Friday, April 22, 2011
Courtesy demondimum of MorgueFile.com.
Today is the day Christians celebrate the suffering and death of Jesus, the Christ. Although some people have chosen to celebrate Earth Day in lieu of this, believers from all over the world recognize the significance of remembering the day Jesus gave his life for the life of the world. However, some people celebrate with no real understanding of its true significance other than a powerful gesture of love. So, what sort of significance is it suppose to hold?
First of all, Jesus is God in human flesh. This is both an exclusive claim and an inclusive claim. It is exclusive in the sense that God is clearly only One God. There is no other. (Isaiah 45:5; Isaiah 45:14-22) God, Himself, discounts the existence of any other god besides Him. (Isaiah 44:8) He is the only Savior, and every knee will bow to Him. (Isaiah 43:3; Isaiah 45:20-23) Yet, Jesus shares not only the glory of the Father, but His authority. And as such, holds a place of worship along side the Father. Jesus is fully God. (Philippians 2:5-11; Acts 4:8-12; Colossians 2:9-10)
It is also an inclusive claim because he came in human flesh. He shares our humanity, thus is a perfect substitutionary sacrifice (being fully man, and fully God). (Hebrews 1:1-4; Hebrews 2:14-18) He identifies with our sufferings, our temptations, and our limitations. Yet, he was without sin or guile. (Hebrews 4:15-16) He understands what everyone is going through, and offers a hope and peace that he knows we need. He is the hope of the whole world. Yet, the world doesn't accept him.
Second, Jesus died to satisfy the wrath of God. As previously said, Jesus is the perfect sacrifice. Whether we have realized it or not, when we were non-Christians, we were God's enemies. (Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:21) We were at war with God. Yet, God loved us and every non-Christian. But God is not mocked either. There will be an accounting which we will all have to pay. And pay dearly. But, God made a way to both satisfy His righteous retribution and to offer us freedom from judgment. (Romans 8:1-2) So, upon Jesus, God in human flesh, He made a way out of no way. He sacrificed Himself in our place. The wrath of the Father upon His Son for the life of the world. (Isaiah 53:10-12) Now, for those who become disciples of Jesus — who place their total trust and allegiance in him — there is salvation..
Last, Jesus rose from the grave. This is one of the most attested to account in all of history. It is the most scrutinized too, because it sounds so fantastic. Yet, it is virtually undeniable that it happened. (1 Corinthians 15:1-8) This leaves a powerful testimony that Jesus is not only more than a mere man, but that he is telling the truth. (Acts 17:29-31; John 14:8-11) And this truth is that he is God in human flesh, giving his life for the life of the world. His followers may experience physical death, but they will never die. (John 11:23-25)
For some people Jesus is all about their organization, denomination, or affiliations. They place their hope in these things as a replacement for following Jesus. But Jesus is the hope. His sacrifice is the only act. His resurrection is the proof. And no organization or affiliation can do that for you.
Now, that's what I call good news.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Courtesy clarita at MorgueFile.com
Many people are celebrating the Passover this week, which started yesterday. People are commemorating it in different ways. Some people see it as a time to annually watch The Ten Commandments. Some people view it as a time to look forward to the Easter celebration. And Jewish people see this time as a very sacred remembrance of God's deliverance of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. For them it also a time to remember the prophet Moses, God's deliverance through the Red Sea, and the giving of the Law. Even the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb has special significance. It is through this that the Jewish people are "passed over" when God strikes down all the firstborn of Egypt.
But around 2000 years ago, Jesus did something even his own disciples didn't fully understand at the time. During his last Passover on earth, Jesus told his disciples that, from now on, the Passover is all about him. He didn't focus on what God did in the past to deliver the Jews out of slavery. He didn't focus on Moses. He didn't even focus on the Law. He said to focus on his suffering and sacrifice. The giving of his body (his suffering) and the giving of his life (his sacrifice in blood). This sacrifice would bring to his disciples what no other sacrifice could ever bring: a new covenant of peace with God.
You see, this sacrifice supersedes all others, including the Passover Lamb, because it is greater and it is final. There is no longer any sacrifice for sins left because Jesus' sacrifice eliminates the final consequence of sin — eternal death in Hell. Jesus' disciples are "passed over," if you will, from sin's consequences by the blood of Christ.
So, whether it is the Passover season, Easter, or just another week, the Christian is always to remember how they stand — only by what Jesus did. And there is no other faith, no religious practice, no moral actions, or no deep desire that can save mankind other than the sacrifice of Jesus. His sacrifice is our only hope.