The Cross, the Veil, and the Empty Tomb

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV)

When I think of Easter, three objects come to my mind…

~ the cross, the veil, and the empty tomb ~

 jesus-on-the-cross-for-us

For if not for the cross, my penalty would not have been paid. The broken blood oath of the covenant would not have been satisfied. It is only through the blood of Jesus that we are cleansed from the curse of sin.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

 torn

As Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” and gave up His Spirit, the veil in the Temple, that separated man from the Holy of Holies, was torn in two. It was as if God, seeing the injustice of Christ’s death, rent His clothes in grief. And in so doing, He opened the way for all to enter into His presence. Now, boldly, we can come before the Throne of Grace, for the barrier of sin that separated us from God has been broken. The terrible gulf has been filled and we are reconciled to the Father.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

 The-Empty-Tomb

Even as the sun was blotted from the sky and the earth was covered in darkness, God knew that Sunday was coming. Sealed for three days within the tomb, the Lord’s body lay, uncorrupted. Then with the dawn of that Sunday morning, the stone was rolled away–not to let anyone out, but to let those present bear witness–that indeed, Jesus had risen.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

 Where-is-Your-Sting

The tomb is empty! Death has no power over Him, the grave cannot contain Him. And now we have not just hope, but a Living Hope in Christ Jesus, the Risen Savior!

“O Death, where is your sting?

O Hades, where is your victory?”

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15: 55-57

Hosanna!

~ Susan

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Three Nails

It is often said that bad things come in threes.Nails

Yet we see in scripture that the number three represents completeness.

Are there not three facets of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? Three parts to the Tabernacle: the court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies?

Jonah was in the whale for three days. Jesus was in the tomb for three days.

The number resonates all through the Word of God. How then can we see the number three as a bad omen?

Yet, as I pondered this, it came to methe image of three nails. The vision stayed with me for weeks. Yet I could not put together what exactly God was saying. What was the significance of those three nails?

Three nails pierced the hands and feet of Jesus as he hung upon the cross. Three nails were used to crucify our Savior.

Slowly, my vision cleared. My eyes were opened, as again, I read the story of the crucifixion.

As the first nail bit into the flesh of Jesus’ palm, as the crowd taunted and jeered, He spoke this prayer:

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Luke 23:34

He looked past the hammer, beyond the hand, and into the heart that was yet unclean. A heart that needed Him, for was not this His mission, to bring the lost to the Father. He forgave, and in so doing, He showed us our need and His redeeming love.

The second nail pierced through his other hand, and with the agony of the searing pain, he cried out:

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Mark 15:34

Here was the climax of Jesus’ life. All He had worked for unfolded in that desperate hour. On the cross of Calvary, Jesus not only bore our sins, but He became our sin. He experienced the full meaning of what it was to be human: completely and utterly separated from God. For where sin is, God cannot be. The gulf stretched before Jesus, and He was alone.

The final nail was driven into His feet, those precious feet where the tears of Mary had washed away the stains of His journey. It was in that final hour that the third prayer was lifted toward heaven:

“Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Luke 23:46

Through the torment of His distress, Jesus surrendered to the will of God. He trusted the Father despite His circumstances. The Savior demonstrated to us all, that even in the midst of our trials, we are to have faith in the Lord. God is our salvation. God turned and reached across the void and took hold of Jesus.

“It is finished!” John 19:30

The Bride Price was paid. Yet, God had more to give. Three days later, within a dark and dismal tomb, life returned to Jesus. Death could not hold Him, even as death has no power over us!

But how can we conquer death?

Each point, each prayer, must pierce us, even to our very souls. We must be crucified with Christ.

There were three crosses on that first Good Friday. Two thieves hanging beside Jesus: one to the right and one to the left.

On one side, the thief blasphemed, taunting Jesus:

“If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” Luke 23:39

The other thief rebuked the first:

“We receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.”

Here, as we all must do, he acknowledged his sin. He perceived his own guilt and the terrible gulf before him. So he surrendered to God, and spoke with a humble and honest heart:

“Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Luke 23:41-42

As the thief confessed his belief that Jesus is the One who saves, Jesus looked at him with those loving eyes and spoke these words:

“Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43

Today, we have a choice to make. We can either be as the first thief, and deny Christ; or we can be as the second thief, admit our fault and ask for God’s forgiveness.

Jesus showed us the waywith three nails and three prayers.

So what can three nails accomplish?

They can bridge the gulf between death and life. Save the lost. Transform hearts. Open minds. Free a captive soul.

