Five Truths About the Death of Jesus

Photo credit thewellnesswife.com

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

By Joseph Scheumann via Desiring God.org

Grace is at the heart of the Christian faith. Nowhere is this more clearly seen than at the cross of Christ. It is grace that the Son of God took on flesh, and grace that he taught us how to live — but it is especially grace that he died on the cross in our place.

Moreover, this climactic grace shown at the cross has a specific shape — it has edges. These edges help us see what exactly happened when Jesus died. And it’s important that we see because seeing leads to worship — you can’t worship what you don’t know.

So in hopes of more clarity — fuel for worship — here are five biblical truths about what Jesus accomplished on the cross.

1. The death of Jesus was for his enemies.

God’s love is different than natural human love. God loves us when we’re utterly unlovable. When Jesus died, he died for the ungodly, for sinners, and for his enemies. Paul gets at how contrary this is to human nature when he writes, “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person, though perhaps for a good person one would dare to die, but God shows his love for us in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7–8).

2. The death of Jesus purchased a people.

The death of Christ was effective in its purpose. And its goal was not just to purchase the possibility of salvation, but a people for his own possession. Hear Jesus’s words: “All that the Father gives to me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out… And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day” (John 6:36, 39).

If we say that Christ only purchased the opportunity of salvation for all men we gut biblical words such as redemption of their meaning. John Murray writes: “It is to beggar the conception of redemption as an effective securement of release by price and power to construe it as anything less than the effectual accomplishment which secures the salvation of those who are its objects. Christ did not come to put men in a redeemable position but to redeem to himself a people” (Redemption Accomplished and Applied, 63).

3. The death of Jesus is on our behalf.

Jesus’s death was substitutionary. That is, he died in our place. He died the death that we deserved. He bore the punishment that was justly ours. For everyone who believes in him, Christ took the wrath of God on their behalf. Peter writes, “[Jesus] himself bore our sin in his body on the tree that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

4. The death of Jesus defines love.

Jesus’s death wasn’t just an act of love, it defines love. His substitutionary death is the ultimate example of what love means, and Jesus calls those who follow him to walk in the same kind of life-laying-down love. John writes, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:16). John Piper explains: “Jesus’s death is both guilt-bearing and guidance-giving. It is a death that forgives sin and a death that models love. It is the purchase of our life from perishing and the pattern of a life of love” (What Jesus Demands from the World, 266).

5. The death of Jesus reconciles us to God.

Justification, propitiation, and redemption — all benefits of Christ’s death — have one great purpose: reconciliation. Jesus’s death enables us to have a joy-filled relationship with God, which is the highest good of the cross. Paul writes, “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him” (Colossians 1:21–22).

Think about how this works in our relationships with other people. When we sin, not only do we hurt the person we sin against, we harm the relationship. It will never be the same until we seek forgiveness. So it is with our relationship with God. We enter this world sinful, and as a result, we’re alienated from God. Only forgiveness — forgiveness which was purchased at the cross — can heal the relationship so that we are able to enjoy fellowship with God.

The historicity of Jesus, the evidence of the resurrection of Jesus, the reliability of the gospel accounts – Dr. William Lane Craig

For more resources visit: http://www.reasonablefaith.­org

In 2001, John Ankerberg interviewed William Lane Craig on on the subject of, „Jesus of Nazareth.” In the interview, Dr Craig was asked a number of questions about the historicity of Jesus, the evidence of the resurrection of Jesus, the reliability of the gospel accounts, and much more.

VIDEO by drcraigvideos

= DOMNUL ISUS HRISTOS – Marea Lui Suferinta dinaintea Biruintei! =

TATALUI, FIULUI, DUHULUI SFANT, 

Toata Gloria in Veci !!!  ​

DOMNUL ISUS HRISTOS – Marea Lui Suferinţă dinaintea Biruinţei !!!

 3 Dispreţuit şi părăsit de oameni, Om al durerii şi obişnuit cu suferinţa, era aşa de dispreţuit, că îţi întorceai faţa de la El, şi noi nu L-am băgat în seamă.
  • 4 Totuşi El suferinţele noastre le-a purtat, şi durerile noastre le-a luat asupra Lui, şi noi am crezut că este pedepsit, lovit de Dumnezeu şi smerit.
  • 5Dar El era străpuns pentru păcatele noastre, zdrobit pentru fărădelegile noastre. Pedeapsa care ne dă pacea a căzut peste El, şi prin rănile Lui suntem tămăduiţi. (Isaia 53:3-5).

 Dupa vreo 700 de ani, aceasta proorocie transmisa de DUMNEZEU prin proorocul Isaia, s-a implinit matematic, spre binele tuturor oamenilor care accepta jertfa DOMNULUI ISUS HRISTOS!

  • 11 Dar preoţii cei mai de seamă au aţâţat norodul să ceară lui Pilat să le sloboadă mai bine pe Baraba.
  • 12 Pilat a luat din nou cuvântul şi le-a zis: „Dar ce voiţi să fac cu Acela pe care-L numiţi Împăratul iudeilor?”
  • 13 Ei au strigat din nou: „Răstigneşte-L!”
  • 14 „Dar ce rău a făcut?”, le-a zis Pilat. Însă ei au început să strige şi mai tare: „Răstigneşte-L!”
  • 15 Pilat a vrut să facă pe placul norodului, şi le-a slobozit pe Baraba; iar pe Isus, după ce a pus să-L bată cu nuiele, L-a dat să fie răstignit.
  • 17 L-au îmbrăcat într-o haină de purpură, au împletit o cunună de spini şi I-au pus-o pe cap.
  • 18 Apoi au început să-I ureze şi să zică: „Plecăciune, Împăratul iudeilor!”
  • 19 Şi-L loveau în cap cu o trestie, Îl scuipau, îngenuncheau şi I se închinau.
  • 33 La ceasul al şaselea, s-a făcut întuneric peste toată ţara, până la ceasul al nouălea.
  • 34 Şi, în ceasul al nouălea, Isus a strigat cu glas tare: „Eloi, Eloi, lama sabactani”, care tălmăcit înseamnă: „Dumnezeul Meu, Dumnezeul Meu, pentru ce M-ai părăsit?
  • 37 Dar Isus a scos un strigăt tare şi Şi-a dat duhul.
  • 38 Perdeaua dinăuntrul Templului s-a rupt în două, de sus până jos.    ( Marcu 15, versetele mentionate ).
        In Exodul capitolul 12 ni se arata cum au fost instituite Pastele de catre DUMNEZEU, cand fiecare familie trebuia sa sacrifice ” un miel fara cusur, de parte barbateasca de un an , cu ocazia scoaterii Israelului din robia egipteana, de catre DUMNEZEU, prin Moise.
 
       Acest miel IL prefigura, cu 1500 de ani inainte, pe FIUL LUI DUMNEZEU, DOMNUL ISUS HRISTOSMielul Lui DUMNEZEU care ridica pacatul lumii! „(Ioan 1:29), pe care DUMNEZEU L-a sacrificat pentru a scoate din robia pacatului pe toti cei care vor accepta jertfa LUI, din intreaga omenire!

     Invierea Domnului ISUS HRISTOS, Pastele de azi, este o Sarbatoare a Bucuriei, si e normal sa fie asa, pentru ca e biruinta VIETII asupra mortii! E bine sa fim bucurosi la aceasta sarbatoare si mai ales e important ca motivul bucuriei noastre sa fie nu atat hainele noi, cadourile, etc. cat Invierea Domnului ISUS!

    Daca bucuria invierii Domnului Isus a fost mare atunci pentru ucenicii Sai si e mare si azi pentru cei care-L servesc pe El, tristetea si drama dinaintea invierii a fost pe masura! Pentru ca Invierea Domnului Isus presupune mai intai moartea Lui, iar inainte de moarte, marea Lui suferinta! Aceasta a avut semnificatii si implicatii deosebite.
    Toti cei patru evanghelisti (Matei, Marcu, Luca, Ioan), care descriu rastignirea, arata ca Domnul Isus inainte de a fi rastignit, a fost mai intii batjocorit, scuipat, batut, torturat. Batjocurile si torturile au fost manifestarea exterioara a urii din inimile celor care au dorit, si au indeplinit actul rastignirii Domnului. (Privind in lumea animalelor, vom observa ca ele nu au astfel de comportare).

Dar uitati-va si vedeti Cine a fost batjocorit: FIUL LUI DUMNEZEU, PRINTUL

UNIVERSULUI! Biblia arata ​asta ​la Filipeni 2:9-11:
  • 9 De aceea şi Dumnezeu L-a înălţat nespus de mult şi I-a dat Numele care este mai presus de orice nume;
  • 10 pentru ca, în Numele lui Isus, să se plece orice genunchi al celor din ceruri, de pe pământ şi de sub pământ,
  • 11 şi orice limbă să mărturisească, spre slava lui Dumnezeu Tatăl, că Isus Hristos este Domnul.
El e, asadar, Cel care a contribuit la crearea Universului si a omului (1 Cor. 8:6), adica chiar a fiintei care-L batjocorea! E parca incredibil, dar din nefericire, e adevarat! Ce groaznica scena!

   Locul unde a fost batjocorit si rastignit Isus Hristos, este Pamantul, o mica planeta din Sistemul Solar, Calea Lactee, o farama a Universului.

     Cine sunt, in fond, cei care L-au batjocorit pe Fiul lui Dumnezeu?
 
     Vorbind la modul general, omul a fost in stare de asa ceva, adica fiinta creata de Dumnezeu sa-L serveasca pe El si sa-I aduca slava Lui si Fiului Lui. Creatura si-a batut joc de Creator! Un „nimic” s-a gasit sa-si bata joc de cel Atotputernic! Am vrut sa fac o comparatie cu ceva din lumea noastra, sau din universul cunoscut de noi, dar nu am gasit nimic care sa poata fi comparat cu acest eveniment.
 
    Specific vorbind, Biblia ne arata toate categoriile de oameni care s-au comportat intr-un mod incalificabil.  ​

 Ea ne spune ca si-au batut joc de El, trecatorii, cei carora Domnul Isus nu le facuse nici un rau, ba dimpotriva. (Poate ca printre ei au fost si din aceia pe care Domnul Isus i-a vindecat de boli, i-a hranit, i-a invatat, etc.). Oricum toti cei din jurul Lui primisera cel putin un lucru pretios de la El, si anume, viata. In loc sa-I multumeasca, ei Il scuipau, Il batjocoreau!

    Alta categorie de batjocoritori si tortionari au fost soldatii romani (Imperiul Roman se intindea atunci si peste Israel). Acestia erau pagani si nu aveau de-a face cu Dumnezeul adevarat. Ei parca ar avea o scuza, dar numai la prima vedere, pentru ca ei preferau sa se inchine unor lucruri facute de ei – zei din aur, argint, lemn, etc. -, in loc sa se inchine Dumnezeului adevarat si Domnului Isus de ale carui minuni ei au avut ocazia sa auda, sau poate chiar sa le vada!
 
     De asemenea, ne spune Cuvantul Sfant, ca isi bateau joc de El, oameni din poporul evreu – descendentii lui Avraam -, cei care purtau un nume minunat: oameni din „Poporul lui Dumnezeu”! Cind strainii isi bat joc de tine desigur ca te doare, dar cind ai tai, cind rudeniile, poate chiar cei din familia ta, te batjocoresc, atunci asta te doare mult mai mult. Biblia confirma asta cand spune: 
A venit la ai Sai, si ai Sai nu L-au primit. (Ioan 1:11).
     Printre cei ce si-au batut joc de Domnul Isus a fost si unul dintre cei doi talhari care au fost rastigniti alaturi de El. Ultimul om, pleava societatii, plaga societatii, s-a incumetat sa-L ironizeze pe Fiul lui Dumnezeu! Poate credeti ca nefiind „dus pe la biserica”, cum se spune, nu stia cine este Cel rastignit! Din dialogul celor doi talhari se vede clar ca ei au stiut cine era cel rastignit alaturi de ei (Luca 23: 39-42).
 
     La urma amintesc citeva grupuri de oameni care s-au facut vinovati in mai mare masura de evenimentele dinaintea rastignirii, si a rastignirii propriu zisa a Domnului Isus. Aceste categorii sunt:
 
    Fruntasii poporului evreu. Cei care erau in fruntea poporului, conducatorii, cei care ar fi trebuit sa conduca poporul in directia buna, au instigat, au directiont oamenii spre rau, spre crima (Luca 23:35).
 
    Carturarii. Cei cu scoala, cei care cunosteau Scripturile, cei culti, care au stiut ca Mesia va veni, au facut pe ignorantii, au derutat cu buna stiinta pe oamenii simpli (Matei 27:41). 
     Batranii poporului. Barbatii cu parul alb, cei care ar fi trebuit sa fie intelepti, retinuti si echilibrati, un bun exemplu pentru popor, au fost tocmai cei care au induplecat poporul ca sa ceara lui Pilat sa-L condamne pe Isus Hristos la moarte. (Matei 27:20).

     Preotii cei mai de seama. Capii religiosi ai vremii, cei care slujeau in Templu (pe Dumnezeu, ziceau ei ca-L slujesc), cei care cunosteau Scripturile si astfel aveau menirea sa invete poporul frica de Dumnezeu si respectul pentru semeni, au fost cei mai inversunati,cei mai dornici sa-L vada pe Fiul lui Dumnezeu, mort.(Marcu 15:11)
 
    Cardasia celor patru grupe de oameni, a fost redata asa de clar de evanghelistul Marcu (15:1), care a scris: 
„Dimineata, preotii cei mai de seama au facut indata sfat cu batraniicarturarii si tot Soborul. Dupa ce au legat pe Isus, L-au dus si L-au dat in miinile lui Pilat „.
 
   Acestia sunt oamenii (daca-i putem numi asa) care L-au batjocorit, L-au scuipat, L-au batut si apoi L-au rastignit pe Fiul lui Dumnezeu- Domnul Isus Hristos -, pe Cel care nu a avut nici o vina. Istoria poporului Israel, confirma ca fapta lor josnica, precum si cuvintele usuratice spuse atunci de ei: 
 ​
Singele Lui sa fie asupra noastra si asupra copiilor nostri” 
(Matei 27:25), a avut urmari si implicatii deosebit de grave de 2.000 de ani asupra acestui popor care purta cel mai frumos nume.
 
    Desigur consideram ca cei de atunci au fost oameni falsi, rai, josnici, calai, criminali.
 
   Intrebarea pe care ar trebui sa ne-o punem fiecare din noi acum, este, daca nu cumva eu, care ma consider om religios – fie ca sunt preot ori simplu enorias, fie ca sunt un om in varsta sau tanar, ca sunt cu multa scoala sau cu mai putina, ca sunt fruntas al poporului sau om de rand (doar un simplu trecator prin viata aceasta) , iL batjocoresc pe Fiul lui Dumnezeu, pe urmasii Lui, sau pe semenii mei.
 
   Aceasta intrebare se impune pentru ca felul in care iL putem batjocori pe Isus Hristos imbraca o multime de forme si metode: de la simpla indiferenta fata de suferinta Lui, pana la vorbele urate la adresa Lui; de la injuraturi pina la fapte reprobabile, poate chiar crime.

    Daca ai facut asta pana acum, te indemn chiar in momentul in care citesti aceste rinduri, sa te opresti in a-L mai batjocori si rastigni a doua oara pe Isus Hristos, prin purtarea ta sau prin indiferenta ta, si sa vii cu credinta, pocainta si multumire inaintea Lui! Numai astfel te vei putea bucura de Invierea Domnului ISUS HRISTOS, si de Propria-TI Inviere la o viata noua, 

Ioan Burca – robul DOMNULUI​
      Doctor in Teologie
                                                                              
P.S.: Sublinierile din textele Biblice aparţin scriitorului articolului.
              “Cercetaţi toate lucrurile şi pastrati ce este bun”, adică BIBLIC.
 Dati la cat mai multi aceste link-uri, pentru clarificare, intarire in credinta, sau intoarcere la DUMNEZEU, prin DOMNUL ISUS HRISTOS, si convingerea DUHULUI SFANT, si va veti intalni cu rezultatele aici pe Pamant, sau in Cer!
                     „…cine seamana mult, mult va secera.”
              „Golgota” _ Canta: Alexandru Groza

„Via Dolorosa”_ Canta: Jenifer Lazau   

   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dcvk0XBVw4

 NU-i Singur Iuda Vinovat! _ Canta: Raisa Bulf ​
              Baraba _ Canta: Sorin Alexandru
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7HK_QJ6fGg

         Baraba _ Canta : Ionut Craciun din Grupul „Speranta”

  ” DOMNUL ISUS HRISTOS pe „Via Dolorosa” _ Canta: Sandi Patty _ „The Passion of Christ” 


NU-i Singur Iuda Vinovat! _ Citeste: Florin Piersic

Talharul (de pe cruce) – Poezie:  

 O, ce Valuri de-ndurare – Canta: Daniel si Lois Prunaru
 

To The FATHER, SON and HOLY SPIRIT 

Be The Glory, Forever and Ever!!!            ​

The Passion of Christ!!! 

      3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
    4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
     5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:3-5 ).      
    11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabba instead. 12 „What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them. 
    13 „Crucify him!” they shouted. 
    14 „Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, „Crucify him!” 
    15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. 
       17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him.
       18 And they began to call out to him, „Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 
       33 At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour.
       34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, „”Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? „”–which means, „My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 
       35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, „Listen, he’s calling Elijah.” 
      36 One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. „Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.
     37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. 38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. (Mark 15:11-15;17-19;33-38).

 ” THE LORD JESUS CHRIST on ” Via Dolorosa” _ Singer: Sandi Patty _ ” The Passion of CHRIST !!!​”


TATALUI, FIULUI, DUHULUI SFANT, 
                                            Toata Gloria in Veci !!!
                                              Stimati Vizitatori

                  Va prezentam 2 link-uri, care contin 
 
          Cuvantul si Minunile Lui DUMNEZEU in viata unor oameni. 

 
               Va dorim vizionare si auditie Placuta si Benefica!
      Pe link-ul nr. 1, dati click pe camera de filmat, aceea mica
  din dreapta,  sau pe difuzorul mic din dreapta, pentru cele audio.
 
      1.  http://perlesicomori.net/  (audio si video)
     Pe link-ul nr. 2,  ” Esenta BIBLIEI ” , gasiti Lucrurile ESENTIALE 
 pe care un om trebuie sa le STIE si sa le FACA, si altele sa stie 
sa NU le faca, pentru a fi salvat de la iad si a-i arata SINGURA CALE spre RAI,
care este DOMNUL ISUS HRISTOS FIUL Lui DUMNEZEU !!!
 
 
                            DUMNEZEU sa va Binecuvanteze!
                   
