see graphic illustrations of how this wrath is unleashed on sinners without mercy. To many, God’s anger is offensive and cause enough to flee from His presence. We should give careful consideration to why the Lord is angry against sin. God did not purpose human beings for the suffering we have endured for the past six thousand years. It is because sin came into the world that the good and perfect creation of God has been perverted and corrupted. What should be a wonderful and abundant life for all of us has been ruined by the wrongful actions of people who are doing what is right in their own eyes, without regard to the welfare of others.
Sin has prevented all human beings from experiencing the perfect life that God intended. It has caused unimaginable pain and heartache which has plagued our planet since Adam. When the Lord could endure our misery no longer, He allowed Jesus to come to earth and rescue us. In this amazing display of kindness, God allowed His own Son to take the wrath for our sins, so that we would all be spared from all future wrath.
Isaiah 53:5a But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities…
What specifically, did Isaiah the prophet mean when He described our sins and the absolute necessity of the Messiah death to remove those sins? Does this mean that there was no other method by which God could cause each one of us to be worthy of heaven? What is there about sin that is so mysterious and hidden from our understanding?
Isaiah said the Messiah would be wounded for the transgressions of human beings. He was bruised for our iniquities.
Transgressions: The actual sins that we commit against each other, our selves, and God.
Iniquities: The inequitable (unjust) acts of human beings in regards to what is right.
The purpose of the Messiah’s arrival was to die for our sins. We should never miss this important point in any discussion of prophetic fulfillment. If it were not for our sinfulness, it would not have been necessary for Jesus to die. We should thank the Lord every day that He loved and cared for us so greatly that He was willing to depart heaven, come to earth, to suffer unimaginable pain and suffering for us.
When I first learned what Jesus had done for me and how greatly He had suffered, I remember wondering why the whole world did not fall at His feet in thanksgiving and gratefulness. I later learned that most of the world does not consider that any of their actions would require a Savior. By its very nature, sin causes blindness. Jeremiah the prophet wrote that we are not aware of the deception which has been perpetrated against us. Even our own heart does not allow us to see the truth about ourselves.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?
When the Bible describes our present condition, it does so in terms of darkness and blindness. The idea here is that we cannot see our true condition, and how desperate and hopeless our situation is. The Bible declares that without someone to help us, not one human being could survive the future judgement for sin that is the destiny of all those who are without Christ.Continue reading “We Cannot See the Reality of Our Own Destitute Condition”→