Three nails and three prayers. The choice is yours.

“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve….But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

~ Susan

 

Reference: Robert C. Crosby, D.Min. “The One Jesus Loves”

 

 

Three Nails

It is often said that bad things come in threes.Nails

Yet we see in scripture that the number three represents completeness.

Are there not three facets of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? Three parts to the Tabernacle: the court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies?

Jonah was in the whale for three days. Jesus was in the tomb for three days.

The number resonates all through the Word of God. How then can we see the number three as a bad omen?

Yet, as I pondered this, it came to me – the image of three nails. The vision stayed with me for weeks. Yet I could not put together what exactly God was saying. What was the significance of those three nails?

Three nails pierced the hands and feet of Jesus as he hung upon the cross. Three nails were used to crucify our Savior.

Slowly, my vision cleared. My eyes were opened, as again, I read the story of the crucifixion.

As the first nail bit into the flesh of Jesus’ palm, as the crowd taunted and jeered, He spoke this prayer:

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Luke 23:34

He looked past the hammer, beyond the hand, and into the heart that was yet unclean. A heart that needed Him, for was not this His mission, to bring the lost to the Father. He forgave, and in so doing, He showed us our need and His redeeming love.

The second nail pierced through his other hand, and with the agony of the searing pain, he cried out:

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Mark 15:34

Here was the climax of Jesus’ life. All He had worked for unfolded in that desperate hour. On the cross of Calvary, Jesus not only bore our sins, but He became our sin. He experienced the full meaning of what it was to be human: completely, and utterly, separated from God. For where sin is God cannot be. The gulf stretched before Jesus, and He was alone.

The final nail was driven into His feet, those precious feet where the tears of Mary had washed away the stains of His journey. It was in that final hour that the third prayer was lifted toward heaven:

“Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Luke 23:46

Through the torment of His distress, Jesus surrendered to the will of God. He trusted the Father despite His circumstances. The Savior demonstrated to us all, that even in the midst of our trials, we are to have faith in the Lord. God is our salvation. God turned and reached across the void and took hold of Jesus.

“It is finished!” John 19:30

The Bride Price was paid. Yet, God had more to give. Three days later, within a dark and dismal tomb, life returned to Jesus. Death could not hold Him, even as death has no power over us!

But how can we conquer death?

Each point, each prayer, must pierce us, even to our very souls. We must be crucified with Christ.

There were three crosses on that first Good Friday. Two thieves hanging beside Jesus: one to the right and one to the left.

On one side, the thief blasphemed, taunting Jesus:

“If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” Luke 23:39

The other thief rebuked the first:

“We receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.”

Here, as we all must do, he acknowledged his sin. He perceived his own guilt and the terrible gulf before him. So he surrendered to God, and spoke with a humble and honest heart:

“Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Luke 23:41-42

As the thief confessed his belief that Jesus is the One who saves, Jesus looked at him with those loving eyes and spoke these words:

“Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43

Today, we have a choice to make. We can either be as the first thief, and deny Christ; or we can be as the second thief, admit our fault and ask for God’s forgiveness.

Jesus showed us the way – with three nails and three prayers.

So what can three nails accomplish?

They can bridge the gulf between death and life. Save the lost. Transform hearts. Open minds. Free a captive soul.

Three nails and three prayers. The choice is yours.

“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve….But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

~ Susan

 

Reference: Robert C. Crosby, D.Min. “The One Jesus Loves”

 

 

Lamb Selection Day – Palm Sunday

Passover LambIt is not by chance that our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem is on this day. The events, as they unfold, are not by happenstance. The entire week is a well-orchestrated, choreographed enterprise enveloped in symbolism foretold by the prophets of old.

The week begins with a colt. Jesus gives instruction to his disciples to enter into the city and retrieve a donkey’s foal, for it is to be his transportation into Jerusalem. This colt, Jesus knew where to find it, and what is to be said to its master.

It is not because Jesus can not find a more suitable mode of travel. He can choose any animal He desires, yet the Savior of the world chooses this simple, humble beast. The donkey, you see, is to prove a point, for it is as the prophet Zechariah wrote,

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!

Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!

Behold, your King is coming to you;

He is just and having salvation,

Lowly and riding on a donkey,

A colt, the foal of a donkey.”

                                    Zechariah 9:9

Jesus comes to the city upon the back of this beast of burden in order to fulfill this prophecy. Not only that, but as he enters, the people recognize the fulfillment of scripture, even as the prophet had spoken, and shout with unbounded joy. This action by Jesus is understood to be His proclamation, that He is indeed, God’s promised Messiah.