                                            Cu tot respectul,
                                  Ioan Burca – robul DOMNULUI,
                                          Doctor in Teologie
 
                “Cercetaţi toate lucrurile şi pastrati ce este bun”, adică BIBLIC.
    Dati la cat mai multi aceste link-uri, pentru clarificare, intarire in credinta, sau intoarcere la DUMNEZEU, prin DOMNUL ISUS HRISTOS, si convingerea DUHULUI SFANT, si va veti intalni cu rezultatele aici pe Pamant, sau in Cer!
                     „…cine seamana mult, mult va secera.”

Passion Week – Good Friday Events 2/2 – Jesus arrested and crucified – It is finished!

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

 

 

  1. Jesus is taken for an informal hearing before Annas. (Annas served as high priest from A.D. 6–15; his son-in-law, Caiaphas, was high priest from A.D. 18–37.) Archaeologists have uncovered what would have been a two-level, 6,500 square foot mansion in the Upper City, which may have been Annas’ residence and may be the site of this initial hearing. The apostle John is able to enter the court with Jesus; Peter stays outside.
  2. Annas binds Jesus and sends him to stand before Caiaphas and some members of the Sanhedrin Council, where he is mocked and beaten. They render him guilty of blasphemy. Then the Jewish portion of his trial concludes with Jesus bound before the full Sanhedrin, perhaps after or through sunrise.

(VIA) Justin Taylor at the Gospel Coalition

Holy Week: What Happened on Good Friday?

With help from the ESV Study Bible, here’s an attempted a harmony/chronology of the words and actions of Jesus in the final week of his pre-resurrection life.

Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested by the authorities (perhaps after midnight, early Friday morning)

Matthew 26:47-56 Mark 14:43-52 Luke 22:47-53 John 18:2-12

Jewish trial, phase 1: Jesus has a hearing before Annas (former high priest and Caiaphas’s father-in-law)
John 18:13-14, 19-24

Jewish trial, phase 2: Jesus stands trial before Caiaphas and part of the Sanhedrin

Matthew 26:57-68 Mark 14:53-65

Peter denies Jesus

Matthew 26:69-75 Mark 14:66-72 Luke 22:55-62 John 18:15-18, 25-27

Perhaps after sunrise, phase 3 of Jesus’ Jewish trial: final consultation before the full Sanhedrin; sent to Pilate

Matthew 27:1-2 Mark 15:1 Luke 22:66-71

Judas hangs himself

Matthew 27:3-10

Phase 1 of Jesus’ Roman trial: first appearance before Pontius Pilate; sent to Herod Antipas

Matthew 27:11-14 Mark 15:2-5 Luke 23:1-7

Phase 2 of Jesus’ Roman trial: appears before Herod Antipas; sent back to Pontius Pilate

Luke 23:6-12

Phase 3 of Jesus’ Roman trial: Jesus’ second appearance before Pilate; condemned to die
Matthew 27:15-26 Mark 15:6-15 Luke 23:13-25 John 18:28-19:16

Jesus is crucified (from approximately 9 AM until Noon)

Matthew 27:27-54 Mark 15:16-39 Luke 23:26-49 John 19:16-37

The Arrest
Matthew 26:47-56

47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent by the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 (Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I kiss is the man. Arrest him!”) 49 Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi,” and kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you are here to do.” Then they came and took hold of Jesus and arrested him. 51 But one of those with Jesus grabbed his sword, drew it out, and struck the high priest’s slave, cutting off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back in its place! For all who take hold of the sword will die by the sword. 53 Or do you think that I cannot call on my Father, and that he would send me more than twelve legions of angels right now? 54 How then would the scriptures that say it must happen this way be fulfilled?” 55 At that moment Jesus said to the crowd, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me like you would an outlaw? Day after day I sat teaching in the temple courts, yet you did not arrest me. 56 But this has happened so that the scriptures of the prophets would be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled (Matthew 26:47-56).

Jesus was not “overtaken;” our Lord came from the garden (or orchard) to meet Judas and the multitude who accompanied him. Taking all the Gospels into account, we see that a very large group – a multitude – had come out to arrest Him. This group included Judas, the high priest and his servants, the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of the Jews, the temple police, and a cohort of Roman soldiers. These folks came prepared for the worst. Not only were they armed with swords and clubs (verse 47), they also had lanterns and torches. They seemed to expect Jesus to resist arrest, and they were ready for it, or so they thought.

4 Then Jesus, because he knew everything that was going to happen to him, came and asked them, “Who are you looking for?” 5 They replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He told them, “I am he.” (Now Judas, the one who betrayed him, was standing there with them.) 6 So when Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they retreated and fell to the ground. 7 Then Jesus asked them again, “Who are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” 8 Jesus replied, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, let these men go.” 9 He said this to fulfill the word he had spoken, “I have not lost a single one of those whom you gave me” (John 18:4-9, emphasis mine).

John’s account makes it clear that Jesus is still in control. He went out to meet those who sought Him. He asked who they were looking for. When they told Him they were seeking Jesus, He responded, “I am.” Now it is likely that they understood this to mean, “I am He; I am the one you seek.” But it is difficult for the reader not to understand this response in the light of John 8:58 and Exodus 3:14:

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the solemn truth, before Abraham came into existence, I am!” (John 8:58)

Those who came so prepared to overpower Jesus find themselves backing away from His presence, and falling all over themselves. They are so disarmed by this confrontation of Jesus that they let Jesus’ disciples walk (run?) away, untouched. In this way, Jesus fulfills His promise to keep them (John 18:9).

Matthew provides a somewhat more abridged account. A large crowd arrives at the garden (or orchard), and Judas steps forward to kiss Jesus. This is the sign he had prearranged with the soldiers so that they would know who it was they were to arrest. How ironic that Judas would choose a kiss, a token of love and affection, to identify Jesus. Remarkably, Jesus finds it possible to refer to Judas as “friend” (verse 50). No words of malice or even rebuke are spoken to Judas here, something that may have later haunted Judas. As the soldiers stepped forward to arrest Jesus, “one of the disciples” (we all know it is Peter, thanks to John 18:10) pulled out his sword and cut off the ear of Malchus (again, we have his name thanks to John), the slave of the high priest. It is clear from Luke’s account that some of the other disciples were thinking the same thing:

When those who were around him saw what was about to happen, they said, “Lord, should we use our swords?” (Luke 22:49)

Peter was already taking action, which comes as no surprise to the reader. Jesus rebuked His over-zealous, sword-swinging, disciple. Peter’s response was wrong for several reasons. First, he was wrong because violence begets violence. “All who take hold of the sword will die by the sword” (verse 52). The kingdom of God will not be achieved by the use of force or violence. The disciples were to “take up their cross” and not their swords. Secondly, Peter’s hasty use of the sword betrayed a lack of faith in the Messiah’s ability to defend Himself, and in God’s ability to come to His defense, should He wish to do so. At any point in time, Jesus could have called upon the host of heaven at His disposal and annihilated His enemies. This was indeed the challenge put to Jesus while on the cross:

41 In the same way even the chief priests—together with the experts in the law and elders—were mocking him: 42 “He saved others, but he cannot save himself! He is the king of Israel! If he comes down now from the cross, we will believe in him! 43 He trusts in God—let God, if he wants to, deliver him now because he said, ‘I am God’s Son’!” (Matthew 27:41-43)

The wonder of wonders is that Jesus chose to remain on that cross, to die for those who hated Him.
Thirdly, Jesus must be arrested, tried, and executed in this manner because the Scriptures must be fulfilled (verse 54). Jesus had indicated earlier that He must be arrested, persecuted, and crucified. He was to be opposed by unbelieving Jews, and also by Gentiles. Peter and the disciples saw what was coming and reached for their swords. Jesus knew everything that was about to happen to Him (John 18:4), but since this is what God had purposed to take place, Jesus would not allow any of the disciples to defend Him by force. It must happen this way.

After rebuking His disciples for attempting to defend Him by force, Jesus then turned to those who had come to arrest Him. Why were they seeking to take Him by force? What was the need for this great “posse” (to use a term from the old Western movies – a large party of folks authorized to assist in the arrest of Jesus)? Why did they have to arrest Him at night? Jesus had not been in hiding, as if He were a wanted felon. He had publicly taught in the temple. He was never more accessible for arrest than during the previous week. If the disciples’ (threatened) use of force revealed some wrong thinking, so did the show of force by those who came to arrest Jesus in the garden.

Let us leave these verses by taking note that Peter surely was willing to die for His Lord, just as he had claimed earlier. No one would start swinging his sword against an armed force this large without expecting to die (or at least expecting our Lord to intervene with some “heavenly firepower”). Our Lord was indicating to Peter and the rest that if He needed heaven’s intervention, He could do so without His disciples precipitating violence.

You can read the entire article at Bible.org

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The Day Christ Died

By Bob Deffinbaugh at Bible.org

For many in Jerusalem, it looked just like any other day. Simon of Cyrene was on his way into the city from the country (Mark 15:21). Little did he know that Jesus had been arrested, tried during the night and early morning hours, and had just been delivered over for crucifixion, taking, it would seem, the place of Barabbas. A centurion and several other soldiers had drawn the duty of executing three men. They had probably performed this duty numerous times, and so today’s task did not appear to be anything new or unusual.

It was not an ordinary day for the two thieves. These men were scheduled for execution on this day. We are not told what these men knew about Jesus, but it may have been very little, since we can assume that Jesus would have been a last-minute addition to their number as they took up their crosses and made their way to Golgotha. After nailing Jesus and the others to their crosses, the soldiers settled down to a ritual they knew all too well. Little did anyone know what this day held in store for them. It was, however, a day no one would ever be able to forget. It was the day Christ died.

Act 1: Jesus Endures the Wrath of Men
Matthew 27:32-44

32 As they were going out, they found a man from Cyrene named Simon, whom they forced to carry his cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”) 34 and offered Jesus wine mixed with gall to drink. But after tasting it, he would not drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided his clothes by throwing dice. 36 Then they sat down and kept guard over him there. 37 Above his head they put the charge against him, which read: “This is Jesus, the king of the Jews.” 38 Then two outlaws were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by defamed him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are God’s Son, come down from the cross!” 41 In the same way even the chief priests—together with the experts in the law and elders—were mocking him: 42 “He saved others, but he cannot save himself! He is the king of Israel! If he comes down now from the cross, we will believe in him! 43 He trusts in God—let God, if he wants to, deliver him now because he said, ‘I am God’s Son’!” 44 The robbers who were crucified with him also spoke abusively to him.

Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent, but he could not seem to find a way to release Him. Eventually, he gave in to the demands of the crowd and released Barabbas, handing Jesus over for crucifixion. The condemned normally carried their own cross, but it would seem that Jesus had endured such abuse that He no longer had the strength to carry His. A man named Simon, from Cyrene, a north African city of Libya, happened by. A large crowd was following Jesus, made up mainly of women (Luke 23:27). Simon does not appear to have been following Jesus, but rather was coming into Jerusalem from the country (Luke 23:26). Perhaps he was passing by Jesus just as our Lord stumbled under the load of His cross. Simon was forced to take up our Lord’s cross, an unforeseen event that I believe changed the course of Simon’s life.

Why is this man mentioned by name in all three of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke)? And why are we told the city from which he came? Mark goes even further, telling us that Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus (Mark 15:21). I believe Mark expects his readers to recognize this man, and his sons. It is my opinion that until this fateful day, Simon was an unbeliever, but what he saw on this day, the day Christ died, changed him forever, bringing him into God’s kingdom.

The procession arrives at last at Golgotha, where all three men are to be crucified. They offer our Lord “wine mixed with gall,” but when He realizes what it is, He refuses to drink it. More than likely this was provided for the condemned as a kind of sedative or pain reliever. Jesus refused anything which would diminish His suffering, for He must drink the cup of God’s wrath on guilty sinners to the brim.

Notice how quickly Matthew (and the other Gospel writers) pass by the description of the actual crucifixion procedures. We are not told all the gory details about how the nails were driven through our Lord’s hands, though we know that they were (see John 20:25, 27). Neither Matthew nor any of the other Gospel writers dwells on the physical sufferings of our Lord, though there was much that could have been written about this. Matthew turns our attention to the soldiers, who throw the dice to determine who will get our Lord’s garments. John provides greater detail here (John 19:23-24); he alone specifically calls attention to this as the fulfillment of prophecy:

23 Now when the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and made four shares, one for each soldier, and the tunic remained. (Now the tunic was seamless, woven from top to bottom as a single piece.) 24 So the soldiers said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but throw dice to see who will get it.”This took place to fulfill the scripture that says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they threw dice.” So the soldiers did these things (John 19:23-24, emphasis mine).

This is a citation from Psalm 22 (verse18), a psalm whose prophecies are fulfilled several times in the crucifixion of our Lord.

The thing I wish to point out is that these soldiers have little or no interest in who Jesus is, or in what He has done. This is just another day on the job for them. After casting lots, they settle down for what they have come to expect – a number of hours of human agony, to which they seem to turn a deaf ear. Later events will cause them to get much more interested in what is happening on this day, the day Christ died.

Then there is the sign, posted on the top of our Lord’s cross: “This is Jesus, the king of the Jews” (Matthew 27:37). John’s Gospel makes much of this, because the Jews didn’t like the wording of the sign. They much preferred that the sign clearly indicate this was merely what Jesus claimed. Pilate seemed to take pleasure in their displeasure, using the sign to irritate them. It was really what this was all about, anyway. Jesus was here because He claimed to be the King of the Jews, and the Jews refused to accept Him as such.

The emphasis of the paragraph in Matthew 27:32-44 is upon the mocking of those who looked on as Jesus was being crucified. Consider several characteristics of this mocking.

First, this mocking was virtually unanimous. Everyone there took part in mocking Jesus. In our text, Matthew specifically names “those who passed by” (Matthew 27:39), the chief priests, experts in the law, and the elders (27:41-43), and the two robbers who were crucified along with Jesus (Matthew 27:44). Luke also includes the soldiers who stood by (Luke 23:36-37). One gets the impression that Jesus was the center of attention and that all who were there joined in mocking Him. He bore the wrath of men, and of God, alone.

Second, this mocking was intense and angry. There is a deep hostility and anger evident in the words spoken. If Jesus were a murderer, like Barabbas, one could understand how angry words could be spoken to Him and of Him. I am reminded of the title of one of the last chapters in R. C. Sproul’s book, The Holiness of God: “God in the Hands of Angry Sinners.” That is what we see here. The wrath of men is being poured out upon the sinless Savior.

Third, this mocking is against the essence of what our Lord Jesus claimed and taught concerning Himself.While the disciples seemed obtuse to much of what our Lord was teaching, the crowd has it nearly right. They don’t mock Jesus for advocating revolution, or for teaching that they should not pay their taxes. They mock Jesus for claiming to be “the King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:37), the “King of Israel” (Matthew 27:42), “the Son of God” (Matthew 27:40, 43), for “saving others” (Matthew 27:42), and for “trusting in God” (Matthew 27:43). The only thing they had somewhat twisted was our Lord’s alleged claim to be able to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days (Matthew 27:40).

Fourth, this mocking is a really a dare, and thus a recurrence of the same kinds of temptation our Lord experienced in the wilderness. Satan’s challenge, “If you are the Son of God…” (Matthew 4:3, 6), is echoed by those who now say, “If you are God’s Son, come down from the cross!” (Matthew 27:40b). In both cases, the temptation is for Jesus to act in a way that men would expect, in a way that men would do, if they were the Son of God. In other words, the temptation is for our Lord to use His divine power to avoid pain and suffering and to satisfy Himself. They cannot conceive of Jesus having the power to save Himself, and not using it to do so. They cannot conceive of God suffering at the hands of sinful men.

Fifth, the mocking of those who witnessed the death of Christ was a challenge for our Lord to act in a way that would nullify His saving work. If men had their way, our Lord would have saved Himself, and at the same time, He would have ventured from the predetermined plan of God whereby sinful men could be saved. Men are not acting in the best interest of our Lord, and they are not acting in their own best interest, either.

In this first act, men seem to have the upper hand, and Jesus appears to be the helpless victim. Men pour out their wrath on Jesus for not acting as they would expect, as they demand. The guards cast lots for the garments of our Lord, and then settle down for what experience has taught them will be a long vigil. Things quickly and radically change by the time we come to act two, as we are about to see.

Act 2: Our Lord Endures the Wrath of God
Matthew 27:45-56

45 Now from noon until three, darkness came over all the land. 46 At about three o’clock Jesus shouted with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.” 48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the rest said, “Leave him alone! Let’s see if Elijah will come to save him.” 50 Then Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and gave up his spirit. 51 Just then the temple curtain was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks were split apart. 52 And tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had died were raised. 53 (They came out of the tombs after his resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.) 54 Now when the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and what took place, they were extremely terrified and said, “Truly this one was God’s Son!” 55 Many women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and given him support were also there, watching from a distance. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee (Matthew 27:45-56).

What a difference three hours can make. It was high noon, and yet darkness suddenly fell over all the land, a darkness that lasted for three hours. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all call attention to this darkness, yet none of them attempts to explain how it happened. There really is no simple explanation. We do not get the impression that this is a dust storm, a cloudy day, or an eclipse. This is sudden and sustained darkness. The best example of this kind of darkness is found in the Book of Exodus, when God brought darkness over the land of Egypt:

21 The Lord said to Moses, “Extend your hand toward heaven so that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness that can be felt.” 22 So Moses extended his hand toward heaven, and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. 23 No one could see another person, and no one could rise from his place for three days. But the Israelites had light in the places where they lived (Exodus 10:21-23).

I believe that this darkness that fell over the land of Israel during the crucifixion of our Lord was the same intense darkness we read about in Exodus. I suspect that a hush fell over the crowd, and that all that could be heard were gasps of fear, even terror. You will remember that when Paul was stopped short on the road to Damascus he was stricken with blindness for three days. It gave him time to ponder what he had just experienced.

I believe the main reason for this three-hour darkness over the land of Israel was to place a veil of darkness over the suffering of our Lord, suffering at the hand of His Father. Jesus is now suffering the eternal wrath of God on sinners. While Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ, may dramatically depict the driving of nails through the hands of our Lord (something the Scriptures don’t describe), there is no way any human could depict the separation our Lord experienced from the Father. This agony our Lord bore alone, veiled from the eyes of those who mocked Him.

I should add that while we rightly make much of the suffering of our Lord, let us not forget what this meant to the Father. Those of us who have children know how painful it is for us to observe the suffering of our children. Add to this the fact that the suffering of the Son was the plan and purpose of the Father. Can you imagine what it would have been like for the Father to put His Son on the cross, and then to hear sinners daring Him to save His Son? What a price the Father and the Son paid to save unworthy sinners like us.

