April 20, 2011- Begg

Not Far From Home

. . . That through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death.

Hebrews 2:14

Child of God, death has lost its sting, because the devil’s power over it is destroyed. Stop fearing death! Ask God the Holy Spirit to grant you an intimate knowledge and a firm belief in your Redeemer’s death, so that you may be strengthened for that journey. Living near the cross of Calvary, you may learn to think of death with pleasure and welcome it when it comes with intense delight. It is blessed to die in the Lord: It is a covenant blessing to sleep in Jesus. Death is no longer banishment; it is a return from exile, a going home to the many mansions where the loved ones are already living. The distance between glorified spirits in heaven and militant saints on earth seems great; but it is not.

We are not far from home–a moment will bring us there. The sail is spread; the soul is launched upon the deep. How long will its voyage be? How many weary winds must beat upon the sail before it shall be berthed in the port of peace? How long shall that soul be buffeted on the waves before it comes to that sea that knows no storm? Listen to the answer: “away from the body and at home with the Lord.”1 The ship has just departed, but it is already at its destination. It simply spread its sail, and it was there. Like that ship of old upon the Lake of Galilee, a storm had tossed it, but Jesus said, “Peace, be still,” and immediately it came to land. Do not think that a long period intervenes between the instant of death and the eternity of glory. When the eyes close on earth, they open in heaven. The chariots of fire are not an instant on the road.

So child of God, what is there for you to fear in death, seeing that through the death of your Lord Jesus its curse and sting are destroyed? And now it is like a Jacob’s ladder with its base in a dark grave, but with its top reaching to everlasting glory.

12 Corinthians 5:8

April 19, 2011 – Stanley

Anointed for Burial     JOHN 12:1-8Imagine this scene. A woman walks into the annual church rummage sale with a beautiful collection of designer clothes worth thousands of dollars. She says, “I want to give this clothing to the Lord.” Then, as people nod in agreement, she drops the items on the floor and sets fire to them.

You would probably think, What a waste! That’s how the disciples reacted when Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus’ feet with an entire bottle of perfume. For almost three years, the disciples had lived on the donations of wealthy women and other generous people. And this particular bottle was worth about a year’s wages for a rural worker. Proceeds from its sale could have supplied the needs of Christ and His followers for weeks.

Judas spoke up, criticizing the apparent waste, and the other disciples joined in scolding Mary. But her liberal use of the fragrance wasn’t a mistake. Jesus explained, “When she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial” (Matt. 26:12). By using the entire jar at once, Mary released an aroma so overpowering that it filled the whole house (John 12:3). Every breath the guests took reminded them of her extravagant, seemingly imprudent gift.

From Mary’s day until now, the call of God has always inspired His followers to act in ways that others don’t understand. In doing so, we release the fragrance of Christ to everyone we encounter (2 Cor. 2:15). What has God called you to do as an expression of your devotion and love for Him?

April 19, 2011 – Begg

Torn in Two

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

Matthew 27:51

No small miracle was performed in the tearing of so strong and thick a curtain; but it was not intended merely as a display of power–many lessons were contained in it.

The old law of ordinances was put away and, like a worn-out garment, torn and set aside. When Jesus died, the sacrifices were all finished, because they were fulfilled in Him; and therefore the place of sacrifice, the temple, was marked with a clear sign of this change.

With the curtain torn, all the hidden things of the old dispensation became apparent: The mercy-seat could now be seen, and the glory of God gleaming above it. By the death of our Lord Jesus we have a clear revelation of God, for He was “not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face.”1 Life and immortality are now brought to light, and things that have been hidden since the foundation of the world are displayed in Him.

The annual ceremony of atonement was also abolished. The atoning blood that once every year was sprinkled inside the curtain was now offered once for all by the great High Priest, and therefore the place of the symbolical rite was finished. No blood of bullocks or of lambs is needed now, for Jesus has entered inside the curtain with his own blood.

Therefore access to God is now permitted and is the privilege of every believer in Christ Jesus. It is not just a small opening through which we may peer at the mercy-seat, but the tear reaches from the top to the bottom. We may come with boldness to the throne of heavenly grace.

