Day Seven of Passion Week

Think on these things today.

The followers of Jesus were devastated.  All their hopes and dreams were gone.  Jesus’ body lay wrapped in the grave clothes soaked with the spices and preserving materials.  But Jesus was not in the grave.  He was very busy on this important day.

1 Peter 3:18-22
For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison  who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,  and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also–not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand–with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

What does this mean? It means that right after Christ died, between the Cross and His Resurrection, He went before the spirits in prison, that is Hell, and proclaimed that God’s promise of salvation was fulfilled in Him, the Savior of the world. But who are the spirits to whom He preached?  Scripture says that they were the disobedient toward God who were living upon earth while Noah was preparing the Ark and who were not saved during the flood.

Does this mean that Christ gave them a second chance to be saved? No! It means that Jesus Christ went before them and proclaimed His triumph; He went to vindicate the way of faith, to proclaim that the faith of Noah was victorious. Noah’s life and his proclamation of faith in God were never vindicated in his day; therefore, Christ Himself went before the spirits of unbelievers and personally proclaimed the victory.

Jesus also was collecting keys.  He picked up the keys to death, hell, and the grave.

This was a busy day for the Savior.  His followers were in despair and did not have a clue as to what He was doing . They were in the dark and they wondered where was God.  All the time God was moving in the most triumphant way, in the dark, to work the greatest miracle of all time.  Wow, were they surprised the following morning.  “. . . Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)

Remember when you are in your dark times . . . God did His best work in the dark!!!!!

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Day Six of Passion Week

Think on these things today, Friday.

Jesus was in Gethsemane between 9 pm and midnight on Thursday night.  The arrest took place after this.  Then the trial was between 3 am and 6 am Friday morning.

The death of Jesus on the Cross is the most crucial focal point in history.  Eternal salvation was secured for man in the death of Jesus upon the Cross.  Because Jesus died, man can live forevermore.  Therefore, the events of the Cross are all important.  They hold lesson after lesson for the person who seeks the truth of God’s Son.

Jesus was crucified at 9 am (the third hour), and darkness swept the land from 12 noon until 3 pm (the sixth hour to the ninth hour).  During the course of events Jesus uttered seven sayings from the cross:

  • Father, forgive them . . . (Luke 23:34)
  • This day you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43)
  • Woman, behold your son . . (John 19:26-27)
  • My God, my God . . . (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34)
  • I thirst.  (John 19:28)
  • It is finished! (John 19:30)
  • Father into your hands . . . (Luke 23:46)

Around 2 pm God the Father could not stand to look upon the hideous sight of Jesus on the Cross,  bearing all the sins of the world.  The Father turned from His only Son . . . the first and only time that ever occurred.  Jesus felt the agony of separation from His Father and responded, “My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

Around 3 pm He said, “It is finished!”  Notice that He did not say, “I am finished.”  It was His mission that was finished as He took on Himself the wrath and judgment of all men’s sins.   Jesus said, “Father into thy hands I commend my spirit”  and the ordeal was over.  The world had a Savior .

Why did all this happen?  Every step Jesus took in His earthly life was leading Him to the place the Hebrews called “Golgotha” and the Romans called “Calvary”.  It was known to all as “The Place of the Skull”.  All through the Gospels, Jesus had said this was His destiny (Matt. 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:28; 26:2). The very morning of His death, He told Pontius Pilate that Calvary was the place He was going, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world . . .” John 18:37.  He came to set men free from the penalty of sin.  Jesus secured a choice for us.  We can live with the penalty of sin and be forever separated from God the Father . . . or we can choose to accept what Jesus did on the cross as full payment for our sin debt and experience an eternal relationship with the Creator of the universe.

So what was going on with the disciples during all of this?  All their hopes and dreams were gone.    Hope deferred makes the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12).  When all is failing and every ounce of hope is gone, there is an empty, sick feeling that takes over.  The emotional well being of every person runs on an adequate amount of hope.

