IOSIF ȚON – SE POATE PIERDE MÂNTUIREA ? – PARTEA A II-A

Partea a II-a – SE POATE PIERDE MÂNTUIREA ? Iosif Țon

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Dar, încă o dată, acesta este doar începutul mântuirii. Din moment ce am intrat în relație cu El și am intrat în școala Lui, Îl auzim spunându-ne Pilda Semănătorului. Iată, pe fragmente, explicația acestei pilde așa cum ne-o dă Isus Însuși.

  1. “Când un om aude cuvântul privitor la Împărăție și nu-l înțelege, vine cel rău și răpește ce a fost semănat în inima lui” (Matei 13:19). Adică de la Întruparea Fiului lui Dumnezeu încoace, între El și cel rău se dă o luptă pentru mințile oamenilor. Acesta din urmă face tot posibilul sp creeze confuzie în mințile oamenilor, pentru ca ei să nu-L creadă pe Fiul lui Dumnezeu.
  2. Sunt unii care acceptă cu entuziasm și cu bucurie ce le spune Isus și devin ucenicii Lui. Dar apar problemele, batjocurile celor dimprejur, vin amenințările și ei “se leapădă îndată de El” (vers. 21). Ei au pornit pe calea mântuirii, dar au abandonat cursa foarte repede.
  3. A treia categorie de oameni sunt aceia în care Cuvândul semănat de Isus prinde rădăcini serioase și crește promițător. Dar apoi se ivesc preocupările vieții acesteia, plăcerile lumii și amăgirea bogățiilor și acestea devin ca niște spini care sufocă sau îneacă Cuvântul “și-L fac neroditor”. Am văzut deja că roada pe care o așteaptă Dumnezeu este dreptatea, cinstea, corectitudinea, bunătatea, adică un caracter ca al Lui și un comportament conform Învățăturilor Sale. Faptul că, din cauza preocupărilor lumii acesteia, anumiți oameni nu ajung la transformarea dorită de Dumnezeu, îi face să intre în categoria largă a celor care falimentează, în care sămânța a căzut degeaba.
  4. A parta categorie de oameni sunt definiți de Domnul Isus ca fiind “… aceia care după ce au auzit Cuvântul îl țin într-o inimă bună și curată și fac roadă în răbdare” (Luca 8:15). Două lucruri trebuie semnalate din textul pe care ni-l dă Luca aici. În primul rând, cuvântul este ținut “într-o inimă bună și curată.” În limba greacă sunt două adjective ce califică inima aceasta: kale și agathe, ambele sinonime pentru bunătate. Noi nu acem mai multe adjective pentru bunătate, de aceea traducătorul Cornilescu a decis să traducă “bună și curată.” Altfel ar fi trebuit să scrie “bună și bună.” Fiindcă o repetiție de felul acesta este menită să întărească ideea, ar fi fost mai bine să traducă “inimă foarte bună”, sau “inimă deosebit de bună”. Al doilea lucru ce trebuie remarcat este că roada este făcută “în răbdare”, cu perseverență și în statornicie. Cu siguranță că lucrul acesta este echivalent cu “cine va persevera până la sfărșit, va fi mântuit”!

Citeste mai departe aici – http://family2fam.com/2015/04/29/iosif-ton-se-poate-pierde-mantuirea-partea-a-ii-a/

Citeste prima parte aici – IOSIF ȚON – SE POATE PIERDE MÂNTUIREA ? – PARTEA A I-A

IOSIF ȚON – SE POATE PIERDE MÂNTUIREA ? PARTEA I

Mike Olari:

Dorim să prezentăm încă un subiect TABU, care este ocolit de cei mai mulți slujitori ai altarului, dar care nu este lipsit de importanță. Desigur că fiecare dintre noi avem versiunea noastră în ce privește acest subiect, dar oare este versiunea noastră si versiunea BIBLICĂ?
Dupa ce am citit de mai multe ori acest subiect în cartea scrisă de fratele Țon (BUNĂTATEA) pe care o recomand fără nici o ezitare tutror cititorilor blogului nostru și nu numai, sunt convins că explicația de față este una cât se poate de biblică și pe înțelesul tuturor, celor cu inima și mintea deschisă. Nu dorim să scoatem în evidență oameni, dar ne bucurăm de oricine se pune la dispoziția lui Dumnezeu în ce privește studierea Cuvântului Biblic în profunzime.
Cred că obordarea acestui subiect este bine venită și sper să fie de folos la cât mai mulți.


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IOSIF TON: Conceptul de “mântuire” este extrem de controversat în lumea evanghelică. Dezbaterea se poartă de regulă pe tema dacă “mântuirea se poate pierde” sau dacă “mântuirea nu se poate pierde”. Când problema este pusă în felul acesta, se spune implicit că mântuirea este un “lucru”, un “bun” care ți s-a dat în mână și de care fie ești sigur că îl ai și nu îl poți pierde, fie tremuri tot timpul de frică să nu-l pierzi.

Iată de ce trebuie să începem prin a defini clar ce este mântuirea.

După principiul nostru de bază, trebuie să începem prin a înțelege învățătura Domnului Isus și orice ne-ar spune El pe această temă, să facem din spusele Lui, baza gândirii noastre.

Domnul Isus a dialogat tot timpul cu iudeii. Pentru aceștia “mântuirea” însemna eliberarea de sub jugul roman. Ei așteptau mântuirea în lumea aceasta. Saducheii nici nu credeau într-o viață după moarte. Din gruparea lor făceau parte marele preot și ceilalți conducători ai lui Israel din acea vreme. Pe ei îi avea în vedere Isus când căuta să convingă poporul că există o viață după moarte, că trebuie și să ai grijă unde te vei duce când vei trece din viața aceasta și să investești în viața din cer pentru a deveni bogat acolo. Trebuie să ținem minte că acesta este fundalul pe care trebuie să proiectăm învățătura Domnului Isus în ce privește mântuirea.

Sunt două texte principale în care Isus se referă direct la “mântuire”. Prima dată o face când le dă instrucțiuni celor doisprezece apostoli cu privire la misiunea lor de predicare a Împărăției lui Dumnezeu. El îi avertizează că vor fi persecutați și că unii dintre ei vor fi uciși: “Veți fi urâți de toți din pricina Numelui Meu; dar cine va răbda până la sfârșit va fi mântuit.” (Matei 10:22). Cuvântul “a răbda” are aici sensul de “a persevera”, “a continua pe cale”. A doua ocazie este atunci când El prevestește dărâmarea Ierusalimului și după aceea, marșul Evangheliei într-o lume ostilă. Și aici El spune: “Dar cine va răbda (persevera) până la sfârșit va fi mântuit” (Matei 24:13).

Există alte câteva afirmații ale Domnului Isus pe această temă. Să enumerăm câteva: “Cine își va păstra viața o va pierde; și cine își va pierde viața pentru Mine o va câștiga” (Matei 10:39). El repetă aceasta în Matei 16 după care adaugă: “Și ce ar folosi unui om să câștige toată lumea, dacă și-ar pierde sufletul?” (Matei 16:26)

Isus repeta aceleași învățături oriunde mergea. Orice învățător care predă aceeași lecție nu folosește întotdeauna aceleași cuvinte. Reformularea  îi dă învățătorului ocazia să clarifice și să expună mai deslușit ceea ce vrea să transmită. De aceea este bine să punem împreună afirmațiile Domnului Isus pe această temă pentru a vedea clarificările care ni le aduc ele. Iată ce citim în Luca: “Fiindcă oricine va voi să-și scape viața o va pierde; dar oricine își va pierde viața pentru Mine o va mântui. Și ce ar folosi unui om să câștige toată lumea, dacă s-ar prăpădi, sau s-ar pierde pe sine însuși” (Luca 9:24,25). În cu totul alt context, Domnul Isus reperă aceeași afirmație cu noi precizări: “Cine își iubește viața o va pierde; și cine își urăște viața în lumea aceasta o va păstra pentru viața eternă.” (Ioan 12:25)

Așadar, este vorba de “sufletul”, “viața” sau “sinele” omului.

CITESTE mai DEPARTE aici – http://family2fam.com/2015/04/28/iosif-ton-se-poate-pierde-mantuirea-partea-i/

Jesus and the Christian Response to Islam – Nabeel Qureshi, PhD

First Baptist Church at the Mall (2015) – Nabeel Qureshi is a bestselling author, one of the top debaters with Muslims, a physician, and a former Muslim. Dr. Qureshi is truly one of the most brilliant intellectual giants in the field of apologetics today, specifically on the Muslim faith. Buy his book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity: http://www.amazon.com/Seeking-Allah-F…

 

Va fi mântuit Samson?

