Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saturday: A Day of Mourning

Why is this night different from all others? It has been a long one. She attempts to sleep, but when she closes her eyes, the horror of the day's events saturate her thoughts. She rises, eyes tired and swollen; she has cried for what seems an eternity. She slept but a couple of hours, the events of that dark Friday replaying in her mind, chased away any sleep that may have come. His body, shredded by the Roman whip, the thorns pressed in His brow. She stood and watched as they pierced His hands and precious feet…she was at His feet when they speared His side; the fountain spraying blood and water lingers on her clothing. She was far too exhausted when she made her way to bed.
photo: Piper Green 2014


She cannot get the vision of His mutilated body from her mind; the bruises, the torn flesh. What troubles her most, more than anything—is the incessant hatred the Sanhedrin had for Jesus. How could they scream out and demand His death, and let that murder go free? He threatened their positions, He challenged their legalism, shattered their paradigms—to no avail. They were determined to have Him killed. They are all in their homes, celebrating the Sabbath and Passover, worshiping the God that sent this beautiful life to them that they have snuffed out.

How could they hate one that displayed so much love to others? He healed so many, delivered so many. The Love of God was displayed in this man Jesus of Nazareth. He healed all that were oppressed of the devil—seven possessed her, yet one word from Jesus, they fled never to return. How can they hate such a man? How could Judas have betrayed Him this way? Silver bought His soul—How? Why? What caused Judas to turn His back on Jesus? So many question; no answers.

Her life was not the same from the day she was delivered from her bondage. She followed Him everywhere. He was her lifeline; her heart forever tied to His. She knew she could not live without Him. She buries her face in her dirt and blood stained hands, washed only by her tears. How did it come to this? What am I to do now?


She does not have the hope we have on this side of the cross. We remember Friday with the resurrection on Sunday already in our hearts, knowing the end of the story before picking up the scripted page. Not for her. All her hope has dissolved; everything she thought He would become and do for Israel—all has been shattered. She knew He was the Christ. Her mind echoes His warning to the twelve that He would die. Her despair has hidden that He also promised He would rise again. The traumatic events have seemed to erase it from her mind.

“Through a few hours of worship and many ordinary life, they relive annually the growing tensions of the climatic week; the grieving farewells, shameful betrayal, guilty denial, and agonizing fear of the night before the end; the long, dark, deadly day of pain and forsakenness itself; an ecstatic daybreak of miracle and color, song and newborn life; and in between one eerie, restless day of burial and waiting…perhaps for nothing: a day which forces us to speak of hell and to conceive how it might be that God’s own Son, and therefore God’s own self, lay dead and cold within a sepulcher.”[1]

A long day will follow the night she has endured. She longs to go and to anoint His body. Her need to attend to His is stronger than ever. It is the Sabbath, she cannot buy spices today—there will be no Sabbath rest for her. Her body aches. She followed John and Mary, Jesus’ mother, from His arrest to the place He would die. They tried to stay as near as they could to Him; they too beaten and shoved by the crowd; mixed with those who hated Him and those that mourned for Him. The crowds always pressed Him. Today will not be different. The long path through the city to Golgotha has stripped her of her strength. Today, no strength will be replenished as her very heart has been ripped out and trampled underfoot. She feels so helpless; hopeless. All her hopes dashed to pieces. She feels lost. She is not yet aware that tomorrow is the dawning of a new day, and those that sow in tears will reap in joy…..

For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning {Psalm 30:5 NASB}.


HIS PASSION

I stand here and look up to a cross on a hill
All of creation was in chaos yet I was still
Amazed at the way you were beaten and torn
How could they hate you and show you only scorn?

Do they know that you did this out of such love?
Do they know you were sent here from above?
Yet it must be done so that all is as you have said
O Lord, your torn body and the thorns in your head!

Lord I helped drive those nails through your hands
Because we all turned away and sinned every man
You were led away as a lamb to the slaughter
Yet you did it to redeem every son and daughter

O Lord I pray let not your death be in vain
Or that I take for granted your suffering and pain
May I be faithful to you up until death
May I never deny you till I take my last breath

© 2004. Revised 2017 Piper Green. All rights reserved.


[1]Lewis, Alan E., Between Cross and Resurrection: A Theology of Holy Saturday (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2001), 4-5.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Scapegoat

Jesus fulfilled the sin offering for us, and absorbed God’s wrath. Our precious Lord accomplished yet another offering on our behalf—the atonement offering.

On the Day of Atonement, there were certain requirements of the high priest and the people. First, it was a day of humiliation for the priest. The priest was required to put off all his priestly garments of glory. Jesus, the King of Glory, came to reconcile the world to the Father.  Jesus’ humiliation on that day cries to us still through His Passion Story in the Scriptures.


On the Day of Atonement, two goats were brought; their fate decided by the priest’s lots. The Lord’s lot would determine which goat would die for the sins of the nation. The other would  be the scapegoat. Aaron the high priest would lay his hand upon the scapegoat and send it into exile in the wilderness or Azazel. It represented that the nation’s sin lost in the wilderness—to be remembered no longer. The act of sacrificing the goat laid the judgment of death upon it—it represented the people’s sin.