Is it wrong to suggest that the opening of the Holy of Holies in this marvelous manner by our Lord’s expiring cry was signifying the opening of the gates of paradise to all the saints by virtue of the Passion? Our bleeding Lord has the key of heaven; He opens and no man shuts; let us enter in with Him to the heavenly places and sit with Him there until our common enemies shall be made His footstool.


12 Corinthians 3:13

April 18, 2011 – Stanley

Cleansing the Temple    MATTHEW 21:12-17

For the disciples, Palm Sunday must have felt like a dream. As they followed Jesus into the temple grounds, their voices would have been drowned out by the clamor.

The Court of Gentiles, the only area that non-Jews could enter, had become an open-air market. The Teacher and His followers pushed through the hordes of customers haggling with merchants and shouting to be heard over livestock and doves used for sacrifices. Other pilgrims crowded around money changers’ tables, protesting unfair rates of exchange for the temple currency.

Jesus had seen enough. He stormed through the court, upending tables, overturning traders’ chairs, and driving animals toward the gate, past a throng of people scrambling for scattered money. Finally, He blocked the way so merchandise couldn’t be carried through the temple (Mark 11:16).

The disciples must have been astounded. They expected the Messiah to judge their oppressors, not His own people and their temple. Finally, Jesus shouted above the din and reminded them of a scripture they’d apparently forgotten. “Is it not written,” He cried, “‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den” (v. 17). The crowd was amazed. But the religious leaders were offended and began to plan His death (v. 18).

Jesus’ actions in the temple emphasized how extravagant the offer of salvation is. He showed that no one should restrain or interfere with those God calls to be saved. This week, consider people you know who need the eternal life Jesus promises. How can you help clear the way for them to worship?

April 18, 2011 – Begg

Follow Rahab’s Example

She tied the scarlet cord in the window.

Joshua 2:21

Rahab depended for her preservation upon the promise of the spies, whom she regarded as the representatives of the God of Israel. Her faith was simple and firm, but it was very obedient. To tie the scarlet cord in the window was a very trivial act in itself, but she dared not run the risk of omitting it.

Come, my soul, is there not here a lesson for you? Have you been attentive to all your Lord’s will, even though some of His commands should seem nonessential? Have you observed in His own way the two ordinances of believers’ baptism and the Lord’s Supper? To neglect these is to display the unloving disobedience in your heart. From now on be blameless in everything, even the tying of a thread, if that is what’s commanded.

This act of Rahab provides an even more solemn lesson. Have I implicitly trusted in the precious blood of Jesus? Have I tied the scarlet cord, with an intricate knot in my window, so that my trust can never be removed? Or can I look out toward the Dead Sea of my sins or the Jerusalem of my hopes without seeing the blood and seeing all things in connection with its blessed power?

The passer-by can see a cord of such a conspicuous color if it hangs from the window: It will be good for me if my life makes the efficacy of the atonement conspicuous to all onlookers. What is there to be ashamed of? Let men or devils gaze if they want, the blood is my boast and my song.

My soul, there is One who will see that scarlet cord, even when because your faith is weak you cannot see it yourself; Jehovah, the Avenger, will see it and pass over you. Jericho’s walls fell flat: Rahab’s house was on the wall, and yet it stood undisturbed. My nature is built into the wall of humanity, and yet when destruction smites the race, I will be secure. My soul, tie the scarlet cord in the window again, and rest in peace.

April 16, 2011 – Stanley

Palm Sunday     LUKE 19:28-44

Yet while we are in a particular situation, we tend to make things out to be what they aren’t and infer wrong meanings. We kick ourselves, thinking, If only I had known then what I know now!

Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem must have been one of those moments for His disciples. It had appeared to be such a wonderful day for them—and it was, but for different reasons than they realized. They thought the Messiah had come to reestablish Israel’s power in the world. But God had something else in mind.

The disciples weren’t the only ones who had misconceptions about the Messiah. Many Jews of the day expected Him to be an earthly king. When the crowds heard Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they cheered, “Hosanna! ” which means, “Save now!” They saw Him as their new King, come to bring salvation from political and societal oppression. He raised the dead–no doubt he could also restore the kingdom of David and free them from Roman rule.