At the end of this three-hour period of darkness, Jesus uttered this cry in a loud voice: “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (Matthew 27:46). Matthew interprets it for us: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). We know that Jesus is calling out the first words of Psalm 22, a Messianic Psalm that depicts the suffering of Messiah at Calvary. Several prophecies found in this psalm are fulfilled in the death of Jesus at Calvary. Jesus is identifying Himself as the Suffering Servant, the Messiah whose death will bring about salvation for lost sinners.

It is almost amazing to read that a number of the bystanders didn’t realize what Jesus was saying. They did not see this as our Lord’s citation of Psalm 22:1; they saw it as Jesus calling to Elijah for help. I’m not surprised that some of the bystanders would fail to grasp the meaning of our Lord’s words here. What I wonder is what the Jewish religious leaders thought Jesus was saying. Would they not recognize this as the first words ofPsalm 22? And if they did, what did they make of that? We are not told. We are told that one of them obtained a sponge and dipped it in sour wine to give Jesus a drink. Some of the others urged Him to hold back and see if Elijah would come to His rescue. It may well be that this was said in jest or sarcasm. But it may also be that some were not entirely convinced that Jesus would be left to suffer on His cross. Some might have been curious to see if God did come to rescue Jesus.

Notice that this time Jesus does drink some of the wine. If this wine did contain any tranquilizer or pain reliever, it would not have had time to produce its effect, for Jesus will die almost immediately after He drinks some of the wine. My own sense is that Jesus took some of the wine to relieve His parched throat, so that His final, triumphant shouts would be loud and clearly heard. When taking all the Gospels into account, I am inclined to think that Jesus first shouted, “It is finished!” (John 19:30), followed by, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46). It is the latter statement that would seem to have preceded our Lord’s giving up of His spirit, so that it was apparent to all that He gave up His life. His life was not taken from Him; He voluntarily gave it up:

17 This is why the Father loves me—because I lay down my life, so that I may take it back again. 18 No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down of my own free will. I have the authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it back again. This commandment I received from my Father” (John 10:17-18).

Our Lord’s death occurred at the moment He cried His last utterance, but His death was but the first of a sequence of miraculous events. Matthew is the one Gospel that emphasizes the supernatural phenomenon that accompanied our Lord’s death:

50 Then Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and gave up his spirit. 51 Just then the temple curtain was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks were split apart. 52 And tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had died were raised. 53 (They came out of the tombs after his resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.) (Matthew 27:50-53)

All three Synoptic Gospels record the rending of the temple veil at the moment of our Lord’s death; only John’s account omits this. The implications of this symbolic event are immense, but they are not spelled out here. These matters will be taken up later in the New Testament. In short, the rending of the veil signified the end of the Old Covenant, under which people had to keep their distance from God, and the commencement of the New Covenant, under which men and women may draw near, through the shed blood of Jesus (note Hebrews 9; 10:19-24).

Now we come to something that is unique to Matthew: the great earthquake, in which rocks were split, tombs were opened, and dead saints were raised to life. What a punctuation mark God placed at the death of His Son! Jesus cries out triumphantly, proclaiming that His work is finished, and committing His spirit to the Father. Jesus then breathes His last and gives up His spirit. At the very moment of His death, the temple veil was rent, and a great earthquake shook the place so hard that the rocks split and graves were broken open. All this took place in close proximity to the three hours of darkness.

We know that the dead were not raised until after the resurrection (Matthew 27:53), so why are we told here that the tombs were opened? Why not wait until the resurrection itself? For one thing, I believe Matthew wants us to see the hand of God plainly in the events surrounding the death of our Lord. For another, I believe that the graves were opened in preparation for the resurrection of these Jerusalem saints coinciding with our Lord’s resurrection. The earthquake sets the stage for the resurrection of the dead Jerusalem saints. Third, I believe that we are meant to see the connection between the death of our Lord and His resurrection. The death of our Lord was a supernatural event, and the spectacular phenomena that accompany it underscore this fact. To Matthew (and the other apostles – see Acts 2:22-36), the resurrection of our Lord is a necessary corollary to the cross, and he wants us to recognize this.

Now, the bodies of “many saints who had died” and had been buried were raised to life, and they went into “the holy city” (Jerusalem) where they appeared to many people (Matthew 27:53). This is amazing! Can you imagine the impact this would have had on the people of Jerusalem? What a way to underscore the resurrection of our Lord. Not only did Jesus rise from the dead, but a large group of saints were raised at the same time. It might be worth considering just who some of these resurrected folks could have been:

33 Nevertheless I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the next day, because it is impossible that a prophet should be killed outside Jerusalem.’ 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it! (Luke 13:33-34; see also Matthew 23:37)

Jerusalem was where the prophets were killed and were buried:

29 “Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have participated with them in shedding the blood of the prophets’” (Matthew 23:39-30).

I think it is therefore reasonable to assume that some of those who were raised and who went about Jerusalem were martyred prophets. What a story they would have had to tell! And what an impact they must have had on the people of Jerusalem.

But let’s get back to the cross and the moment of our Lord’s death. There were those who were greatly impacted by the way our Lord died:

Now when the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and what took place, they were extremely terrified and said, “Truly this one was God’s Son!” (Matthew 27:54)

Mark and Luke have similar statements:

Now when the centurion, who stood in front of him, saw how he died, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” (Mark 15:39)

47 Now when the centurion saw what had happened, he praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts (Luke 23:47-48).

Luke has the centurion declaring our Lord’s innocence, adding to the testimony (in Matthew) of Judas (Matthew 27:4), Pilate (Matthew 27:23-24; see also Acts 3:13; 13:28), and Pilate’s wife (Matthew 27:19). Luke adds some other details. First, he has the centurion praising God, not just confessing Jesus’ innocence. Second, he informs us that the crowds went home “beating their breasts” (Matthew 23:48). The crowds may not have been willing to declare the innocence of our Lord, but they most certainly did not go home with a satisfied smile on their faces. They knew that something terrible had happened that day, something they did not understand, but which terrified them greatly. There was no pleasure for them in this crucifixion.

Unlike the other Gospel accounts, Matthew goes beyond the confession of the centurion himself. Matthew tells us that the centurion, along with the other soldiers who were guarding Jesus, confessed that Jesus was the Son of God. These soldiers, who had just a few hours earlier settled down for a long vigil, aloof to the suffering of Jesus (and even joining in on the mockery of Jesus – see Luke 23:36-37), were now wide-eyed with terror. They could do nothing other than confess that Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God was true. What a powerful testimony this was.

Matthew, like Mark (15:40-41) and Luke (23:49), tells about the women who had supported Jesus throughout His earthly ministry, looking on from some distance away. It was all they could do. They were the only ones, it would seem, who did not take part in mocking Jesus. They remained faithful to Jesus, not forsaking him (as it would seem ten of His disciples did). One wonders what they were thinking as they observed the supernatural phenomena that accompanied the death of the Savior.

Act 3: The Burial of Jesus
Matthew 27:57-61

57 Now when it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut in the rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 (Now Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there, opposite the tomb.) (Matthew 27:57-61)

Joseph of Arimathea is a most interesting fellow. We have not met him before, and we shall not meet him again, except in the parallel accounts of the other Gospels. Every Gospel mentions the burial of our Lord by Joseph of Arimathea. John’s Gospel informs us that Nicodemus assisted Joseph of Arimathea in burying Jesus (Matthew 19:39-42). Matthew tells us that Joseph was a disciple of Jesus (Matthew 27:57), but John adds that he was a secret disciple because he feared the Jews (Matthew 19:38). Mark informs us that he was a highly regarded member of the Sanhedrin, who was looking forward to the kingdom of God (Matthew 15:43). Luke adds that “he was a good and righteous man” (Matthew 23:50), who did not consent to the Sanhedrin’s decision to kill Jesus (Matthew 23:51).

Mark tells us that Joseph went “boldly” to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus (Matthew 15:43). One would have to say that it must have taken great courage to identify with Jesus as this moment in time. Peter and our Lord’s disciples were not yet willing to do so, at least after His arrest. Even more so, I am impressed with Joseph’s boldness in distinguishing himself from his colleagues on the Sanhedrin. You can well imagine that Joseph was no longer welcome on the council after he publicly identified with Jesus. His actions spoke louder than words, for it became evident that he was a follower of Jesus, and therefore distanced himself from the other members of the Sanhedrin and the action they had taken.

Being a rich man (Matthew 27:57), Joseph had a tomb already prepared for his own burial, a new tomb that had been cut out of the rock (Matthew 27:60). Time was short, and the Jews were eager to get the bodies down from the crosses so that they could observe Passover. I am inclined to think that many of the executed criminals may not even have been buried. Joseph knew that his tomb was nearby and available, so he made good use of it. The body of Jesus was hastily prepared (probably with the assumption that further preparations could be made after Sabbath) and placed in the tomb. A large stone was then rolled across the entrance as Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” looked on (Matthew 27:61).

Conclusion

Let us first give thought to the importance of our text and to the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. I believe that Matthew has written this Gospel in a way that makes the cross the main climax of the book. Here is what our Lord has been about from the beginning. The death of Christ on the cross of Calvary is the one and only way by which men can obtain the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life.

14 Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” 16 For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him (John 3:14-17).

This week I will preach the funeral service for a neighbor who just passed away. I’m going to use this passage in Matthew for my funeral text, even though I’ve never used it for a funeral message before. The death of our Lord Jesus Christ puts death (especially the death of a Christian) in a whole new light. The death of our Lord, ugly and wicked though it was (so far as man’s participation in it is concerned), was such that it drew people to faith. Christ’s death can be the death of death for us, if we trust in the saving work of our Lord on the cross. He was innocent, as Judas, Pilate, Pilate’s wife, one of the two thieves who hung beside Jesus, and the Roman soldiers testified. This is what makes His death unique and effective for us. He did not die for His sins (because He was innocent), but for the sins of lost men and women like you and me.

We should see ourselves in those who rejected our Lord and mocked Him as He was dying on the cross. We should see only innocence and perfect righteousness in Jesus. Let us acknowledge our sin, and the fact that the death He died was for the sins of others, and not His own. Let us trust in His death in our place, bearing the penalty for our sins, for the forgiveness of our sins, and the gift of eternal life.

The death of our Lord Jesus is the payment for our sins, and the only way that we will ever obtain eternal life. But it is also a pattern for us to follow:

18 Slaves, be subject to your masters with all reverence, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are perverse. 19 For this finds God’s favor, if because of conscience toward God someone endures hardships in suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if you sin and are mistreated and endure it? But if you do good and suffer and so endure, this finds favor with God. 21 For to this you were called, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving an example for you to follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin nor was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was maligned, he did not answer back; when he suffered, he threatened no retaliation, but committed himself to God who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we may cease from sinning and live for righteousness. By his wounds you were healed. 25 For you were going astray like sheep but now you have turned back to the shepherd and guardian of your souls (1 Peter 2:18-25).

Just as our Lord Jesus “took up His cross,” so we too must take up our cross, daily:

23 Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).

The cross alone is the basis for our boasting, for salvation is not a work that we do, but a work that He has done, which we receive as a gift:

But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Galatians 6:14).

As we focus on Matthew’s account of the death of our Lord, we should ask ourselves why he has placed such great emphasis on the cross, on the death of our Lord. In particular, why does Matthew make a point of including the report of so many miracles in connection with the death of the Lord Jesus? Aside from the fact that it is only through the death (and subsequent resurrection) of the Lord Jesus that lost sinners can be saved, there are a couple of other reasons for Matthew’s emphasis on miracles in conjunction with the death of the Savior.

First, I would suggest that these miracles in Matthew testify to the uniqueness of the death of the Lord Jesus. No one ever died like this before or will ever die like this in the future. The death of the sinless Son of God in the sinner’s place is a most unique thing. This was no ordinary crucifixion, no ordinary death. Even those who refused to believe in Jesus left Golgotha beating their breasts, as Luke has informed us.

Second, I would suggest that these miracles in Matthew testify to the presence of God in the process by which He had chosen to save men – through our Lord’s rejection, suffering, and sacrificial death. It is on the cross that our Lord suffered the eternal torment of separation from the Father. This is why our Lord cried out using the words of Psalm 22, verse 1. There is a sense, then, that God was not there, that is, God the Father had withdrawn from the Son. This had to be since the penalty for our sin is death – separation from God. Jesus had to experience that in our place. But these miraculous events remind us that while the Father was separated from the Son while He was on the cross, He was present in the event. The death of Christ was the sovereignly ordained purpose of the Father:

22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man clearly attested to you by God with powerful deeds, wonders, and miraculous signs that God performed among you through him, just as you yourselves know— 23 this man, who was handed over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you executed by nailing him to a cross at the hands of Gentiles (Acts 2:22-23).

36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and became anguished and distressed. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he threw himself down with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if possible, let this cup pass from me! Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Matthew 26:36-39).

5 You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, 6 who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. 8 He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death —even death on a cross! 9 As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow —in heaven and on earth and under the earth— 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:5-11).

Our Lord Jesus submitted Himself to the will of the Father that He should die on the cross of Calvary, and then be raised again. On the cross, the Son suffered separation from the Father, but the miracles associated with our Lord’s death tell us that the Father was in this, for it was His will and purpose to save men in this way.

Third, these miracles testify to the fact that Jesus was who He claimed to be. I believe that all of these – Simon of Cyrene, one of the two thieves, Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, and the centurion with his soldiers – came to recognize that the events surrounding the death of Christ proved Him to be the Son of God, the King of Israel. The unbelief of the crowds revealed that the hearts of many were hardened to the point that this compelling evidence was somehow set aside. But there were those who could do nothing else than to believe, because of what they saw. We don’t know about Simon of Cyrene, but we would probably be correct to assume that the thief on the cross and the Roman soldiers had little background or knowledge of Israel’s Messiah. In spite of this, they found the evidence so compelling that they believed the same claims for which Jesus had earlier been mocked.

Think of it. These folks believed in Jesus while He was dying, and before His resurrection. Some (like the thief on the cross) believed even before the miraculous events occurred. How could Jesus, a man dying as a criminal, be so convincing? Because He died like no one else had ever died, and because God testified to the uniqueness of Jesus and His death by the miracles associated with His crucifixion and death.

While miracles are certainly prominent here, there is something missing, something we are accustomed to seeing. Up till now, Matthew has made it a point to show how the events of our Lord’s life fulfill prophecy. We saw this at the time of our Lord’s birth and early childhood (see Matthew 1:22; 2:15, 17, 23). We saw it again during Matthew’s account of our Lord’s public ministry (Matthew 4:14; 8:17; 12:17-18; 13:14, 35). And now, we know that many of the events Matthew describes pertaining to our Lord’s death are the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, and yet Matthew does not make a point of indicating this. Why not? I am inclined to think that it is for two reasons.

First, the people who witness these events did not recognize them as the fulfillment of prophecy at the time they occurred. And second, Matthew wants us to see that people believed because of the sheer weight of the evidence, apart from the prophecies they fulfilled. In other words, they were not predisposed to believe; they just saw no other option than to believe.

The death of our Lord Jesus is the most unique death in all of human history. It will radically change the way we view death if we are Christians. It is a death that is so unique that men have come to faith in Jesus even before the resurrection.

Every Sunday we celebrate communion, and in so doing, we commemorate the death of our Lord:

For every time you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:26).

I believe that we are to observe communion weekly for several reasons. First, it appears to be the practice of the early church (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11). Second, it is because the death of Christ is so central to the gospel message (see 1 Corinthians 1:18-25). Third, it is because the cross is so central to the way we are to live out our daily lives (see Romans 6). Fourth, it is because the cross of Christ is so strongly detested and opposed by the world:

18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will thwart the cleverness of the intelligent.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the expert in the Mosaic law? Where is the debater of this age? Has God not made the wisdom of the world foolish? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world by its wisdom did not know God, God was pleased to save those who believe by the foolishness of preaching. 22 For Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks ask for wisdom, 23 but we preach about a crucified Christ, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. 24 But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).

The message the world hates is the truth that we celebrate. The message the world hates is the only message that will save lost sinners, the only message that we should proclaim. Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary, bearing the penalty for my sins, and setting a pattern for the kind of life I should live as a Christian. The cross of Christ is such a glorious mystery that it will take all eternity to begin to fathom what God has done in this magnificent event, to His glory.

You can read the entire article at Bible.org.

Thursday Events – Passion Week – The Last Supper in the Upper Room & Gethsemane

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

(via) Justin Taylor from the Gospel Coalition

Holy Week: What Happened on Thursday?

With help from the ESV Study Bible, here’s an attempted harmony/chronology of the words and actions of Jesus in the final week of his pre-resurrection life.

Jesus instructs his disciples Peter and John to secure a large upper room in a house in Jerusalem and to prepare for the Passover meal

Matthew 26:17-19 Mark 14:12-16 Luke 22:7-13

In the evening Jesus eats the Passover meal with the Twelve, tells them of the coming betrayal, and institutes the Lord’s Supper

Mathew 26:20-29 Mark 14:17-23 Luke 22:14-30

After supper Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, interacts with them, and delivers the Upper Room Discourse

John 13:1-17:26

Jesus and the disciples sing a hymn together (probably from Psalms 113–118), then depart to the Mount of OlivesMatthew 26:30 Mark 14:26 Luke 22:39

Jesus foretells Peter’s denials
Jesus gives his disciples practical commands about supplies and provisions

Jesus and the disciples go to Gethsemane, where he struggles in prayer and they struggle to stay awake late into the night

Matthew 26:36-46 Mark 14:32-42 Luke 22:40-46

The Last Supper

By Bob Deffinbaugh at Bible.org: We find Luke’s account (and, the other gospel accounts as well) of the last supper amazingly brief and unembellished. Somewhere 30 to 50 years after our Lord’s death, resurrection, and ascension, the gospel of Luke was written (depending upon which conservative scholar you read). In spite of all the time which passed, and of the great significance of the “Lord’s Supper” or “Communion,” neither Luke nor any other gospel writer makes a great deal out of the celebration of the last Passover, just before our Lord’s death. I am not saying this celebration was unimportant, but rather that because of its importance, I would have expected it to have been a more detailed account. This brevity is the first of several “tensions of the text.”

There are other tensions as well. Why is nearly as much space devoted to the preparation for the Passover meal as for the partaking of it? Furthermore, why was Jesus so eager to partake of the Passover, when it preceded and even anticipated His death? Finally, why is there such confusion and consternation (including a deletion of some of the text) over Luke’s account of the Lord’s Table, in which it appears that the (traditional) order of the bread and wine may have been reversed?