The casting of the lots to determine the scapegoat is displayed on the world’s stage between two men; Jesus and Barabbas. Their fate lies in the judgment of the people—who will die and who will escape; the scapegoat. The voice of the people was heard that day in Pilate’s court—choosing a brutal murder to escape forever and laying the sin of the people on Jesus. Jesus would be the sacrifice the Lord’s lot fell upon that day—fulfilling the atonement offering. 


Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish. John 11:50 ESV 

The horns of the scapegoat adorned with a crimson thread of wool…the scarlet thread woven in the tapestry of the Holy Writ…lives held by a string….

“The High Priest tied a crimson wool thread around the horns of the scapegoat and sent him off into the wilderness accompanied by a priest. The goat was escorted for twelve miles to a designated place, where the priest pushed the goat bearing Israel’s sins over a cliff. A portion of the crimson thread was attached to the door of the temple before the goat was sent into the wilderness. When the goat was pushed off the cliff and died, the thread on the door at the temple was said to turn from red to white. This was a divine sign to the people that God had accepted their sacrifice and their sins were forgiven.”[1]

Come now, and let us reason together, Says the LORD, Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool. Isaiah 1:18

Ancient Rabbinical writings tell of a tradition. Forty years prior to the destruction of the temple, the thread ceased turning from red to white…That thread is forever white at the fulfillment of the atonement offering by Jesus, when He appeared before the Mercy Seat in heaven and sprinkled His blood before the Father.


[1]Booker, Richard, Celebrating Jesus In The Biblical Feasts (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., 2009), 130-131.
 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Behold the Lamb






















 
It is Holy Week; and many eloquent writers have penned beautiful prose concerning the beauty of what we remember this week. Here are my humble musings; what my heart is breathing as we approach Good Friday. Not only is this holy week for the body of Christ, it is also Passover week for Jews in Israel and the Diaspora, it began Monday at sundown. I love when Passover falls at the same time as Easter; the two are more connected than appears on the surface (I will elaborate on this in a moment). Let us begin at Good Friday

Good Friday is a solemn day—or should be in proper reflection. Before Jesus made His way to the cross, He had a battle to overcome in the Garden of Gethsemane. This is where Jesus had an intense spiritual battle with the devil and through His struggle remained obedient to God and submitted Himself to the will of the Father. He agonized as He pondered what was to come and prayed for the cup to pass. Through His love for us, He remained obedient; He saw beyond the cross to those that He loved and desired to redeem. He chose to obey the will of the Father, and to endure His impending suffering. Jesus chose the way of obedience, and the Lord sent an angel to minister to Him.

And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and beganto pray, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. Jesus received His strength from the Lord. When the Lord sent the angel unto Him, the Father strengthened Him and enabled Him to remain obedient until death.  Luke 22: 41-43 NASB

Jesus suffered immensely on our behalf, and it is important to remember that He not only died for us, but He also died in our place and on our behalf. The brutality that Jesus experienced absorbed God’s wrath, and reconciled us to the Father. He exhibited the grace and mercy of God on behalf of sinners, and conquered death. He was the last and perfect sin offering.

“This is the law of the sin offering: In the place where the burnt offering is killed, the sin offering shall be killed before the Lord. It is most holy.” Leviticus 6:25 NASB


Christ—the holiness of God, beautifully prophesied in the Old Testament, just as the high priest was adorned with the words holiness unto the Lord, Christ was holiness in the deepest and fullest sense of the word. The Old Testament tells the story that Jesus completes in the New Testament.  We would not have the New Testament without the Old.

Leviticus chapter four details the requirements for the sin offering, I encourage you to read it; it is too lengthy for the space here. Here is a brief summary;

The sacrifice for the sin offering offered at the Tabernacle had to be a firstborn male, without spot or blemish. The sacrifice was required to be inspected by the priests to ensure the sacrifice satisfied God’s requirements. In the New Testament Jesus fulfilled this requirement, as He, upon inspection seven times, was found to be without fault.

1. Pilate; John 19:4; Pilate came out again and said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.” NASB

2. Herod: Luke 23: 14-15; said to them, You brought this man to me as one who incites the people to rebellion, and behold, having examined Him before you, I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him. No, nor has Herod, for he sent Him back to us; and behold, nothing deserving death has been done by Him. NASB

3. The High Priest; John 18 says after Annas sent Jesus to Caiphas; he could find no fault with Jesus.

4. Caiphas: Could not get the witnesses to agree on any wrongdoing by Jesus.

5. Judas: Matt 27:4; I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent blood.

6. The Centurion: Matt 27: 54; Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” NASB

7. The thief on the cross; Luke 23:40-41; But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?  And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” NASB

Jesus is not only our sin offering, He is also our Passover Lamb. It is no accident that Christ was crucified on Passover. He was not only crucified on the day, but also at the same hour. 

“With this many lambs, it was necessary for the Jews to prepare them for sacrifice at nine o’clock in the morning…they then killed them at three o’clock that afternoon so that the Passover could be completed before six o’clock, which would begin a new day.”[1]

As Israel was slaughtering the lambs with knives, spikes were driven into the flesh of our Lord; fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy…He was wounded for our transgressions….

