I am so full I could burst.
One of my favorite songs that we sing in our church contains the lyrics “If it wasn’t for the Lord, where would I be..?”
I could reflect off of that little old lyric all day long.
I could fill an entire blog, pages upon pages, just by listing my sins, everything that makes me unworthy of being able to have an intimate connection with God.
Only because of the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, our Intercessor, our loving Mediator, who has the tireless job of going to God when we do something wrong and pleading our case (who would want that job? I know I would not), am I able to say with confidence that I am saved! That hypothetical blog would be clean, washed with His blood!
Every drink I took… every curse word I uttered (and still do, to my own chagrin)… every time I had sex before I was married… each time I failed to present someone with the Gospel… every time I talked about somebody… every lie I told… Oh my, I can go on.
Stripes across His back.
It brings tears to my eyes.
My son got sick last night and I was unable to post, but I was able to spend a bit of time in reflection as he slept. I spent some time with him yesterday, doing some Bible study with him. Although I do not mind him celebrating Easter–as in with the bunny, coloring eggs, doing egg hunts, etc…-I do not want him to think the essence of Easter is in all of this commercial stuff. It is all about His death, burial, and resurrection. I am proud that my son can tell the story beginning from Palm Sunday (of course he does not know everything, but he understands the most compelling points, such as when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey, that He was beaten, that He was blameless, and that He was crucified between two thieves, died, and rose on Sunday).
I caught a glimpse of a program that depicted Judas’ betrayal, but unfortunately did not catch the name. I am going to look it up later. It portrayed Jesus standing resolutely in Gethsemane, and Judas coming up to Him. Jesus said to Him, “do it quickly”. Judas then gave Jesus a slow kiss on the cheek, and Jesus was immediately grabbed, arrested, and the beating began.
As is recorded in the Word, overcome with sorrow as to His impending mission, Jesus asks Peter, James and John with Him as He goes to Gethsemane to pray. He prays that the cup of suffering be removed from Him—but more importantly, Jesus requests that not His will, but God’s will be done. Who would not be frightened at the thought of suffering a terrible death? Yet it is obvious Jesus understood why He had to do what He had to do and accepted His mission. Again, this is somewhere I would have failed completely.
Jesus returns to His disciples and find them sleeping. As they are awakened, Judas comes to betray Him with a kiss (even at this point, Judas still refers to Jesus as “rabbi” (Mark 14:45). Jesus is arrested immediately, and the night of beating, humiliation and being dragged from one court to another in an attempt to find Jesus guilty of ANY offense punishable by death begins. From this common mission Herod and Pilate, former enemies, forge a kind of bond. Although Pilate is unable to determine any wrongdoing on Jesus’ behalf, he still gives in to the crowd. As is Passover tradition, Pilate allows for the release of one prisoner. The crowd choses Barabbas, a murder and one who had incited an uprising against the city, to be freed instead of Jesus, who they determine has committed a sin against God by saying He is the Son of God.
Jesus suffered so much. When He was questioned about His identity, He gave no answer–no explanation would have been sufficient anyway, and He knew it. The new friendship between former enemies Pilate and Herod interests me. Have you heard the saying “misery loves company”? Well, so does sin. Have you ever noticed that when people engage in sinful behavior, it is usually not done alone? I can think of my own days–or should I say nights–spent drinking and dancing in the nightclubs. How many people do you know who always use drugs alone, always drink alone, always persecute others alone? Sin often begins as an individual endeavor and can become a group behavior.
Can you imagine what He was thinking?? He was whipped and beaten, His body mutilated beyond recognition. There was a Passover tradition that allowed for one prisoner to be forgiven (and let go)–the choice was either Jesus or Barabbas. When given the opportunity to release Jesus or Barabbas, a murderer who had also been charged with causing an uprising in the city, the frenzied crowd chose to free Barabbas. Jesus was handed over to be flogged. Along with a robe, a crown of twisted thorns was set on His head. The soldiers cast lots for His clothes. He was spit on, beaten, you name it… He took it for us.
As Jesus was being led to Calvary where He was to be crucified,no doubt He was weak from being beaten so badly, stumbling under the weight of our sins, yet He never said a word of protest. Then, enter Simon of Cyrene. For whatever reasons, Simon was forced to take up the Cross. There is not much discussion in the Bible as to why Simon was there, or why he was chosen to carry the Cross–I would like to say it was just his lucky day that he was there, but God has a reason and purpose behind everything, so I like to think that there was something symbolic in Simon’s being chosen to carry the Cross. (This I have to research as well).