Though the symbolism is not yet complete, for it is even known from which direction the Messiah would appear.

“And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east.”  Zechariah 14:4

It is from the Mount of Olives He will come, riding upon a donkey’s colt.

Jesus now arrives, having come just then, from this very garden. The actions of Jesus are anything but subtle, and they are not lost to the people. So they cry out as they understand what this entry into Jerusalem means, “The King is coming, and He is here!”

“Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Mark 11:9

Even the shouts of the people are foretold, their very words proclaimed, recorded in the psalms, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Psalm 188:26)

Image courtesy of antpkr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of antpkr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Yet, all is not well, for the people are looking for a military deliverer, a king that will lead them in battle against the oppressive regime of the Roman Empire. As they wave their palm branches, the people shout, “Hosanna.” The branches represent the national symbol, waving their flag in support of the nation of Israel. The word Hosanna, not a cry of peace or religious fervor, but a symbol of rebellion as it signifies a call for deliverance from oppression. This joyous assembly is not singing praises to God, but is crying out for insurrection against an oppressive dictatorship. It is a battle cry.

However, Jesus has not come as a military deliverer, an earthly king to lead His people to war. He comes to reconcile His people to the Father.

It is for this reason that Jesus chose this particular day to enter into the city of Jerusalem. As He rides upon the colt, He enters the city with the lambs. Four days it is before the Passover, and this day is Lamb Selection Day. This is the day that the Passover lamb is to be chosen, the innocent sacrifice that will take the place of the first born. It is the tenth day of the month; on the fourteenth day, the Passover lamb is to be killed.

Enter Jesus, the perfect propitiation, to be chosen as their spotless lamb. Not a political liberator, but the King of all, whose kingdom is established by love and sacrifice.

Four days later, Jesus is with His disciples in the Upper Room, celebrating the Passover. Only this Passover is not like the others. Here Jesus puts Himself as the Lamb, His body and blood as the sacrifice. Then, the next morning, He is alone, upon the cross, His blood shed for the many that are now nowhere to be found.

And as the shofar is sounded, at the ninth hour, or three o’clock, the Passover lamb is slain, the lamb without blemish, given up for the people. It is at this very moment, upon a lone hill called Golgotha, that Jesus says, “It is finished.”

reflections on Christ - crucifixionJesus is the perfect Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. Because of this single act of selflessness, all who follow Him are set free from the bondage of sin, liberated from the oppressive regime of the Enemy.

“Hosanna in the Highest!”

~ Susan

Take My Hand

The Hand of Jesus

“Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.” Matthew 19: 13-15

This Sunday, our pastor told a joke and it went something like this:

 

Once there was a man who, while walking along a road, fell into a ditch.

A Pharisee came by and seeing the man, said, “My son, you are unclean.” And he walked to the other side, leaving the man in the ditch.

Next, a Presbyterian came along the road and said, “You were predestined to fall into that ditch.” He walked on by.

Then a Methodist was traveling down the street, and noticed the man in the ditch. He walked over to the fellow and, with pity, looked down at him. “Praise God in the bad times. I will pray for you brother.” And he continued on down the road.

A Charismatic followed soon after, and said, “Brother, just believe you are out of the ditch and it will be so.” And he walked on by.

A fundamentalist journeyed along the road, and seeing the man, said to him, “You deserve to be in that ditch.” And he, too, continued on.

And so the list continued, until Jesus walked over to the ditch. With love, He reached out to the man and said, “Come, take my hand.”

And He lifted the man out of the ditch.

(No disrespect intended to any denominational group)

 

All kidding aside, it left me with this thought: how complicated we make faith. As we try to figure out why difficulties happen, or what we did to deserve them, Jesus has His hand extended to us. He is willing to help us out of our present situation. May we always see His helping hand through the mire of man-made dogma.

Jesus offers Grace. All we need do is take hold of it.

~ Susan

The Cross, the Veil, and the Empty Tomb

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV)

When I think of Easter, three objects come to my mind…

~ the cross, the veil, and the empty tomb ~

 jesus-on-the-cross-for-us

For if not for the cross, my penalty would not have been paid. The broken blood oath of the covenant would not have been satisfied. It is only through the blood of Jesus that we are cleansed from the curse of sin.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

 torn

As Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” and gave up His Spirit, the veil in the Temple, that separated man from the Holy of Holies, was torn in two. It was as if God, seeing the injustice of Christ’s death, rent His clothes in grief. And in so doing, He opened the way for all to enter into His presence. Now, boldly, we can come before the Throne of Grace, for the barrier of sin that separated us from God has been broken. The terrible gulf has been filled and we are reconciled to the Father.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

 The-Empty-Tomb

Even as the sun was blotted from the sky and the earth was covered in darkness, God knew that Sunday was coming. Sealed for three days within the tomb, the Lord’s body lay, uncorrupted. Then with the dawn of that Sunday morning, the stone was rolled away – not to let anyone out, but to let those present bear witness – that indeed, Jesus had risen.

