Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection – Matt 27-28

When morning came, the Sanhedrin had Jesus taken to Pilate.  When Judas saw that Jesus was condemned, he had a change of heart, and took the thirty pieces of silver back to them, saying that he had betrayed innocent blood.  But they are unimpressed.  So he threw it down in the temple and went and hanged himself.  Remorse, as we see, does not always include repentance.  The Sanhedrin has no problem with lies and the murder of an innocent man, but they want no part of this blood money, so they use it to buy a potter’s field.  The scripture that this fulfilled, referred to in verses 9-10, is from both Jeremiah 19:1-13 and Zechariah 11:11-13.

Munkácsy Mihály: Krisztus Pilátus előtt

Munkácsy Mihály: Krisztus Pilátus előtt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus answers Pilate’s question of whether He was a king, but remains silent about the charges against Him.  We find in verse 20 that the chief priests and elders persuaded the people to choose Barabbas when Pilate offered to free one of them.  Fearing a riot, Pilate resigns himself to the will of the crowd, but uses the physical act of washing hands to declare his innocence of “this man’s blood.”  “Having scourged Jesus” is mentioned in passing, but this Roman form of flogging was anything but incidental.  It was a brutally painful beating with a whip weighted with sharp pieces of bone and metal. It was designed to lacerate, often exposing bone and intestines.  Crucifixion was an agonizing and tortuous death, but this beating would be equally painful.  A good article on this scourging can be found at this link.

He was mocked and spit upon, stripped and made to wear a crown made of thorns.  Then he was led away to be crucified.  They made a man named Simon of Cyrene to carry His cross, and when they reached Golgatha (which means Place of a Skull), they tried to give him wine mixed with gall (a very bitter herb that could also be poisonous) to drink.  It was intended to dull the sense of pain, but it was God’s will that He should suffer.  As they crucified Him, “they divided his garments among them by casting lots” – referring to Psalm 22:18.  Verses 36-44 detail the continued derision, mocking and reviling inflicted on Him as He suffered.

Crucifixion was a slow and excruciatingly painful method of inflicting death, and there are many stories of the cruelty of Roman soldiers experimenting with different poses for crucified victims (Josephus, “Jewish War” 5.449–551).  Hanging by one’s arms caused great difficulty in breathing, only alleviated by the victim pushing up with their feet in order to take the weight off of the arms. But that caused severe pain in the feet, arms, legs, and back, making the exhausted victim slump down again, only to be barely able to breathe again. Finally, he would mercifully die of asphyxiation, if he had not already died as a result of the cumulative effects of the multiple physical traumas inflicted.

In verse 45, there was darkness all over the land from the 6th hour until the ninth hour (about noon to 3:00).  About the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” meaning, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  This is from Psalm 22:1.  This is one of the most puzzling verses in the Bible.  Jesus knows what is happening, and why He is doing it. One explanation that has been posed is that because Jesus did in fact become sin, at this moment Jesus felt the presence of God turn away from Him as He was dying.  Jesus then gave up the spirit with another cry.

Joseph of Arimathaea Seeks Pilate to Beg Permi...

Joseph of Arimathaea Seeks Pilate to Beg Permission to Remove the Body of Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then in verse 51, the curtain of the Temple was torn from top to bottom.  It was between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place, and was woven from 72 twisted plaits of 24 threads a piece. It was 60 feet high and 30 feet wide. No one was allowed to enter the Most Holy Place behind the curtain except the high priest, and then only on the Day of Atonement.  Being torn in two represents the removal of the separation between God and the people.  A high priest was no longer needed – Jesus is our high priest now.  More elaboration of this event, and what it symbolized, is in Hebrews 9:11–10:22.  Then the earth shook (Palestine sits on a major seismic rift), rocks were split, and tombs were opened.  As Matthew often groups events together topically, he then jumps ahead here in verse 53 to events after the resurrection, as many of the saints were raised and came out of the tombs to appear to many in the city.  We are not told whether they were taken to heaven after these eyewitnesses received these visits.  But clearly, God wanted many witnesses to understand the profoundly momentous significance of what had happened.