Seated upon a donkey, Jesus resembled a ruler returning to his city in peacetime, loyal subjects lining his path with coats and palm fronds. Even the Pharisees were there watching in indignation, saying, “Look, the world has gone after Him” (John 12:19).

This week, think back to those times when circumstances looked one way but turned out to be something else entirely. Remember when you realized God was different than you imagined and saw His will unfold in surprising ways. Look for an opportunity to share your insight with a friend or loved one.

April 16, 2011 – Begg

Precious Blood!

. . . The precious blood of Christ.

1 Peter 1:19

Standing at the foot of the cross, we see hands and feet and side all distilling crimson streams of “precious blood.” It is “precious” because of its redeeming and atoning efficacy. By it the sins of Christ’s people are atoned for; they are redeemed from under the law; they are reconciled to God, made one with Him.

Christ’s blood is also “precious” in its cleansing power; it cleanses from all sin. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”1 Through Jesus’ blood there is not a spot left upon any believer; no wrinkle nor any such thing remains. O precious blood that makes us clean, removing the stains of our iniquity and permitting us to stand accepted in the Beloved despite the many ways in which we have rebelled against our God.

The blood of Christ is also “precious” in its preserving power. We are safe from the destroying angel under the sprinkled blood. Remember, it is God’s seeing the blood that is the true reason for our being spared. Here is comfort for us when the eye of faith is dim, for God’s eye is still the same. The blood of Christ is “precious” also in its sanctifying influence

. The same blood that justifies by taking away sin also quickens the new nature and leads it onward to subdue sin and to obey the commands of God. There is no greater motive for holiness than that which streams from the veins of Jesus. And “precious,” unspeakably precious, is this blood because it has an overcoming power. It is written, “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb.”2 How could they do otherwise? He who fights with the precious blood of Jesus fights with a weapon that cannot know defeat.

The blood of Jesus! Sin dies at its presence; death ceases to be death: Heaven’s gates are opened. The blood of Jesus! We shall march on, conquering and to conquer, so long as we can trust its power!


1Isaiah 1:18 2Revelation 12:11

April 15, 2011 – Stanley

How to Seek the Lord     PSALM 105:1-8

Although Scripture tells us to seek the Lord, many Christians struggle with this command. Some are so distracted by other interests and responsibilities that God is only a miniscule part of their goals and desires in life. When confronted with their responsibility to pursue Him, they often feel guilty but don’t know how to begin.

When desire for God surpasses our eagerness for other pursuits, following through becomes much more likely. But hunger for the Lord is an acquired taste. The more we pursue Him, the greater our hunger will be. However, if we ignore Him, what little appetite we have will diminish even further. Do you find that the latter describes your experience? Then ask the Lord to whet your appetite for Him—and follow through by making the effort to seek Him.

Begin with the Scriptures and prayer. Set aside time each day for meditating on God’s Word—listen for His voice, slowly digest what you read, talk to the Lord, ask Him questions, and apply what you learn to your life. Begin studying the Bible. Some of you may say, “I’ve never been into that.” My advice: Get into it! The deep things of God don’t just drop into our brains; they are placed there through diligent study.

Seeking anything requires time and effort. Will you invest your life in the pursuit of the Eternal One—the source of all contentment, joy, and hope? Or will you go after that which is fleeting? By neglecting the Lord, you cheat yourself of all the benefits He promises to those who diligently seek Him.

April 15, 2011 – Begg

Has He Forsaken You?

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Psalms 22:1

Here we view the Savior in the depth of His sorrows. No other place displays the griefs of Christ like this, and no other moment at Calvary is so full of agony as when His cry rends the air–“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” At this moment physical weakness was united with acute mental torture from the shame and ignominy through which He had to pass; His grief culminated in suffering the spiritual agony beyond all telling that resulted from the departure of His Father’s presence. This was the black midnight of His horror–when He descended the abyss of suffering.

No man can enter into the full meaning of these words. Some of us think at times that we could cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” There are seasons when the brightness of our Father’s smile is eclipsed by clouds and darkness; but let us remember that God never really does forsake us. It is only a seeming forsaking with us, but in Christ’s case it was a real forsaking. We grieve at a little withdrawal of our Father’s love; but the real turning away of God’s face from His Son–who can calculate how deep the agony that caused Him?