Events Surrounding the Last Supper

Before we begin to look more closely at the partaking of the Passover, let us pause for just a moment to remind ourselves of the broader setting in which this event is found. The Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem have already determined that Jesus must die (not to mention Lazarus, John 11:47-53; 12:9-10).After the meal at the house of Simon the Leper, at which Mary anointed the feet of Jesus, “wasting” her expensive perfume on him, Judas decided to betray the Lord, approached the chief priests, and received an advance payment (Matthew 26:14-16; Luke 22:1-6). Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and after He cleansed the temple, the sparks really began to fly, with the religious leaders making every effort to discredit Him, or to get Him into trouble with the Roman authorities (Luke 20:19-20). When these efforts, as well as their attempts to penetrate the ranks of our Lord’s disciples miserably failed, the chief priests were delighted to have Judas approach them with his offer. It was only a matter now of waiting for the right chance. This could have been the Lord’s celebration of the Passover, along with His disciples.

At the meal itself, a number of events took place. It would seem that the Lord’s washing of the feet of the disciples was the first item on the agenda (John 13:1-20). During the meal, once (cf. Matthew 26:20-25; Mark 14:17-21), if not more (Luke 22:21-23), the Lord spoke of His betrayer. The meal seems to have included some (perhaps most all) of the traditional Passover elements, and in addition, the commencement of the Lord’s Supper, with words that I doubt the disciples had ever heard at a Passover meal (Luke 22:19-20). John’s gospel avoids giving us yet another description of this ceremony. He, unlike the other gospel writers, includes an extensive message known as the “upper room discourse” (John 14-16), concluded by the Lord’s “high priestly prayer” of intercession for His followers, which may have been prayed during the meal time, or perhaps later on in Gethsemane (John 17). The synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) report the disciples’ argument about who would be the greatest, along with our Lord’s response (cf. Luke 22:24-3), the Lord’s specific words to the over-confident Peter (Luke 22:31-34), and then His words about being prepared to face a hostile world (Luke 22:35-38). With this the party is said to have sung a hymn and to have departed to the Garden of Gethsemane, where our Lord prayed, with little help from His disciples (Luke 22:39-46). The arrest of Jesus then follows, concluding in His being handed over for crucifixion.

The point in all of this is simply to remind you that the meal was a lengthy one, during which time the Passover was memorialized, and also the Lord’s Supper was inaugurated. It was also during this time that a great deal of teaching took place, as recorded primarily by John. Click here to read the entire article at Bible.org.

Jesus and the Martyr

by Stephen Witmer – Here is an article by Stephen Witmer posted at the Gospel Coalition on Jesus in the garden of Ghetsemane and His divine nature. (Jesus and the Martyrs.)

And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground (Luke 22:41-44).

In this passage, the eternal Son of God pleads with God the Father not to make him go to the cross, requires the help of an angel, and experiences great emotional upheaval in light of his approaching death. He is profoundly shaken. Early in church history, already in the second century, critics of Christianity were pointing to Jesus’ agonized prayer as reason to doubt that he was divine. The problem is heightened when we compare Jesus’ reaction in the face of death to other martyrs, ancient and modern, who appear to be more composed and able to face death with greater dignity than Jesus showed (see Timothy Keller’s The Reason for God for an insightful treatment of this). Here I provide three such examples.

Stephen Witmer gives examples of 3 ancient and modern cases of martyrdom where the men involved appear to face death with a calm dignity and contrasts it with Jesus’ agonizing prayer.

He concludes-

first, the Gospel writers had to be honest, to include such passages of struggling by Jesus and

second, ‘ What sets Jesus’ death apart from the death of any other person in the history of the world is the spiritual component of his suffering’.

We have an indication of that terrible spiritual reality in Luke 22:42: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.” To what “cup” is Jesus referring?

We get an answer in the Old Testament. Psalm 75:6-8 uses the imagery of a cup to refer to God’s judgment upon his enemies:

For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another. For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.

Isaiah 51:17 makes explicit that the “cup” is the cup of God’s wrath: “Wake yourself, wake yourself, stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl, the cup of staggering.”

The “cup” Jesus is going to drink on the cross is far worse than the horrific physical suffering of crucifixion he faces. Jesus’ “cup” is the infinite wrath and judgment of almighty God upon human sin. The wrath of God that Jesus will experience on the cross is, very literally, hell. On the cross, he will experience separation from God the Father. He will be cut off from God. He will be considered an enemy of God because our sins will be counted as his (2 Cor. 5:21).

This is why Jesus agonizes and struggles in the Garden—because he knows he will soon be crushed under the infinite weight of the wrath of God.

click here to read the entire article…

Wednesday Events – Passion Week – and Judas Iscariot,the suicide of Satan and the Salvation of the World

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

(via) Justin Taylor from the Gospel Coalition

Holy Week: What Happened on Wednesday?

Jesus continues his daily teaching in the Temple

Luke 21:37-38

With Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread approaching, the chief priests, elders, and scribes plot to kill Jesus

Matthew 26:3-5 Mark 14:1-2 Luke 22:1-2

Satan enters Judas, who seeks out the Jewish authorities in order to betray Jesus for a price

Matthew 26:14-16 Mark 14:10-11 Luke 22:3-6

Luke 22:1-6

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. 2 And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people. 3 Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. 4 He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. 5 And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. 6 So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.

This is the final message in the series called Spectacular Sins and Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ. The aim has been to show that over and over in the history of the world, the epoch-making sins that changed the course of history never nullified but only fulfilled the global purposes of God to glorify his Son and save his people.

My prayer is that, as these great historical vistas of God’s sovereignty over sin take their place in your renewed mind, they would have a profoundly practical effect in making you strong in the face of breath-stopping sorrows and making you bold for Christ in the face of dangerous opposition. Christ-exalting strength in calamity and Christ-exalting courage in conflict. I pray that the Lord will weave cords of steel and silk into the fabric of your soul.

History’s Most Spectacular Sin: The Murder of Jesus

The most spectacular sin that has ever been committed in the history of the world is the brutal murder of Jesus Christ, the morally perfect, infinitely worthy, divine Son of God. And probably the most despicable act in the process of this murder was the betrayal of Jesus by one of his closest friends, Judas Iscariot.

Judas was one of the twelve apostles that Jesus had personally chosen and who had been with Jesus during his entire public ministry. He had been entrusted with the moneybag for the whole group (John 13:29). He was close enough to Jesus at the Last Supper to be dipping bread with him in the same cup (Mark 14:20).

“Satan Entered into Judas”

On the night of the Last Supper, Luke tells us in Luke 22:3-6 that “Satan entered into Judas. . . . He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray [Jesus] to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.” Later he led the authorities to Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane and betrayed Jesus with a kiss (Luke 22:47-48). With that, Jesus’ death was sealed.

When Luke tells us in verse 3 that “Satan entered into Judas,” several questions come to our minds. 1) One is whether Satan simply mastered a good Judas or whether Judas was already walking in line with Satan and Satan simply decided that now is the time. 2) Another question is why Satan would do this since the death and resurrection of Jesus would result in Satan’s final defeat, and there is good reason to think Satan knew that. 3) And the third and most important question is: Where was God when this happened? What was his role or non-role in the most spectacular sin that ever was? So let’s take these questions one at a time.

1) Satan’s Power in Judas’ Sinful Passions

When it says in Luke 22:3 that “Satan entered into Judas,” how are we to think about the will of Judas and the power of Satan? Judas was not an innocent bystander when Satan entered into him. The apostle John tells us in John 12:6 that he was a thief. When Judas complained that Mary had wasted money in anointing Jesus, John comments, “He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.”

If that sounds incredible, just think of the scandalous behavior of so-called Christian leaders today who use ministry gifts to buy $39,000 worth of clothes at one store in a year, and send their kids on a $29,000 trip to the Bahamas, and drive a white Lexus and a red Mercedes. As Judas sat beside Jesus with his pious, religious face and went out and cast out demons in Jesus’ name, he was not a righteous lover of Jesus. He loved money. He loved the power and pleasures that money could by.

Paul tells us how that works together with Satan’s power. Listen to Ephesians 2:1-3: “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air [notice the connection: dead in sins, following Satan], the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Dead in our sins, walking in the passions of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of body and mind, and therefore following the prince of the power of the air.

Satan does not take innocent people captive. There are no innocent people. Satan has power where sinful passions hold sway. Judas was a lover of money, and he covered it with a phony, external relationship with Jesus. And then he sold him for thirty pieces of silver. How many of his tribe are there still today! Don’t be one. And don’t be duped by one.

2) Satan’s Role in His Own Destruction

The second question is why Satan would lead Judas to betray Jesus. Doesn’t he know that the death and resurrection of Jesus would result in Satan’s final defeat (Colossians 2:13-15; Revelation 12:11)? There’s good reason to think Satan knew that.

When Jesus began his ministry on the way to the cross, Satan tried to turn him away from the path of suffering and sacrifice. In the wilderness, he tempted him to turn stones into bread and jump off the temple and get the rulership of the world by worshipping him (Matthew 4:1-11). The point of all these temptations is: Don’t walk the path of suffering and sacrifice and death. Use your power to escape suffering. If you’re the Son of God, show your right to reign. And I can help you do it. Whatever you do, don’t go to the cross.

Then do you remember the time when Jesus predicted he would suffer many things from the elders and the chief priests and be killed and Peter rebuked him and said, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (Matthew 16:22). In other words, I will never let you be killed like that. Jesus did not commend him. He said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Matthew 16:23). Hindering Jesus from going to the cross was the work of Satan. Satan did not want Jesus crucified. It would be his undoing.

But here he is in Luke 22:3 entering into Judas and leading him to betray the Lord and bring him to the cross. Why the about face? Why try to divert him from the cross and then take the initiative to bring him to the cross? We are not told. Here is my effort at an answer: Satan saw his efforts to divert Jesus from the cross failing. Time after time, Jesus kept the course. His face was set like flint to die, and Satan concludes that there is no stopping him. Therefore he resolves that if he can’t stop it, he will at least make it as ugly and painful and as heartbreaking as possible. Not just death, but death by betrayal. Death by abandonment. Death by denial (see Luke 22:31-32). If he could not stop it, he would drag others into it and do as much damage as he could. It was a spectacular sequence of sins that brought Jesus to the cross.

3) God’s Role in the Murder of His Son

Which brings us now to the third and final question—the most important one: Where was God when this happened? Or more precisely: What was God’s role or non-role in the most spectacular sin that ever happened—the murder of Jesus Christ?

To answer a question like that we should put our hands on our mouths and silence our philosophical speculations. Our opinions don’t count here. All that counts is what God himself as shown us in his word. And the first thing he shows us is that the details surrounding the death of Jesus are prophesied in God’s word hundreds of years before they happen.

The Scriptures prophesy that evil men will reject Jesus when he comes.

Matthew 21:42: “Jesus said to them (quoting Psalm 118:22), ‘Have you never read in the Scriptures: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes”?’”

The Scriptures prophesy that Jesus must be hated.

In John 15:25, Jesus quoted Psalm 35:19 and said, “The word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’”

The Scriptures prophesy that the disciples would abandon Jesus.

In Matthew 26:31, he quotes Zechariah 13:7: “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’”

The Scriptures prophesy that Jesus will be pierced but none of his bones will be broken.

John quotes Psalm 34:20 and Zechariah 12:10 and says, “One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear. . . . For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken.’ And again another Scripture says, ‘They will look on him whom they have pierced’” (John 19:34-37).

The Scriptures prophesy that Jesus would be betrayed by a close friend for thirty pieces of silver.

In John 13:18, Jesus cites Psalm 41:9 and says, “I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’”

And in Matthew 26:24, Jesus says, “The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!”

And in Matthew 27:9-10, it says, “Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me’” (Jeremiah 19:1-13; Zechariah 11:12-13).

And not only the Scriptures, but Jesus himself prophesies, down to the details, how he will be killed.

In Mark 10:33-34, he says, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”

And on that last night, Jesus looked at Peter and said, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times” (Matthew 26:34).

According to His Sovereign Will

From all these prophesies, we know that God foresaw, and did not prevent, and therefore included in his plan that his Son would be rejected, hated, abandoned, betrayed, denied, condemned, spit upon, flogged, mocked, pierced, and killed. All these are explicitly in God’s mind before they happen as things that he plans will happen to Jesus. These things did not just happen. They were foretold in God’s word. God knew they would happen and could have planned to stop them, but didn’t. So they happened according to his sovereign will.

And all of them were evil. They were sin. It is sin to reject, hate, abandon, betray, deny, condemn, spit upon, flog, mock, pierce, and kill the morally perfect, infinitely worthy, divine Son of God. And yet the Bible is explicit and clear that God himself planned these things. It is explicit not only in all the prophetic texts we have seen, but also in passages that say even more plainly that God brought these things to pass.

God Brought It to Pass

For example, in Isaiah 53:6 and 10, it says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. . . . It was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief.” So behind the spitting and flogging and mocking and piercing is the invisible hand and plan of God.

And I say that carefully and with trembling. This truth is too big and too weighty and too shocking to be glib about or to be cocky about. I choose to say that the invisible hand and plan of God are behind these most spectacular sins in all the universe—more grievous and more spectacular than the fall of Satan or any others. The reason I use these very words is because the Bible says it in those very words.

The Hand and Plan of God

In Acts 4:27-28, we have the clearest, most explicit statement about God’s hand and plan behind the horrific crucifixion of his Son. “Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand (cheir) and your plan (boule) had predestined to take place.” Those are the two words I am using: the hand of God and the plan of God.

It is a strange way of speaking—to say that God’s hand and plan have predestined something to happen. One does not ordinarily think of God’s “hand” predestining. How does a hand predestine? Here’s what I think it means: The hand of God ordinarily stands for God’s exerted power—not power in the abstract, but earthly, effective exertions of power. The point of combining it with “plan” is to say that it is not just a theoretical plan; it is plan that will be executed by God’s own hand.

This explains Isaiah 53:10: “It was the will of the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief.” Or more literally, with the King James Version, “It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.” The Lord bruised him. Behind Herod and Pilate and the Gentiles and the people of Israel was Jesus’ own Father who loved him with an infinite love.

The Gospel: God At Work in Death

Why should this matter to you? It should matter because if God were not the main Actor in the death of Christ, then the death of Christ could not save us from our sins and we would perish in hell forever. The reason the death of Christ is the heart of gospel—the heart of the good news—is God was doing it. Romans 5:8: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” If you break God’s activity from the death of Jesus, you lose the gospel. This was God’s doing. It is the highest and deepest point of his love for sinners. His love for you.

Romans 8:3: “Sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.” God condemned sin in Jesus’ flesh with our condemnation. So we are free.

Galatians 3:13: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” God cursed Jesus with the curse that belonged on us. So we are free.

2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake [God] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” God imputed our sin to him, and now we go free in God’s righteousness.

Isaiah 53:5: “He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities.” God wounded him. God crushed him. For you and me. And we go free.

The Cross of Christ: The Work and Love of God

The reason why this series of messages matters is this. If you embrace the biblical truth (and I pray you will) that God ordains spectacular sins for the global glory of his Son, without in anyway becoming unholy or unrighteous or sinful in that act, then you will not shrink back from the cross of Christ as a work of God. You will not be among the number of those who call the most loving act that ever was “divine child abuse.” You will come to the cross and fall on your face. And you will say: This is no mere human conspiracy. This is the work of God and the love of God. You will it receive as his highest gift. And you will be saved. And Christ will be glorified. And I will not have preached in vain.

© Desiring God

Passion Week – Monday – Jesus cleanses the Temple

Photo credit James Tissot painting www.joyfulheart.com

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

  1. On Monday, Jesus cleanses the temple.
  2. On the way back to Jerusalem Jesus curses the fig tree.
  3. When he arrives in Jerusalem, he cleanses the temple (though it’s debated, this is likely the area of the Royal Stoa, described by Josephus in Antiquitites 15.411–415, which ran the length of the southern wall of the Temple Mount).
  4. Jesus then did miracles in the temple and received challenges from the Jewish leaders and astonishment from the crowd.
  5. In the evening Jesus and the twelve return to Bethany.

The following synopsis is from Christian Classics Ethereal Library, written by Mark A. Copeland.

