Tag Archives: the cross

November 8; Zero Balance

Mark 15:22-41; Matthew 27:33-56; Luke 23:33-49; John 19:17-37

The cross. The place where criminals died a slow and painful death. The place of humiliation and disgrace. The place where Satan and the Jewish leaders thought they could get rid of Jesus.

But it was on the cross where Jesus, though sinless, became sin for me. It’s where Jesus paid my death sentence. It is finished. Paid in full. Zero balance.

I remember when I first started teaching in the early 70’s, making a whopping $3,500 a year, there were months when I was unable to pay all my bills. I dreaded getting mail because there was always an envelope with a notice inside threatening to turn off my power or turn my account over to a collection agency.

I hated answering the phone. Remember, it was way before caller ID so you never knew who you were going to be forced to speak with when you answered. And sometimes there were very unfriendly voices on the line telling me I needed to pay my bills or else.

They weren’t wrong. I owed them money. They had every right to demand payment. I just didn’t have the means to pay them.

I was reminded of that today as I considered what Jesus did for me on the cross. He paid what I could not pay. He satisfied my debt so that I need never fear God or dread His presence.

My sin debt, and believe me it was sizable, was something I had no means of paying. But Jesus took my debt, became my sin, and paid it all. I am debt-free because of the cross.

When God looks at the ledger of my life, He only sees a zero balance! I am so thankful for the cross!

November 6: The Man Standing Before Rulers

Matthew 27:1-10; Luke 23:1-12; Mark 15:1-5; John 18:28-38

You do know Jesus could have stopped this, don’t you? He could have defended Himself against the lies being told about Him. He could have easily convinced both Pilate and Herod He wasn’t guilty of anything. But He just stood there, like a sheep before the slaughter.

Don’t kid yourself. Jesus was NOT a sheep before the slaughter. He knew exactly what He was doing and where His silence would take Him. And He wanted to go there.

I know there are many who are convinced that Jesus, while in the garden, asked His Dad for an alternate plan at the last minute, that He went to the cross out of stoic obedience. But I look at the Man standing before rulers, hearing the lies and slander, feeling the force of blows to His body, and I know He didn’t want to be anywhere else.

It’s what He’d come for.

As I look at the Man standing before rulers, knowing He had the power to pulverize His accusers, understanding He stood there absolutely guiltless, I realize how loved I am. With every blow, Jesus expressed love and grace. With every lash, every lie, every insult, He was saying loudly and clearly: “I love you!”

As I look at the Man standing before rulers, I can almost see the pain in His eyes. He felt the blows. He felt the rejection. I imagine His body, His heart and soul ached, cried out in pain. But my salvation was more important to Him than the pain. He walked through that abuse so He could get to the cross because my sin debt needed to be paid there.

As I look at the Man standing before rulers, my heart is filled with love. No one has loved me like that. No one could except Jesus.

I love the Man standing before rulers.

November 4; Tears

John 15:18-17:16; Mark 14:32-42; Matthew 26:36-46; Luke 22:39-46

It’s hard for me to read about the last few hours of Jesus’ life on earth. I find myself wanting to sit with Him, to hold His hands, to put a cool cloth on His fevered brow. I want to pray with Him, and wipe His tears.

But I know had I lived at that time, I would have been just like Peter, James, and John. I wouldn’t get it anymore than they did.

You know how I know that? Because even as I sit here with tears running down my face for love of that hurting Man who loved me enough to die for me, I have slept while He is grieved over sin in my life, in the lives of my loved ones, and over sin in the world.

Jesus didn’t die, then return to heaven to sit on a throne and say, “Glad that’s over. Now it’s up to them.” He is still working, still praying, still grieving over sin in our lives.

I know the Bible says one day He will wipe the tears from our eyes. But who is wiping His tears?

Oh, may I see sin like He sees it, how He faced it there in the Garden. May I live to please and not grieve Him. May I have the privilege of wiping His tears, and bringing Him only joy.