In our case, our cry is often dictated by unbelief: In His case, it was the utterance of a dreadful fact, for God had really turned away from Him for a season. Poor, distressed soul who once lived in the sunshine of God’s face but now in darkness, remember that He has not really forsaken you. God in the clouds is as much our God as when He shines forth in all the beauty of His grace; but since even the thought that He has forsaken us gives us agony, what must the suffering of the Savior have been when He exclaimed, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

April 14, 2011 – Stanley

The Value of Seeking the Lord PSALM 119:1-8

We all have ambitions and desires. And while these are not necessarily wrong, we should analyze our priorities: Where do I invest my time and energy? What or who occupies my thoughts? As important as our earthly pursuits, responsibilities, and relationships may be, they cannot compare to the value of a life spent seeking the Lord.

First of all, consider what it means to seek something. The word connotes a strong desire and an energetic quest to achieve it. Suppose you discovered a very productive vein of gold on your property. You wouldn’t just stroll out and look at it occasionally. No, you would gather some equipment and diligently go out each day to chip away at the rocks and collect the precious metal.

In the same way, seeking the Lord is not a quick and occasional encounter, but a wholehearted effort to know Him more intimately and follow Him more closely. Those who unreservedly pursue this kind of fellowship with God are determined to spend time with Him; they also want to forsake anything that could hinder growth in their relationship with the Lord. God’s committed followers boldly claim His promises and trust Him to fulfill His Word. Their experiences with the Lord bring amazing satisfaction yet cause them to hunger for more of Him.

The Christian life is meant to be a pursuit of God. To walk through the door of salvation and stand still, never drawing any closer to Him, is to miss the treasures that are available in Christ. Those who seek Him soon discover that knowing Him is the greatest reward of all.

April 14, 2011 – Begg

Even in the Face of Mockery

All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads.

Psalms 22:7

Mockery was a large factor in our Lord’s suffering. Judas mocked Him in the garden; the chief priests and scribes laughed Him to scorn; Herod set Him at nothing; the servants and the soldiers jeered at Him and brutally insulted Him; Pilate and his guards ridiculed His royalty; and on the tree all sorts of horrible jibes and hideous taunts were hurled at Him.Ridicule is always hard to bear, but when we are in intense pain it is so heartless, so cruel, that it cuts us to the quick. Consider the Savior crucified, racked with anguish far beyond anything we can imagine, and then picture that motley multitude, all wagging their heads or making mouths in bitter contempt of the poor suffering victim! Surely there must have been something more in the Crucified One than they could see, or else such a great and mingled crowd would not have unanimously “honored” Him with such contempt. Was it not evil confessing, in the very moment of its greatest apparent triumph, that after all it could do no more than mock at that victorious goodness that was then reigning on the cross?

O Jesus, “despised and rejected by men,”1 how could You die for men who treated You so badly? Here is amazing love, love divine, love beyond degree. We despised You in our pre-converted days, and even since our new birth we have given the world a place in our hearts, and yet You bled to heal our wounds and died to give us life. O that we could set You on a glorious high throne in all men’s hearts! We would ring out Your praises over land and sea until men would universally adore you just as they once unanimously rejected You.

Your creatures wrong Thee, O sovereign Good!
You are not loved, because not understood:
This grieves me most, that vain pursuits beguile
Ungrateful men, regardless of Thy smile.

1Isaiah 53:3

April 13, 2011 – Stanley

Jesus Is Alive and Active HEBREWS 10:10-14

Have you ever wondered what Jesus is doing, now that He has ascended to heaven? Our Scripture passage tells us that after offering Himself as a sacrifice for our sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. Verse 13 might lead us to believe He is simply sitting up there waiting for the time when He comes back to rule and reign on earth. But when we consider other passages, we soon realize He is quite active on our behalf.

First of all, even though the Son is with the Father in heaven, He is also residing within every believer in the person of the Holy Spirit, whom He sent to be in us and with us (John 15:26; Rom. 8:9-10). Christ is actively working within you to shape your character and empower your obedience.