Samson

Photo Moldova Crestina

Am lasat ca, raspunsul, sa-l cititi pe Pagina lui Vasile Filat, la Moldova Crestina, vezi linkul de mai jos.
Samson este un caz clasic când un om își ratează chemarea primită de la Dumnezeu. Despre el este scris în capitolele 13-16 a cărții Judecători. […..] Nici cu Dumnezeu nu s-a arătat deschis să conlucreze, căci foarte rar a apelat la ajutorul lui Dumnezeu, dar totdeauna a fost ascultat când o făcea. În loc să aibă un plan și să acționeaze, toată viața a reacționat la împrejurări și motivația i-a fost răzbunarea sa personală. Acesta a fost motivul tuturor confruntărilor lui cu filistenii. În cele din urmă și-a ratat chemarea și nu a adus poporului izbăvirea pentru care l-a ridicat Dumnezeu.
Pastorul Vasile Filat sesizeaza un posibil motiv pentru care ar fi fost pusa aceasta intrebare si da un sfat biblic:
Nu știu care a fost motivul pentru care mi-ați adresat întrebarea, dar știu că sunt oameni care se lasă doborâți de imoralitate, pentru că Satana îi înșeală șoptindu-le că, uite, și Samson a păcătuit, și David, și Solomon etc. În felul acesta vrea diavolul să te îndepărteze de harul lui Dumnezeu. Să luăm bine seama la ceea ce scrie în Noul Testament și anume:
Nu ştiţi că cei nedrepţi nu vor moşteni Împărăţia lui Dumnezeu? Nu vă înşelaţi în privinţa aceasta: nici curvarii, nici închinătorii la idoli, nici preacurvarii, nici malahii, nici sodomiţii, nici hoţii, nici cei lacomi, nici beţivii, nici defăimătorii, nici hrăpăreţii nu vor moşteni Împărăţia lui Dumnezeu. Şi aşa eraţi unii din voi! Dar aţi fost spălaţi, aţi fost sfinţiţi, aţi fost socotiţi neprihăniţi, în Numele Domnului Isus Hristos şi prin Duhul Dumnezeului nostru. (1 Corinteni 6:9-11)
 
Și mai este scris încă:
Dar, cât despre fricoşi, necredincioşi, scârboşi, ucigaşi, curvari, vrăjitori, închinătorii la idoli şi toţi mincinoşii, partea lor este în iazul care arde cu foc şi cu pucioasă, adică moartea a doua.” (Apocalipsa 21:8)
Să ne ferim de orice întinăciune a cărnii și a duhului și să veghem treji în credință, căci nu suntem în neștiință despre planurile rele ale celui rău. Iar dacă ai fost deja înșelat și ai căzut în vreunul din păcatele care l-au doborât pe Samson, grăbește-te să te pocăiești și să nu mai trăiești în nelegiuire, căci în Împărăția lui Dumnezeu nu va intra nimic întinat. Fii totdeauna pregătit să întâlnești pe Domnul nostru Isus Hristos, căci venirea Lui este aproape.
CITESTE AICI – http://moldovacrestina.md/Raspunsuri-din-Biblie/samson-mantuit.html

What kind of Christians wind up in hell? A testimony from an evangelist who says he saw hell

In 1982, I had an accident in which I died.   As death came over me, I felt everything become dark.   I found myself walking through a dark tunnel, and some kind of being was taking me.   While we walked in this cold and dark tunnel, I began to hear horrific screams and moans, and an intense fear was growing inside of me.   I knew that, although my body was already dead, I was somehow still alive in this place.

I saw large snakes moving all around, and all the people were crying out for water.   Soon we arrived at an open plateau, which had many chambers and divisions, each contained different people inside.   I began to cry out with terror, begging God for mercy.   „Lord, remember my life! Have mercy!” Sheer terror was gripping my soul, and my whole life was passing before my eyes.   As we approached some door, I shouted again, „Have mercy on me my Lord; have mercy on me! I beg you to help me! Help me Lord!!”

Suddenly there was a silence, and I heard a loud voice say, Stop!”The voice shook all of Hell, and the being that was taking me by the hand, released me.   I am not the God of adulterers, I am not the God of fornicators, I am not the God of liars.   Why do you call me Lord, if I am not a God of those who boast? (Luke 6:46)

You can read the transcript for this video at – http://choothomas.org/christians_that_wound_up_in_hell/index.htm

GOLGOTA – LOCUL UNDE ISUS A ÎMPĂRȚIT LUMEA ÎN DOUĂ !

AM FOST SCLAVI ODATĂ

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LUCA 23

V-ați întrebat vreodată de ce este toată această istorisire în Biblie? În mijlocul filmului crucificării lui Isus (poate cel mai important eveniment petrecut în istoria omenirii), este această dispută dintre cei doi criminali de-o parte și de cealaltă a lui Isus. Și ce este de fapt atât de special despre această relatare este că condiția inimii fiecărui om, realitatea locului spiritual în care te afli, este găsită la cei doi tâlhari de pe cruce, de-o parte și de alta a Domnului Isus.

Vedeți voi, Isus Cristos în mijloc este așa cum nimeni nu și-ar fi imaginat să vadă – pe Dumnezeu în trup de om – Cuvântul  venit pe Pământ. Dar mulți dintre noi care am trecut prin viață de-a lungul timpului, ne-am comportat ori ca tâlharul din dreapta, ori ca tâlharul din stânga. Sunt câteva lucruri pe care vreau să le dezbatem în acest articol.

1.      Aproape, nu este îndeajuns de aproape!

Putem observa că, acești oameni de pe cruce, în vecinătate erau foarte apropiați de Isus – dar vecinătatea nu este același lucru cu percepția. În versetul 29 scrie: Unul din tâlharii răstigniți Îl batjocorea și zicea: “Nu ești tu Cristosul? Mântuiește-te pe tine însuți și mântuiește-ne și pe noi!” Vedem cum el pierde din vedere cine este de fapt Isus. Dar înainte să aruncăm cu pietre, înainte de a defăima…să ne cercetăm pe noi…este un lucru ușor de făcut. Vedem că el era aproape, dar nu îndeajuns de aproape…și ratează adevărul despre Isus, și l-a ratat din două motive.

  • În primul rând, el asculta la mulțimile din jur. Un verset mai înapoi vedem cum mulțimile, fruntașii și chiar soldații Romani Îl batjocoreau pe Isus. Tâlharul doar a urmat un model. Percepția lui despre Mesia, era percepția din acea zi. A lăsat ca firea lui să definească cine este Isus în locul lui “daca El moare, cum poate să fie Mesia?”Și noi facem uneori la fel, nu-i așa? Cât de des lăsăm ca părerea noastră despre cine este Isus să fie condusă de părerile altora despre cine este Isus, în loc să îl lăsăm pe Isus să ne ghideze?

  • In al doilea rând, asculta de eul lui. Iată ce zice: “Nu ești tu Cristosul? Mântuiește-te pe tine însuți și mântuiește-ne și pe noi!” Cu alte cuvinte: “Scoate-mă de unde sunt eu și atunci o să cred. Suferă tu în locul meu și atunci o să știu că ești Dumnezeu.” Ca acest om, poate și pentru tine  Isus este un fel de asistent personal. Poate așa Îl vezi… El e cu tine numai când ai nevoie să îți duci planul la îndeplinire, să rezolvi tot ce ai în agendă, să îți formeze o matriță bună – Aproape, nu este îndeajuns de aproape. Alții, chiar și mai justificativ, bun, nu este bun îndeajuns. Viziunea ta despre ce este Isus nu este aceea a unui asistent personal, ci mult mai mult, tu ești asistentul Său personal. Crezi că dacă te-ai întors la Dumnezeu, meriți o răsplată. “Dacă fac asta, o să am acces. Dacă merg la biserică, dacă vorbesc lucruri frumoase, dacă petrec timpul meu cu oameni buni, ajut pe săraci, dacă trăiesc cu săracii, etc.” Oprește-te din a mai asculta ce spune eul tău. Contrar părerilor din popor, făcând multe lucruri bune nu îți acordă un statut special în fața Domnului. Nu există fapte de bunătate sau servicii pe care le facem (lipsite de dreptate) care să îți dea un statut aparte în fața lui Dumnezeu. Nici o încercare de a face bine nu te ajută să ajungi să fii cu Dumnezeu. Aproape, nu este îndeajuns de aproape.