“Then at three o’clock as the people were praising God and slaughtering the lambs, Jesus died. Mark was careful to note the time and wrote that it was the ninth hour (three o’clock Jewish time) when Jesus breathed His last breath (see Mark 15:33-37).”[2]
 
 On Passover, the Israelites were to take a bunch of hyssop, a lowly shrub rampant in Israel, just as humanity is rampant; and apply the blood of the lamb in a triune fashion on the lintel of the doorway and on each side post. Now as Christ hanged on the cross dead, His blood is applied to humanity, and the destroyer has to passover at the presence of the Blood.

The only way to the Father is to believe that Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead for our sin; to attempt any other passage way is to negate the cross. In the Tabernacle there was only one door;

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:6 NASB

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.  In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it… And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1: 1-5, 14 NASB




Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?  This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.  For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.

1 John 5:5-8 NASB



And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament. They which are called might receive the promises of eternal inheritance. Hebrews 9: 15
















Dear Jesus, thank you for being the perfect sacrifice for sin. Thank you for loving the world so much that you died to redeem it. Father I thank you for the many that you used to bring forth the birth of your Son. I honor them today for obedience to you. I acknowledge Jesus Christ as my only mediator and propitiation for my sin and I give you all the glory, honor, and praise. Jesus You are our Paschal Lamb, and we apply Your blood over the doorpost and lintels of our homes; hyssop in hand reminding us of our humanity and sin that runs rampant in the earth. Thank You for Your shed blood that marks us for You and sends the destroyer on his way. In Your precious Name, Amen.
 
Set your eyes on the Paschal Lamb!

In His grace,





[1] Booker, Richard, Celebrating Jesus In The Biblical Feasts (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., 2009), 42-43.
[2] Ibid.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Sabbath Sanctuary

I, too, give witness to the greatness of God, our Lord, high above all other gods. He does just as he pleases—however, wherever, whenever. He makes the weather—clouds and thunder, lightning and rain, wind pouring out of the north. Psalm 135:5-7 The Message


There is something very peaceful about the snow. I stepped into the backyard, and the quiet and stillness, despite the blowing, whistling wind, was calming to my soul.


Our God is God above all; how great and wondrous He is. He commands the snow:


He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour’ Job 37:6.


Rest in God this Sabbath weekend; I am one weary of winter but the snow has brought a sense of peace to me today. I know I need to rest in Him even in the winter season—for not long off is a promise; before I know it winter will pass….


He launches his promises earthward—how swift and sure they come! He spreads snow like a white fleece, he scatters frost like ashes, He broadcasts hail like birdseed—who can survive his winter? Then he gives the command and it all melts; he breathes on winter—suddenly it’s spring! Psalm 147: 15-18 Message Bible

Rest in Him,

Winter is almost over....



 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Great Exchange

For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. 1 Timothy 2: 5-6



The yellow sticky note has not left me; its grip relentless-to remind me to drink His Grace;  it expresses my mood this Sabbath day. I am humbled by the Lord and His mercy. My bowl of ashes is a constant reminder that I have exchanged my ashes for His beauty. The enemy's voice is quick to deceive.Yet the Lord in all His mercy and His love for me, exchanged His ashes as well on that ominous, black Friday; the day the devil thought he won. His victory was a deception; his defeat under the precious, pierced foot of the Messiah. Imagine that day could bring forth such beauty.  The Beauty.


Oh Lord, thank You for not leaving me, when I left You
Lord thank You for being my Friend, when I turned away
Lord, thank You for Your Faithfulness, when I was unfaithful 
Lord thank You for Loving me, when I am unlovable 
Thank You Lord for not letting go- when I made it easy for you to do so....

Lord Jesus Christ—have mercy upon me....

I want God. I want more of Him. I want all that He has for me. I want His beauty; His beauty is a package deal with His ashes. Oh how we so easily forget...

and if we are children, then we are also heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with the Messiah - provided we are suffering with him in order also to be glorified with him {Romans 8:17 Complete Jewish Bible}.

So I must lay everything down at the foot of the cross...

Christ exchanged beauty and ashes with me; with you, by obediently becoming the ultimate sacrifice; 

The Great Exchange:

He was punished that I may be forgiven...
He was wounded so that I am healed...
righteousness in place of sin...
I am saved and justified...
I have life instead of death
blessing instead of a curse
Abundance has replaced poverty...
Shame traded for glory
I am accepted not rejected...
The old man is dead; the new man has taken his place...

His Mercy is abundant; how can I refuse Him now? How can you refuse Him now?

The Great Exchange is available to all...

The Exchange is not only for initial salvation, it is a banner over you when the enemy forgets he was defeated. It is a banner when guilt and shame attempt to find a room inside your soul. The voice that causes doubt; for was that not how he deceived Adam and Eve? God didn't really say...the Great Exchange is there to remind him of his demise. It is there to remind him he has no authority; no place to reign. 

When it gets just too hard... Lord Jesus Christ-have mercy on me...it is the devil's cease and desist order. 

Make the Exchange....

His chastisement for my peace....

Be at peace...