In verse 57, a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph came to Pilate that evening to request Jesus’ body.  He took the body and wrapped it in a linen shroud and placed it in his own tomb.  This fulfilled Isaiah 53:9.  Then he rolled a big stone in front of the entrance.  Then the chief priests, remembering how he had said that he would rise after 3 days, went to Pilate voicing their fears that Jesus’ disciples might come and steal the body.  So he gave them a guard of soldiers, and they sealed the tomb and stood guard.

After the resurrection, Jesus – as He had told the disciples in Matthew 26:32 that He would meet them there – would be with them at the Sea of Galilee, and at a mountain there that He directs them to. But several other events occur before and after this, the details of which are interspersed throughout the gospels in Luke 24 and John 20. And events in a single chapter are in some cases separated by days, and even weeks, as Jesus remained for forty days before the ascension.)

Then some of the guard that had been on watch at the tomb went to the chief priests to tell them what had happened. After deliberating, they gave money to the guards to have them say that His disciples had come and stolen the body while they were asleep, promising to keep them out of trouble if word got back to Pilate. Their acts of unbelief in the face of these eyewitness accounts is stunning, but such was their love for power that they would not let it be jeopardized.

Jesus meets His apostles in verse 16 on the mountain in Galilee that He had directed them to. In verses 18-20, Jesus gives the eleven chosen ones the Great Commission – to go and make disciples of ALL nations “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Jesus has confirmed that His Kingdom is open to everyone. Because this is the end of Matthew, some confuse this event with the time of the ascension. But that comes later at at a different mountain – Mount Olivet, after they returned to Jerusalem.

 

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke

Matt 26, Matt 27, Matt 28, 1 Cor 1, 1 Cor 2

___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

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The Resurrection- Mark 16

Mark 16 “marks” the end of his gospel with the most important event in the history of the world — the resurrection. The events described in the four gospels seem to differ in some details on the account (Mark’s is the shortest, of course). This writer’s attempt at harmonizing those accounts, which (I believe) demonstrates that they complement rather than contradict each other, can be read in this previous post.

resurrection01Some early manuscripts do not include verses 9 and following of this chapter (a favorite fact of those skeptics, who try to discredit the Bible). But there are very good arguments that make the case that they are part of the inspired word. And it should also be remembered by Christians faced with accusations of a Bible that is inconsistent that out of the thousands of verses in the 66 books, only a miniscule number are disputed. And none of those contain in any doctrinal significance. And these verses from verse nine to the end contain events that are found in other gospels.

The important thing for us is that the tomb was found to be empty, though it had been under guard. And our Lord showed Himself to about 500 witnesses, including the apostles. He conquered death then, and has promised to do so for us.

 

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click here to read or listen to audio of this week’s chapters in Mark and Galatians

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Definite Plan and Foreknowledge – Acts 2

English: Jesus crucified. Mignard. In the Bowy...

English: Jesus crucified. Mignard. In the Bowyer Bible in Bolton Museum, England. Print 4073. From “An Illustrated Commentary on the Gospel of Mark” by Phillip Medhurst. Section X. the crucifixion. Mark 15:22-37. http://pdfcast.org/pdf/an-illustrated-commentary-by-phillip-medhurst-on-the-gospel-of-mark-section-v-to-x (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In verse 22, Peter gets into the “meat and potatoes” of his sermon – the very first gospel sermon. And he doesn’t pull any punches. He tells them that they themselves knew of the mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through Jesus — right in their own midst. He said that Jesus was delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge by God (Luke 22:22, 1 Peter 1:2). Still addressing them, he said “…you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” By lawless, here Peter mostly means sinful – although there was absolutely nothing lawful about Jesus’ so-called trial or his crucifixion.

Peter continues, saying that God raised Him up, “loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” It was not possible because He was the Son of God, because God willed it, and because it was prophesied that He would overcome it. Then he quotes David from Psalm 16:8-11, part of which says “for you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.”

Peter went on to explain that David was a prophet and that he foresaw and spoke in this manner of the resurrection of the Christ. He said that they (he and the other apostles) are all witnesses to the fact that God raised Him up; and that He has been exalted at the right hand of God. Having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has “poured out” what they were seeing with their own eyes on that very day.

Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Acts here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

Jesus Bids Farewell – Luke 24

 

"Son of man" appears 25 times in Luk...