Al doilea adevăr pe care îl aflăm de aici este următorul:

1.      Niciodată nu este prea târziu ca Isus să salveze  viața cuiva

Dacă cineva a mers prea departe – este vorba despre celălalt om de pe cruce. El merita să fie sus pe cruce, de-asta era acolo. Este la finalul vieții sale iar viața lui nu valora așa de mult. Dar într-un moment, Isus șterge tot trecutul său și spune: vers. 43: “Adevărat îți spun că astăzi vei fi cu mine în Rai.” O ce veste bună! Înseamna că nu contează ce vezi tu în trecutul tău astăzi, pentru Isus Cristos nu este niciodată prea târziu să te salveze. Serios, singurul mod în care poți să îl cunoști pe Isus este foarte bine definit în dialogul pe care Domnul Isus îl are cu acest tâlhar de pe cruce. Poate fi rezumat la 5 cuvinte:

DUMNEZEU – PĂCATUL – SUBSTITUȚIA – CREDINȚA – VIAȚA…

Citeste in intregime aici, Mike Olari – http://family2fam.com/2015/04/08/golgota-locul-unde-isus-a-impartit-lumea-in-doua/

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.

Justificat prin sângele lui Isus Hristos

Numai sangele lui Isus photo credit hisdaughter02.blogspot.com

1 Ioan 1:7
Dar dacă umblăm în lumină, după cum El însuş este în lumină,
avem părtăşie unii cu alţii; şi sîngele lui Isus Hristos,
Fiul Lui, ne curăţeşte de orice păcat.

Sângele lui Isus Hristos, Fiul lui Dumnezeu, ne curăţă de orice păcat. Sângele ne curăţă de păcat. 1 Ioan 1:7. Ce înseamnă asta? Înseamnă că justificarea se face pe baza unei răscumpărări care a fost plătită. Justificarea este aplicată cuiva în baza satisfacerii dreptăţii. Cu alte cuvinte: când Dumnezeu justifică o persoană, El nu priveşte la ce este în acea persoană. El priveşte la ceea ce a fost făcut pentru acea persoană. El priveşte la sângele lui Isus Hristos. Ce reprezintă sângele acesta? Reprezintă faptul că El, prin moartea Sa pe cruce, a plătit pentru păcatul meu. Mi-a purtat păcatul, în trupul Său, pe lemn. Deci sunt justificat prin sângele Său.

Cu alte cuvinte, Dumnezeu nu justifică un om pe baza a nimic din sine însuşi. Poate spui: “Ei, ştiam asta.” Dar acest fapt are foarte multe implicaţii. În special, El nu justifică un om datorită faptului că omul este, în vreun fel, evlavios. Ce scrie în Roamni 4:5? Dumnezeu justifică pe cel neevlavios! El justifică numai oameni neevlavioşi. De exemplu, un om vine suspinând, îi pare rău de păcatele sale, dar pocăinţa nu achită nici o frântură din păcat. Să presupunem că un criminal vine înaintea judecătorului. El a comis multe crime, dar îi pare foarte, foarte rău. Spune judecătorul: “Vina ta a fost achitată deplin pentru că îţi pare rău.”? Nu! Nu achită nimic. Pocăinţa, pocăinţa ta [nu achită păcatul]. Sunt mulţi oamenii care se uită la cât de rău le pare, ca să vadă dacă este suficient pentru a plăti pentru păcatele lor. Pocăinţa nu va plăti pentru păcatele tale. “Să tot curgă lacrimile mele, iar zelul meu să nu aibă odihnă. Pentru păcat nimic nu poate plăti, Tu trebuie să mântuieşti, doar Tu.” Deci, justificarea nu e datorată pocăinţei. Dumnezeu nu justifică un om pe baza pocăinţei sale. Deasemnea, El nu ne justifică datorită credinţei noastre. Dumnezeu nu spune, după ce priveşte la cineva: “Omul acesta are multă credinţă. Îl voi justifica.” Nu. El nu priveşte la credinţă. Credinţa nu poate plăti pentru păcat! Nu ajută cu nimic în achitarea păcatelor tale. Doar sângele lui Isus poate plăti pentru păcatele noastre. Justificarea se bazează pe sângele lui Hristos.

Aceasta explică cum poate cineva avea o credinţă aşa mică şi totuşi să fie justificat. Atât timp cât este o credinţă adevărată. Să vă dau un exemplu. Un pod traversează o prăpastie. E o prăpastie chiar aici. Am un pod care traversează această prăpastie, dar este un pod foarte fragil. Şi aici am un pod care traversează prăpastia şi este un pod foarte rezistent. Dacă cineva ar ajunge aici şi ar avea mare încredere în podul fragil; ar fi plin de credinţă: ‘Acel pod mă va susţine!’ Vedeţi, majoritatea oamenilor şi-au pus încrederea în câte un pod fragil. Deci, plin de credinţă şi încredere, el păşeşte pe acel pod fragil. Ce se întâmplă? Se prăbuşeşte. Dar dacă o persoană ajunge la acest pod foarte rezistent, şi are o credinţă foarte slabă în acel pod rezistent; dar suficientă credinţă pentru a-l face să calce pe pod. Deci, cu teamă şi cutremur, el păşeşte pe pod. Credinţa lui, sau lipsa lui de credinţă, nu are de-a face cu faptul că podul îl susţine sau nu. Nu e vorba de cât de tare este credinţa ta, ci contează cât de puternic e sângele lui Isus Hristos. Dacă azi îţi laşi cu totul viaţa în mâna lui Hristos, cu puţina ta credinţă, sângele şi neprihănirea Lui sunt infinit de puternice pentru a te păzi de căderea în prăpastie. Înţelegi? Pentru că nu eşti justificat în baza credinţei tale. Eşti justificat în baza sângelui lui Hristos şi a neprihănirii Sale, aceasta e ideea. Cineva i-a spus lui Hudson Taylor: “Tu eşti un om cu o mare credinţă.” Dar el a spus: “Nu, eu sunt un om cu puţină credinţă într-un Dumnezeu foarte mare.” Asta e diferenţa.

justified through Christ

Gândiţi-vă la Paşte. Vă amintiţi că la primul Paşte evreii au pus sângele pe uşiorii uşii? Aşa că sângele era afară, pe uşiorii uşii, iar cel dinăuntrul casei, probabil că era speriat de moarte. Aude strigătele egiptenilor care mor iar el este înăuntru, plin de teamă şi cutremur. Dumnezeu se apropie şi spune: “Când voi vedea credinţa şi încrederea ta, voi trece pe lângă tine.” Aşa a spus? Nu, El a spus: “Când voi vedea sângele, voi trece pe lângă tine.” Nu conta dacă cel dinăuntru era speriat de moarte, dacă sângele era pe uşiori, aceasta conta. Aceasta este singura problemă. Te încrezi tu în neprihănirea lui Hristos? Este sângele pe ‘uşiorii’ tăi? Nu se ţine cont de ceea ce faci, de performanţa ta, ci se ia în calcul neprihănirea Lui. Acesta este un lucru uimitor.

În urmă cu 100 de ani, trăia un evanghelist scoţian, James McKendrick. El povestea despre un păcătos binecunoscut, unul din cei mai ticăloşi păcătoşi din zonă şi din întreg ţinutul. Cred că se numea George Mays; şi el s-a pocăit. McKendrick a continuat să predice, iar după un an sau doi l-a văzut din nou pe George. George era foarte trist, era într-o depresie; avea capul plecat, era nefericit. I-a spus: “George, ce s-a întâmplat?” El a răspuns: “Nu mă mai simt acum cum mă simţeam când am devenit creştin. Nu mai simt aşa acum.” Şi James McKendrick i-a spus: “George, vreau să te întreb ceva: Câţi bani ai în buzunar?” El a răspuns: “Păi, am un şiling.” James a spus: “Să te mai întreb ceva: Când te simţi foarte bine, cât valorează şilingul tău?” George a spus: “Valorează un şiling.” James l-a întrebat: “Dar dacă te simţi foarte rău valorează mai puţin de atât?” El a răspuns: “Nu, valorează tot un şiling.” Încerc să vă ajut să înţelegeţi că sunteţi justificaţi prin ceva exterior vouă. Sunteţi justificaţi prin sângele lui Hristos, iar acest fapt nu se schimbă de pe o zi pe alta. Nu contează ce simţi tu. Sângele şi neprihănirea Lui sunt absolut perfecte şi pline de putere pentru a mă justifica înaintea lui Dumnezeu. Nu contează cum mă descurc într-o anumită zi, nu are legătură cu asta. E consecinţa a ceea ce Hristos este şi ceea ce El a făcut pentru poporul Său.

