Passion (seven)

“….Darkness over the whole land…”, Luke 23:44

Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani ? Matthew 27:46 & Psalm 22:1. Feeling forsaken, yet still being God is a perplexing idea for every mortal. But Jesus was not just mortal, he knows better than all of us, what deep mixed emotions are.  His despairing loneliness was triggered by the 3 hours of darkness which surprised everyone. No astrologer predicted this phenomena and the documented rapport between Thallos & Julius from 50-160AD, in Egypt to Italy is evidence of this miracle of darkness. People witnessed the impossible, because the Passover is always during a full moon, making it impossible for an eclipse. The darkness was miraculous and Jesus understood it as being His Father’s absence, because God is light, 1st Jn. 1:5, when He withdraws, we are left with TOTAL darkness, if everyone was as good as blind, we then understand feeling forsaken. The last time the world felt this was in Egypt, when He was demonstrating His power over evil Pharaoh.  Even though the world at times can be very dark and our lives can be full of evil, never forget that when God made it dark in Egypt, the Israelites still had a little light for 3 days.

I Thirst ! Jn. 19:28. This is said as He was dying, not before He was actually crucified, (Mt. 27:34). Before He was crucified he refused vinegar, when he tasted that gall (a natural anaesthetic ) was in it. But before He dies His mental faculties are quickly coming to an end.  His humanity is raw and his thirst is uncontrollable. Dehydration from his scourging and beating the night before is now taking full affect. Spiritually, there is now no more for Jesus to give humanity, at one time, Jesus could proclaim in the Temple courtyard, “If anyone thirsts, Let him come to me and drink freely” but for now this is impossible, He has done all He can for us. Jn. 7:37-38, He also taught on his ability to fill our thirst in Jn 4:12-14, 6:35. During his death, his ability to promote life-giving water is for a moment stopped, but Jesus re-affirms His ability for us today in Revelation 7:16-17 & 21:6. The resurrection enables Jesus to keep all his promises.

Father, into your hands I entrust My spirit. Luke 23:46 & Psalm 31:5. Jesus was an example to every one till the very end. What have we entrusted to God? Jesus entrusted his body, soul, spirit and mind, this is the epitomy of loving God with your everything, Remember His teaching on the Shema, Mk. 12:30 & Lk. 10:27. If we love Him, we will entrust everything to Him so that we can obey Him, John 14:15. If we don’t trust someone, we will not obey them. Whatever has been entrusted to us from God, is only accomplished in our life, if we believe God is able to guard it all our life. Paul explains this in 2nd Tim. 1:11-12. Do you believe He can help you accomplish His will with whatever He has entrusted to you?

It Is Finished ! John 19:30. Even in his death, He exhibited control. He died when He WANTED to die. “He gave up His Spirit”, no one took it from Him when they wanted to,  John 10:18 states that He will lay his life down, this means that He will not die when others want to kill him, but only when He has suffered enough, He was in control of the timing. Not even the soldiers could take it from Him with a spear. He should be in control of our daily life. When His Spirit left this earth, He left to tear the Temple Veil from top to bottom for every Priest to know that now, the holiness of God was accessible to all Priests, and that Jesus in God’s view was now the High Priest, Mk. 15:37-38. His job of Redeemer was finished, now He is beginning the job of intercession for everyone that accepts the price of His life-giving blood. Hebrews 9:7-12.

Passion (six)

 “…crucified with them, two robbers, one on the right and the other on the left… with Jesus in the middle”, Luke 23:33 & John 19:18. 

“Father forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing”, Lk. 23:34.

Ignorance does mitigate a crime, but it does not excuse it.  These intercessory words of Jesus show the godly attitude he could exhibit while suffering excruciating pain, but these words alone do not accomplish forgiveness, they merely make the request for The Father to forgive his enemies when and if, they learn about who they are actually crucifying and show remorse for their evil.  Isaiah prophesied intercession for the rebels against God, Isa. 53:12.  Jesus made it very clear that forgiveness is only assured and obtained, after repentance takes place, Luke 17:1-4.  The reason Stephen could show the same attitude and make the same request while being stoned, is because His Lord, practised what He preached even when being put to death, Matthew 5:44, Acts 7:59-60. It was only about 60 days between His crucifixion and Peter’s first gospel sermon, where we no doubt see many of His enemies confess, repent and are THEN given the privileged service of baptism wherein lay the venue for forgiveness, Acts 2:36-39.  Can we, like Stephen desire our enemies forgiveness and make intercessory prayer like Jesus? When we do it, our discipleship is genuine, and our intercessory prayer is answered in the positive.

“Truly I say to you, Today you will be with me in Paradise”, Lk. 23:43.

