Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Liturgy: Experience Christ ( Stations of the Cross XII, XIII and XIV)

Ecce Homo~ here is the man
Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold, the Man!” {John 19:5 NASB}. 

Stations of the Cross: Station XII Jesus Dies on the Cross.

Therefore, it says, When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men. (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things) {Ephesians 4: 8-10 NASB}.

For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth {Matthew 12: 40 NASB}.

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham.  Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted {Hebrews 2:14-18 NASB}.

When Jesus died, His work went beyond the grave. Jesus descended into hell, and took back the keys to death, hell, and the grave. He preached to those in hell, and He set them free! After He defeated the devil, He ascended into heaven.   He ascended to the Father and presented Himself, a perfect sacrifice for sin. The debt for sin was paid and He sat down at the right hand of the Father.

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.  And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they {Hebrews 1: 1-4 NASB}.

This is important for two reasons. 1) His work for our sin is finished. He is the High Priest forever. In the Tabernacle there were no chairs, the high priest could not sit down, because the work of the priest never ended; Jesus finished and fulfilled the works of the law and is seated at the right hand of the Father. 2) Jesus is the only advocate to the Father. The only way to the Father is through Jesus Christ. Jesus tells us that anyone who tries to approach the Father by any other way than Jesus is a robber and a thief. (See John 10:1-2).

Therefore, He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself  {Hebrews 7: 25-27}.

He was the perfect sacrifice for all. Everything He completed on the cross accomplished all that was needed to free us from the power of sin and death. You are free. 

Stations of the Cross: Station XIII— Jesus is Taken Down From the Cross

I often wonder how Mary and the others felt when they held Jesus’ lifeless body. The body that once walked Israel, healing the sick and touching hurting people, is now motionless.

It has been dark since noon, and a major earthquake has caused the dead to rise; literally. It is raining and cold, and they weep over His wet, beaten, and torn body.  Lifeless. Many times it seems that our dreams have died and our destiny with it. Even though Jesus body was dead, we know He was working behind the scenes, defeating the devil and death.  We can rest in Jesus and know even though it looks as if our dreams are dead; Jesus is working for us behind the scenes. Though it looks dim, do not be deceived by circumstance, Jesus is working everything for good. 

Mary His mother and the others must have been devastated; their world turned upside down. Mary knew this would happen, maybe not exactly how it unfolded, but she knew.  This is why Jesus was born; Mary had pondered many things in her heart over the years only to see them come to this end. I imagine Mary’s mind replays all the memories of watching Jesus grow up. After all, she is His mother; I cannot imagine her pain. Nothing will prepare you to lose a child. He is the Messiah, but she birthed and raised Him; nurtured and cared for Him. Everything she has poured into this life—is dead—or so it would seem.

Those that helped remove Jesus body from the Cross do not realize that in three short days, all they believe to be dead is already resurrected. All that seems dead to you has already come to life.  

Stations of the Cross: XIV Jesus Laid in the Tomb

His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth
{Isaiah 53:9 NASB}.

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.  And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away. And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave  {Matthew 27: 57-61}.

 Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus buried Jesus and kept it secret. They both were believers, but not openly for fear of the Sanhedrin. These secret disciples wanted Jesus to receive a proper burial.  Joseph and Nicodemus both risked their lives to secure the body of Jesus; should they be found out, they probably would have paid a heavy price—perhaps losing their position and probably ostracized. This was no small feat.

 What have we done to sacrifice our positions or importance for Jesus? Are we willing to risk our lives for Him? Are we willing to put everything we have on the line for Him? Can we sell all that we have and give it to the poor and follow Him? What is in our lives and hearts that would keep any part of us from Him?  Jesus needs every part. When we give Him our whole heart, we gain so much:

 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain {Philippians 1:21}.

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