Dacă ai fost vreodată la ocean, ai văzut câteva din acele vase masive care navighează pe ocean. Nişte vase ancorau; poate priveai la unele din acele vase de luptă, ale căror ancore sunt uriaşe. Ce beneficiu le-ar fi adus existenţa acelei ancore înăuntrul vasului? Aruncă-ţi ancora în cală. Nu va folosi la nimic, nu-i aşa? Trebuie ca ancora să fie în exteriorul tău. Încrederea ta trebuie să o iei de la Hristos şi ceea ce este El. Trebuie să fii ancorat în El şi nu în tine însuţi, privind la tine. Aruncă-ţi ancora în exteriorul vasului.

de Charles Leiter în 2014-02-25 Illbehonest.com

Reblog de aici – Justificat prin sângele lui Isus Hristos – Justified through the blood of Christ 2014.03.02

Alte articole de Charles Leiter

 

= 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.

Passion Week – Good Friday Events 1/2 – The hurt of Peter’s denial of Christ

Photo from www.eons.com

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

How many times did the rooster crow when Peter denied Jesus?


Matthew 26:34 (also Luke 22:34, John 13:38)

„I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, „this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

Mark 14:30

„I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, „today – yes, tonight – before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”


Mark 14:66-72

While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.

„You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.

But he denied it. „I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.

When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, „This fellow is one of them.” Again he denied it.

After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, „Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”

He began to call down curses on himself, and he swore to them, „I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”

Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: „Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

From www.rationalchristianity.net

Jesus’ Great Confession; Peter’s Great Denial
Matthew 26:57-68

57 Now the ones who had arrested Jesus led him to Caiaphas, the high priest, in whose house the experts in the law and the elders had gathered. 58 But Peter was following him from a distance, all the way to the high priest’s courtyard. After going in, he sat with the guards to see the outcome. 59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were trying to find false testimony against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find anything, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’” 62 So the high priest stood up and said to him, “Have you no answer? What is this that they are testifying against you?” 63 But Jesus was silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64 Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and declared, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? Now you have heard the blasphemy! 66 What is your verdict?” They answered, “He is guilty and deserves death.” 67 Then they spat in his face and struck him with their fists. And some slapped him, 68 saying, “Prophesy for us, you Christ! Who hit you?” (Matthew 26:57-68)

Two events are being described simultaneously by Matthew in this paragraph and the next, so as to set them in contrast to each other. The first is our Lord’s interrogation by Caiaphas, the high priest, and the Sanhedrin. The second is Peter’s “interrogation” by those around him. At the very moments Peter is denying His Lord, our Lord Jesus is affirming His identity as the Messiah – His “great confession.”

It is the middle of the night, and Jesus has been sent from Annas to stand before Caiaphas. The whole Sanhedrin is present (see also Mark 14:55), including the chief priests, scribes, and elders (Matthew 26:57-59). This is far from a legal gathering. In our terms, Jesus is not getting “due process of the law” here. These “judges” are far from neutral. They seek any testimony that will justify their resolve to kill Jesus (verse 59), but they can’t do it.

These are horrible and shameful moments in Israel’s history, but at times the account comes close to being amusing. Here is this pompous group of Israel’s “cream of the crop.” It is something like the convening of the Supreme Court in our day. These are the top religious and legal experts, and they are determined to execute Jesus. They resolved that they would not arrest or kill Jesus until “after the feast” (Matthew 26:5), but Jesus forced their hand when He informed Judas and the disciples that He would be betrayed by one of them (Matthew 26:21). Jesus even let Judas know that he was the one who would betray Him (Matthew 26:25). Judas no longer had the luxury of time. He had to act now to earn his fee, whether the Jewish leaders liked it or not.

The religious leaders were in a real bind. They seem compelled to include the Romans (Pilate, Herod, and the Roman soldiers). They were forced to crucify Jesus, a very public death. And they must complete this matter before Passover, lest they be defiled, and thus would have been prevented from participating in Passover (seeJohn 18:28; 19:14; Mark 15:42-43). A few hours earlier, it would have appeared that they had almost two weeks to prepare for the execution of Jesus. They have not had any time to acquire and “coach” witnesses, and this was very obvious. Imagine these fellows attempting to give an air of sobriety and propriety, while things are in total chaos. Their witnesses disagree so badly that even with their disposition to accept any charge, it is evident this testimony won’t suffice. A parade of witnesses pass by, and all fail to meet minimum requirements. No two witnesses agree, and when two finally agree, the charges were not viable. It was, at best, a corruption of what Jesus had said (“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” – John 2:19). Even if their words were true, it isn’t a crime to say that you are able to do such a thing; it would be a crime if you attempted it. This case would have been thrown out of any court in our land.

You can imagine how frustrated these fellows must have been. Their case was stalling, and there seemed to be nothing they could do about it. The high priest sought to induce Jesus to violate His Fifth Amendment rights (in today’s terms) by giving testimony against Himself. “What did Jesus have to say to this charge?” Jesus had nothing to say. He need not have spoken. The charges were not worthy of comment or of defense. It was not His duty to provide them with evidence; it was their duty to produce evidence of a crime.

Then the high priest had an inspiration. He would charge Jesus under oath to answer this question: “Are you the Christ, the Son of God?” (Matthew 26:63). This was a question Jesus was not legally obliged to answer. And yet Jesus chose to answer. I used to think that this was because the high priest put Him under oath. I now look at it differently. This was a question Jesus must answer. To refuse to answer would imply that He was not the Messiah, the Son of God. If He were the Messiah, the Son of God, then why would He not answer to this effect? This was the crux of the coming of our Lord – to reveal Himself as the Messiah, and as the Son of God.

Our Lord’s answer was far from tentative. Not only did He identify Himself as the Messiah, the Son of God, He also referred to Himself as the Son of Man:

Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:67).

This is an incredibly powerful statement. Jesus affirms His identity. He is the Messiah. He is the Son of God. He is also the Son of Man, which means that He will return to the earth in power, to deal with His enemies and to establish justice.

These words, if believed, should have struck terror into the hearts of the Jewish religious leaders. Instead, they were taken as blasphemy, a capital offense by Jewish law (see Leviticus 24:10-16; Numbers 15:30). No one in that group paused to reflect on the implications of Jesus’ claim. No one gave serious thought as to whether this claim might be true. In their minds, this was all they needed to condemn Jesus to death. And so the high priest musters all the righteous indignation he can produce, and calls for the death of Jesus:

Then the high priest tore his clothes and declared, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? Now you have heard the blasphemy!” (Matthew 26:65)

His colleagues heartily agreed, and they pronounced sentence on our Lord.

What follows is particularly significant. Once the guilty verdict is pronounced, there is a disproportionate outpouring of wrath and contempt on our Lord. They spit in His face – they spit in God’s face! They strike Him with their fists, pouring out their wrath on God incarnate. They slap Him, and challenge Him to prophesy who hit Him (26:67-68). Here is the highest court in the land, and look at its conduct. Here is God, in the hands of angry sinners.

69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A slave girl came to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it in front of them all: “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” 71 When he went out to the gateway, another slave girl saw him and said to the people there, “This man was with Jesus the Nazarene.” 72 He denied it again with an oath, “I do not know the man!” 73 After a little while, those standing there came up to Peter and said, “You really are one of them too—even your accent gives you away!” 74 At that he began to curse, and he swore with an oath, “I do not know the man!” At that moment a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly (Matthew 26:69-75).