„THE GOSPEL OF JOHN”

The Cleansing Of The Temple (John 2:13-25)

INTRODUCTION

1. It is common to think of Jesus as a gentle, peace-loving man…

a. He certainly presented Himself as such on most occasions – e.g.,
Mt 11:28-30
b. People felt comfortable in bringing their children to Him – e.g.,
Mt 19:13-14

2. Yet on occasion Jesus displayed strong righteous indignation…
a. Such as when He visited Jerusalem during the Passover at the
beginning of His ministry
b. As He drove the moneychangers and merchandisers out of the temple
– Jn 2:13-15

[What prompted this outburst of anger? What gave Jesus the authority to
do this? What lessons might we glean from this event? As we seek to
find the answers let’s first note…]

I. THE REBUKE OF THE LORD

A. MERCHANDISING HIS FATHER’S HOUSE…

1. The Lord’s rebuke reveals the reason for His outburst – cf. Jn 2:16
2. The sellers of oxen and sheep, along with the moneychangers,
had turned the temple into a house of merchandise
3. It was to be a house of prayer, they had turned it into a den
of thieves – cf. Mt 21:13
– The Lord was angered by the manner in which some used religion to make money

B. MIGHT WE BE GUILTY OF A SIMILAR OFFENSE…?
1. What if we attend church simply as a form of „networking”, to
make business contacts?
2. What if we take advantage of our relationship as brethren to
further a multilevel marketing business, a home-based business,
or any other financial enterprise?
– The Lord’s temple today is the church, we must be careful lest we defile it as well (cf. 1Co 3:16-17)

[The Lord has ordained that those who preach the gospel be supported (1 Col 9:14). But He is angered by those who view the Lord’s temple
(people) as a way to get rich. Next, we note that His anger was
prompted by…]

II. THE ZEAL OF THE LORD

A. ZEAL FOR HIS FATHER’S HOUSE…
1. The disciples were reminded of an Old Testament prophecy – Jn 2:17; cf. Ps 69:9
2. Jesus had zeal (fervor) for God’s house, for it’s intended
purpose (a house of prayer)
– His great zeal for His Father’s house moved Him to action

B. HOW IS OUR ZEAL FOR THE LORD’S HOUSE…?
1. Remember, today the Father’s house is the church – cf. 1 Ti 3:15
2. Do we have great zeal for the church?
a. That it fulfill it’s intended purpose (to make known God’s
will)? – cf. Ep 3:10-11
b. That we are troubled when we see people try to turn it into
something else, such as social club, or a purveyor of
entertainment?
– If we have zeal for the Lord’s house, we will not rest silent when others pervert its purpose

[Of course, the action we take may not be the same as what Jesus did.
Indeed, He took up „a whip of cords.” What right did He have to use
such a display of force? That’s what the Jews wanted to know…]

III. THE AUTHORITY OF THE LORD

A. THE SIGN THAT PROVES HIS AUTHORITY…
1. They wanted to know what sign (miracle) He could offer to prove
His right to cleanse the temple – Jn 2:18
2. Jesus offered His ability to rise from the dead as the ultimate
proof – Jn 2:19-22
a. Later, He would restate His claim to have this ability – Jn 10:17-18
b. His resurrection proved that He was the Son of God – cf. Ro 1:4
– He has been given the authority to exercise such judgment as cleansing the temple – cf. Jn 5:22,26-27

B. WE DO NOT HAVE THE SAME AUTHORITY…
1. We are to judge with righteous judgment – Jn 7:24
a. At times we must distinguish between „hogs” and „dogs” – Mt 7:6
b. We can distinguish between good and bad fruit – Mt 7:15-20
2. But our authority to judge is limited – Mt 7:1-5
a. There are things we cannot judge in this life – 1Co 4:3-5
b. There are people we are not to judge – 1Co 5:11-13
c. Vengeance in particular belongs to the Lord – cf. Ro 12: 17-19
– While Jesus is our example (cf. 1Pe 2:21), there are some „steps” that He took that we cannot take

[The reason we cannot emulate the Lord in every case becomes evident as we consider…]

IV. THE POWER OF THE LORD

A. THE POWER THAT JUSTIFIES HIS ACTION…
1. John mentions how many came to believe in Him because of His
signs – Jn 2:23
2. John also makes note of His unwillingness to commit Himself to
others at this time
a. He had no need to, because he knew all – Jn 2:24
b. He had no need to, because he knew what was in man – Jn 2:25
– Jesus is revealed as one who can discern the hearts of men – cf. Mt 9:4; Re 2:23

B. WE DO NOT HAVE THE SAME POWER…
1. We cannot discern the hearts of men like the Lord can; note
these comments:
a. „Our Lord knew all men, their nature, dispositions,
affections, designs, so as we do not know any man, not even
ourselves.”
b. „He knows his crafty enemies, and all their secret projects;
his false friends, and their true characters.”
c. „He knows who are truly his, knows their uprightness, and
knows their weaknesses.”
d. „We know what is done by men; Christ knows what is in them,
he tries the heart.”
– Matthew Henry Commentary
2. Since we cannot read the hearts of men, we must be careful
a. We are unable to always know the motives of others
b. We must approach those in opposition with humility – cf.
2Ti 2:24-26
c. We must approach brethren overtaken in a fault with
gentleness – cf. Ga 6:1

CONCLUSION

1. In contending for the faith (which is a solemn duty, Jude 3)…
a. Some often use the example of Jesus cleansing the temple to
justify their behavior
b. As they lash out in anger (righteous indignation?) towards those
teaching error

2. Is it right to appeal to Jesus’ example in this case…?
a. Can we appeal to every example of Jesus?
b. If so, are we justified to use a whip of cords as well?

3. The immediate context offers reasons to answer carefully…
a. Jesus possessed unlimited authority to judge man, proven by His
resurrection from the dead
b. Jesus possessed divine power to read the hearts of men, we
sometimes cannot even discern our own hearts

4. There are times for righteous indignation…
a. But some things must be left to the Lord, the righteous Judge
b. We must avoid what might actually be „self-righteous” indignation!

While we may not always be able to emulate the Lord’s prerogative to judge, we should certainly strive to copy His zeal for His Father’s house. Is our zeal for His church what it ought to be…?

Palm Sunday 3/3 – Jesus Declares His Kingship

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

You can listen to the audio here from Desiring God, John Piper.

Matthew 21:1-17

When they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, „Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me. 3 „If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 5 „SAY TO THE DAUGHTER OF ZION, ‘BEHOLD YOUR KING IS COMING TO YOU, GENTLE, AND MOUNTED ON A DONKEY, EVEN ON A COLT, THE FOAL OF A BEAST OF BURDEN.'” 6 The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them, 7 and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their coats on them; and He sat on the coats. 8 Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road. 9 The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting, „Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!” 10 When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, „Who is this?” 11 And the crowds were saying, „This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.” 12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 13 And He said to them, „It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.” 14 And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, „Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant 16 and said to Him, „Do You hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus said to them, „Yes; have you never read, ‘OUT OF THE MOUTH OF INFANTS AND NURSING BABIES YOU HAVE PREPARED PRAISE FOR YOURSELF’?” 17 And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.

What I would like to do this morning is help you hear Jesus’ own declaration of his kingship. I want you to see from Matthew 21:1-17 how Jesus says, „I am your king.” And I would like to do it in a way that makes sure you see the nature of his kingship now and the different nature of his kingship when he comes a second time. And I want you to see and feel the difference because the nature of Jesus’ kingship now is creating a season of salvation in world history during which you can still switch sides and be saved from his wrath and judgment. There is still time – even now this morning – when you can accept the amnesty that King Jesus holds out to you, and renounce your allegiance to self and success and money and family and physical pleasure and security – and whatever else rules you more than Jesus. And you can bow and receive Christ as your King and swear allegiance to him, and be on his side with everlasting joy.

The Kingship of Jesus Will Look Different Than It Does Now

To help you feel the wonder of this brief season of salvation in world history – and yes I say brief, though it has lasted 2000 years; compared to how long we will exist in heaven or hell, it is very brief – to feel the wonder of this brief season of salvation in world history consider that the day is coming, and perhaps soon, when the kingship of Jesus will very different than it is now. Here is a description of that kingship, as John saw it in the last book of the Bible:

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, „KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:11-16)

When the kingship of Jesus appears in the skies like that, it will be too late to switch sides. „Behold, now is ‘the acceptable time,’ behold, now is ‘the day of salvation'” (2 Corinthians 6:2). I believe that is what Matthew is trying to say to us this morning in the way Jesus proclaims his kingship in Matthew 21:1-17. What he wants us to hear – what Jesus wants us to see – is that, yes, he is king, yes his kingship is not provincial or tribal or national, but international and global and universal. But it is for now meek, lowly, welcoming, seeking, forgiving, patient. He will, in a matter of days, shed his own blood to save all who will accept his free gift of amnesty and come over to his side. And until he comes again this is the wonder of his kingship. It saves sinners.

So let’s watch him make this declaration. I just want you to see him. I want you to hear him. Rivet your attention on Jesus this morning. He will win you. He will heal you. He will save you.

There are four ways that Jesus declares his kingship in this triumphal entry. All of them are Jewish. He was a Jew, and he was fulfilling Jewish promises of a coming king and Messiah. But all them are bigger than Jewish. Remember this gospel is going to end in chapter 28 with the words, „All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:18-19). Jesus knows that he is the king over all nations, not just Israel.

So let’s listen and watch as he declares himself King of the Jews and King of the nations.

1. Jesus Declares His Kingship by Riding on a Donkey (Zech. 9:9)

First, notice Matthew 21:1-5. Jesus sends two of his disciples to get a donkey. Verse 2: „Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me.” Why? What is he doing? Why does he want a ride into Jerusalem on a donkey? Never before has he done such a thing. Matthew tells us why in verses 4-5, „This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: ‘Say to the daughter of Zion [that is, to Israel], „Behold your king is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”‘”

This is a quote from the prophet Zechariah (9:9). Jesus has chosen to act out the fulfillment of this prophecy and to declare his kingship in the action of riding on a donkey. This means, yes, I am king, for that’s what the prophet says it means: „Behold your king.” „But,” he is saying, „I am gentle and lowly. I am not, in my first coming, on a white war-horse with a sword and a rod of iron. I am not coming to slay you. I am coming to save you. This time. Today is the day of salvation.

But is he only coming for the „daughter of Zion,” Israel? Listen to the context in Zechariah 9:9-10 – and Jesus knew the context –

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; And the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; And His dominion [his kingship] will be from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.

That’s declaration number one. Jesus very intentionally acts out the fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9 and declares his humble, gentile, saving, Jewish and global kingship. And invites you to receive it.

2. Jesus Declares His Kingship by Cleansing the Temple (Isa. 56:7)

Second, in verses 12-13 Jesus acts out another Old Testament text. It says he „entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.” Don’t think that this meek, gentle, lowly Savior-King was without passion for his Father’s glory!

Then to explain what he is doing he quotes Isaiah 56:7. Verse 13: „And He said to them, ‘It is written, „My house shall be called a house of prayer;” but you are making it a robbers’ den.'” There are two things that make this action and this Old Testament quote so significant. One is that the context in Isaiah is about the coming kingdom of God, and so Jesus is putting himself in the position of the coming king. And the other is that the context is global, not just Jewish. Listen to Isaiah 56:6-8.

Also the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord. . . 7 Even those I will bring to My holy mountain And make them joyful in My house of prayer. . . . For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.” 8 The Lord GOD, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares, „Yet others I will gather to them, to those already gathered.”

So when Jesus chooses a prophetic word to interpret his action in the temple, he chooses one that underlines his coming on a donkey as king and the fact that his kingship is „for all the peoples.” It’s for you this morning. He is jealous to open his Father’s house to you for prayer.

3. Jesus Declares His Kingship by Healing (Isa. 35:4-6)

Third, in verse 14 it says, „And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.” Imagine what an impact this must have had. We are talking about the most public place in the city – the temple. We are talking about blind people, and people who can’t walk – lame, paralyzed people. Not people with headaches and sore throats. This was a public demonstration of something. What?

We’ve already been told at least once. When John the Baptist was in jail he sent and asked Jesus, „Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” In other words, are you the coming king of Israel, the Messiah? And Jesus sent this word back to John in Matthew 11:4-5, „Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk.” In other words, „Yes. I am the coming king.”

Why? Why does the healing of the blind and the lame in the temple after coming into Jerusalem on a donkey mean: I am the coming king? Because in Isaiah 35 the prophet describes the coming kingship of the Messiah like this: ” Take courage, fear not. . . . The recompense of God will come, But He will save you. Then the eyes of the blind will be opened. And . . . Then the lame will leap like a deer” (35:4-6).

Jesus comes on a donkey, lowly and gentle and patient; he comes cleansing his Father’s house to make it a house of prayer for all the nations; he comes healing the blind and the lame – all to show what his kingship is now in part, and will be fully in the age to come. It is not just a kingship over other kings, but over disease and all nature. We will not just be safe and sick when he comes. We will be safe and whole – absolutely whole. Now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation. Trust him. Receive his amnesty. Become his subject.

4. Jesus Declares His Kingship by His Response to Children (Psa. 8)

Finally, Jesus declares his kingship by the way he responds to what the people and the children are doing and saying. In verse 8 the crowds are spreading their cloaks on the road in front of him. This is what they did when kings were crowned in the Old Testament (2 Kings 9:13). In verse 9 the crowds were shouting, „Hosanna [salvation!] to the Son of David [the hoped for king like David]; ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.'” (These are words from Psalm 118:25-26.)

Then in verse 15 the children were shouting the same things: „Hosanna to the Son of David.” In other words, „The king is here, the king is here!” But the chief priests became angry. So they said in verse 16, „Do You hear what these children are saying?” Now I think they could just as easily have said, „Did you hear what those crowds said? Did you see what they were doing when they put their cloaks on the ground?” They can’t believe Jesus is letting all this stand unchallenged.

Jesus answers their question with one simple word. And then an absolutely astonishing quote from Psalm 8. They say, „Do you hear what these children are saying?” And he answers in verse 16b, „Yes.” „Yes, I do. I not only hear it. I planned it. And I receive it. I would gladly receive it from you. And he would gladly receive it from us!”

Then, he ends this section by quoting Psalm 8, „Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies You have prepared praise for Yourself’?” What is so astonishing about this is that it refers to God. „O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens! 2 From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength [or: praise] Because of Your adversaries.” Don’t miss this. Jesus receives the praises of little children and then explains it by quoting a psalm where children are praising God.

The King Has Come and Is Coming

So here is the concluding declaration and invitation: Jesus came the first time, and he is coming again, as the king over all kings. King of Israel, king of all the nations, king of nature and the universe. Until he comes again, there is a day of amnesty and forgiveness and patience. He still rides a donkey and not yet a white war-horse with a rod of iron. He is ready to save all who receive him as Savior and Treasure and King. Come to him. Know him. Receive him. Live your life in allegiance to him.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

The Easter Story day by day: What happened the Friday and Saturday before Palm Sunday?

Bethany Photo www.travelpod.com

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

Texts from ESV Bible – John 12:1-8, 9-11

Jesus arrives at bethany

 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 

Mary anoints Jesus during a meal

Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

the crowds come to see Jesus

When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

Mark 14:1-11

The Plot to Kill Jesus

14 It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.”

Jesus Anointed at Bethany

And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her.But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

Judas to Betray Jesus

10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. 11 And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him.

Extravagant Devotion

 C J Mahaney – Mark 14:1-11, revealed a truly historic moment as it contained a profound pronouncement. Nobody else except this woman receives this promise from the Savior: “wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Why? Why her? Why now? Just her. Why her? C.J. wanted to help us discover “why her” so that we all might be affected by her.

The Mark 14 passage begins with disturbing descriptions of the chief priest: Only Jesus’ popularity and the threat of a riot slow have slowed them in their goal of killing him. That’s the backdrop to our passage. At the end of the evening, the chief priests will get some help from Judas.

The Alabaster Flask

And in between the intrigue of verses 1-2 and 10-11, there is a party taking place in Bethany. Jesus and his friends are gathered. They are in the home of “Simon the leper,” who – had he still been a leper – could not have been hosting the get-together. John’s gospel, in a parallel passage, informs us that Lazarus was present, having recently been raised from the dead.

Photo credit en.wikipedia.org/

John also tells us Martha is present; the quintessential servant, she is catering the party. And most important, the Savior is there. Presumably, he is the guest of honor. One would expect the atmosphere to be warm and friendly – there are no Pharisees or chief priests present. Only those with every reason to be grateful to Jesus are present (except perhaps Judas, who is still under the radar at this point).

Suddenly, a woman (John tells us it was Mary) stands by Jesus and proceeds to break an alabaster flask of very expensive perfume. She pours the entirety of its contents over his head. The fragrance fills the room. It was impossible to ignore this public, dramatic, passionate display of affection. The disciples do not appreciate this act, and they scold her. The scene is no longer festive. Suddenly there is a dramatic change in the mood and atmosphere. A voice says leave her alone.

The Savior then makes the profound promise: “wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”Why? Why does he make this promise to her at this moment? What she has done must be told wherever the gospel is preached, because Mary uniquely exemplifies the transforming effect of the gospel, which isextravagant devotion to the Savior. She demonstrates the effect of the gospel by her extravagant love for Jesus. She was to be an example of piety to the church universal throughout history. Her story is told so that we might evaluate if we have been appropriately and effectively transformed by the gospel. Not just applause, but application: We should evaluate ourselves in relation to her.

Two points to be drawn:

1. Extravagant devotion is an evidence of conversion.

Earlier in Mark’s gospel we encounter a teacher of law who is told, “You are not far from the kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34). It was surely both an encouragement and a warning to this man. You are near, but not in. Well, it is clear that Mary’s not simply “near.” She’s “in.” Big-time. This is what being “in” looks like.

Where there is a profession of faith without affection for and obedience to the Savior, it’s authenticity should be questioned. Be assured if you are truly saved. If you have genuine affection for the Savior, and genuine obedience to the savior, then you can have fresh assurance.

If I witness a person who is unaffected by truth, uninvolved in the local congregation, and uninterested in spiritual things, that individual is very unlike Mary, and therefore unconverted. Extravagant devotion to the Savior cannot be concealed. It must find expression. It is evidence of true conversion. This is the significance of Mary.

2. Extravagant devotion is the increasing experience of the converted.

C.J. asked us to consider if we recognized ourselves in the following illustration: A woman took her children to the park to break the monotony of the summer days. Instead, she broke her heart. A young attractive woman skipped to a picnic table in a secluded spot. The mother wondered who she might be so eager to see. The mother grew preoccupied with her children and forgot to watch. But when she did look again, it made her heart hurt. The young woman was reading her Bible. She had so eagerly run from her car to meet the Lord. The mother knew she had lost this passion. Something had happened over the years of her walk with the Lord. She would not now be one to skip to meet the Lord. She wept in the park for her loss. The question C.J. put to us is: Are we still skipping? Now all who are genuinely converted can, at times, recognize themselves in this illustration. In the Mark 14 episode, we are sometimes more like those criticizing Mary than we are like Mary.

What should have happened there in Mark 14? As Mary stood over the Savior pouring out the perfume, affectionately, passionately, appropriately, over His head….quietly, everyone present should have gotten up and formed a line behind her and should have said to her, “Mary, could you please save some for me to pour? For he has forgiven all of my sins. Mary, can I pour some? For he healed me of my leprosy. Mary, thank you for your example. Can I follow your example?” That’s what should have happened. So who do you resemble more? The arrogant and critical disciples? Or humble Mary, expressing her love for the Savior through this extravagant display of affection. How can we become more like her? How can we cultivate extravagant devotion to Christ?

 

Application: We must review and reflect upon the gospel.

We must regularly read, and meditate upon, the gospel, particularly the events surrounding Christ’s death. The transforming effect of the gospel is extravagant devotion to the Savior. Therefore, if extravagant devotion is diminished, it normally means the gospel has been neglected. Charles Spurgeon said:

Are you content to follow Jesus from a distance? O, let me affectionately warn you for it is a grievous thing when we can live contentedly without the present enjoyment of the Savior’s face. Let us work to feel what an evil thing this is – little love to our own dying Savior, little joy in our precious Jesus, little fellowship with the Beloved! Hold a true Lent in your in your souls, while you sorrow over your hardness of heart. Don’t stop at sorrow. Remember where you first received salvation. Go at once to the cross. There, and there only can you get your spirit aroused. No matter how hard, how insensible, how dead we may have become, let’s go again in all the rags and poverty, and defilement of our natural condition. Let’s clasp that cross, let’s look into those languid eyes, let’s bathe in that fountain filled with blood – this will bring us back to our first love; this will restore the simplicity of our faith, and the tenderness of our heart….The more we dwell where the cries of Calvary can be heard the more noble our lives become. Nothing puts life into men like a dying Savior.

How often do we dwell where the cries of Calvary can be heard? Those cries were all necessary because of our sins, and those cries were sufficient for our salvation. The transforming effect of those cries is extravagant devotion to the One who uttered those cries.

Read the article in its entirety here –

Passion Week A. Friday/Saturday: Jesus arrives in Bethany

Palm Sunday 2/3 – He (Jesus) set His face to go to Jerusalem!