“Son of man” appears 25 times in Luke, a copy (c. 800) shown here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Luke records Jesus’ ascension to heaven (at the end of forty days) in verses 50-53, as he leads them from Jerusalem to Bethany.  We are told in verses 52-53 that they “returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.” Luke’s gospel leaves out many of the events of those forty days that we get from John 21. But as John tells us, the things that could have been written about Jesus during His time with them would fill many volumes (John 21:25).

This concludes the reading this year of the Gospel of Luke. Nearly 6 months of studying this great gospel have been a blessing. But I well imagine that another reading of the book in the future will yield just as much new understanding as this one has done. Next week, we begin our reading of the Book of Acts, which is arguably one of the most important books of the New Testament. I look forward top the same measure of attention and study of that great book as we have been blessed with concerning Luke.

This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Jesus appears to Disciples – Luke 24

The disciples that Jesus met on the way to Emmaus went back to Jerusalem and found the eleven, who confirmed to the two traveler’s that yes, Jesus has risen (verse 34) and has appeared to Simon (Peter). No details here or in the other three gospels are given of that appearance to Peter (although Paul does speak of it in 1 Corinthians 15:5). But given Peter’s intense grief over his denial of Jesus, it was important to reach him quickly; and it was important to get to the rest of the eleven this day as well.

Jesus shows His wounds to Thomas.

Jesus shows His wounds to Thomas.

Jesus then entered while the men were talking, and they were frightened, as if He was a spirit. He had them touch him, and even ate some fish in front of them – spending some time to assure them both that he was a living man, and the same Jesus they had known. He then opened their minds to the Scriptures concerning Him. Jesus then tells them a bit about the witness they will bear to the world in the great commission, but he says they must stay in Jerusalem until they are “clothed with power from on high” (the coming of the Holy Spirit in Acts). When He tells them to stay in Jerusalem, he means after he is gone. They will be with him at the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1), and on a mountain in Galilee that He has directed them to (Matthew 28:16) before his ascension. Galilee is three days journey from Jerusalem.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Emmaus Revisited – Luke 24

 Well, I pulled the trigger on this a couple of weeks early :-). We had written a blog a year or so ago on the Road to Emmaus, a portion of Luke 24 that we are reading this week. So we’ll provide some excerpts of that to supplement the remainder of our reading of the chapter.

The Road to Emmaus appearance, based on Luke 2...

The Road to Emmaus appearance, based on Luke 24:13-32, painted by Joseph von Führich, 1830. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is still Sunday, the day that Jesus rose; and two of His disciples were traveling to the village of Emmaus.  One was named Cleopas, but we do not know the name of the other.  We are told in verse 16 that “their eyes were kept from recognizing him” when Jesus drew near.  When He asks them about the conversation they are having, the two men proceed to tell him about Jesus of Nazareth.  They speak of how great he was, how the chief priests and rulers condemned and crucified him.  And now, they say, some women of their company had been to his tomb and found it empty – a fact which others confirmed!  They are clearly distressed.

Jesus then gave them a mild rebuke for being slow to believe what the prophets had spoken.  He then interpreted Scriptures from Moses and the prophets concerning the Christ.   As they reached the village, they urged him to stay with them, as the evening would be coming soon.  He blessed and broke bread with them, and it was at this point that their eyes were opened and they recognized him.  Jesus then vanished from their sight.

Such a mysterious and dramatic revelation of Himself to these two disciples would appear to serve one purpose above any other – a proper eyewitness account.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

 

/Bob’s boy

 

___________________

 

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

 

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

 

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Understanding the Cross – now available as eBook

Understanding_the_Cross_coverThe expanded version of our series “Understanding the Cross of Christ” is now available at Amazon.com in Kindle format at this link, in ePub format at Kobo, and for Nook at  BarnesandNobel.com!

/Bob’s boy
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.

Understanding the Cross of Christ – Part 6 (Christ Arose!)

This is the conclusion of a series begun in Part One as a search for a more meaningful answer to an aspiring young Christian’s question: “Why did God send His only son to die?”  In part 2, we looked at what sin is, why it matters so much to God, and why it should matter to us.  In part 3, we delved into God’s response to sin.  In all of that discussion, we have made great mention of the fact that God has a plan for our salvation.  In part 4, we looked at how Jesus really fits into that plan.  In part 5, we examined what was expected of the Messiah, and why His death on the cross was necessary.