The disciples waited through the night hours and watched during the day. They thought that Jesus would do something.  Hope was being depleted with every waiting minute as they saw the very life drain out of Jesus.  They sought to understand and they invented a thousand ways this was going to be answered and rectified.  They just knew that some great thing was going to happen to stop all this.  But eventually all hope was gone.

This sounds a lot like when we are asked to wait, wait, and wait.  Hope diminishes, despair sets in, and ultimately, we utter these words, “God where are you?”  Just as the disciples didn’t believe that Sunday was coming and all would be rectified, we fail to factor in God’s plan that He is working all things for our good in His time.   “But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” (Habakkuk 2:3)

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Day Five of Passion Week

Think on these things today.

This will be a full day for Jesus . . . much will be accomplished.

Mark 14:1-2 begins the final stage of Jesus’ life before He was killed. In dramatic fashion Mark sets the stage for what is coming. In two short verses he mentions the Passover and then he mentions the religionists plot to kill Jesus.

In the midst of the Passover meal, there is strife among the disciples.  Jesus shows them His true heart.  The disciples had been arguing over who would hold the leading positions in the government Jesus was about to set up.  The discussion was heated.  They were caught up in the ambition for position, power, and authority.  How the heart of Jesus must have been grieved.  He had so little time left for them to learn that the way to glory is through service and not through position or authority.  How could He get the message across forcibly enough so that they would never forget the truth? It was this that led Jesus to get a towel and a bowl of water and wash the feet of the disciples.  What a picture of service!

In the next few hours, Jesus transformed the Passover into the Lord’s Supper, identified the traitor, gave His parting words, gave the great discourse of John 15 on the True Vine, promised the Holy Spirit to return after He is gone . . . then He went to pray that magnificent prayer in John 17.  And then there was the agony of the garden.  Jesus bore the weight of His own cup of suffering.  He said, “Let this cup pass from me:  nevertheless . . .”  The first act, the first impulse and struggle of His will had come from His flesh; to escape the cup of separation from God.  But immediately, the second act, the second impulse and struggle of His will, came from His Godly nature: not to do as He willed, but as God the Father willed.

Jesus’ surrender to do God the Father’s will in the Garden of Gethsemane was critical.  It was in this decision that He was made perfect and was able to stand before God as the Ideal, Perfect Man.  His righteousness was able to stand for every man.  He was able to bear the cup of God’s wrath against sin.

And then the betrayal took place . . . Jesus was arrested . . . Peter tried to defend and  kill one of the guards, but missed and cut the man’s ear off . . . Jesus, being Himself, in compassion picked up the ear and put it back on, healing him.

It had started – there was no turning back.  The worst day of agony  in the history of the world was coming when the best of heaven met the worst of earth.

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Day Four of Passion Week

Think on these things today.

Again it was a busy day.  On Tuesday, Jesus had been challenged by several different opponents.  He had met each group head on by turning the questions around to teach much needed truth.  Jesus had silenced those who opposed His claim to be the Messiah.

Now it is His turn to question His opponents in Mark 12.   However, Jesus did not stand against them as an opponent; He questioned them as men who were in error and needed to see the truth.  He was reaching out to them in the hope that some would receive the truth of His Messiahship and accept Him as the Son of God.  He asked them this question, “What think ye of Christ, the Messiah?”  Jesus took them from the idea that He is a descendant of David, a mere man,  to the idea that He is the Lord of David as God Himself.

In this, His last week before His Crucifixion, it is amazing to see Jesus continue to teach.  He knew that men needed to be warned of  the terrible judgment to come if they didn’t change their ways. In Mark 12 Jesus discussed some of the things that especially will result in God’s wrath and judgment.  They all have to do with pride.

  • vs. 38 dressing to draw attention
  • vs. 38 exalting man
  • vs. 38 being seen of man
  • vs. 39 seeking front seats to be admired and honored
  • vs. 40 devouring widows for gain
  • vs. 40 praying long prayers to show piety

After He finished this teaching, Jesus walked over by the treasury.  The treasury was an area in which there were thirteen trumpet shaped collection boxes where the worshippers dropped their offerings.  He sat down all alone to get some relief and rest from the tension of the past hours.