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

from Desiring God. You can listen to the audio for this John Piper sermon here.

Luke 9:51-56

Luke describes the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem at the beginning of that last week of his earthly life:

As he was drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, „Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest! (Luke 19:37, 38)

Palm Sunday: Today and To Come

There is no doubt what was in the disciples’ minds. This was the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy given centuries earlier:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. (Zechariah 9:9, 10)

The long-awaited Messiah had come, the king of Israel, and not just of Israel but of all the earth. Jerusalem would be his capital city. From here he would rule the world in peace and righteousness. What a day this was! How their hearts must have pounded in their chests! And must not their hands have been sweaty like warriors in readiness just before the bugle sounds the battle! How would he do it? Would he whip up the enthusiastic crowds and storm the Roman praetorium—a people’s revolution? Or would he call down fire from heaven to consume the enemies of God? Would any of his followers be lost in the struggle? The tension of the moment must have been tremendous!

The Pharisees had a double reason for wanting this kind of welcome silenced. On the one hand, this Jesus was a threat to their authority, and they envied his popularity (Mark 15:10). On the other hand, they feared a Roman backlash to all this seditious talk of another king (John 11:48). Therefore they say to Jesus, „‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples.’ But he answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out!”‘ (Luke 19:39, 40). No, he will not rebuke them for this. Not now. The hour has come. The authority of the Pharisees is done for. If the Romans come, they come. He will not silence the truth any longer. To be sure the disciples’ understanding of Jesus’ kingship at this point is flawed. But hastening events will correct that soon enough. In essence they are correct. Jesus is the king of Israel, and the kingdom he is inaugurating will bring peace to all the nations and spread from sea to sea. The book of Revelation pictures the final fulfillment of Palm Sunday in the age to come like this:

I looked and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, „Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9, 10)

The entry into Jerusalem with waving palms (John 12:13) was a short-lived preview of the eternal Palm Sunday to come. It needed to be said. If the disciples hadn’t said it, the rocks would have.

I like to think of all our worship in this age as rehearsal for the age to come. One day we, who by God’s grace have been faithful to the Lord, are going to stand with innumerable millions of believers from Bangladesh, Poland, Egypt, Australia, Iceland, Cameroon, Ecuador, Burma, Borneo, Japan, and thousands of tribes and peoples and languages purified by Christ, with palms of praise in our hand. And when we raise them in salute to Christ, he will see an almost endless field of green, shimmering with life and pulsating with praise. And then like the sound of a thousand Russian choruses, we will sing our song of salvation, while the mighty Christ, with heartfelt love, looks out over those whom he bought with his own blood.

Had Jesus taken his throne on that first day of palms, none of us would ever be robed in white or waving palms of praise in the age to come. There had to be the cross, and that is what the disciples had not yet understood. Back in Luke 9, as Jesus prepared to set out for Jerusalem from Galilee, he tried to explain this to his disciples. In verse 22 he said, „The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” And in verse 44 he told them, „Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men.” But verse 45 tells us, „They did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them that they should not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.” Therefore, their understanding of Jesus’ last journey to Jerusalem was flawed. They saw him as a king moving in to take control. And he was. But they could not grasp that the victory Jesus would win in Jerusalem over sin and Satan and death and all the enemies of righteousness and joy—that this victory would be won through his own horrible suffering and death; and that the kingdom which they thought would be established immediately (Luke 19:11) would, in fact, be thousands of years in coming. And their misunderstanding of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem results in a misunderstanding of the meaning of discipleship. This is why this is important for us to see, lest we make the same mistake.

Jesus’ Resolution to Die

In Luke 9:51–56 we learn how not to understand Palm Sunday. Let’s look at it together. „When the days drew near for him to be received up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” To set his face towards Jerusalem meant something very different for Jesus than it did for the disciples. You can see the visions of greatness that danced in their heads in verse 46: „An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest.” Jerusalem and glory were just around the corner. O what it would mean when Jesus took the throne! But Jesus had another vision in his head. One wonders how he carried it all alone and so long. Here’s what Jerusalem meant for Jesus: „I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem”(Luke 13:33). Jerusalem meant one thing for Jesus: certain death. Nor was he under any illusions of a quick and heroic death. He predicted in Luke 18:31f., „Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written of the Son of man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon; they will scourge him and kill him.” When Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem, he set his face to die.

Remember, when you think of Jesus’ resolution to die, that he had a nature like ours. He shrunk back from pain like we do. He would have enjoyed marriage and children and grandchildren and a long life and esteem in the community. He had a mother and brothers and sisters. He had special places in the mountains. To turn his back on all this and set his face towards vicious whipping and beating and spitting and mocking and crucifixion was not easy. It was hard. O how we need to use our imagination to put ourselves back into his place and feel what he felt. I don’t know of any other way for us to begin to know how much he loved us. „Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

If we were to look at Jesus’ death merely as a result of a betrayer’s deceit and the Sanhedrin’s envy and Pilate’s spinelessness and the soldiers’ nails and spear, it might seem very involuntary. And the benefit of salvation that comes to us who believe from this death might be viewed as God’s way of making a virtue out of a necessity. But once you read Luke 9:51 all such thoughts vanish. Jesus was not accidentally entangled in a web of injustice. The saving benefits of his death for sinners were not an afterthought. God planned it all out of infinite love to sinners like us and appointed a time. Jesus, who was the very embodiment of his Father’s love for sinners, saw that the time had come and set his face to fulfill his mission: to die in Jerusalem for our sake. „No one takes my life from me (he said), but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:18).

Jesus’ Journey Is Our Journey

So Jesus sets out for Jerusalem, and it says in the text that „he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but the people would not receive him because his face was set toward Jerusalem.” It doesn’t really matter whether this rejection is just because Jesus and his companions are Jews and Samaritans hate Jews, or whether the rejection is a more personal rejection of Jesus as the Messiah on his way to reign in Jerusalem. What matters for the story is simply that Jesus is already being rejected, and then the focus shifts to the disciples’ response, specifically the response of James and John.

James and John ask Jesus, „Lord, do you want us to bid fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (verse 54). Jesus had already named these brothers „sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). Here we get a glimpse of why. I take this passage very personally because my father named me after one of these sons of thunder. And I think I probably would have said what John did here: „Jesus, we are on the way to victory. Nothing can stop us now. Let the fire fall! Let the judgment begin! O, how Jerusalem will tremble when they see us coming!” Jesus turns, the text says, and rebuked them (verse 55). And they simply went to another town.

Now what does this mean? It means, first of all, that a mistaken view of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem can lead to a mistaken view of discipleship. If Jesus had come to execute judgment and take up an earthly rule, then it would make sense for the sons of thunder to begin the judgment when the final siege of the Holy City starts. But if Jesus had come not to judge but to save, then a radically different form of discipleship is in order. Here is a question put to every believer by this text: does discipleship mean deploying God’s missiles against the enemy in righteous indignation? Or does discipleship mean following him on the Calvary road which leads to suffering and death? The answer of the whole New Testament is this: the surprise about Jesus the Messiah is that he came to live a life of sacrificial, dying service before he comes a second time to reign in glory. And the surprise about discipleship is that it demands a life of sacrificial, dying service before we can reign with Christ in glory.

What James and John had to learn—what we all must learn—is that Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem is our journey, and if he set his face to go there and die, we must set our face to die with him. One might be tempted to reason in just the opposite way: that since Jesus suffered so much and died in our place, therefore, we are free to go straight to the head of the class, as it were, and skip all the exams. He suffered so we could have comfort. He died so we could live. He bore abuse so we could be esteemed. He gave up the treasures of heaven so we could lay up treasures on earth. He brought the kingdom and paid for our entrance and now we live in it with all its earthly privileges. But all this is not biblical reasoning. It goes against the plain teaching in this very context. Luke 9:23, 24 reads: „If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.” When Jesus set his face to walk the Calvary road, he was not merely taking our place; he was setting our pattern. He is substitute and pacesetter. If we seek to secure our life through returning evil for evil or surrounding ourselves with luxury in the face of human need, we will lose our life. We can save our life only if we follow Christ on the Calvary road. Jesus died to save us from the power and punishment of sin, not from the suffering and sacrifices of simplicity for love’s sake.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

Tears of Sovereign Mercy – Palm Sunday 1/3

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

You can listen to the audio here from Desiring God, John Piper.

Luke 19:28-44

And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, „Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, „Why are you untying the colt?” 34 And they said, „The Lord has need of it.” 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was drawing near – already on the way down the Mount of Olives – the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, „Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, „Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, „I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” 41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, „Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Before we get back to Romans 9 the Sunday after Easter, I wanted to preach a message that is partly an overflow of one of the books I worked on during the writing leave. (It will probably be called Don’t Waste Your Life.) Actually, this message is the overflow of more than the book.

  • It’s the overflow of conversations with John Erickson about his vision for ministry in the city.
  • It’s the overflow of conversations with my son Benjamin about what it means to be a merciful person on the street.
  • It’s the overflow of reading Timothy Keller’s book, Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road.
  • It’s the overflow of the seminar I did on Prayer, Meditation, and Fasting a few weeks ago, as I pondered what it really means to enjoy fellowship with Jesus and anticipate meeting him face to face very shortly and giving an account of the way I have thought, for example, about giving to people who ask for money. I remember, specifically, in one of those hours asking the class: Suppose you die and you’re standing before Jesus Christ, who surrendered his body to spitting and shame and torture and death so that undeserving sinners (like you and me) might be drawn into eternal joy, and he inquires how you handled the people who asked you for money – you know, panhandlers, beggars, street people, drunks, drifters. What would you say?I suggested to them, and I suggest to you now, you’re not going to feel very good about saying, „I never got taken advantage of. I saw through their schemes. I developed really shrewd counter-questions that would expose them. So I hardly ever had to give anything.” Do you know what I think the Lord Jesus is going to say to that – the Lord Jesus, the consummately, willingly, savingly abused and exploited Jesus? I think he is going to say, „That was an exquisite imitation of the world. Even sinners give to those who deserve to be given to. Even sinners pride themselves on not being taken advantage of.” Well this message is a spillover of some of those thoughts.
  • And it’s a spillover of a conversation that Noël and I had at Annie’s Parlor a little over a week ago as we assessed our lives how we wanted the next ten years to look – if God gives us ten – in regard to practical deeds mercy. What do we want Talitha to see in the city? What kind of Jesus do we want her to see living through us in Philips neighborhood on 11th Avenue? Do we want her to remember someday when we are gone: my folks were shrewd? Or do we want her to remember: My folks were merciful?

Palm Sunday: An Event of Insight and Misunderstanding

Well, that’s what led me to choose this text for Palm Sunday. It’s a Palm Sunday text. Palm Sunday is the day in the church year when traditionally we mark the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem for the last week of his life. It’s an event of great insight and great misunderstanding. The great insight was that this Jesus really is „the King who comes in the name of the Lord” (Luke 19:38). He was the Messiah, the Son of David, the long-awaited Ruler of Israel, the fulfillment of all God’s promises. But the great misunderstanding was that he would enter Jerusalem and by his mighty works, take his throne and make Israel free from Rome.

It wasn’t going to be that way: he would take his throne but it would be through voluntary suffering and death and resurrection. The first sermon Peter preached after the resurrection comes to an end with the words, „This Jesus God raised up” so that he was „exalted at the right hand of God” (Acts 2:32-33). And the apostle Paul says that he is now King: „He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (1 Corinthians 15:25; see Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1).

So Palm Sunday was a day of insight and a day of misunderstanding. The insight gave joy, and the misunderstanding brought about destruction – the murder of Jesus a few days later, and the destruction of Jerusalem 40 years later. And Jesus saw it all coming.

And what I want to focus on this morning is Jesus’ response to this blindness and hostility that he was about to meet in Jerusalem. Indeed, he met it already in this very text. The crowds were crying out in verse 38, „Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” But in the very next verse it says, „Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples’” (Luke 19:39).

So Jesus knew what was about to happen. The Pharisees were going to get the upper hand. The people would be fickle and follow their leaders. And Jesus would be rejected and crucified. And within a generation the city would be obliterated. Look how Jesus says it in verses 43-44:

For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.

God had visited them in his Son, Jesus Christ – „he came to his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11). They did not know the time of their visitation. So they stumbled over the stumbling stone. The builders rejected the stone and threw it away. Jesus saw this sin and this rebellion and this blindness coming. How did he respond? Verse 41-42: „And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.’” Jesus wept over the blindness and the impending misery of Jerusalem.

How would you describe these tears? You can see from the title of this message that I call them, „Palm Sunday Tears of Sovereign Mercy.” The effect that I pray this will have on us is, first, to make us admire Christ, and treasure him above all others and worship him as our merciful Sovereign; and, second, that seeing the beauty of his mercy, we become merciful with him and like him and because of him and for his glory.

Admiring Christ’s Merciful Sovereignty and Sovereign Mercy

First, then let’s admire Christ together. What makes Christ so admirable, and so different than all other persons – what sets him apart as unique and inimitable – matchless, peerless – is that he unites in himself so many qualities that in other people are contrary to each other. That’s why I put together the words „sovereign” and „merciful.” We can imagine supreme sovereignty, and we can imagine tenderhearted mercy. But who do we look to combine in perfect proportion merciful sovereignty and sovereign mercy? We look to Jesus. No other religious or political contender even comes close.

Look at three pointers in this text to his sovereignty. First, verse 37: „As he was drawing near – already on the way down the Mount of Olives – the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen.” Jesus had made a name for himself as the worker of miracles, and they remembered them. He had healed leprosy with a touch; he had made the blind see and the deaf hear and the lame walk; he had commanded the unclean spirits and they obeyed him; he had stilled storms and walked on water and turned five loaves and two fish into a meal for thousands. So as he entered Jerusalem, they knew nothing could stop him. He could just speak and Pilate would perish; the Romans would be scattered. He was sovereign.

Then look, secondly, at verse 38. The crowds cried out: „Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Jesus was a King, and not just any king, but the one sent and appointed by the Lord God. They knew how Isaiah had described him:

Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” (Isaiah 9:7)

A universal, never-ending kingdom backed by the zeal of almighty God. Here was the King of the universe, who today rules over the nations and the galaxies, and for whom America and Iraq are a grain of sand and a vapor.

Third, verse 40. When the Pharisees tell him to make the people stop blessing him as a king, he answers, „I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out (Luke 19:40). Why? Because he will be praised! The whole design of the universe is that Christ be praised. And therefore, if people won’t do it, he will see to it that rocks do it. In other words, he is sovereign. He will get what he means to get. If we refuse to praise, the rocks will get the joy.

It is remarkable, therefore, that the tears of Jesus in verse 41 are so often used to deny his sovereignty. Someone will say, „Look, he weeps over Jerusalem because his design for them, his will for them, is not coming to pass. He would delight in their salvation. But they are resistant. They are going to reject him. They are going to hand him over to be crucified.” And so his purpose for them has failed. But there is something not quite right about this objection to Jesus’ sovereignty.

He can make praise come from rocks. And so he could do the same from rock-hard hearts in Jerusalem. What’s more, all this rejection and persecution and killing of Jesus is not the failure of Jesus’ plan, but the fulfillment of it. Listen to what he said in Luke 18:31-33 a short time before:

And taking the twelve, he said to them, „See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written [planned!] about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33 And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.”

The betrayal, the mockery, the shame, the spit, the flogging, the murder – and so much more – was planned. In other words, the resistance, the rejection, the unbelief and hostility were not a surprise to Jesus. They were, in fact, part of the plan. He says so. This is probably why it says at the end of verse 42, „But now they are hidden from your eyes.” Remember what Jesus said about his parables back in Luke 8:10: „To you [disciples] it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’” God was handing them over to hardness. It was judgment.

We have seen all this in Romans 9. The mercy of God is a sovereign mercy. „I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Romans 9:15). But here is the point I want you to see today: This sovereign Christ weeps over heard-hearted, perishing Jerusalem as they fulfilled his plan. It is unbiblical and wrong to make the tears of mercy a contradiction to the serenity of sovereignty. Jesus was serene in sorrow, and sorrowful in sovereignty. Jesus’ tears are the tears of sovereign mercy.

And therefore his sovereign power is the more admirable and the more beautiful. It’s the harmony of things that seem in tension that makes him glorious: „Merciful and Mighty,” as we sing. We admire power more when it is merciful power. And we admire mercy more when it is mighty mercy. And, as I said, my prayer is that as you see his mercy and admire his mercy, you will become like him in his mercy.

There are at least three ways that Jesus is merciful, which we can draw out of this context. And I pray that I will become like him in all of these. I pray that you will too.

Jesus’ Mercy Is Tenderly Moved

First, Jesus’ mercy is tenderly moved. He feels the sorrow of the situation. This doesn’t mean his sovereign plan has wrecked on the rocks of human autonomy. It means that Jesus is more emotionally complex than we think he is. He really feels the sorrow of a situation. No doubt there is a deep inner peace that God is in control and that God’s wise purposes will come to pass. But that doesn’t mean you can’t cry.

In fact, on the contrary, I appeal to you here: pray that God would give you tears. There is so much pain in the world. So much suffering far from you and near you. Pray that God would help you be tenderly moved. When you die and stand before the Judge, Jesus Christ, and he asks you, „How did you feel about the suffering around you?” what will you say? I promise you, you will not feel good about saying, „I saw through to how a lot of people brought their suffering upon themselves by sin or foolishness.” You know what I think the Lord will say to that? I think he will say, „I didn’t ask you what you saw through. I asked you what you felt?” Jesus felt enough compassion for Jerusalem to weep. If you haven’t shed any tears for somebody’s losses but your own, it probably means you’re pretty wrapped up in yourself. So let’s repent of our hardness and ask God to give us a heart that is tenderly moved.

Jesus’ Mercy Was Self-Denying

Second, Jesus’ mercy was self-denying – not ultimately; there was great reward in the long run, but very painfully in the short run. This text is part of the story of Jesus’ moving intentionally toward suffering and death. Jesus is entering Jerusalem to die. He said so, „We are going up to Jerusalem . . . and the Son of Man will be delivered up . . . and they will kill him” (Luke 18:31-33). This is the meaning of self-denial. This is the way we follow Jesus. We see a need – for Jesus is was seeing the sin of the world, and broken bodies, and the misery of hell – and we move with Jesus, whatever it costs, toward need. We deny ourselves the comforts and the securities and the ease of avoiding other peoples’ pain. We embrace it. Jesus’ tears were not just the tender moving of his emotions. They were the tears of a man on his way toward need.

Jesus’ Mercy Intends to Help

That leads us to the third and last way Jesus is merciful. First, he is tenderly moved, second he is self-denying and moves toward need. Now third, he intends to help. Mercy if helpful. It doesn’t just feel – though it does feel – and it doesn’t just deny itself – though it does deny itself – it actually does things that help people. Jesus was dying in our place that we might be forgiven and have eternal life with him. That’s how he helped.