November 3; In Rememberance

Mark 14:22-31; Matthew 26:26-35; Luke 22:15-20, 31-38; John 13:31-15:17

We observed the Lord’s Supper in church this morning. I don’t know how often your fellowship serves Communion, but I hope that you never take it for granted. Jesus gave us this gift the night before He died. He gave us the gift of rememberance.

When I took the tiny cracker and pressed it into the palm of my hand, I remembered that Jesus was a real man, with a real body, who experienced real pain. Excruciating pain from beatings, floggings, torture and humiliation. Thorns crammed into His head, nails driven into His hands and feet, then hung on a cross to slowly suffocate like some common criminal. I remembered His body.

When I took that little plastic cup filled with grape juice between my fingers, I remembered that Jesus bled real blood from real wounds. I remembered that that blood was spilt to pay what I can never pay – my death sentence which my sins deserve. I remembered His precious blood.

So today, I humbly remember what Jesus did for me the night He took my sins to the cross. I receive His forgiveness and grace. I don’t deserve what He did. But I know He deserves a me who loves and lives for Him.

I worship my Savior, in remembrance.

 

October 27; What the Cross Does Not Do

Matthew 21:1-22; Mark 11:1-25; Luke 19:1-10, 28-28; John 12:12-19

It was time for Jesus to complete His mission. It was time for the cross. So Jesus, on a donkey, rode into Jerusalem with more fanfare, showered with more attention than He had permitted during the previous three years.

“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

But you and I both know just a few days later, the same people who celebrated Jesus’ entrance into the city would demand His crucifixion. What could possibly happen to cause such a drastic change?

John and Luke provide us with insight. “…the whole crowd began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen.” (Luke 19:37). John tells us a similar account in that the people who witnessed the bodily resurrection of Lazarus spread the word, and people flocked to Jesus because they heard He had given a “miraculous sign.” (12:18)

The people who joined the parade to accompany Jesus into Jerusalem seem to have been focused on the material. They may have thought they were leading their ticket to easy street into town. Maybe they followed Him out of simple curiosity. But their faith quickly died because they weren’t following Jesus in truth.

During Jesus’ public ministry He performed many miracles, more miracles than could be recorded in the Gospels. But He never healed a sick person so that person would be well. He never gave sight to a blind person so that blind person could see. He never raised a dead child or adult so that person would live a few more years.

All His miracles had one purpose only: to establish the fact that Jesus is God, so that when they nailed Him to the cross, everyone would know just who was hanging there.

Did Jesus die on the cross so His followers would be healed of all physical ailments? No! Did Jesus die on the cross so our bodies would live forever on this earth? No! Did Jesus die so our bills would be paid and we’d have roofs over our heads and food on the table? No!

Jesus died to pay the price for your sin and mine. Jesus died in order to redeem sinners. Yes, Isaiah said “by His stripes we are healed.” But people who claim that guarantees physical healing for the saints are twisting Scripture to mean something it doesn’t.

Dear one, if you are following Jesus because of what He can do for your bank account or your doctor’s appointment, you run the risk of making the same mistake the people in Jerusalem made that last week of Jesus’ life on earth.

Let’s turn our eyes away from the temporal and look to the eternal. Let’s not make the cross about our comfort. Jesus promised that we will have trouble in this life. Paul lamented his thorn in the flesh. Most of the twelve disciples met with gruesome deaths.

What the cross does not do is guarantee a healthy, wealthy life in this world. But it does guarantee a glorious eternity with Jesus Himself. The cross does not buy my comfort or my happiness or my cancer-free life. The cross bought my pardon, my redemption, my salvation. And yours!

What the cross does do is nothing short of amazing!

 

October 14; Bread From Heaven

Mark 6:45-56; Matthew 14:22-36; John 6:16-59

Seriously, is there anything better than the aroma of freshly-baked bread, filling the entire house with its enticing scent? There might be something better than that. But you have to agree that smell is right up there.

