Matthew 27 v 31 They took Jesus away to be crucified. Keith Getty and Stuart give us a moving account of just what that meant.Oh to see the dawn of the darkest day Christ on the road to Calvary tried by sinful men, torn and beaten, then nailed to a cross of wood. Oh to see the pain written on your face, bearing the awsome weight of sin, every bitter thought, every evil deed crowning your bloodstained brow. Now the daylight flees Now the ground beneath quakes as its maker bows His head.curtain torn in two , dead are raised to life , ”Finished” the victory cry. Oh, to see my name written in the wounds , for through your suffering I am free, Death is crushed to death. Life is mine to live. Won through your selfless love. This the power of the cross,Son of God -slain for us What a love! What a cost! We stand forgiven at the cross .
Thursday 1st April
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God,
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small,
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Isaac Watts’ hymn needs no introduction or explanation. Read each verse slowly and reflect on it as a poem rather than singing it and missing the depth of its meaning.
Journey to the cross
“The Spirit compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, where he was tempted by Satan for forty days.
He was out among the wild animals and the angels took care of him.” Mark 1 verses 12 & 13.
Jesus’ ministry began in the wilderness.
This was not a comfortable retreat or rest; from the
An opportunity to get away from all the stress.
No – this was a preparation for the ultimate test.
Forty days and forty nights to contemplate and pray.
Three years of ministry ahead before that fateful day.
What kind of Messiah did they expect? Would they understand?
Could he select twelve disciples and unite them into a band
That would form the church to bear his name?
To bring hope to the world after that day of shame?
Often, in those three years, Jesus would go away
To isolated spots, alone, to pray.
He did so three times on the night of his arrest,
In the garden of Gethsemane.
Obeying the will of his Father, acknowledging He knew best,
He died for you and me.
Good Friday? Or bad? Nailed to a cross of wood;
Our Saviour crucified!
Yet on the third day He rose, as He said He would;
Jesus alive – even though He had died!
Victory from the jaws of defeat,
A reminder to the disciples of all that He said;
They must now spread the gospel complete –
Death overcome – God’s kingdom lies ahead.
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Mark 8 verse 34.
Each year we have Lent
Forty days leading up to the Easter event.
Forty days for us to contemplate and pray.
What are you contemplating and praying about today?
Today’s Easter thought (from Peter).”Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28)It is such a simple truth, and we all know it, that Jesus is GOD. From Sunday school onwards, when we struggle with the awkward language of the Trinity and say that we believe in “God and Jesus and stuff”, until now, we often don’t quite exclaim the fullest extent of Jesus’ identity.Every religion and cult in the world, if they acknowledge Jesus at all, will somehow demote Him, saying, “He’s a prophet/a good Man/religious teacher/god or god-like being.” But that’s like introducing Lynette, saying, “This is Lynette, she is my colleague”. She is that, but much more than that, she is my wife! To say anything else would dishonour her.The point is this: Acts 20:28 shows, almost in passing, that divine and amazing truth we celebrate at Easter, that it was GOD who went to the cross for us, it was GOD who shed His own blood for us. To have blood, of course, He had to become human. But Jesus, as 100% human and 100% God, gave His life for us.”And can it be that I should gain,An interest in my Saviour’s blood?Died He for me who caused His pain,For me, who Him to death pursued?Amazing love, how can it be,That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”‘Tis mystery all, the immortal dies, who can extol His strange designs. In vain the firstborn seraph tries to sound the depths of love divine! Tis mercy all, let earth adore, let angels’ minds inquire no more.” (C. Wesley, And Can It Be)
Today’s Easter Thoughts (from Mark, aged 58 and a bit).
“We may not know, we cannot tell
What pains he had to bear
But we believe it was for us
He hung and suffered there.
Oh, dearly, dearly has he lived!
And we must love him too;
And trust in his redeeming blood,
And try his works to do.”
I would exaggerate Cecil Alexander’s words, and say there is no way we can ever truly know or understand how much Jesus suffered at Calvary. We can, though, appreciate a little more each time we meditate on it. The more I dwell on it personally, the more graphic and real it seems to become. The key to remember, even if we cant quite get the full impact of the suffering Christ, is that it was for us. It was for me.
Oh, but it doesn’t end there. We can, and should, appropriate the love demonstrated in Christ giving himself. First, towards Him, in humble thankfulness. Second, towards each other, as we “try his works to do.” And we can do that. Amen.
I love this song and though it is short is seems to cover so much truth. The chorus particularly seems to sum up my response to Jesus’ sacrifice:
I’m lifting up my hands
Lifting up my voice
Lifting up Your name
And in Your grace I rest
For Your love has come to me and set me free
And I’m trusting in Your word
Trusting in Your cross
Trusting in Your blood and all Your faithfulness
For Your power at work in me is changing me
Recently four words jumped out at me from Matthew’s account of Jesus’ temptation by Satan. In the second temptation the devil asks Jesus to throw himself down from the temple in the trust that God will protect him. Satan even quotes two verses from Psalm 91. Here is where the four words come in – Jesus said ‘It is also written …’ I have been thinking about that phrase ‘It is also written’ an awful lot in recent months. Satan quoted biblical truth to Jesus but Jesus replied saying in effect that all truth has a wider context in which it must be rightly understood. I hope that as we each approach the Bible that we don’t seek to hold God (or fellow brothers and sisters) to ransom with isolated texts but that we seek the ‘the whole counsel of God’. After all, Scripture is an amazing gift to us – our daily bread – even through Lent!
One day when heaven was filled with His praises,
One day when sin was as black as could be,
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin,
Dwelt among men, my example is He!
Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever:
One day He’s coming – O glorious day!
One day they led Him up Calvary’s mountain,
One day they nailed Him to die on the tree;
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected:
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He!
One day they left Him alone in the garden,
One day He rested, from suffering free;
Angels came down o’er His tomb to keep vigil;
Hope of the hopeless, my Saviour is He!
One day the grave could conceal Him no longer,
One day the stone rolled away from the door;
Then He arose, over death He had conquered;
Now is ascended, my Lord evermore!
One day the trumpet will sound for His coming,
One day the skies with His glory will shine;
Wonderful day, my beloved One bringing:
Glorious Saviour, this Jesus is mine!
The chorus of this old Easter hymn by John Wilbur Chapman popped into my head the other day – it is a while since I have sung it, and I was surprised to discover that I remembered all the words – and also delighted to be reminded that the chorus tells the story of Jesus in four short lines, and of His death for me. The hymn itself gives a longer version, from His birth to His returning again. It is a good one to be recalling at this Easter time, whether we know the hymn or not – and one we can share with those who need to know what Easter is all about and that Jesus was born to die, and His death and resurrection mean we can know salvation. May we be blessed as we remember that He came to die for ME!
In his book ‘Light in the shadows’ Ed Landry shows how the feasts and sacrifices in the Old Testament point us to the work that Jesus does. You may not know much about the rules and regulations for the burnt, meal, peace, sin and guilt offering but know this; we have no need to offer these sacrifices anymore because Jesus perfectly met all their requirements once and for all. Our relationship with God the Creator, our Father in Heaven is one of love and peace and joy because our sin has been dealt with. As Easter draws nearer let us remember the great cost Jesus paid to achieve this but let us also live in the light of that. After all, it is incredibly insulting and hurtful to the gift giver when the one who receives the gift of great worth refuses to use it.
Father, I come into your courts with thanksgiving and joy and peace for I know what Jesus has done for me. I choose to live today with you for I love your presence. You are great and awesome and you are my friend. Amen