What Did the Cross Accomplish?

The Very Real Suffering of “The Suffering Servant”

The Mount of Olives, looking from Jerusalem, with Gethsemane on the left and the Basilica of the Agony (also called the Church of All Nations) at the right. It is the third in a succession of churches that have been built on the site where it is believed that Jesus prayed to the Father in the hours before his crucifixion.

The Mount of Olives, looking from Jerusalem, with Gethsemane on the left and the Basilica of the Agony (also called the Church of All Nations) at the right. It is the third in a succession of churches that have been built on the site where it is believed that Jesus prayed to the Father in the hours before his crucifixion.

It is all too easy for us to get into a mindset, knowing that Jesus was the Son of God, of (at least somewhere in the back of our minds) thinking that all of this was easy for Him.  Or if not exactly easy, at least not as bad as it would be for a “regular”person.  We must never forget that although Jesus was (is) the Lord, he had made himself a man.  He had human emotions.  He felt compassion for the hungry (Matthew 15:32), love for the sick and the suffering (Matthew 14:14).  He cried real human tears for Lazarus’ death before he raised him from the dead (John 11:32-35).  Even more telling as He knew what was coming, His agony, dread, and pleas as He prayed to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane before His arrest clearly show his humanity (Matthew 26:36-46, Luke 22:39-46).  There was nothing “easy” about preparing Himself to be crucified, any more than it was “easy” to be beaten and slowly killed on that cross.  So what exactly did His loving sacrifice and

resurrection accomplish?

Release From the “Curse of the Law”

The culmination of God’s plan to redeem mankind came at such a high price to Him, but it accomplished so much for us.  This supreme sacrifice by Jesus redeemed us from what Paul calls “the curse of the law” in Galatians 3:10-13.  Quoting Deuteronomy 27:26 (“Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them”), Paul points out that none of us could ever be justified under that criteria because we all have sin in our lives.  And so the sacrifices and offerings made under the old law simply put off God’s judgment.

Gethsemane, Rock of Agony, where tradition says Jesus prayed

Gethsemane, Rock of Agony, where tradition says Jesus prayed

By the blood of His sacrifice, God put Jesus forward as a propitiation (an appeasement or satisfaction) for our sins (Romans 3:25, 1 John 2:2, 1 John 4:10).   Hebrews 9, speaking of the way things were before Christ, goes into some detail about the earthly “Most Holy Place” of the Tabernacle (into which only the High Priest could enter with blood to offer).  The word used for the “mercy seat” In Hebrews 9:5 (which was the lid on top of the ark) is the same as is used for “propitiation,” which is to say that it was a covering – a concealment – for the judgment of the law contained therein.

This earthly Holy Place and the Holy things it contained, the Hebrew writer refers to as mere “copies of the heavenly things” which are in Heaven.  By His death and resurrection, Jesus became a new High Priest of a better covenant (Hebrews 4:14-16, Hebrews 7:22).  And Hebrews 9:11-12 explained that by His own blood, He entered once and for all into THE Holy Place, securing an eternal redemption for us.  Thus, Paul says in Romans 7:6, “…now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.”

Eternal Life

Paul reminds us in Romans 5:12 that when man first sinned in Genesis 3, death also entered the world (“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…”).  Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:10 that Jesus “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

By His resurrection, Jesus was victorious over death; and He brought to us the promise that when He returns, all those who have “fallen asleep” will also be raised, and will come to meet with Him (as well as those who are still alive) (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17).  And then, 1 Corinthians 15:22-26 tells us, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”  The Hebrew writer said in Hebrews 2:14-15:

“…he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”

How Does One Earn Salvation – This Eternal Life?