Next, Jesus lives to intercede for those who believe in Him (Heb. 7:25). He makes requests on our behalf and brings our prayers before the Father.

Then, we see in 1 John 2:1-2 that Jesus is our Advocate when we sin. Positioned between us and holy God, Christ declares our righteous standing because of His sacrifice and our faith in Him.

What’s more, Christ is preparing a place for us in heaven (John 14:1-3). He is also arranging all the events necessary for His return.

Jesus is busy in heaven carrying out the Father’s will. And we, as His followers, should be doing the same thing. He saved us for the purpose of reflecting His life in our work, attitudes, words, and behavior. We are His body—His eyes, ears, voice, feet, and hands—pointing others to Him.

April 13, 2011 – Begg

Why a “Sachet of Myrrh”?

My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh.

Song of Songs 1:13

Myrrh may well be chosen to typify Jesus because of its preciousness, its perfume, its pleasantness, its healing, preserving, disinfecting qualities, and its connection with sacrifice. But why is He compared to “a sachet of myrrh”?First, because it speaks of plenty. He is not a drop of it–He is a basketful. He is not a sprig or flower of it, but a whole bundle. There is enough in Christ for all my needs; do not let me be slow to avail myself of Him.

Our well-beloved is compared to a “sachet,” again, for variety, for there is in Christ not only the one thing needful, but “in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily”;1 everything needful is in Him. Consider the numerous aspects of Christ, and you will see a marvelous variety–Prophet, Priest, King, Husband, Friend, Shepherd. Consider Him in His life, death, resurrection, ascension, second coming; view Him in His virtue, gentleness, courage, self-denial, love, faithfulness, truth, righteousness–everywhere He is a sachet of preciousness.

He is a “sachet of myrrh” for preservation–not loose myrrh tied up, but myrrh to be stored in a container. We must value Him as our best treasure; we must prize His words and His ordinances; and we must keep our thoughts of Him and our knowledge of Him as under lock and key, in case the devil should steal anything from us.

Furthermore, Jesus is a “sachet of myrrh” for specialty. The emblem suggests the idea of distinguishing, discriminating grace. From before the foundation of the world, He was set apart for His people; and He gives His perfume only to those who understand how to enter into communion with Him, to have close dealings with Him–blessed people whom the Lord has admitted into His secrets, and for whom He sets Himself apart.

Choice and happy are those who can say, “My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh.”
1Colossians 2:9

April 12, 2011 – Stanley

Our Glorious Hope 1 CORINTHIANS 15:20-58

When we hear the word resurrection, most of us instantly think about Jesus rising from the dead, but His victory over the grave shows what will happen to us as well. One day every believer who has died is going to experience a bodily resurrection like His, and those who are alive when Christ returns will be changed from mortal to immortal in the twinkling of an eye.

One of the first questions that spring to our minds is, What am I going to look like? I can’t answer that specifically, but all I know is, you’re going to look as good as the Creator can make you. And that’s pretty good! These humble earthly bodies will be transformed into glorious bodies like His—minus the divinity, of course. Paul’s writings provide some hints about their characteristics: they are imperishable, glorious, powerful, and spiritual. As such, they will be fit for life in heaven. We’ll never again experience sin, sickness, pain, suffering, weakness, exhaustion, or death.

At times people ask me if we’ll be recognizable—that is, will we know our loved ones, and will they know us? Consider this: How could such powerful, glorious bodies be limited in this area if they are so much more advanced in every other way? I’m fully convinced that all our senses and mental abilities will be enhanced, not diminished.

A glorious future lies ahead of us, but the joy of a new body and a reunion with loved ones will be surpassed by the thrill of seeing Jesus. He is the One who made all this possible. Out of gratitude, let’s faithfully love and serve Him while we remain on this earth.

April 12, 2011 – Begg

A Heavy Heart

My heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast.