Meanwhile, Peter is sitting in the courtyard of the high priest’s house, warming himself by the fire. A mere slave girl314 identifies him as one of Jesus’ disciples. Peter denies it. Initially, Peter does not pointedly deny knowing Jesus; he simply responds that he doesn’t know what she is talking about. Apparently this is sufficient to silence this first slave girl. But then another slave girl confronts Peter. She does not just question Peter; she speaks to those standing around: “This man was with Jesus the Nazarene” (Matthew 26:71). From Peter’s point of view, this is much more threatening. He denies his association with Jesus, underscoring his denial with an oath. Finally, a third person – one standing nearby – came up to Peter, and this time with an even more persuasive accusation: “You really are one of them too—even your accent gives you away!” (verse 73). Peter more pointedly denied even knowing Jesus, let alone associating with Him. This time he felt it necessary to punctuate his denial with cursing.

At that moment, a rooster crowed, and Peter remembered Jesus’ words indicating that he would deny Him. Peter went outside and wept bitterly. Strangely, this is the last time Matthew refers to Peter by name in this Gospel. While Matthew does provide an account of the final outcome for Judas (Matthew 27:3-10), he does not do so for Peter. Is this because he knows that such an account will take a great deal more time and information? Is this because he knows that a subsequent history of the church (including Peter) will be written? For whatever reason, Matthew does not feel compelled to give us the “rest of the story” regarding Peter.

Conclusion

If our text demonstrates anything, it is that all mankind, without exception, is desperately sinful and, apart from the grace of God in Christ Jesus, hopelessly lost:

“There is no one righteous, not even one,

11 there is no one who understands,

there is no one who seeks God.

12 All have turned away,

together they have become worthless;

there is no one who shows kindness,

not even one” (Romans 3:10b-12).

Whether at his finest, or at his worst, every human being is a sinner, desperately wicked in heart and often in deed. There is no way that we can ever earn our own righteousness, that we can attain God’s favor by our efforts. We need salvation from some source outside of ourselves. We need Jesus, for He alone can save.

Our text dramatically demonstrates the sinfulness of man and the perfection of our Lord Jesus Christ. In our text, no one comes out looking good, no one except Jesus, that is. Everything Jesus predicted happened just as He said it would. Under more stress and pressure than we will ever know, Jesus never failed. His words and His deeds are amazing to us. Though men (like Peter, or Judas, or the religious leaders) failed, Jesus did not. Though His closest friends forsook Him, He will not forsake His own – those who have trusted in Him for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life. Jesus Never Fails; He is always faithful, even when we fail:

Just before the Passover feast, Jesus knew that his time had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now loved them to the very end (John 13:1).

If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, since he cannot deny himself (2 Timothy 2:13).

Your conduct must be free from the love of money and you must be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you and I will never abandon you” (Hebrews 13:5).

In mankind’s darkest hour, the perfections of our Lord shine ever so bright. He alone is worthy of our trust, and of our worship, obedience, and service. Do not let the horrors of these events in our Lord’s last hours distract your attention from Jesus. He deserves center stage. His perfections deserve our praise.

We should probably say a word about Peter’s denials. Let us not fail to read this text, describing Peter’s worst moments, without bearing in mind “the rest of the story.” We may have seen the last of Peter (by name) in Matthew, but we find a very different Peter in the Book of Acts. With the resurrection and ascension of our Lord, and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, we find a transformed Peter. We find a man who now boldly proclaims the gospel, in spite of the opposition and the risks:

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, replied, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are being examined today for a good deed done to a sick man—by what means this man was healed— 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, this man stands before you healthy. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, that has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among people by which we must be saved.” 13 When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and discovered that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized these men had been with Jesus. 14 And because they saw the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say against this (Acts 4:8-14).

As a result of the work of Jesus Christ at Calvary, and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, Peter not only boldly identifies with His Lord, He instructs us to do so as well:

13 For who is going to harm you if you are devoted to what is good? 14 But in fact, if you happen to suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. But do not be terrified of them or be shaken. 15 But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess. 16 Yet do it with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience, so that those who slander your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame when they accuse you. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if God wills it, than for doing evil (1 Peter 3:13-17).

The events of our text underscore for us the trustworthiness and authority of the Scriptures. Just as at the birth of our Lord, so also here we find that Matthew repeatedly points out to us that the Scriptures are being fulfilled at every point of this procession to the cross. God’s Word is true. It never fails. Even when men try their hardest to resist God and to rebel against His purposes, they end up unwittingly fulfilling His purposes and promises. We can trust His Word.

Let me end with one more observation and application. Our text describes the darkest hour in all of human history, and yet we gather every Sunday to remember the death of Jesus. More than that, we come every Sunday to celebrate His death. This is due to the fact that His suffering and His death is the only means by which sinful men may be saved, and have eternal life. It is also due to the fact that the resurrection of Jesus enables us to view these events in a whole new way. At the cross, Jesus took the curse (death) and made it the cure (His atoning work on our behalf). God used the most cruel and wicked actions of men to accomplish His eternal plan of salvation.

Surely this is an example of the truth that is proclaimed in Romans 8:

28 And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, 29 because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified (Romans 8:28-30).

God was able to make the horrid events of our Lord’s rejection and crucifixion into a salvation so blessed that it will take all eternity to fathom it. If our Lord can transform this kind of apparent tragedy into a triumphant work of redemption, then is it not reasonable for us to believe that God will cause every event in our lives to work out for His glory, and for our good?

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

One Perfect Life (COMPLETE): (1) Jesus of Nazareth (2) Jesus the Messiah (Special Easter Program) Dramatic Reading for Palm Sunday from John MacArthur

This is an outstanding way to share the Passion Week, most especially if you have younger children – It starts out from Jesus’s Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem, and the story is told through the Gospel, as written in the Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This narration, with audio effects in the background that take you into that time and place, is also interspersed by short commentary from John MacArthur.

From JohnMacArthurGTY:  Mar 22, 2013 http://www.gty.org/oplradio

Dramatic Readings of Scripture with Commentary by John MacArthur

How can you make your celebration of the Lord’s resurrection meaningful and memorable this year? While that’s a worthy goal, it’s not easily accomplished. The overt secularization of the holiday is a major distraction for many believers. The profound truth at the heart of the holiday ends up being obscured.

To help focus your family’s Easter celebration on the Person and work of Christ, we’re pleased to make this unique program available to you. Based on John MacArthur’s new book One Perfect Life, the program features dramatic Scripture readings accompanied by commentary from John.

Jesus the Messiah

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

The Reality of Hell – J. Scott Horrell

Dr. Scott Horrell, Professor of Theological Studies at DTS speaks on the reality of hell.

Pluralism: Is Jesus the Only Way to God? | Norman Geisler, PhD

Ravi Zacharias – The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ – Part 2

Jesus Christ spoke to life’s questions in a way no one else ever has. What did he tell us about who we are and what life should look like? Ravi Zacharias concludes his message on the Uniqueness of Jesus Christ.

VIDEO by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries

Lucruri care nici nu trebuie pomenite – James Montgomery Boice

Photo credit www.totheends.com

Tradus de Tiberiu Pop, Sursa http://www.rcrwebsite.com Un STUDIU asupra Efeseni 5:3-14 –

3 Curvia sau orice alt fel de necurăţie, sau lăcomia de avere nici să nu fie pomenite între voi, aşa cum se cuvine unor sfinţi.
4 Să nu se audă nici cuvinte porcoase, nici vorbe nechibzuite, nici glume proaste care nu sunt cuviincioase; ci mai degrabă cuvinte de mulţumire.
5 Căci ştiţi bine că niciun curvar, niciun stricat, niciun lacom de avere, care este un închinător la idoli, n-are parte de moştenire în Împărăţia lui Hristos şi a lui Dumnezeu.
6 Nimeni să nu vă înşele cu vorbe deşarte; căci din pricina acestor lucruri vine mânia lui Dumnezeu peste oamenii neascultători.
7 Să nu vă întovărăşiţi, dar, deloc cu ei.
8 Odinioară eraţi întuneric; dar acum sunteţi lumină în Domnul. Umblaţi deci ca nişte copii ai luminii.
9 Căci roada luminii stă în orice bunătate, în neprihănire şi în adevăr.
10 Cercetaţi ce este plăcut înaintea Domnului
11 şi nu luaţi deloc parte la lucrările neroditoare ale întunericului, ba încă mai degrabă osândiţi-le.
12 Căci e ruşine numai să spunem ce fac ei în ascuns.
13 Dar toate aceste lucruri, când sunt osândite de lumină, sunt date la iveală; pentru că ceea ce scoate totul la iveală este lumina.
14 De aceea zice: „Deşteaptă-te tu care dormi, scoală-te din morţi, şi Hristos te va lumina.”