While resting, He was deliberately observing and discerning the motives of the people as they made their offerings.  He saw many walk by and drop in sizeable gifts.  He could see the large amount of coins and hear them clang against the sides as they slid down the funnel shaped trumpets.  But none of these impressed Him.  Finally a poor widow came along and threw in two mites, which are coins of very little value.

He called his disciples to Him and said, “I assure you, this poor widow has given more than all the others have given. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.” (Mark 12:43-44) Christ took what He saw and taught what true giving really is:

  • vs. 42 Real giving is sacrificial giving
  • vs. 43 Real giving is measured by how much a person has left not by how much a person gives
  • vs. 44 Real giving is giving all a person has

By the end of the day, Jesus had given a discourse on unbelief, a discourse on the end times, a discourse on the judgment day, and He taught the parables of 10 virgins and 10 talents.  Jesus, in His consistent selflessness, did not let His impending pain stop Him from considering those who needed His teachings.

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Day Three of Passion Week

Think on these things today.

This was a busy day for Jesus.  He taught several parables and His authority was challenged in many ways.

One of the parables He gave on this day was the Parable of the Wicked Husbandman (Mark 12:1-12).   This is one of the most interesting parables ever told by Jesus because it is both historical and predictive.  Jesus covered the history of Israel from God’s perspective.  And then He predicted or revealed exactly what was going to happen to Israel.  They were going to reject God’s own Son and because of their rejection and cruelty, God was going to reject them by giving the Kingdom of God to another people.

What is said throughout this passage is applicable to all people as well as to Israel.  As Christians, God has entrusted the vineyard of the church and of the world to us, the new nation of God.  Every point covered in Israel’s history should, therefore, be a dynamic message speaking to our hearts:

  • God is generous…He gives us everything we need (Mark 12:1)
  • God is trusting…He gives responsibility and freedom to govern life (Mark 12:1)
  • God is exacting…He expects payment (Mark 12:2)
  • God is patient…He sends messengers to receive payment (Mark 12:2-5)
  • God is love…He sends His very own Son to the world (Mark 12:6-8)
  • God is just…He shall come and destroy evil keepers (Mark 12:9)
  • God is trustworthy…He fulfills all His promises (Mark 12:10-11)
  • Conclusion…the great tragedy (Mark 12:12)

On this day the challenges to His authority had been pressing heavily upon Him.  First, the chief priests and lay leaders had challenged His authority (Mark 11:27-33).  Jesus met the challengers head on and routed them.  But in so doing, His mind had been focused upon His death and Israel’s rejection.  The very thought that Israel, in whom God had put so much trust, was failing God by putting His Son to death was bound to be ripping out the heart of Jesus.

Second, the Pharisees (the legalistic sect of the Jews) and Herodians (Herod’s political party) had attempted to discredit Jesus by pitting Him either against the government or the people (Mark 12:13-17).  Again, Jesus had met and routed His challengers.  But the struggle had been hard and heavy.

Now, for the third time, the Lord was confronted and challenged.  And again, it was a different group who tried to out-argue and discredit Him (Mark 12:18-27). His challengers were the Sadducees, the religious and political liberals of the day.  As Matthew points out, “They say that there is no resurrection.”  Luke goes even further to say that the Sadducees say there is no angels or spirits as well as no resurrection.   Their liberal position caused two things:

  • It caused them to stumble at the spiritual and supernatural.  They ridiculed and scorned both.  Therefore, in their minds, the teachings of Jesus were the teachings of an unthinking and illogical man, lacking philosophical analysis and natural proof.
  • Their liberal position caused them to feel threatened and to oppose Jesus.  The people were flocking to Jesus and soaking up His teachings.  This meant the Sadducees were losing their grip on the people.  Their position and wealth were being jeopardized; therefore, they were compelled to attack and discredit Him before the people.

It was a tough day for Jesus;  He continued to teach as more and more challenges came at Him.  He met all the conflicts and won…He always wins!  He is THE VICTOR!

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