Psalms 22:14

Our blessed Lord experienced a terrible sinking and melting of soul. “A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?”1 Deep spiritual depression is the most devastating of all trials; nothing compares to it. No wonder the suffering Savior cries to His God, “Do not be far off,” for more than at any other time a man needs his God when his heart is melted within him because of heaviness.Believer, come to the cross this morning, and humbly worship the King of glory as one who has been brought far lower, in mental distress and inward anguish, than anyone among us; and consider Him a faithful High Priest who is able to sympathize with our weakness. Especially let those of us whose sadness springs directly from the withdrawal of a present sense of our Father’s love enter into near and intimate communion with Jesus. Let us not give in to despair; our Master has already walked this dark road.

Our souls may sometimes long and faint, and thirst even to the point of anguish, to see the light of the Lord’s face; at such times let us calm ourselves by focusing on the sympathy of our great High Priest. Our drops of sorrow may be forgotten in the ocean of His griefs; how high ought our love to rise! O strong and deep love of Jesus, come in like a flood, cover all my powers, drown all my sins, wash away all my cares, lift up my earthbound soul, and bring me up to my Lord’s feet.

Let me lie, a poor broken shell, washed up by His love, having no virtue or value; but knowing that if He will bend His ear to me, He will hear within my heart faint echoes of the vast waves of His own love that have brought me to where I am happy to stay, even at His feet forever.
1Proverbs 18:14

April 11, 2011 – Stanley

What If There Is No Resurrection? 1 CORINTHIANS 15:12-19

On a very cold November afternoon, I sat under a green tent with my mother’s coffin in front of me. How many times had I stood in cemeteries, offering comfort and the Word of God to those who had lost a loved one? But this was my first experience of being on the other side of the casket. As I sat there, a shocking thought suddenly popped into my head: Suppose there is no resurrection! This idea was quickly driven away by my faith and confidence in Christ. But it had lasted just long enough for me to feel the despair and hopelessness of such a belief.

To help us appreciate Christ’s victory over the grave, let’s consider what the outcome of life and death would be without resurrection. First of all, Jesus would still be dead. That means our faith in Him would be worthless, and our message to the world would be a lie. Not only that, but Jesus Himself would be proved a liar since He claimed that He would rise from the dead.

There would be no forgiveness of sins, no possibility of reconciliation with God, and no hope of heaven. Even the believers who have died throughout history would have perished, and we would have no hope of reunion with our loved ones. Without the resurrection, everyone’s destiny after death would be hell.

Thank God, none of these scenarios are true. Our Savior lives, our sins are forgiven, death has been defeated, and believers in Christ have assurance of eternity in heaven. After considering how hopeless we would be without a resurrection, let’s rejoice all the more in the greatness of our salvation.

April 11, 2011 – Begg

Bruised and Broken

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.

Psalms 22:14

Did earth or heaven ever witness a sadder spectacle than this? In soul and body, our Lord felt Himself to be weak as water poured upon the ground. The placing of the cross in its socket had shaken Him with great violence, had strained all the ligaments, pained every nerve, and more or less dislocated all His bones. Burdened by His own weight, the impressive sufferer felt the strain increasing every moment of those six long hours. His sense of faintness and general weakness were overpowering, and He felt Himself to be nothing but a mass of misery and swooning sickness.When Daniel saw the great vision, he describes his sensations in this way: “No strength was left in me. My radiant appearance was fearfully changed, and I retained no strength.”1 How much more devastating must it have been for Jesus when He saw the dreadful vision of the wrath of God and felt it in His own soul! Sensations that our Lord endured, we could not have faced, and unconsciousness would have had to come to our rescue. In His case He was wounded and felt the sword; He drained the cup and tasted every drop.

O King of Grief! (a title strange, but true,
To Thee of all kings only due)
O King of Wounds! how shall I grieve for Thee,
Who in all grief savest me!

As we kneel before our ascended Savior’s throne, let us carefully remember the way by which He prepared it as a throne of grace for us; let us in spirit drink of His cup, that we may be strengthened for our hour of heaviness whenever it may come. In His natural body every member suffered, and so must it be in the spiritual; just as out of all His griefs and woes His body emerged uninjured to glory and power, similarly His mystical body will come through the furnace with not so much as the smell of smoke upon it.
1Daniel 10:8

April 9, 2011 – Stanley

The Greatest Act of Love ROMANS 5:6-11

What do you think about when you see a depiction of Christ on the cross? Most of us are overwhelmed by the physical and emotional suffering that He endured—the scourging, beating, thorns, nails, mocking, and shame. We are horrified at the cruelty of the Romans and the hard hearts of the Jewish rulers.