Both of the two criminals, indeed mocked Jesus, but one repented of his attitude and showed faith. Remember to actually speak while hanging from nails in your wrists takes great effort. To go through these agonizing words in expressing your faith, is much more than any immersed sinner went through to obtain forgiveness.  To make confession and pray for help to Jesus, when everyone else was against Him, is a BIG step of faith.  This unnamed criminal was instantly and fully forgiven for all his sins, just like many people who Jesus pronounced forgiven during his ministry, Lk. 5:20-23, 7:48. He could do this without the necessity of baptism, because His own baptism (the Baptism of Christ) was not authoritatively initiated until after his actual resurrection. The journey of Christ and the criminal into Paradise that day was part of the joy which was set before Jesus, Heb. 12:2. The repentant words of the criminal gave Jesus incentive to refuse the vinegar mixed with gall/myrrh enduring the full effects of pain, ensuing his death. God The Father gave Christ the Son an actual victory while undergoing defeat at the hands of Satan’s minions cruelly killing Him. Throughout history there are several eyewitness accounts of martyrs catching glimpses of glory while being tortured and meeting death. Stephen experienced this phenomena, Acts 7:56. Many of us go through trials for our faith and even some of us experience some type of persecution, but rarely do Christians today suffer a physical loss of blood, Heb. 12:4. However, if we ever do, and our physical life is on the line, do we believe God leaves us or accompanies us?

“Son, behold your mother…Woman, behold your son” John 19:26-27

All of Christ’s disciples are appointed to be protectors of the helpless. But of course John was appointed protector of Mary, who would truly be helpless as a widow with no eldest son. Why didn’t Jesus assume one of his younger brothers or sisters would take care of Mary, such as James? Mt. 13:55-56 Because Jesus knows the future, that John would be the only apostle which would live the longest in order to see Mary into her old age and take care of her. Even in the darkest moments of confusion, when everything in your life is going wrong, Jesus exercises control, and covers everyone’s needs FOREVER. Even when He can’t explain the WHY of life’s troubles, He still has the answer and gives it!

Passion (five)

…Flogged…Crucified…Mark 15:15

No matter which version you read, Jesus knew about the scourging as well as the crucifixion before it happened, Matthew 20:18-19. The obvious pursuit of Pilate to enforce his authority in pronouncing Jesus innocent is best seen in commanding the scourge.  If Pilate could punish Jesus within an inch of his life, then surely The Jewish Sanhedrin would be content to believe Jesus would be silenced. Pilate had no idea how much the Sanhedrin hated Jesus, neither did Pilate understand the power of Jesus. From The Jews point of view, Flogging is truly senseless suffering which would accomplish nothing but more pain. But from The Lord’s perspective, this is the whole point of bearing the consequences of sin. The Cross accomplished an end to the job of sacrificing, however, the Scourge was truly furthering weight on to the burden of suffering as a sacrifice.

We have no idea how much our sins weigh. We think it is the immediate consequence, but we are too short-sighted to see what other pain or problems are caused from our sin. An obvious example is the teenager who causes an accident while drinking. The future problems are insurmountable in anyone’s estimation of the future. Does that teenager really want to pay for all the weight of his sinful action from one night of foolishness? No court or jail could truly make him, because no person alive can see the future problems that will arise from his crime.  We are aware of the consequences, we see it in songs like the old theme tune of Barretta, “Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time”. Yet we continue struggling with sin that lives in us, Romans 7:18-25. Only Jesus is able to bear the full weight of all our sins, and scourging was one of the many ways, Jesus demonstrated his ability to suffer and yet win. While in comparison, we lose. It is only his victory over sin, that gives us hope. This is why Jesus was ‘passionate’ about winning over the battle of sin & death. For this joy that was set before Him, Heb. 12:1-3 & 2:9-11.

Without Jesus bearing the full consequences of all our sins, The Father could never justify forgiving us. Forgiving us would never be the right thing to do, unless the wrongs were put right by God The Father. No matter how much we suffer for our own sin, it doesn’t correct the wrong we have done. That is why the word forGIVEness has the word GIVE in it. God gives up the right to take vengeance on us when he forgives us, and He can only do that, when looking at the blood of Christ, because that pain is what paid for our wrongs and makes it ‘fair’ for The Father to reprieve us of our punishment.  See Ephesians 1:7 & Matthew 26:28. This is trying to understand the idea of atonement.

What is truly amazing about the suffering of Christ is that His Spirit still feels our pain. Christ suffered more than even his enemies wanted him to. Paul teaches us that Christ’s sufferings are still ongoing in Colossians 1:24, because our Christian living brings us into suffering, 1st Peter 2:20-21, and since His Spirit is with us, He does more than just see the sin committed against us, He feels it. The world sins against us, and we sin against each other. Therefore when Christians suffer because of sin, Christ’s Spirit is present and is suffering with us. In fact, the pain is filling the body of Christ up, and when it is full, God will end our struggle with sin and the Judgment will come. God will not tolerate persecution of His people forever. But we must thank Him daily for tolerating the violent abuse against His Son.