În studiul nostru asupra acestei secţiuni am ajuns la versetul al treilea din capitolul cinci. Pavel a vorbit deja despre unele dintre aceste lucruri la sfârşitul capitolului patru. Acolo el a folosit o imagine foarte interesantă, aceea a îmbrăcării, spunând că odinioară am avut un anume tip de viaţă care era asemănător unei anumite îmbrăcăminte. Era o îmbrăcăminte care se potrivea acelui mod de viaţă, însă nu şi noii noastre vieţi de creştini. Acum, devenind creştini, trebuie să vă dezbrăcaţi de acel vechi tipar de comportament, ca şi cum ar fi o îmbrăcăminte nepotrivită şi, în schimb, să vă îmbrăcaţi cu un nou model de comportament. Pe măsură ce dezvoltă această idee observăm că el contrabalansează aceste lucruri – în locul unui anumit lucru trebuie să fie cutare lucru, trebuie să fie un cu totul alt lucru.

În capitolul cinci el intensifică această idee. Problema în discuţia despre îmbrăcare şi dezbrăcare este aceea că putem să admitem, şi în unele aspecte pe bună dreptate, că îmbrăcarea şi dezbrăcarea sunt un proces. Începem să dezbrăcăm comportamentul nepotrivit şi începem să îmbrăcăm un comportament din ce în ce mai potrivit. Acum, în capitolul cinci, Pavel vorbeşte despre aceste lucruri, fără a spune că suntem, în mod normal, într-un proces de dezbrăcare şi îmbrăcare, ci vorbind despre tipurile de vicii care erau predominante în lumea păgână de atunci şi care, spune el, nici măcar nu trebuie să fie pomenite între creştini. Aici nu este o problemă de reformare treptată sau despre o schimbare doar de nuanţă a valorilor şi a comportamentului, ci este vorba de lucruri care nici măcar nu trebuie pomenite în cercurile creştine. Apoi începe să le enumere. Sunt şase. Vorbeşte despre imoralitatea sexuală, despre necurăţie, lăcomie, obscenitate, vorbe nechibzuite şi glume proaste. Pavel spune că aceste lucruri sunt nepotrivite, nelalocul lor. De fapt, dacă sunt practicate, evidenţiază faptul că cel care le practică, departe de a fi un creştin doar nepăsător faţă de practicarea credinţei, el este, aşa cum spune Pavel, un idolatru. Cu alte cuvinte, o persoană care se închină unui al dumnezeu decât adevăratului Dumnezeu care este Tatăl Domnului Isus Hristos.

Trebuie să ne uităm la aceste lucruri, la fiecare în parte, nu pentru alt motiv decât acela că sunt atât de obişnuite în ziua de azi. Sunt o expresie a tipului de cultură în care trăim. Primul dintre ele este imoralitatea sexuală. În limba greacă, acest cuvânt este porneia, fiind cuvântul din care am obţinut termenul modern „pornografie”. Acesta nu se referă, însă, la poze sau filme obscene, ci la relaţia sexuală din afara căsătoriei. Lucrul pe care mai vechile traduceri ale Bibliei l-au tradus cu termenul „curvie”. Nu trebuie să facem aici greşeala de a susţine că păcatele sexuale sunt mai mari decât alte păcate. De fapt, dacă privim dintr-o perspectivă biblică, păcatele trupului sunt, în general, mai puţin semnificative decât cele ale spiritului. Păcate ca mândria şi aroganţa sunt de departe mai distructive decât aceste păcate ale trupului. Cu toate acestea, Pavel este întrutotul îndreptăţit să menţioneze mai întâi aceste păcate deoarece, chiar dacă nu sunt cele mai distructive, spiritual vorbind, sunt, totuşi, teribil de distructive şi teribil de evidente în societate. Imoralitatea sexuală este, deci, unul dintre lucrurile despre care Pavel spune că nici nu trebuie pomenite printre creştini.

În al doilea rând, el vorbeşte despre necurăţie. Acest termen, „necurăţie”, acoperă fără îndoială genul de păcate care sunt incluse în primul termen, însă se poate ca acest al doilea termen să ţintească puţin mai departe şi să vorbească despre anumite practici şi vicii degradante. Probabil ceea ce a avut Pavel în minte aici este acceptarea la scară largă în lumea greacă din vremea lui a prostituţiei, pe de-o parte, şi a homosexualităţii, pe de altă parte, precum şi a anumitor tipuri de comportament sexual degenerat. Acestea sunt lucrurile care pângăresc o persoană, ne spune Pavel şi, în consecinţă, nu trebuie practicate de către creştini. În schimb, în lumea greacă, erau înspăimântător de tolerate. În Atena, de exemplu, exista un mare templu zidit în cinstea Afroditei, zeiţa dragostei, templu care a fost zidit cu banii câştigaţi de bordelurile din oraş. Nu era deloc nepotrivit în mintea grecilor din vremea lui Pavel recunoaşterea formală a prostituţiei şi folosirea veniturilor câştigate de bordeluri la construirea unui templu în cinstea unuia dintre zei. Acest lucru era pur şi simplu normal în modul de gândire grecesc. În acelaşi fel exista o acceptare la scară largă a homosexualităţii. Această practică nu era considerată incompatibilă cu cele mai înalte standarde etice. Cu toate acestea, spune Pavel, departe ca aceste lucruri să fie ceva înalt şi care să înnobileze, sunt de fapt josnice şi degradante. Iar comunitatea creştină trebuie să fie diferită, în ceea ce priveşte aceste lucruri.

Al treilea lucru pe care îl menţionează este lăcomia. Dacă cele două mari defecte ale naturii umane sunt lăcomia şi pofta, ei bine, aici îl avem pe primul dintre ele – lăcomia. Următoarele două lucruri ţin de al doilea defect, acestea fiind dragostea de bani şi dragostea de lucrurile pe care ţi le oferă banii. Idee adesea redată prin „aviditate” – tot timpul dorind mai mult. Nu numai bani de dragul banilor, deşi uneori lăcomia implică dragostea de bani de dragul banilor ci, în primul rând, o dragoste de bani pentru genul de lucruri pe care banii ţi le aduc. Experienţele pe care le putem avea. Imaginea pe care o putem afişa înaintea lumii. Şi plăcerile pe care le putem gusta, de care altfel nu am avea parte. Pavel spune că nici acest lucru nu este ceva care să poată exista printre creştini. De aceea spune Isus, în Predica de pe Munte, că nu poţi sluji lui Dumnezeu şi banilor. Deoarece dacă banii sunt dumnezeul tău, atunci, aşa cum şi Pavel însuşi spune în acest paragraf, eşti un idolatru. Iar dacă eşti un idolatru, atunci nu-L slujeşti de loc pe adevăratul Dumnezeu, chiar dacă pretinzi că eşti creştin.

Al patrulea termen este obscenitatea. Un comportament deosebit de agresiv, în special în vorbe, deşi poate implica şi acţiuni.

Al cincilea termen este vorbirea nechibzuită. Este uşor de ţinut minte forma grecească a acestei expresii deoarece este compusă din două cuvinte. Primul cuvânt este acela care ni-l dă pe „moron” (idiot, n.t.). Al doilea cuvânt estelogos, termenul pentru „cuvânt”, „cuvinte”. Termenul grecesc este morologia. Este genul de vorbire de care este în stare un moron (idiot, n.t.). Desigur, aici unde Biblia foloseşte acest termen, moros, nu este vorba despre inteligenţă. Biblia nu vorbeşte aici despre intelect deficient, ci despre moravuri deficiente. Este tipul de vorbire pe care îl are cineva care nu are standarde morale. Tipul de vorbire care dărâmă, se distrează şi ridiculizează acele standarde de comportament care chiar şi în lumea seculară au scopul de a susţine o societate şi a-i reprima elementele cele mai abjecte. Dacă-mi daţi voie să spun, exact la aceasta este bună televiziunea – la morologie. Este foarte greu să auzi alt gen de cuvinte la televizor. Ele trec ca umor, desigur. Iar uneori sunt abordate forme mai agresive de astfel de umor care sunt, însă, imediat retrase pentru ca nu cumva să fie sesizată Comisia Federală de Comunicaţii (în România CNA – Comisia Naţională a Audio-Vizualului, n.t.). Televiziunea nu zideşte. Ceea ce vedeţi la televizor nu are drept scop menţinerea standardelor morale ale societăţii noastre. Dimpotrivă, le dărâmă. Acesta este lucrul pe care Pavel spune că nu trebuie să-l avem printre noi.