But during the crucifixion, far more was happening than the eye could see. God was carrying out His plan to rescue mankind, providing everything we need for salvation:

1. Redemption. Jesus paid the full price of the debt we owed for transgression: death. His payment set us free from bondage to sin.

2. Forgiveness. God could now release us from the punishment we deserved.

3. Propitiation. Christ’s payment satisfied the Father by fulfilling His demand for justice while letting Him forgive us.

4. Justification. On the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice, the Lord now declares believers not guilty. Although we will still sin in this earthly life, our standing before God is one of righteousness. This is a legal declaration that can never be reversed.

5. Reconciliation. The sin barrier that separated us from the Father was removed by Christ’s death on our behalf. We’re now God’s children, we have open access to Him and fellowship with Him.

The crucifixion was the only way to rescue lost humanity. If there had been any other way, the cross would have been a grotesque display of divine cruelty. But because so much was at stake, it can truly be called the greatest act of love by both the Father and the Son.

April 9, 2011 – Begg

The Source of His Grief

And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him.

Luke 23:27

Among the rabble that hounded the Redeemer to His doom, there were some gracious souls whose bitter anguish found an outlet in wailing and lamentations–suitable music to accompany that woeful march. When I can, in imagination, see the Savior bearing His cross to Calvary, my soul joins the godly women and weeps with them; for, indeed, there is true cause for grief–cause lying deeper than those mourning women recognized. They bewailed innocence maltreated, goodness persecuted, love bleeding, meekness about to die; but my heart has a deeper and more bitter cause to mourn. My sins were the scourges that lacerated those blessed shoulders and crowned with thorns those bleeding brows: my sins cried, “Crucify Him! crucify Him!” and laid the cross upon His gracious shoulders.His being led forth to die is sorrow enough for one eternity: but my having been His murderer is more, infinitely more, grief than one poor fountain of tears can express. The reason for those women’s love and tears is plain to read, but they could not have had greater reasons for love and grief than my heart has. The widow of Nain saw her son restored–but I myself have been raised to newness of life. Peter’s mother-in-law was cured of the fever–but I of the greater plague of sin. Out of Magdalene seven devils were cast–but a whole legion out of me. Mary and Martha were favored with visits–but He dwells with me. His mother bore His body–but He is formed in me, the hope of glory. Since I am not behind the holy women in debt, let me not be behind them in gratitude or sorrow.

Love and grief my heart dividing,
With my tears His feet I’ll lave–
Constant still in heart abiding,
Weep for Him who died to save

April 8, 2011 – Stanley

Basing Expectations on Truth MARK 9:30-32

Forming expectations on the basis of preconceived ideas is a rather common practice—even the disciples missed important truth in this way. Christ told them repeatedly that He was going to be crucified and raised to life after three days. Their physical ears heard His words, but the message wasn’t able to penetrate their hearts and minds.

Although they were convinced that He was the Messiah, their assumptions about how and when His kingdom would come kept them from hearing Christ’s “alternate plan.” They were looking for a Savior who would overthrow Rome and set up His kingdom on earth during their lifetime; then they would rule with Him. Jesus’ words of death and resurrection were so contrary to what they anticipated that they just couldn’t accept them. Since they hadn’t understood the promise of the resurrection, when their Messiah died, their dreams were dashed. They quickly descended into the despair of hopelessness and unbelief (Luke 24:10-11).

From our present perspective of knowing the outcome and purpose of Jesus’ first visit to earth, we might wonder, How could they be so dense? But before we judge them too harshly, let’s remember that we, too, often have predetermined ideas about how God should work in our lives and in the world.

God’s ways won’t always match our mindset because He works from an eternal perspective and we often see only the immediate. We must remember that His ways are best. Just think, if He had followed the disciples’ plans, there would be no forgiveness of sins. Let’s drop our expectations and trust Him.

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