 

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

 Where-is-Your-Sting

The tomb is empty! Death has no power over Him, the grave cannot contain Him. And now we have not just hope, but a Living Hope in Christ Jesus, the Risen Savior!

“O Death, where is your sting?

O Hades, where is your victory?”

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15: 55-57

Hosanna!

~ Susan

Lamb Selection Day – Palm Sunday

Passover LambIt is not by chance that our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem is on this day. The events, as they unfold, are not by happenstance. The entire week is a well-orchestrated, choreographed enterprise enveloped in symbolism foretold by the prophets of old.

The week begins with a colt. Jesus gives instruction to his disciples to enter into the city and retrieve a donkey’s foal, for it is to be his transportation into Jerusalem. This colt, Jesus knew where to find it, and what is to be said to its master.

It is not because Jesus can not find a more suitable mode of travel. He can choose any animal He desires, yet the Savior of the world chooses this simple, humble beast. The donkey, you see, is to prove a point, for it is as the prophet Zechariah wrote,

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!

Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!

Behold, your King is coming to you;

He is just and having salvation,

Lowly and riding on a donkey,

A colt, the foal of a donkey.”

                                    Zechariah 9:9

Jesus comes to the city upon the back of this beast of burden in order to fulfill this prophecy. Not only that, but as he enters, the people recognize the fulfillment of scripture, even as the prophet had spoken, and shout with unbounded joy. This action by Jesus is understood to be His proclamation, that He is indeed, God’s promised Messiah.

Though the symbolism is not yet complete, for it is even known from which direction the Messiah would appear.

“And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east.”  Zechariah 14:4

It is from the Mount of Olives He will come, riding upon a donkey’s colt.

Jesus now arrives, having come just then, from this very garden. The actions of Jesus are anything but subtle, and they are not lost to the people. So they cry out as they understand what this entry into Jerusalem means, “The King is coming, and He is here!”

“Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Mark 11:9

Even the shouts of the people are foretold, their very words proclaimed, recorded in the psalms, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Psalm 188:26)

Image courtesy of antpkr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of antpkr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Yet, all is not well, for the people are looking for a military deliverer, a king that will lead them in battle against the oppressive regime of the Roman Empire. As they wave their palm branches, the people shout, “Hosanna.” The branches represent the national symbol, waving their flag in support of the nation of Israel. The word Hosanna, not a cry of peace or religious fervor, but a symbol of rebellion as it signifies a call for deliverance from oppression. This joyous assembly is not singing praises to God, but is crying out for insurrection against an oppressive dictatorship. It is a battle cry.

However, Jesus has not come as a military deliverer, an earthly king to lead His people to war. He comes to reconcile His people to the Father.

It is for this reason that Jesus chose this particular day to enter into the city of Jerusalem. As He rides upon the colt, He enters the city with the lambs. Four days it is before the Passover, and this day is Lamb Selection Day. This is the day that the Passover lamb is to be chosen, the innocent sacrifice that will take the place of the first born. It is the tenth day of the month; on the fourteenth day, the Passover lamb is to be killed.

Enter Jesus, the perfect propitiation, to be chosen as their spotless lamb. Not a political liberator, but the King of all, whose kingdom is established by love and sacrifice.

Four days later, Jesus is with His disciples in the Upper Room, celebrating the Passover. Only this Passover is not like the others. Here Jesus puts Himself as the Lamb, His body and blood as the sacrifice. Then, the next morning, He is alone, upon the cross, His blood shed for the many that are now nowhere to be found.

And as the shofar is sounded, at the ninth hour, or three o’clock, the Passover lamb is slain, the lamb without blemish, given up for the people. It is at this very moment, upon a lone hill called Golgotha, that Jesus says, “It is finished.”

reflections on Christ - crucifixionJesus is the perfect Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. Because of this single act of selflessness, all who follow Him are set free from the bondage of sin, liberated from the oppressive regime of the Enemy.

“Hosanna in the Highest!”

~ Susan