What will it be for you? How are you doing in ministries of mercy? How are you and your roommate, or your housemates, doing together? How is your family doing? (That’s what Noël and I asked at Annie’s Parlor.) What is tenderly moving you these days? Is there movement toward pain or suffering or misery or loss or sadness, that means denying yourself – in the short run – and multiplying your joy in the long run? And what help are you actually giving to those in need?

Two prayers: Oh, that we would see and savor the beauty of Christ – the Palm Sunday Tears of sovereign joy. And oh, that as we admire and worship him, we would be changed by what we see and become a more tenderly-moved, self-denying, need-meeting people.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

Do the Resurrection Narratives Hinge Upon Biblical Inerrancy?

On March 22, 2001 Dr William Lane Craig debated Dr Massimo Pigliucci on the topic, „Does the Christian God Exist?” at University of Georgia in the U.G.A. Chapel. The conclusion of the debate provided a lengthy Q&A session. Questions were asked of each debater allowing the other time to respond. For more resources visit: http://www.reasonablefaith.org

VIDEO by drcraigvideos

 

Establishing the Crucifixion of Jesus – William Lane Craig, PhD

To what extent must we establish the crucifixion before examining the evidence for the resurrection? William Lane Craig interacts with blogs (from Bradley Bowen) and Bart Ehrman.

VIDEO by Theology, Philosophy and Science

 

Debate on the Ressurection of Jesus

Did Jesus Rise From The Dead?

Phil Fernandes vs Mark Fulton

Phil Fernandes (PhD) and Mark Fulton debate on whether

the resurrection of Jesus is reasonable or not.

VIDEO by Christianity Reason and Science

Dr. Norman Geisler – Where Did Jesus Go Between His Death And Resurrection?

VIDEO by oneminuteapologist

The Last Instructions of Jesus (Tenth Resurrection Appearance) and His Ascension

Ultimile Instructiuni ale Domnului Isus

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

After Jesus’ resurrection, he was on earth for 40 days (Acts 1:3), then He led His followers out to Bethany, just outside Jerusalem, and „lifting up His hands, He blessed them. While He blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:50-51).
John 21:1-23 relates the story of the last appearance of Jesus after His     resurrection.  Then Matthew’s center of these instructions is the future mission to spread the good news through baptism and teaching (Matthew 28:18-20). In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus teaches them to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins  (Matthew 24:47). In the fourth Gospel, Jesus breathes on the disciples the Holy Spirit, thereby empowering them to continue his mission, including the forgiveness of sins (John 20:22-23).

TENTH  RESURRECTION  APPEARANCE

From the upper room to the Mount of Olives. Mark 16:19, 20  Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:4-11.

A. Jesus blesses them and promises the baptism of the Spirit.

B. He orders them to witness for Him:

  1. In Jerusalem
  2. In Judea
  3. In Samaria
  4. unto the uppermost parts of the earth.

C. He is received up into glory to the right hand of the Father.

D. This is the Old Testament Prophecy fulfillment number 38, that He would ascend. (Compare Psalm 24:7-10 with Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51). Did the resurrected Christ appear before any unsaved individuals? On the strength of Matthew 23:37-39 it would seem He did not.

„O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

These words conclude  the Bible’s account of the greatest  life that was ever lived. It should, however be said that His glory story is not limited to the four Gospel accounts. In fact, each of the sixty-six Biblical books presents a glimpse of this marvelous and mighty Messiah. Note the following „scriptural summary of the Savior”:

Christ in every book (of the Bible)

Christ is the theme of the entire revelation of God. He is promised in Genesis, revealed in the Law, prefigured in its history, praised in poetry, proclaimed in its prophecy, provided in its Gospels, proved in its Acts, preeminent in its Epistles and prevailing in Revelation.

(thanks to Gabi Bogdan for above video, illustrating Christ in every book, through song)

He is seen in every book of the Bible. Take a journey through the Halls of Holy Writ and and in every one of them you will see Christ. Starting with Genesis He is the seed of the woman; in Exodus the Lamb for sinners slain; in Leviticus, our High Priest; in Numbers, the Star of Jacob and the Brazen Serpent; in Deuteronomy,  the Prophet like unto Moses and the Great Rock; in Joshua, the Captain of the Lord’s Hosts; in Judges the Messenger of Jehovah; in Ruth our Kinsman-Redeemer and the Faithful Bridegroom; in 1 Samuel He is seen as the Great Judge; in 2 Samuel as the Princely King; in 1st Kings as David’s Choice; in  2 Kings as the Holiest of All; in 1 Chronicles as King by Birth; in 2 Chronicles as King by Judgement.

In Ezra He is seen as Lord of heaven and earth; in Nehemiah as builder; in Esther our Mordecai; in Job our Daysman and our Risen,  returning Redeemer; in Psalms the Son of God and the Good Shepherd; in Proverbs our Wisdom; in Ecclesiastes as the One above the sun; in Song of Solomon the great Church lover; the one Altogether Lovely and the Chiefest among ten thousand. (VIA)

The ascent into heaven

Only Mark (longer version) and Luke include an account of the ascension. For the other evangelists, Jesus’ return to the Father is taken for granted (implied). Luke wants both to round up (finish) his Gospel and to provide a link with his second volume, The Acts of the Apostles. Favorite themes, first appearing in his infancy narratives, are all fitted into these final two verses–journey, Jerusalem, rejoicing, prayers of praise(Luke 24:52-53). Jesus is portrayed as lifting His hands in blessing over the small group of disciples; in Acts 1:6-11, He will commission them to extend this blessing to the entire world and thus throughout the ages. (VIA)

The Ascent of Joy by John Piper (on Jesus’ Ascension forty days after the Resurrection)

 

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

Luke 24:44-53

And Jesus said to them, „These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you that, everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures and said to them, „Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are my witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.”

And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.

In the book of Acts, which Luke writes to continue his account of Jesus’ work in history (by his Spirit), he says (1:1–3):

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and to teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God.

Therefore, we learn that the ascension of Jesus back to the right hand of God the Father occurred forty days after the resurrection. Had it been Easter 1981 when Jesus was raised from the dead, the ascension would have occurred last Friday, day before yesterday. And had we been among the disciples, we would now find ourselves waiting in Jerusalem for the outpouring of God’s Spirit which came about ten days later on Pentecost. Therefore, today I want to focus our attention on the ascension of Jesus, and next Sunday on the meaning of Pentecost.

Mai mult

The Resurrection Appearances of Jesus

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

Study By: Bob Deffinbaugh at http://www.bible.org. Our text deals with the first three of our Lord’s four post-resurrection appearances in the Gospel of John. The first appearance is to Mary Magdalene, and the next three are to the disciples. Jesus will appear to Mary Magdalene (20:10-18), then to the disciples, minus Thomas (20:19-23), then to the disciples, with Thomas (20:26-29), and finally to the seven disciples, including Thomas, who were fishing on the Sea of Tiberias (21:1ff.). There are some very important lessons to be learned here, so let us listen and learn, looking to the Spirit of God to interpret, apply, and implement these truths in our lives.

General Observations

It would serve us well to begin with several observations concerning our text and its relationship to the other Gospels.

We do not really know a great deal about the time between our Lord’s resurrection and His ascension. When you stop to think about it, a significant portion of each of the Gospels is taken up with the events of the last week of our Lord in Jerusalem. And yet, the 40 days following our Lord’s resurrection gets very little attention in comparison. The material we do have about this period is not meant to satisfy our curiosity about all that happened during this time, but is recorded to prove one important fact: Jesus Christ rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father!

Of the details we do find regarding our Lord’s ministry after His resurrection, a number of them are recorded only in Acts and 1 Corinthians. Until now I did not realize how much of my understanding of our Lord’s ministry after His resurrection is based upon New Testament books other than the Gospels. Some of the most important details come from Acts 1 and 1 Corinthians 15:

1 I wrote the former account, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after he had given orders by the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering he had also presented himself alive to these apostles by many convincing proofs. He was seen by them over a forty-day period and spoke about matters concerning the kingdom of God. 4 While he was with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for “what my Father promised, which you heard about from me. 5 For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 So when they had gathered together, they began to ask him, “Lord, is this the time when you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He told them, “You are not permitted to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.” 9 After he had said this, while they were watching, he was lifted up and a cloud took him away from their sight. 10 As they were staring into the sky while he was going, suddenly two men in white clothing stood near them 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up into the sky? This same Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:1-11).

3 For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received—that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still living, though some have died. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as though to one born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).

I am not sure why I had concluded that my understanding of the post-resurrection period was dependent solely upon the Gospels. It was probably due, in part, to my assumption that if one Gospel didn’t mention something I knew about this time period, it was because it was recorded in one of the other three Gospels. But this is not necessarily true. If it were not for Acts 1 and 1 Corinthians 15, we would not know nearly as much about the Lord’s ministry during the 40 days following His resurrection. From Acts 1:3 we learn that during this time, Jesus taught His disciples about the kingdom of God which was yet to come. While our Lord’s instruction to His disciples to wait for the coming of the Spirit can be found in Luke’s Gospel (24:49), we probably remember this command from Acts 1:4-5. Apart from 1 Corinthians 15:5, we would not know that Jesus appeared to over 500 people at one time after His resurrection. It is from Paul (1 Corinthians 15:5), as well as from Luke (24:34), that we know Jesus made a private appearance to Peter. We would certainly not expect the replacement for Judas to be Saul, to whom our Lord made another (albeit, a later) post-resurrection appearance (1 Corinthians 15:8). A good part of what little we know of this period in our Lord’s life and ministry comes from outside the Gospels.

Some of the details about events which occurred in this time period may appear to be contradictory. For example, in Mark we read that after the women saw and heard the angel at the tomb, “they went out and ran away from the tomb. They were in a state of trembling and amazement, and said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid” (Mark 16:8, emphasis mine). In Luke’s Gospel we read, “Then they remembered his words, and when they returned from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest ” (Luke 24:8-9, emphasis mine). I believe the solution to this apparent contradiction is found in Matthew’s account: “So they left the tomb quickly, with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. But Jesus met them, saying, ‘Greetings!’ They came to him, held on to his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee. They will see me there’” (Matthew 28:8-10, emphasis mine).

By putting all these details in sequence, we get a pretty good idea of what happened from the time the women left the tomb till they spoke with all the disciples and others. The women saw and heard the angel, who instructed them to go tell the disciples that Jesus was alive and would meet them in Galilee. The women rush off toward the city, but they are in a virtual state of shock. They tell no one they encounter on their way what they have just seen and heard (this conforms with what Mark tells us). Then, as they are still on their way to the city, Jesus Himself appears to them. This is the first time they have actually seen Him. He tells the women to go and tell the others, and indeed they do. Thus, all statements (those of Mark, of Luke, and of Matthew) harmonize when viewed in terms of the entire event. I believe we must assume this to be the case in every instance where an apparent contradiction appears. The details that differ are not an occasion for wringing our hands, they are the opportunity for a fuller grasp of what happened. Let us keep that in mind as we approach our text.

We find that some of the Gospel accounts are particularly brief at this point. This is especially true of Matthew and Mark’s accounts. Matthew writes of one appearance of Jesus to the women (28:9-10) and of one appearance of Jesus to His disciples (28:16-20). Mark’s account is terse as well, depending to some degree upon where you think his account really ends. Mark does briefly mention the appearance of Jesus to the two men on the road to Emmaus (16:12-13; compare Luke 24:13-35). He also tells of the appearance of our Lord to the eleven disciples (Mark 16:13-18). Mark does not include an account of Jesus appearing to any of the women, but only of the angel speaking to them (16:1-8). Luke and John have the most lengthy accounts of the post-resurrection ministry of our Lord. Luke does not describe an appearance of Jesus to the women; he chooses instead to emphasize the appearance to the two men on the road to Emmaus (24:13-35). He then writes of our Lord’s subsequent appearance to the disciples (24:36-39) and then of His ascension (24:50-53). John focuses on four of the Lord’s post-resurrection appearances: first to Mary Magdalene (20:11-18), then to the disciples minus Thomas (20:19-25), then the disciples with Thomas (20:26-29), and finally to the seven disciples as they are fishing on the Sea of Tiberias (21:1-25).

Finally, each Gospel has something unique to add to the story. Matthew informs us that the tomb was secured by a Roman seal and guards, provided at the request of the Jewish religious leaders who recalled Jesus’ promise that He would rise from the dead in three days, and who were afraid His disciples would steal His body. Matthew then follows up with an account of how the guards and the religious leaders fabricated a cover story to explain the missing body of our Lord. Mark’s account is indeed unique, causing much discussion as to where his Gospel should end. Luke provides us with a detailed account of the appearance of our Lord to the two men on the road to Emmaus. John’s account is almost entirely unique. He alone describes the investigation of the tomb by both Peter and John (Luke 24:12 tells us only that Peter went to see the tomb), of the appearance of Jesus to Mary, of three appearances of Jesus to His disciples—more than any other Gospel. His focus on Thomas’ reluctance to believe in our Lord’s resurrection is unique. The appearance of Jesus to the seven disciples at the Sea of Tiberias is also unique, including our Lord’s three-fold question and exhortation to Peter. With this background information in mind, let us take a closer look at the first three post-resurrection appearances of our Lord, as described in John 20.

Jesus’ First Appearance: Mary Magdalene (John 20:10-18)

10 So the disciples went back to their homes. 11 But Mary stood outside the tomb and wept. While she was weeping, she bent over and looked into the tomb. 12 She saw two angels in white sitting where Jesus’ body had been lying, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” Mary replied, “They have taken my Lord away, and I do not know where they have put him!” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?” Because she thought he was the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will take him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus replied, “Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene came and informed the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them what Jesus had said to her.

It was Mary Magdalene who first arrived at the empty tomb in the early hours of the first day of the week. When she saw the stone had been removed, she seems to have jumped to a hasty conclusion—someone had taken the body. We do not know to whom the “they” (“They have taken the Lord from the tomb …”—verse 2) refers, and I doubt that Mary did either. I believe it is safe to say that it never occurred to her that any of the disciples took the body. She seems to have assumed it was either the Jews, or the Roman soldiers, or someone like “the gardener” (see 20:15). It never occurred to Mary that Jesus had been raised from the dead. She did not hope to see her risen Lord; she simply wished to locate His body and give it a proper burial.

A year or so ago a young woman’s body was stolen from its grave at Restland Cemetery, just a mile or so down the road from our church. It was a terrible thing to do, and the family was most eager to get the body back and see to it that it was buried properly, once for all. Someone had added insult to injury. Not only had this family lost a loved one, they suffered the agony of not knowing what had become of her body. Mary must have felt the same way this young woman’s family felt. She had devoted herself and her livelihood to following Jesus and supporting Him, along with some other women. She had watched helplessly as Jesus was tried, convicted, and crucified. She looked on as His body was laid in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. Now, she believed that the body of her Lord had been taken. It was almost too much to bear.

When Peter and John left the tomb, Mary remained behind. At first she stood outside the tomb, weeping. She stooped sufficiently to be able to see inside the tomb, apparently for the first time. Two angels were inside, clothed in white. An angel was sitting at each end of the place where Jesus’ body had been laid. From Mary’s response to these angels, one can hardly avoid the conclusion that Mary did not recognize these angels as angels. But then why should she? It is true that in Matthew’s account the one angel who sat on the stone had an appearance that was like lightening (28:3), and this fellow was so awesome the guards were terrified (28:4). But John does not tell us that these two angels were as awesome in appearance as the first angel was. And this should come as no surprise. Often in the Bible, angels simply look like men, so that their appearance alone would not reveal their true identity (see Genesis 18 and 19; Acts 1:10-11; Hebrews 13:2). It would seem that the two angels made no effort to identify themselves as angels, nor even to inform Mary that Jesus was not there. Perhaps it was because our Lord was going to do this personally.

The angels asked Mary, “Woman, why are you weeping?” The inference is that her tears were not really called for. They were tears of love, and of sorrow, but they were also ill-founded. In Mary’s mind, this was the darkest moment of her life, and yet her tears were based upon false assumptions: that Jesus was dead; that His body had been stolen; that she would not be able to find His body. If Mary had known the real reason why the tomb was empty, she would not have been crying.

Some have suggested that the angels gave a look of recognition when they saw Jesus behind Mary, outside the tomb. We do not know why, but for some reason Mary turned around to gaze at the risen Lord. She saw Him, but she did not recognize Him, in much the same way that I had seen Sally Rackets in the parking lot this past week, but did not recognize her. Mary’s vision may have been obscured by her tears, and Jesus may not have looked exactly the same as He did before His resurrection. He most certainly looked different from the way she saw Him last, from the horrible sight she could not erase from her mind—a badly beaten, bloody figure, who could hardly be recognized for all the abuse His body had taken: “Just as there were many who were appalled at him—his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness” (Isaiah 52:15, NIV).

Jesus asks Mary the same question the angels had asked her moments earlier: “Woman, why are you weeping?”, but He adds a further question, “Who are you looking for?”. Jesus knew why she was weeping. He knew that the empty tomb caused her great grief. He knew that she was seeking His body. His words indicate to Mary that He knows something about her dilemma. Mary’s grief still blinds her to the truth, but she nevertheless seems to discern that this “gardener” holds the key to her quest for the Lord’s body. She pleads with Him to convey any information He may have to her: “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will take him” (verse 15).193

Jesus answered with but one word—“Mary.” For Mary, seeing was not believing, but hearing was. Would you not love to have heard this one word just the way Mary did? That one word was spoken in the voice she knew so well. It was also spoken in the manner she knew so well. What love, what compassion, what healing was conveyed by this one word—“Mary.” I cannot help but recall the words of our Lord, spoken earlier:

1 “I tell you the solemn truth, the one who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The doorkeeper opens the door for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought all his own sheep out, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow himbecause they recognize his voice. 5 They will never follow a stranger, but will run away from him, because they do not recognize the stranger’s voice” (John 10:1-5, emphasis mine).

Immediately Mary recognized that it was her Lord, and called Him “Rabboni” (or teacher). We know from our Lord’s words that Mary has already locked Him in her grasp. It is as though she intended to keep holding on to Him, so that He would never leave her again. And it is because of this that Jesus responds, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God’” (John 20:17, NAB). I must differ with the NET Bible translation here (“Do not touch me, …”) for two reasons. First, it is not that Jesus could not be touched. In but a few verses we will read, “Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and examine my hands. Extend your hand and put it into my side. Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe’” (John 20:27). Why would Jesus tell Mary not to touch Him, and instruct Thomas to do so? In Matthew 28:9, Jesus allowed the women to take hold of His feet and worship Him. Second, the tense of the imperative is present, and this grammatical construction often conveys the thought of ceasing to do something.194 Jesus is not trying to prevent Mary from touching Him; He is trying to make it clear to her that He is going to leave this world to return to His Father. She should not suppose that by clinging to Him she can prevent His departure.