Ultimul dintre toţi termenii este glumele proaste. Cu alte cuvinte, a glumi cu privire la lucrurile serioase. Aceasta nu înseamnă că creştinii nu se pot distra; că creştinii nu ar trebui să fie caracterizaţi de un spirit vesel şi de un ascuţit simţ al umorului faţă de lucrurile care sunt cu adevărat distractive. Dumnezeul care a creat maimuţele nu este lipsit de umor. Însă Pavel se referă la a glumi vizavi de lucruri care trebuie luate în serios. A te distra de ceea ce are o semnificaţie eternă. Şi mai presus de toate, a folosi glumele pentru a evita poruncile şi avertismentele Dumnezeului atotputernic. John Stott adună laolaltă aceşti termeni spunând că obscenitatea, vorbirea nechibzuită şi glumele proaste se referă la o minte murdară care se exprimă într-o conversaţie murdară.

La acest punct ne întrebăm: dacă acestea sunt lucrurile negative, dacă acestea sunt lucrurile pe care creştinul trebuie să le evite cu orice preţ, dacă acestea sunt genul de lucruri nepotrivite, nelalocul lor şi dovedind idolatrie într-o comunitate creştină, atunci care sunt lucrurile pozitive pe care trebuie să le contrabalansăm? Cum trebuie să fie şi ce trebuie să facă, prin contrast, creştinii? Sunt mai multe moduri de a răspunde la această întrebare. Un mod de a răspunde la această întrebare este să ne deplasăm până la versetele opt şi nouă unde apostolul Pavel începe să ne sugereze termeni care sunt în mod evident paraleli celor despre care a vorbit mai devreme. În versetul nouă, care în New International Version (Noua Versiune Internaţională, una din traducerile Bibliei în limba engleză, n.t.) este între paranteze, apostolul Pavel spune: „Roada luminii stă în orice bunătate, dreptate şi adevăr.” Poţi face o foarte uşoară paralelă între aceşti termeni şi cei şase pe care i-am menţionat mai devreme. Bunătatea şi dreptatea sunt contrare unora dintre acele lucruri. Adevărul contrabalansează orice ţine de vorbirea nechibzuită, obscenă şi de glumele proaste. Pavel are dreptate menţionând aceşti termeni aici. Atunci când trăim în felul acesta, în bunătate, dreptate şi în adevăr, trăim după caracterul lui Isus Hristos care El Însuşi este dreptate, bunătate şi adevăr. Toţi aceşti termeni au fost folosiţi de El, şi pe bună dreptate.

Dar, ştiţi, uitându-mă la întregul pasaj şi analizându-l, mă întreb dacă nu cumva cel mai semnificativ contrast este nu acela pe care Pavel ni-l înfăţişează în versetul nouă, unde începe să folosească o altă imagine, vorbind despre lumină şi întuneric şi despre creştini ca fiind copii ai luminii, ci mai degrabă acea propoziţie care apare chiar la sfârşitul versetului patru, imediat după ce vorbeşte despre obscenitate, vorbire nechibzuită şi glume proaste, care nu sunt la locul lor. Aici contrastul este, spune el, mulţumirea. Te întrebi poate, mulţumire pentru ce? Răspunsul ar fi: mulţumire pentru toate lucrurile. Mulţumire pentru cine este Dumnezeu, pentru cine suntem noi, pentru viaţă, pentru sănătate, pentru tot ceea ce ne-a dat El şi aşa mai departe.

Mă mai întreb dacă nu cumva John Stott are dreptate la acest punct când, în comentariul său, sugerează că ceea ce trebuie să fi avut Pavel în minte aici este mulţumirea chiar pentru darurile lui Dumnezeu, daruri de care se abuzează prin viciile pe care le-a menţionat mai devreme în text. Cu alte cuvinte, vorbind despre imoralitatea sexuală şi despre necurăţie, lucrul pentru care ar trebui să fim mulţumitori este sexul şi modul în care trebuie să ne folosim de el. Vorbind despre lăcomie, care este forma josnică, lucrurile pentru care ar trebui să fim mulţumitori sunt lucrurile materiale pe care le posedăm şi modul în care trebuie să le folosim. Iar vorbind despre obscenitate, vorbire nechibzuită şi glume proaste, lucrurile pentru care ar trebui să fim mulţumitori sunt adevărul şi capacitatea cuvintelor de a comunica adevărul spre binefacerea societăţii. Merită să ne gândim puţin la aceste lucruri, nu-i aşa?

Creştinii au o reputaţie destul de proastă atunci când vine vorba despre sex, deoarece se presupune că suntem împotriva lui. Există multe cărţi care afirmă acest lucru şi, fără îndoială, cu o oarecare dreptate. De fapt, chiar dintr-o perspectivă creştină, noi recunoaştem că există o oarecare îndreptăţire în acest gen de acuzaţie deoarece atunci când în societatea umană (atât în vremea lui Pavel, cât şi din nou, în vremea noastră) sexul era denaturat, creştinii s-au ridicat adesea, aşa cum era şi normal, împotriva acestei denaturări. Asta este aproape tot ce a auzit lumea despre opinia noastră. Cu toate acestea, perspectiva creştină nu este o negare a sexului, care este darul lui Dumnezeu pentru noi ci, mai degrabă, o celebrare a lui şi o folosire a lui în modul în care Dumnezeu l-a intenţionat să fie folosit. Adică în cadrul căsniciei, pentru a zidi familii şi a fi o binecuvântare pentru societate.

Mi-am dat seama, chiar citind cărţi despre acest subiect, că este dificil uneori să găseşti cărţi care tratează în mod corect acest subiect. Am dat însă recent de o carte care cred că este excepţională în tratarea acestui subiect. Este scrisă de un canadian. Numele lui este Mike Mason iar cartea este intitulată „Taina Căsătoriei: după cum fierul ascute fierul” (Logos, Cluj 1999, pentru traducerea în limba română, n.t.). Îmi place această carte nu numai pentru că spune ceea ce trebuie (sunt şi alte cărţi care spun ceea ce trebuie), ci pentru că este aproape poetică în a celebra în mod real ceea ce Dumnezeu ne-a dăruit. Vreau să vă citesc numai un paragraf care surprinde ceva din această minunată atitudine de mulţumire vizavi de sex, din căsătoria creştină. Mason scrie:

„Oare ce poate egala surpriza descoperirii că lucrul pe care, mai presus de orice, omenirea l-a târât în noroi, cu exces de iscusinţă, este cel mai inocent din lume? Există oare vreo altă activitate (cu excepţia rugăciunii), în care bărbatul şi femeia să se poată angaja împreună şi care să fie mai plină de puritatea copilăriei, mai curată şi mai inocentă, mai naturală şi mai sănătoasă decât actul sexual? Căci dacă rugăciunea este cea mai profundă formă de comuniune cu Dumnezeu pe care o avem la dispoziţie (şi mai ales acel act special de adorare cunoscut sub numele de Cina Domnului), atunci cu siguranţă sexul este cea mai profundă formă de comuniune între fiinţele umane, şi în acest sens devine ceva absolut esenţial (nu numai din punct de vedere biologic) supravieţuirii noastre.

Cred că este un lucru cu adevărat remarcabil, precum şi o expresie potrivită a perspectivei creştine. Cred că asta are Pavel în minte atunci când pune în contrast denaturarea darului cu a fi mulţumitor. Acelaşi lucru este valabil atunci când vorbim despre lăcomie. Recunoaştem şi aici – Biblia recunoaşte cu siguranţă – că lăcomia este o folosire improprie a lucrurilor pe care le posedăm, precum şi o atitudine improprie cu privire la ele. Lăcomia este dorinţa de a avea întotdeauna mai mult. Odată, cineva l-a întrebat pe John D. Rockefeller, care la acea vreme era unul dintre cei mai bogaţi, dacă nu cel mai bogat om din zilele lui: „De câţi bani ai nevoie pentru a fi fericit?” Rockefeller a răspuns: „Încă de câţiva.” Aceasta este o caracteristică a spiritului uman iar acolo unde predomină ea este, desigur, extrem de distructivă. Devenim prizonierii acesteia. Nu-ţi poţi folosi banii în folosul societăţii dacă tot timpul încerci să faci cât mai mulţi.