The answer, of course, is that one does not earn salvation.  The bad news is that everyone has sinned, and however “small” one may consider his sins to be, God counts no difference between those sins and those we may consider to be the most despicable or callous.  The good news is that Jesus already paid the price for our sins with His death.  It is our faith in Jesus that justifies us through His grace, as told by Paul in Romans 5:1-2:

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

baptismBut the fact that this salvation is freely given to us, does not mean we have no responsibility in the matter.  We must obey His commandments, among which is as Acts 2:38 says: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…”  Jesus said in Mark 16:16 “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”  Peter said in 1 Peter 3:21: “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

Paul gives the best explanation in Romans 6:3-5: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

Staying the Course

If baptism were the end-all of the Christian’s commitment, how easy that would be.  But how easy is it to remain righteous in a world that seems to become more and more wicked?  Well, to be sure, Christians today (especially young people) face new and different challenges in that regard.  But there really is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).  We know that is true from reading the Scriptures about the time before the flood (Genesis 6:5-8), about Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:16-19:29), about God’s patience with the depraved wickedness of the Canaanites (Genesis 15:15-21) – and events all throughout history.  But as Peter tells us as God’s children, Christians “are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

Paul proclaimed the great promise in Romans 2:6-8: “…to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.”  The Apostle aptly described our course in Romans 12:2:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Understanding the Cross of Christ – Part 4 – (God’s Plan)

This series began in Part One as a search for a more meaningful answer to an aspiring young Christian’s question: “Why did God send His only son to die?”  The short answer “to save us from our sins,” while correct, really only serves to raise more questions.  In part 2, we looked at what sin is, why it matters so much to God, and why it should matter to us.  In part 3, we delved into God’s response to sin.  In all of that discussion, we have made great mention of the fact that God has a plan for our salvation.  Now, in part 4, let us look at how Jesus really fits into that plan.

So how does Jesus fit into this plan of God’s?

If you were to say that Jesus, in fact, is God’s plan for our salvation, you would be correct.  God first promised this savior in Genesis 3:15, when sin first entered the world.  The verse reads in the ESV:

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.

The enmity that God refers to here is opposition to Satan through the offspring born of the woman.  Clearly, the “he” in the verse that will “bruise your head” is that offspring.  What is meant by bruising the head is the complete victory over the evil one that had the power over death, as told to us in Hebrews 2:14-15.  As for how the Crucifixion can be classified as  the bruising of the heel, consider that Jesus overcame death itself, and that the ultimate fate of Satan is his utter destruction (Revelation 20:10).

There are a great many prophecies throughout the Bible that promise the coming of this Messiah  – many more than we can include in this outline.  But the most important of these is arguably that which is written in 2 Samuel 7, where God makes a covenant with David which promises a kingdom from his offspring that will endure forever.  He would be the son of God (Psalm 2:7).  It is through this offspring of David that the one promised in Genesis 3 will come.  He would be sacrificed for our transgressions (Isaiah 53:5-12).  And most importantly, he would be risen from the dead (Psalm 16:10, Psalm 49:15).

Who was Jesus really, and where did He come from?

Let us begin with his name.  Most people know of Him as Jesus Christ.  He has been known this way for so long that many people actually assume that His last name – His surname – was Christ.  But that is, of course, not the case.  Over the years the reference to Him as Jesus the Christ has simply been shortened.  The Hebrew for Messiah and the Greek for Christ (Khristos) both mean anointed or “anointed one.”

Most people know that He was born in Bethlehem of a virgin, and many have wondered what the point is of the long genealogy written in Matthew 1:1-17.   This was to document the fact that Jesus’ birth came forth through the line of King David.  The names of many of those in that genealogical record are found in books of the Bible (the Old Testament) written in the inspired word of God over many hundreds of years.

But though Jesus was born of a woman, just as had been prophesied, that is not the entire significance of His origin.  In John 1:1-18, we are told that before He came to live as a man, Jesus was with God since the beginning of time:

“He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

Some say that Jesus never claimed to be deity, but that is certainly not true.  In John 10:30, he told the Jewish leaders at the temple “I and the Father are one.”  And in John 8:58, he told them “before Abraham was, I am,” which was clearly a reference to the way God identified Himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14.

Paul, in his letter to the Philippians in Philippians 2:5-8, summed up how much Jesus gave up to come to Earth, to become a man, and to suffer a cruel death:

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

As we near the conclusion of this series, we will  examine how Jesus measures up with what the people were expecting from the Messiah that had been anticipated for well over a thousand years, what His death meant then and, more importantly, what it means to us now.