John does not include the command which Jesus gave to Mary, though it is clear that He instructed her as to what she was to tell the disciples (20:18). She who was the first to go out to the tomb was the first to see the risen Lord, and apparently the first to be privileged to share the good news of His resurrection with others.

Before we go on to the next appearance of our Lord, I would like to make a comment or two. I would like you to note that our Lord’s first appearance is not to one of the eleven disciples, but to Mary Magdalene. She will never be one of the apostles. She will never write a Gospel. She will never become a great preacher or leader. Nevertheless, our Lord chose to manifest Himself to her first. Why do you think this was? I would call your attention to three important factors. First, she had a great love for her Master, as He did for her. Second, she seemed to be the one with the greatest measure of grief. I am reminded of the words of our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are those who mourn, because they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). In the context of this sermon, Jesus did not promise blessings to those who were the greatest, or the most powerful, but to those in the greatest need, with the greatest desire for spiritual things. There is a third reason: Mary was there first. Jesus revealed Himself first to the one who was there first. Mary came to the tomb early, because of her great love, and her great grief, and Jesus revealed Himself to her, first.

I would also like to point out an important lesson which this text teaches us: When we come to see things as they really are, we will find that many of our tears were unnecessary. To put it in different words, Many of our tears are ill-founded. Both the angels and our Lord questioned Mary as to why she was weeping. The reason she gave was that her Lord’s body had been taken, and she did not know where to find it. The truth of the matter was that Jesus was not dead; He had been resurrected. And beyond this, His body was not missing at all, and no one had taken it. Jesus did not need to be found by Mary; Jesus found Mary.

We know that in heaven there will be no more tears: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more—or mourning, or crying, or pain; the former things have ceased to exist” (Revelation 21:4). Why will there be no more tears in heaven? The first answer is because there will no longer be those things which cause us to cry—no more suffering, no more sin, no more injustice, no more death. But the second reason is that we shall then see all of our sorrows in an entirely different light. We shall see them in the context of the perfect work God was achieving through the things which caused us to weep.

When you and I get to heaven, we will see things in a very different light, and when we do, we will discover that many of our tears of sorrow were as groundless as Mary’s tears were. I am not saying that Christians should not cry. What I am saying is that a good deal of our sorrow is the result of our inadequate knowledge of what God is doing in and through our adversities. When Christians get to heaven, they will see the entire picture, and thus they will find that everything that has ever happened to them is for their good and His glory. No wonder there will be no tears in heaven! Our comfort and joy may not come as quickly as Mary’s did, but it will be just as great, just as real, and it is just as certain.

Jesus’ Second Appearance: The Disciples, Minus Thomas (John 20:19-23)

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the disciples had gathered together and locked the doors of the place for fear of the Jewish authorities. Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you!” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you! Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you.” 22 And after he said this, he breathed195 on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained.”

John very kindly does not tell us what Mark and Luke record in their accounts—that when the disciples were told that Jesus was alive, they refused to believe it without seeing Him:

9 Early on the first day of the week, after he arose, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had driven out seven demons. 10 She went out and told those who were with him, while they were mourning and weeping. 11 And when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe (Mark 16:9-11; see also verses 12-13).

10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles. 11 But these words seemed like pure nonsense to them, and they did not believe them (Luke 24:10-11).

It was on the first day of the week—the same day that Mary saw Jesus—and the disciples were gathered together behind locked doors. They were afraid of the Jews, and rightly so. They were disciples of Jesus, and He had just been crucified for sedition. And now, the story was circulating that they had stolen the body of Jesus (Matthew 28:11-15). Remember that the tomb was sealed by Rome, and guarded by Roman soldiers. The disciples may have felt in greater danger here than on any previous occasion. They must have been deeply troubled by the reports they had heard that Jesus was alive. What were they to think of all this? What were they to do? They did not know.

And so the disciples met together behind locked doors. We are told that one disciple was missing—Thomas. We are not told why he was absent. There is no particular blame cast on him for his absence. In some miraculous way, Jesus enters the room, even though the door is locked. We do not know what the disciples saw, but John certainly leaves us with the impression that our Lord’s entrance was unusual—one more proof of His resurrection. Our Lord twice repeated the words, “Peace be with you” (20:19, 21). This certainly reminds us of what Jesus had said earlier to these men:

25 “I have spoken these things while staying with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and will cause you to remember everything I said to you. 27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I am. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe” (John 14:24-29, emphasis mine).

It would appear that this was our Lord’s first appearance to the disciples after His resurrection. If this is so, it may be the same appearance that Luke describes, providing us with additional details:

30 When he had taken his place at the table with them, he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 At this point their eyes were opened and they recognized him. Then he vanished out of their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us while he was speaking with us on the road, while he was explaining the scriptures to us?” 33 So they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem. They found the eleven and those with them gathered together 34 and saying, “The Lord has really risen, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how they recognized him when he broke the bread. 36 While they were saying these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 But they were startled and terrified, thinking they saw a spirit. 38 Then he said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself! Touch me and see; because a spirit does not have flesh and bones like you see that I have.” 40 Then when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still could not believe it for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 So they gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in front of them (Luke 24:30-43, emphasis mine).

Jesus would have appeared to Mary and the other women by now, and they have already announced to the disciples that Jesus was alive. But the disciples refused to believe. Then, the two men who talked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus arrived to tell the disciples of their encounter with the risen Lord. Once again, the disciples refused to believe:

12 After this he appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. 13 They went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. 14 Then he appeared to the eleven themselves, while they were eating, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen him resurrected (Mark 16:12-14, emphasis mine).

John spares us from yet another account of the unbelief of the disciples, and of Jesus rebuking them for their unbelief. While their unbelief deserved rebuke, John moves on to tell us how Jesus convinced His disciples of His resurrection. He shows them His nail-scarred hands and His spear-pierced side. There was no mistaking the fact that His wounds, now healed, were incurred at His crucifixion. It was Jesus, and there was no denying it, incredible as that may be.

The disciples had a job to do, and they were being left behind so that they could accomplish it. This task is summed up in the “Great Commission”:

18 Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

To accomplish this task, the disciples are in need of divine enablement. This was promised by our Lord in the Upper Room Discourse (John 13–16):

15 “If you love me, you will obey my commandments. 16 Then I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he resides with you and will be in you. … 25 I have spoken these things while staying with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and will cause you to remember everything I said to you” (John 14:15-17, 25-26).

26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me; 27 and you also will testify, because you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:26-27).

7 “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I am going away. For if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong concerning sin and righteousness and judgment— 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. 12 I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. For he will not speak on his own authority, but will speak whatever he hears, and will tell you what is to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you. 15 Everything that the Father has is mine; that is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you. 16 In a little while you will see me no longer; again after a little while, you will see me” (John 16:7-16).

I had never noticed before that in His high priestly prayer in John 17, Jesus does not ask the Father to send the Spirit, which He has promised in chapters 14-16. Indeed, the Holy Spirit is not even mentioned in this prayer! How can this be? I believe that while our Lord prepared His disciples for the coming of the Spirit in the Upper Room Discourse, He did not intend to send the Spirit until after His ascension. In other words, the Holy Spirit would not come until Pentecost. Some suggest that in our text Jesus is temporarily bestowing the Spirit upon His disciples, until Pentecost comes. I don’t agree.

In the first place, John does not report anything out of the ordinary happening as a result of our Lord’s actions. The disciples are not transformed, as they will be at Pentecost. The gospel is not preached. In fact, the next thing to happen in John’s Gospel is that some of the disciples go fishing. I do not believe that the Holy Spirit was immediately bestowed upon the disciples at this moment, as a result of what Jesus says and does. I believe Jesus is symbolically bestowing the Spirit upon His disciples, although it will not actually take place until Pentecost. Jesus will have ascended to the Father then, and so this gesture indicates to the disciples that when the Spirit comes at Pentecost, it will be as a result of what Jesus had promised earlier, and symbolically indicates here.

I wish to be very clear here, both as to what I am saying, and as to what I am not saying. I am saying that our Lord is here symbolically bestowing His Holy Spirit on the church. This symbolic act will literally be fulfilled at Pentecost. Jesus wants it to be clear that it is He who is sending His Spirit to indwell and to empower His church. I am not saying that the Spirit is given at the moment Jesus breathes upon His disciples. I am not saying that this is a temporary bestowal of the Spirit, until the permanent coming of the Spirit at Pentecost.

Specifically, I believe that what Jesus is symbolically bestowing is the coming of the Holy Spirit upon His disciples as those who will act as His apostles. Earlier, Jesus outlined some of the ministries of the Holy Spirit. For example, the Spirit would call Jesus’ teaching to their minds. He would convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment. But here, none of these ministries seems to be in view. Here, the Holy Spirit is given to the apostles so that they can either proclaim the forgiveness of sins, or the retention of sins. I do not think this text justifies some priestly hierarchy, who hears confessions and grants absolution from one’s sins. Instead, I believe Jesus is giving the apostles the authority to declare men and women to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. I believe we see an example of this in the Book of Acts:

1 Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles too had accepted the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers took issue with him, 3 saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and shared a meal with them.” 4 But Peter began and explained it to them point by point, saying, 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, an object something like a large sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came to me. 6 As I stared I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild animals, reptiles, and birds of the air. 7 I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; slaughter and eat!’ 8 But I said, ‘Certainly not, Lord, for nothing defiled or ritually unclean has ever entered my mouth!’ 9 But the voice replied a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not consider ritually unclean.’ 10 This happened three times, and then everything was pulled up to heaven again. 11 At that very moment, three men sent to me from Caesarea approached the house where we were staying. 12 The Spirit told me to accompany them without hesitation. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 He informed us how he had seen an angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter, 14 who will speak a message to you by which you and your entire household will be saved.’ 15 Then as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them just as he did on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, as he used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 Therefore if God gave them the same gift as he also gave us after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to hinder God?” 18 When they heard this, they ceased their objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted the repentance that leads to life even to the Gentiles” (Acts 11:1-18, emphasis mine).

It takes a monumental work of God to convince the Jews that God has purposed from eternity past to save Gentiles (see Acts 22:21-23). Our Lord had promised to send the Spirit, which He did at Pentecost. After Pentecost, the Holy Spirit directed Peter to go to the house of a Gentile and to proclaim the gospel to those gathered in his house. The Spirit then came upon all those who had come to faith, thus indicating that the gospel (the forgiveness of sins) was not just for Jews alone, but for all who believe, Jew or Gentile. It is difficult for Gentile believers today to grasp how hard it was for Jews to accept the salvation of the Gentiles. Even the apostles found this difficult. As the Spirit came upon the apostles, this truth was embraced, proclaimed, and defended by them. By means of the Spirit’s guidance and illumination, the truth that the gospel was for Jews and Gentiles was declared by the apostles, and particularly by Paul:

11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh—who are called “uncircumcision” by the so-called “circumcision” that is performed in the body by hands—12 that you were at that time without the Messiah, alienated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who used to be far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, the one who turned both groups into one and who destroyed the middle wall of partition, the hostility, in his flesh, 15 when he nullified the law of commandments in decrees. The purpose of this was to create in himself the two into one new man, thus making peace, 16 and to reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by which the hostility has been killed. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18 so that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer foreigners and non-citizens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household, 20 because you have been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:11-22).

1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— 2 If indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that by revelation the divine secret was made known to me, as I wrote before briefly. 4 When reading this, you will be able to understand my insight into this secret of Christ. 5 Now this secret was not disclosed to mankind in former generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, 6 namely, that through the gospel the Gentiles are fellow-heirs, fellow-members of the body, and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus. 7 I became a servant of this gospel according to the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the exercise of his power. 8 To me—less than the least of all the saints—this grace was given, to proclaim to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ 9 and to enlighten everyone about the divine secret’s plan—a secret that has been hidden for ages in the God who has created all things (Ephesians 3:1-9).

Jesus’ Third Appearance: The Disciples, Including Thomas (John 20:24-31)

24 Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “Unless I see the wounds from the nails in his hands, and put my finger into the wounds from the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe it!” 26 Eight days later the disciples were again together in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and examine my hands. Extend your hand and put it into my side. Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe.” 28 Thomas replied to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are the people who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The disciples seem to have been convinced of our Lord’s resurrection, except for Thomas who was not there. He did not see the resurrected Lord, nor did he behold the Savior’s wounded hands and side. And so it was that when Thomas was told that Jesus had appeared to them, he refused to believe. He insisted that in order for him to believe, he would have to see Jesus with his own eyes. He would have to personally inspect the Lord’s nail-pierced hands and His pierced side. Only then would he believe. Before we become too harsh with Thomas, let me remind you that the other disciples did not believe until they saw, either. Thomas is really demanding to see the same things that convinced the others. He is not asking for anything more than what the others saw.

Eight days passed. Apparently Jesus did not appear to any of His disciples during this period of time. The disciples were all together once again, including Thomas. The doors were locked, but in spite of this Jesus arrived and stood in their midst.196 Jesus repeats the greeting He gave at His earlier appearance, “Peace be with you” (verse 26; see also verses 19, 21). Immediately, Jesus turns His attention to Thomas. He summons Thomas to come and to put his finger where the nails had pierced His hands, and to feel His side where the spear had pierced it. He challenged Thomas to forsake his unbelief and to believe.

We do not know whether Thomas actually pressed his fingers into our Lord’s nail-pierced hands or not. Since John does not tell us that Thomas actually felt the wounds of our Lord, it may well be that after seeing Jesus alive he no longer required this proof. It may have taken this sight to convince Thomas, but once convinced, Thomas got it right. He does not merely profess a belief that Jesus has risen from the dead. Thomas professes to believe in what the resurrection proved—that Jesus was God, and that He was Lord (verse 28). Thomas now has it right.

Bible translations handle our Lord’s response differently. Some render the first words of verse 29 as a question, “Have you believed because you have seen Me?” (as does the NET Bible). Others render it as a statement: “Because you have seen me, you have believed” (NIV, KJV, NKJV). The difference is not important. The contrast Jesus seeks to emphasize is between those who must see in order to believe, and those who will believe without seeing. Peter seems to take up this same thought in his first epistle:

8 You have not seen him, but you love him. You do not see him now but you believe in him, and so you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, 9 because you are attaining the goal of your faith—the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:8-9).

It is not too hard to see what John is leading up to. John is writing this Gospel for those who have never seen the risen Lord. He has selected just a few of the many miraculous signs Jesus performed to demonstrate that Jesus is who He claimed to be, who John proclaims Him to be.

The Bottom Line: Believing Jesus Is the Christ, the Son of God (John 20:30-31)

30 Now Jesus performed many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples that are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

If there is one thing I despise, it is deceptive advertising. I hate those phone calls that come from unidentified (“out of the area”) sources, which begin with the assurance that the caller is not “selling” anything. John could not be more open and direct about the purpose of this book. I believe John has two conclusions. The first is found in chapter 20. It is aimed at those who have not yet come to faith in Jesus Christ. The second is aimed at those who have believed, and it is found in chapter 21.

In our text, John informs his unbelieving readers about the “bottom line” of all that he has written. John has one goal for the unbeliever: He wants to demonstrate as clearly and as forcefully as he can that Jesus not only claimed to be the Christ (the Messiah), the Son of God, but that by many miraculous signs He proved it! The last and greatest of these signs was His resurrection from the dead:

38 Then some of the experts in the law along with some Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. 41 The people of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; yet something greater than Jonah is here! 42 The Queen of the South will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; yet something greater than Solomon is here! (Matthew 12:38-42).

While the resurrection of Jesus from the dead was prophesied in the Old Testament, and by our Lord Himself, John makes it very clear that the disciples were not predisposed to believe it. Only after the most forceful and compelling evidence would the disciples believe Jesus really was alive. And having become convinced of this great truth, the disciples never ceased to proclaim it. The resurrection of Jesus is the final and compelling proof that He is the Son of God and the Savior of the world:

1 From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God 2 that he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, 3 concerning his Son who was a descendant of David with respect to the flesh, 4 who was appointed the Son-of-God-in-power according to the Holy Spirit by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 1:1-4).

Believing in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, is the only way God has provided for the forgiveness of your sins and for the gift of eternal life. By believing in Him, you will be saved:

9 Because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and thus has a right standing and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation. 11 For the scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord is Lord of all, who richly blesses all who call on him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:9-13).

11 He came to what was his own, but his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who have received him—those who believe in his name—he has given the right to become God’s children 13 —children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God (John 1:11-13).

In many ways, the Gospel of John is not a simple book. But its message to the unsaved is incredibly simple, and John sums it up in these last verses of chapter 20. If you have never come to believe in Jesus as the Christ, the promised Messiah, the Son of God, then John has written this book to you, and for you, to give you all the evidence you need to believe in Him. Have you believed? This is the most important decision you will ever make. It determines your eternal destiny.


193 Some have criticized Mary for being so nave as to assume she will be able to carry away the body of our Lord. They are missing the point. She is not thinking in terms of logistics here. She is simply saying that if this “gardener” will tell her where to find the body, she will see to it that it is returned to its proper place. Of course she will get help to accomplish this. For now, she just wants to know where His body has been placed.

194 A. T. Robertson comments, “Present middle imperative in prohibition with genitive case, meaning “cease clinging to me” rather than “Do not touch me.” Jesus allowed the women to take hold of his feet … and worship … as we read in Mt 28:9. The prohibition here reminds Mary that the previous personal fellowship by sight, sound, and touch no longer exists and that the final state of glory was not yet begun. Jesus checks Mary’s impulsive eagerness.” Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1931), 6 vols. Vol. V, p. 312.

195 I am reminded that the breath of God is the source of life (Genesis 2:7; Job 33:4; Psalm 33:6; Ezekiel 37:9), even as it is also the means of divine judgment (2 Samuel 22:16; Job 4:9; Psalm 18:15). The breath of God is sometimes a symbol for His Spirit (Job 33:4). In a symbolic way, our Lord is breathing life into His church.

Both the NET Bible and the NIV smooth out the translation here. The NIV reads: “A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’” (John 14:26). Both the old and the new King James Versions and the NAS leave the translation a bit rough, in order to convey the unusual word order: “After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, ‘Peace be with you’” (NAS). “And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’” (NKJ). The original text seems to be emphasizing the fact that Jesus entered the room, in spite of the fact that the doors were shut and locked. (On seeing and believing, http://www.bible.org)

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