Scholars have determined that the execution of Jesus was illegal, using the basics of the law at that time as their foundation. I will not repeat everything they have determined here, but for those who are willing, here is a great resource:
These Bible scholars are something else. I salute them. It is REALLY good stuff.
Whether or not it was illegal, it had to be done, or else people like me would be going straight to Hell in a hand-basket, do not pass go, do not collect $200.
Two other criminals bound for execution were with Jesus. At Calvary, one was on His right, the other on His left. One of the criminals joined the crowd in mocking Jesus. They wondered why the self-proclaimed King of the Jews could not save Himself. However, one of the criminals was a believer, and undoubtedly secured a place in Heaven (Luke 23: 39-43):
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
On the cross, Jesus was offered wine mixed with myrrh, He refused. If He had drank that, He would no longer be sinless and our salvation would not be secure. It was a drug. (Funny how Jesus could refuse a drug in all His pain, but people are advocating for medical marijuana as though there are no other ways to alleviate their symptoms). Later, Jesus asked for a drink, and was given an acceptable vinegar mixture. This, He did drink. At noon on Friday, the sun stopped shining, the temple curtain split in two, and it remained dark for three hours. No one could see what was going on between Father and Son. Jesus gave up the ghost: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”. Then He breathed His last breath. The earth shook, and some finally realized that Jesus WAS indeed the Son of God.
Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate and requested Jesus body. It was necessary to take care of the Body, as the Sabbath was the next day. The body could not be left on the Cross during the Sabbath. Pilate ordered that the legs of the Jesus and the two criminals be broken to hasten their deaths. The two criminals’ legs were broken first, but when they got to Jesus, they found Him to be already dead–perhaps because He had already suffered such terrible beating that accelerated His death. In order to verify His death, a soldier pierced Jesus in His side, and a mixture of blood and water came gushing out. Thus, Jesus’ bones were not broken, fulfilling a prophecy from Psalms 34:20:
“He keeps all his bones, Not one of them is broken”.
All of this prophecy, and people still think this Book is made up. I don’t get it.
Joseph placed Jesus’ body in his tomb, which had never been used.Tombs at this time were like caves, and a huge rock was rolled in front of it.
Early on Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James, and Salome (who we don’t know much about) went to the tomb with spices they had prepared for the body. On their way there, they realized that they would be unable to roll the huge rock away from the entrance of the tomb. I can only imagine what they thought when they saw that big rock had been removed, and two angels inside the tomb. The angels told them HE HAD RISEN!!!! The women hurry to tell the disciples (now numbering 11).
Jesus appears to many people after His resurrection, including His disciples. I find a few things interesting: The account of Thomas, who doubted Jesus and needed proof of His identity, and that the disciples went back to fishing, probably assuming that “it” was “over”. Unfortunately they have little luck fishing until Jesus appears and tells them to cast their nets in a certain area–at that point their nets come back full of fish. To me this is symbolic of Jesus’ declaration that He would make them fishers of men. If they follow what Jesus commands, and go where He tells them to go, they will get many fish. And so will we!
This story is so very dear to my heart. It should be dear to the heart of all Christians. Without this event, there would be no Christianity, and more importantly, no salvation. We are sin-filled beings and can only be in the presence of God when we are covered by His shed blood. The only way to the Father is through His Son–it gets no clearer than that.
So while all of us Christians should be filled with JOY today that we have access to the Father through His Beloved Son, and should spend some time thinking of Christ’s sacrifice for us, we should also accelerate our missionary work. Look at our world–it is in terrible spiritual shape. We are the light of the world, the salt of the earth. Let us remember that today and the days that follow. We do not have to be preachers standing in a pulpit to affect someone. We do not have to have television shows, best-selling novels, or even these blogs to be an effective witness. We can easily win a co-worker if we set the right example, approach him or her with the message, and follow through. We can even touch someone sitting next to us on a bus. The disciples were ordinary men used to do extraordinary things. So are we. God gives us the talent to do so and opportunities that we may overlook. Let us all commit to better identifying those opportunities and recruit some more soldiers for Jesus!
And let us remember that each of our sins is a stripe across His back.
I am really feeling these songs today.