Friday, March 25, 2016

A Liturgy: Experience Christ ( Stations of the Cross IX, X and XI)

Station #9: Jesus Falls the Third Time.
Jesus falls again…

It is only in our brokenness that we truly realize the only help we have is the Lord.

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber {Psalm 121:1-3 NASB}.

He is our only refuge and strength. Sometimes, our journey in life breaks us; but God is always with us. Even when we cannot trace Him, we can trust Him. 

It is when we are totally broken before Him, when we are ready to surrender all to Him; ready to surrender to His will, His purpose, and His ways, that He can use us. Breaking is not the end; it is the beginning of something new from the Lord.

Station nine observes Jesus’ third fall. He is tired and weary but receives strength from His Father in heaven. He knows the only place to go for help. Jesus draws on the Father, and is able to make it to His feet. It does not matter that His enemies are yelling at Him, spitting on Him, and beating Him. They will not hinder Jesus from completing His purpose; we need to follow Jesus’ example. When your enemies have surrounded you, trying to beat you down, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Keep fighting, even when falling down repeatedly; just get up and keep going.

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body {2 Corinthians 4: 8-10 NASB}.

We must keep going as Jesus did. It is a hard journey at times, but we have the Lord’s example. He drew strength from the Father, and made it possible for us to draw strength from Him.

Station #10: Jesus is Stripped

They part my garments among them, and cast lots for my vesture {Psalms 22:18}.

Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seem woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be; that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did {John 19: 23-24}.

This is yet one more humiliation Christ had to endure. He was stripped of His clothing; hanging naked on the cross. A robe is always worn as the symbol of office or authority, and dignifies a man for the office he holds. Christ held the office of the Creator of the world.

A further picture of His Eternal Deity, His divine Personage, and his matchless grace is seen in the fact that this robe was woven in one piece—it was seamless. This indeed was skillful work. It was the work of a craftsman. But no loom on earth could ever have produced the wonderful fabric of the Incarnate God…His life was seamless. It had no beginning, it knows no end.[1]

El Greco 1541-1614
Many would like to strip Jesus, our Great High Priest, of His Divinity. But they could not and cannot.[2]

Jesus laid down His life and was humiliated for us. The Jews didn’t take it from Him, the Romans didn’t take it from Him. He laid down His life no one took it from Him…

This same outer clothing He laid down once before this—

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter” {John 13:3-7 NASB}.

We need to live in humility as Jesus did, and we as believers need to follow Christ’s example and lay aside those things that hinder us from running the race.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us {Hebrews 12:1 KJV}.

This process hurts and humbles us before the Lord. The Lord does not do it to embarrass us. He does it to cleanse us and to make us whole, restoring us through the stripping process. Though we seem naked, waiting for us is a beautiful garment—a robe of righteousness.

Remember today that Jesus laid aside His life today to be a servant. He laid aside His life

To reconcile us to the Father. He laid aside His life to be the perfect sacrifice for sin, to make it possible for us to approach God. Can you lay aside your life for Him?

Station # 11: Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross
For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me;
They pierced my hands and my feet
 {Psalms 22:16 NASB}.

I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn {Zechariah 12:10 NASB}.

And one will say to him, ‘What are these wounds between your arms?’ Then he will say, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends {Zechariah 13:6 NASB}.

Jesus is nailed to the cross. He is the only sacrifice that we will ever need for our sins. The high priest was required to enter the Holy of Holies every year on the Day of Atonement to present a sacrifice for the people of Israel. Not only is Jesus the final Passover Lamb, He is now our High Priest forever. He went to the Father and sprinkled His blood on the Mercy Seat in heaven before God, removing forever the veil of separation between God and man. How fitting that we remember Jesus, our Passover Lamb, that He was nailed to the cross for our exodus from the power of sin on this day.

It is powerful to me that this year, Purim and Easter coincide in the same week. Though the feast of Esther is not a biblical feast, it meant life and death for the Jews. Yet another hell-sent puppet attempted to wipe out the Jews from the face of the Earth. If Haman had succeeded in annihilating the Jews, the Messiah could not put on the robe of human skin and grace this lost world.

That day, as Christ hung on the cross, people throughout Jerusalem were preparing for the Passover, unaware of the events surrounding the crucifixion:

Up until the instant of its occurring, what a busy three hours had passed on Golgotha! The Crucified Himself was busy, if we may use the word. What interest He showed in what was taking place about Him! He was audibly interceding for His crucifiers, listening to the cry for mercy of the dying thief, and answering him in that sublime assurance of salvation; recognizing the presence of His mother and the beloved disciple and executing His last will and testament concerning her and him. The soldiers were busy watching and mocking Him, dividing His garments among them and casting lots for the seamless coat. The chief priests were busy criticizing Pilate’s inscription on the cross and venting their indignation. The scoffers were busy—priests, rulers, and the multitude passing by, wagging their heads, railing and reviling. All the currents of iniquity surged on unchecked around the cross. —William Nicholson The Six Miracles of Calvary

Following the noise and business is three hours of complete and utter darkness. Bone chilling darkness, as Nicholson says, a miracle, a visible suspension of nature. At noon, after three hours of hanging on the cross—all light was absent…

It will come about in that day, declares the Lord GOD, That I will make the sun go down at noon and make the earth dark in broad daylight {Amos 8:9 NASB}.

What a cruel darkness that must have been for Jesus, yet He endured it to overcome it. The darkness of sin will never hang over you or I because of His precious blood.

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it {John 1:5 NASB}.

Darkness knows no power over you, Jesus overcame the darkness….

[1] C.W. Slemming, These are the Garments, (Ft. Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, 1974), 44-45.
[2] Ibid.

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