Pe de altă parte, creştinii greşesc uneori, atunci când spun: „Dacă lăcomia înseamnă dragoste de bani, atunci banii trebuie să fie ceva rău. Prin urmare, perspectiva creştină corectă este aceea de a nu poseda nimic.” Astfel, aceşti creştini au susţinut o varietate de stiluri de viaţă ca alternativă, cum ar fi monasticismul, ordinele religioase, stilul de viaţă simplu, traiul în comun şi altele. Nu vreau să argumentez împotriva acestor lucruri, deoarece este o problemă personală. Uneori este chiar o chemare. Dacă lucrurile materiale te ţin în dependenţă de ele, în acelaşi fel în care o face alcoolul cu un alcoolic, atunci trebuie să te eliberezi de ele. Trebuie doar să-ţi tai legăturile care te ţin. Unii au făcut lucrul acesta şi au fost binecuvântaţi de Dumnezeu.

Aceasta nu este însă singura perspectivă creştină. Punctul de vedere creştin nu este nici obţinerea a tot mai mult dar nici renunţarea la lucrurile materiale ca fiind, într-un anume fel, rele în sine. Atitudinea creştină este una de mulţumire pentru ceea ce Dumnezeu a dat. Iar dacă Dumnezeu dă puţin, suntem mulţumiţi cu puţin; dacă dă mai mult, suntem mulţumitori pentru aceasta. Deoarece dacă suntem mulţumitori pentru ceea ce El dă, mintea noastră nu este concentrată asupra lucrurilor materiale, ci asupra lui Dumnezeu care ni le-a dat, fiind astfel liberi să folosim acele lucruri aşa cum doreşte Dumnezeu, anume pentru a fi un ajutor şi o binecuvântare pentru alţii. Înainte de toate, pentru familiile noastre, faţă de care avem responsabilitatea de căpătâi. Apoi pentru biserică, pe care o sprijinim prin darurile noastre. Apoi pentru societate, prin sprijinirea programelor umanitare şi a altor asemenea lucruri.

De multe ori am simţit că motivul pentru care Dumnezeu nu a dat mai multor creştini mai mulţi bani este acela că nu ştim cum să-i folosim. Cu cât ai mai mult, cu atât mai mult trebuie să dăruieşti, în mod proporţional. Nu mă refer la zeciuială. Dacă ai un venit de 10.000 de dolari şi dai din ei zece la sută, asta înseamnă o mie. Iar dacă ai un venit de o sută de mii de dolari şi dai din ei zece la sută, asta înseamnă zece mii. Însă dacă ai un venit de o sută de mii de dolari ar trebui să dai mai mult de zece mii deoarece, în mod clar, ai posibilitatea de a da mai mult. Iar motivul pentru care Dumnezeu nu îi binecuvântează pe mai mulţi dintre noi cu mai mult sunt sigur că este acela că nu ştim cum să folosim banii. Iar în loc să fim liberi să folosim ceea ce avem, ne dăm seama că aceste lucruri devin o cursă pentru sufletul nostru. Atitudinea corectă este însă aceea de mulţumire.

Apoi, în cele din urmă, mai este şi adevărul pentru care ar trebui să fim mulţumitori. Denaturarea lui sunt obscenitatea, vorbirea nechibzuită şi glumele proaste. Darul pe care l-am primit este adevărul şi capacitatea cuvintelor de a-l exprima. Nu este oare abilitatea de a comunica prin cuvinte cu alţi semeni un dar minunat de la Dumnezeu? În lumea ştiinţifică, la ora actuală, sunt multe studii în stadiul de proiect, care se referă la modul de comunicare al animalelor. Balenele, de exemplu, se pare că prin acele minunate sunete pe care le scot străbătând mările ele comunică unele cu altele. Însă din câte se cunoaşte până acum, nimic din lumea animalelor nu se apropie măcar de tipul de comunicare profundă, inteligentă, plină de semnificaţie şi pasiune care este posibil între fiinţele umane. Iar dacă Dumnezeu ne-a dat un asemenea dar, ar trebui să fim mulţumitori pentru el. Eu unul sunt profund recunoscător că Dumnezeu ne-a dat darul comunicării prin cuvinte, prin care Evanghelia adevărului Său, care este mântuire pentru cei care o primesc, poate fi comunicată săptămână de săptămână şi în fiecare clipă, prin predicare şi prin alte forme de învăţătură biblică.

Ajungem la concluzia acestei discuţii etice, spunând că creştinii sunt copii ai luminii. Astfel, ei trebuie să înceapă să strălucească asemenea unor lumini, în mijlocul unei lumi întunecate. Adică trebuie să lumineze. Iar motivul pentru care trebuie să lumineze este acela că şi ei au fost, la rândul lor, luminaţi. Domnul Isus Hristos, cel care este El Însuşi Lumina, a pătruns în ei, i-a transformat, iar acum i-a pus să fie o putere luminantă în întunericul secular al vremii noastre.

Ceea ce explică mai bine lucrurile este modul în care Pavel vorbeşte despre creştini. Observaţi că el nu spune: „Odinioară eraţi în întuneric, dar acum aţi venit la lumină”, deşi acest lucru este adevărat. Am fost în întuneric şi am venit la lumină iar acum încercăm să trăim prin această lumină, care este Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu. El spune însă altceva: „Odinioară eraţi întuneric”; nu în întuneric, ci chiar întuneric. „Iar acum sunteţi lumină în Domnul”; nu în lumină, ci chiar lumină. În trecut, problema nu era pur şi simplu aceea că eram în întuneric; problema era că întunericul se afla în noi. Iar acum nu suntem doar în lumină ci, mai mult, suntem lumină prin lucrarea lui Isus Hristos. Această idee vorbeşte despre regenerare (naştere din nou, n.t.). Aici este diferenţa. Aparte de această transformare nu vorbim decât despre un alt gen de moralitate printre doctrinele morale ale altor religii, anume moralitatea creştină. Putem s-o predicăm şi s-o învăţăm pentru că oricum nu va aduce ceva nou. Putem să vedem standardul, însă nu-l putem atinge. Pavel spune însă că ceea ce aduce nou creştinismul este faptul că Isus Hristos Însuşi, Lumina lumii, Domnul istoriei, trăieşte în oameni şi prin ei – în măsura în care aceştia Îl urmează şi îşi multiplică credinţa împărtăşind ceea ce El a făcut pentru ei – începând să lumineze întunericul.

Închei cu următoarea întâmplare. Cu mulţi ani în urmă, în Washington, National Religious Broadcasters (Societatea Naţională a Crainicilor Creştini, n.t.) a ţinut o importantă conferinţă (lucru pe care îl fac în fiecare an). A fost invitat cu această ocazie şi preşedintele Statelor Unite pentru a ţine un discurs. A ţinut un discurs de politician care, în orice caz, a plăcut organizatorilor. A încheiat discursul citând Ioan 3:16, moment în care locul a fost cuprins de euforie. Toată lumea a sărit în picioare aplaudând mult timp după ce preşedintele a părăsit platforma. Cineva ar fi putut crede (lucru care, din fericire, a fost adevărat) că în Palatul Congresului (Capitoliul) s-a produs trezirea. Următorul vorbitor în program a fost Charles Colson, care a experimentat într-o mare măsură capcanele şi seducţia politicii, precum şi limitările ei. Când a ajuns pe platformă a spus ceva în felul următor. A spus că a apreciat discursul preşedintelui, fiind binecuvântat prin acesta. S-a bucurat în special să audă Ioan 3:16 citat în încheiere – un verset biblic foarte important. A mai spus însă: „Ţineţi minte lucrul acesta! Împărăţia lui Dumnezeu nu va veni cu Air Force One (avionul cu care zboară preşedintele).” Lucrul acesta este foarte adevărat. Dacă credem că Împărăţia lui Dumnezeu va veni prin intermediul politicii, ne înşelăm profund şi amarnic. Împărăţia lui Dumnezeu va veni atunci când Împăratul, Isus Hristos, va veni. Între timp, această Împărăţie se lărgeşte pe măsură ce poporul lui Dumnezeu, slujitorii lui Isus Hristos, trăiesc ca Isus Hristos şi sunt lumini în întuneric.

Postat cu permisiune de la www.rcrwebsite.com/eph29.htm

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