On the surface, what Jesus is saying in John 6 is anything but appetizing. If you don’t understand metaphors, reading this portion of John’s Gospel can be disturbing because it seems Jesus is proposing cannibalism. That’s the opposite of baking bread, right? But take a closer look at this Scripture. Jesus is telling us He is the Messiah!

He is the Bread which came down from heaven. His body made of real flesh, will be brutally beaten and hung on a cross where He will die. His blood, as red as yours, will be shed so my sins – and yours- can be forgiven. And we who take Him in are satisfied forever.

No more hunger for peace. He is our peace. No more longing for love. God IS love. No more thirsting for joy, or happiness, or worth. Jesus is all that, and more. People who are always looking for more, have only to accept what Jesus offers, and find more than they were looking for.

There are those who will tell you that Jesus is talking to a chosen few, because He tells us, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…: (vs 44). They use the word, “unless,” to suggest God is selective in who He draws to Himself. But read on.

Verses 45-47 says, “Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him come to me… he who believes has everlasting life.” I will tell you without hesitation that Jesus is talking to YOU.

Jesus is saying you can’t bake your own bread. God has sent His Son, the Bread of Life, into the world, and like a fresh loaf right out of the oven, His aroma spreads out over the whole world, drawing all people to the source. Everyone who listens to God, and believes in His Son, will have everlasting life.

That’s what God chose. He chose to save everyone who listens to the Father, learns from Him, and comes to Jesus, the Bread of Life.

Jesus tells us not to work for food that spoils. Don’t try to find happiness in a spouse, or fulfillment in a job, or success by driving a BMW, or salvation in church attendance. The only “work” we can do to receive what Jesus died to give us is believe in Him. (vs 29)

Breathe in that aroma, devour that Bread from Heaven, make Him a part of you. And never hunger or thirst again.

August 20; Sin’s Debt

Jeremiah 52; Psalms 74, 79, 85

Today’s Scriptures continue with the Babylonian captivity, and the destruction of Solomon’s Temple. God’s disobedient children were being punished. The psalmists asked God for mercy because the hand of God was heavy on them.

God will always punish disobedience. There has never been a time, nor will there be a time, when God gives His creation a free pass. Every disobedient thought or action, every sin committed comes with a death sentence. Every sin.

I think sometimes people think that when a person becomes a Christian, God cancels our sin debt, somehow erases the ledger so we stand before Him guilt-less, just as if we’d never sinned. But I don’t think that’s the case.

When I look at the cross I know my sin debt wasn’t just canceled. It was paid for by the Savior who painfully shed His blood, and died to pay the price my sins deserve.

I love Psalm 85. God forgave us and covered our sins, but He did it with Jesus’ blood. He set aside His anger toward us and directed it to His Son instead. His unfailing love granted salvation – but it cost Him a great deal.

His peace is ours, but not because we are sinless. It’s ours because we are forgiven. The sin I committed yesterday doesn’t just disappear when I ask God to forgive it. It’s a sin that nailed Jesus to the cross.

If I can tell myself God simply erases my sins when I ask for forgiveness, I don’t feel quite as bad about sinning. I mean, I use erasers all the time. No big deal.

But if I remember that sin cost Jesus great physical suffering and death, that lie or that jealousy or that dirty thought takes on a different meaning. It becomes a very big deal. It makes me ashamed to have contributed to Jesus’ suffering, and I don’t want to be a part of it any more.

Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. (Ps 85:10-11)

Show us your unfailing love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. (verse 7)

But may we never forget what that salvation cost Jesus, may we never take for granted that our sin debt was paid for us on the cruel cross of Calvary by Someone who wasn’t guilty.

I pray you know Him and have accepted what Jesus died to give you. He took the punishment you deserve for every sin you’ve ever committed. You sin debt is paid in full. Please accept it.