All Posts Tagged: Calvary

Monster of life—death

I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in Me will live, even though they die; and those who live and believe in Me will never die. (John 11:25-26)

We’ve already explored the Monster of Life in the forms of disconnection, disease, and delusion.

Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha, were close friends of Jesus. “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, but oddly, when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was for two more days.” By the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had died. Martha met Jesus with these words: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” The above words are Jesus’ response.

JesusHow shall we understand these words about life and death that seem self-contradictory? The Passion of the Christ, a 2004 epic drama, is the highest grossing R-rated film in America history. In his review, movie critic Roger Ebert wrote, “It is clear that Mel Gibson wanted to make graphic the price that Jesus paid (as Christians believe) when He died for our sins.” Obviously, the price was physical. Physically, death is the beginning of the end: “From dust you have come and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). It involves the termination of the physical. The vital signs (BODY temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate and blood pressure) “go south”!

However, the physical, though most graphic, is not most fundamental. Listen to Jesus’ words: “At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?’” The core of death is spiritualspiritual separation from God. It is HELL! Of this the Apostles’ Creed speaks: “Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended to hell.”

Alzheimer’s is a horrifying disease! Debra Dean captures the distressing experience: “She is leaving him, not all at once, which would be painful enough, but in a wrenching succession of separations. One moment she is here, and then she is gone again, and each journey takes her a little farther from his reach.” Death is spiritual Alzheimer’s—separation of the human spirit from the Creator.

Now, Jesus’ words about life and death are crystal clear!

Those who believe in Me will live, even though they die physically;
and those who live and believe in Me will never die spiritually.

 

tetherHere’s the most important words: “Those who believe in Me will live.” “During the Gemini 4 mission on June 3, 1965, Ed White became the first American to conduct a spacewalk. He floated outside the capsule attached by an umbilical cord tether providing oxygen and communications from the spacecraft” (NASA). “Jesus said to the fishermen, ‘Come, follow ME!’” (Matthew 4:19). Believing is nothing other than attaching to Jesus, The Life, by the tether of faith. George Müller, a man of great faith, cared for 10,024 orphans in his life. He once said, “I long for a warm personal attachment to Him.”

People tethered to God by faith can let themselves go because they know they will get themselves back” (Cornelius Plantings). Are you tethered to Jesus? It’s a life and death matter!

Faith on Fridays—Faith and friends

Faith in Jesus makes up the Mechanics of Life.

Some men came, bringing to Jesus a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” (Mark 2:1-7)

We know little about the people in this episode. One man was paralyzed, unable to get to Jesus. He had four male friends that would literally do anything to get him to Jesus. (Today, they would have been arrested for B&E.) The shocker of the incident is Jesus’ words: “When Jesus saw THEIR faith….” One man’s healing was rooted in the faith of four others. What do you make of that? Isn’t faith a very personal matter … like between me and Jesus?

Obviously, faith is personal. To a blind man Jesus said, Your faith has healed you” (Mark 10:52). But, apparently faith is also corporate in nature—“When Jesus saw their faith….” The Philippian jailor asked Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be savedyou and your household” (Acts 16:30-31). The disciple community offers the same evidence. If Peter wanted to follow Jesus, he had to walk with Matthew, the despised tax collector. So, to state it profoundly, there are no “Lone Ranger Christians!”

Seriously, what shall we make of this faith phenomenon? Let’s return to the foundation! After the Creator pronounced seven “goods” we read this startling statement: “It is not good for the male person to be alone.” The human spirit was fabricated for fellowship. Furthermore, whereas in our dis-eased condition we pretend that we’re solitarily invincible, the truth is that we need another more than ever. Of the Gethsemane experience we are told: “Becoming anguished and distressed, Jesus said to Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, ‘My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with me’” (Mark 14:33-34). And then this: “At three o’clock, Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, ‘My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?’” (Mark 15:34).

Now this fact becomes understandable: there are no less than 59 “One Anothers” in the New Testament. Here are a few examples: “Carry each other’s burdens…” (Galatians 6:2), “Confess your sins to each other…” (James 5:16), “…Build each other up…” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). The point is this: as with the original Twelve the journey of faith is built upon the foundation of community, of togetherness, of one another-ness!

When Jesus saw their faith ….” Faith and Friends! They go together like “peas and carrots”!

Check back as we continue our Faith on Fridays series.

Snapshots of the Cross in the Old Testament—the high priest

The activities on the Day of Atonement took place around and in God’s dwelling, the tabernacle. Though many priests were involved, the High Priest played the central role. I want to concentrate on two objects that the High Priest wore when he walked into God’s presence.

ephodThe ephod was similar to a pair of suspenders.  Have the Ephod made from gold; blue, purple, and scarlet material; and fine twisted linen by a skilled craftsman. Give it two shoulder pieces at two of the corners so it can be fastened. Next take two onyx stones and engrave the names of the sons of Israel on them in the order of their birth, six names on one stone and the remaining six on the other. Then mount the stones in settings of filigreed gold. Fasten the two stones on the shoulder pieces of the Ephod. The High Priest will wear these names on his shoulders as a memorial before God” (Exodus 28:6-13).

The breastpiece was similar to a baseball catcher’s vest, though much smaller. “Now make a Breastpiece, using gold; blue, purple, and scarlet material; and fine twisted linen. Make it nine inches square. Mount four rows of precious gemstones on it. Set them in gold filigree.

breastpieceFirst row: carnelian, topaz, emerald.
Second row: ruby, sapphire, crystal.
Third row: jacinth, agate, amethyst.
Fourth row: beryl, onyx, jasper.