/Bob’s boy

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image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Understanding the Cross of Christ – Part 3 (God’s Response To Sin)

cross03In part 1 of this series, we began looking for a more informative answer to my young friend’s question (“Why would God send His only son to die?”).  The answer is of course that it was God’s plan for our salvation all along.  But a better explanation would really be aided by a better understanding of sin, atonement, and ultimately, propitiation.  In part 2, we looked at what sin is, why it matters so much to God, and why it should matter to us.  And now we turn to God’s response to sin – which, come to that, is also one of the reasons that it matters to us.

What are the consequences of sin?

Adam and Eve expelled

When Adam and Eve obeyed Satan instead of God, God sent them from the Garden of Eden and posted an angelic being at the doorway of Eden to prevent them from entering it again (Genesis 3).

Of course, God’s first response to sin was to Adam and Eve after the fall of man, but He has given man many other earthly responses to sin.  God was so grieved by man’s wickedness that He “struck down every living creature” (that wasn’t on the ark) in a global flood in Genesis 6-8. God promised His judgment on the Canaanites in Genesis 15:13-21 and again in Deuteronomy 9:4-5 , well in advance of the Israelites’ entry into the promised land in Joshua 3.  And just as he warned them 1,000 years earlier in Deuteronomy 28:49-63, God had His people removed and taken captive for their continued disobedience, and their cherished holy city was burned (2 Kings 17, 2 Kings 24, 2 Chronicles 36:17-21).  Of course, all of these, and many other earthly judgments God has brought to pass, pale in comparison to God’s promise of eternal separation from Him and the punishment that awaits the sinful in the end – in contrast to the reward that awaits the faithful (Matthew 8:11-12, Matthew 25:45-46).

Why does God require a price to be paid for sin?

Abraham covenant-01

The Lord spoke personally with Abraham, entering into a lasting covenant with him (Genesis 17).

It is a fact that it is no accident that the Creator of life demands discipline, and that the blueprints He gives us for living our lives result in the best that life has to offer for us.  Godly living in the long and short-term always has born out that constant truth – His ways are best for us.  And it is His will for all of us to be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4) So why does God demand a price for sin?  As we noted in part 2, God is too pure to tolerate sin (Habakkuk 1:13).  But just as importantly, He is a fair and just God (Psalm 25:8-14, 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10, Deuteronomy 32:4).  He has promised to reward us for our righteousness, just as He has promised to punish sin. He is faithful and true to all of His promises.  If it were not so – if He simply turned a blind eye to sin – how could we count on Him to keep the other promises He has made to us?

How was sin dealt with in the Old Testament?

Sacrifices and offerings to God were made by presenting them to a Levitical priest (a descendant of Levi, one of the 12 sons of Jacob).  Non-priests could not make an approach to God.  The different types of offerings are described in Leviticus 1-7.  Only the High Priest – from Aaron through the end of Eleazor’s line – approached God in the innermost part of the Tabernacle (the Most Holy place), as they did to make offering on the Day of Atonement.  This occurrence simply put off the judgment of the Lord for their sins in the past year (Leviticus 16:34).  These sacrifices and the old law were merely a shadow of the promise of what was to come (Hebrews 10:1-4).

Levitical_priesthood_diagram-01

The Levitical Priesthood

God had set apart the Levites (Numbers 3:12) and established the priesthood for His people through the lines of the three sons of Levi – all with special duties.  These were the Gershonites (Numbers 4:24-26; 7:7-8), Kohathites (Numbers 3:29-32, 1 Chron 15:1-15), and the Merarites (Numbers 3:36-37; 4:29-33).  Moses and Aaron were sons of Kohath; and it was through Aaron’s line that the priesthood continued until the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., by way of his sons Eleazor, Ithamar, and Nadab and Abihu. The latter two met their end (and that of their lines) in Leviticus 10.  Ithamar’s line ended  in 2 Kings 2:26-27 with Abiathar.  Eleazor’s line lived on until the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

All through these ages, the promise loomed ahead of something better.  A promise that was made first in Genesis 3:15-17, and would be repeated and expounded throughout the Old Testament.  We will look closer at that promise as this series continues in part 4, taking a look at how Jesus fits into God’s plan for our salvation.

/Bob’s boy
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image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.