“The twelve stones correspond to the names of the Israelites, a name engraved on each. The High Priest will carry the names of the sons of Israel over his heart as a memorial before God when he enters the Sanctuary” (Exodus 28:15-30). 

Now, let’s proceed to the “main event.” A spotless lamb is slaughtered. Its blood is drained. The High Priest takes the blood into the Sanctuary of God’s presence. God observes the stones (names) through the efficacy of the blood. He views the names over his heart—the symbol of love, compassion, mercy and grace. In a similar fashion He observes the names on his shoulders—the symbol of responsibility (as in, “he shouldered the whole task”).

Who is Jesus? He’s the Lamb of God who was slaughtered so that His blood flowed profusely. He’s the Great High Priest who presented His own blood to the Father for our redemption. Ah yes, what about the stones? Jesus bears on His shoulders and over His heart the name of every person who has received Him as Savior!

In a single sentence Paul beautifully summarizes the meaning of the Ephod and Breastpiece: “I am absolutely convinced that there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:30-32).

Snapshots of the Cross in the Old Testament—exodus to freedom

God said to Moses, “This month is to be the first month of the year for you. Each man is to take a one year old lamb without defect. On the fourteenth day slaughter it at dusk. Take some of the blood and smear it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which you will eat it. You are to eat the meat, roasted in the fire, along with bread, made without yeast. Here is how you are to eat it: Be fully dressed with your sandals on and your stick in your hand. I will go through the land of Egypt on this night and strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt. The blood will serve as a sign on the houses where you live. When I see the blood I will pass over you.” (Exodus 12:1-14) 

JUNE 6, 1944—Like a megaphone one event, the Normandy Invasion, echoed across every enslaved country: “Freedom is Coming! The bondage of Hitler ended in less than a year. Israel had been in brutal bondage for 430 years. Their “Exodus to Freedom” began on Passover when Pharaoh was forced to release his choke hold on the Jews.

lambThe focus of the Passover was a lamb without defect. On the 14th day it was to be slaughtered; its blood drained and its body prepared for roasting over fire. The blood was to be applied to the door frame. The roasted lamb was to be eaten with unleavened bread. Finally, the Jews were to be outfitted for traveling.

At midnight on the 15th day God struck every firstborn in the land of Egypt including the firstborn of Pharaoh. There wasn’t a house in which someone wasn’t dead” (Exodus 12:29-32)However, every household displaying the blood of the lamb was passed over. “Pharaoh called in Moses that very night and said, ‘Get out of here—you and your Israelites!’” (Exodus 12:31)

Scripture teaches Jesus died at the 9th hour (3 P.M.) on the Preparation Day which was the 14th day of the first month of the Hebrew calendar.  It was in the afternoon of the 14th of the first month that the lambs were slaughtered and prepared for the eating of the Passover. It is apparent Jesus died at the very time the lambs were being killed for eating of the Passover. Jesus fulfilled the typology of the Passover lambs in becoming the Lamb of God slain for the sins of the world.” (Theological Perspectives)

Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb” (1 Peter 1:18-21). At the Cross of Jesus, the Passover Lamb, God began His Normandy Invasion of enemy occupied territory, thus making possible an “Exodus to Freedom” for anyone. That’s right, ANYONE!

So, here’s the question: have you applied the blood of Jesus to the doorway of your heart? By faith have you connected with Jesus?

Snapshots of the Cross in the Old Testament—the death of a son

The Father did not hesitate to spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all. Can we not trust such a God to give us, with Him, everything else that we can need? (Romans 8:32)

cautionTo understand this episode one must know one historical fact: “The request to sacrifice Isaac was 100% in keeping with all Abraham knew and believed about the gods of his culture. However, its conclusion turned those beliefs upside down and revealed a loving God.” Don’t move on until and unless you understand this cultural fact!

God did for Sarah exactly what He had promised. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son for Abraham in his 100th year” (Genesis 21:1-2). Think of the excruciating anguish of a young couple today that desperately wants children but all efforts have failed. Well, Abraham and Sarah went through an entire marriage of barrenness (viewed as a curse in ancient cultures). So, it’s impossible to exaggerate the ecstatic delight that the birth of Isaac brought to the old couple!

Sometime later (Isaac carried the wood so he was a young lad) God said, “Take your only son, Isaac, whom you love deeply, and offer him to Me as a burnt offering on one of the mountains.” Astonishingly, Abraham obeyed immediately!  “When they arrived Abraham built an altar and laid out the wood. He tied up Isaac and laid him on the wood. He reached out and took the knife to kill his son.”

Suddenly the austere silence was broken. “Abraham! Don’t lay a hand on that boy! You didn’t hesitate to place your only son, your dear son, on the altar for Me.” Abraham looked up in the direction of the Voice and spotted an entangled ram. After retrieving the ram, he “sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.”

FATHER ABRAHAM SPARED THE LIFE OF HIS DEEPLY LOVED, ONLY SON!

It’s centuries later—

The moment Jesus came up out of the baptismal waters a Voice declared: “This is My Son, marked by My love, the delight of My life.” (Matthew 3:16-17)   

Jesus knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, remove this cup from Me. But please, not what I want.’” (Matthew 26:39)

Carrying His cross, Jesus went out to the place called Skull Hill, where they crucified Him.” (John 19:17)

Around mid-afternoon Jesus groaned, crying loudly ‘My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?’” (Matthew 27:46)

Jesus said, ‘It’s done . . . complete.’” (John 19:30)

GOD THE FATHER DID NOT SPARE THE LIFE OF HIS DEEPLY LOVED, ONLY SON!