Excruciating Thursday

Thursday, April 13, 2017

[Reader discretion advised: Christ’s sufferings are graphically described below.]

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9 KJV).

His three years of earthly ministry have expired, but His greatest work is yet to come!

During the all-night interrogation in the “kangaroo court,” His sentence is passed—execution by crucifixion. They have scourged, beaten, and punched Him. Covered in their spit, they laugh at Him, and strike His head with a rod to force on the crown of thorns. His back shredded, His skull possibly fractured, His beard ripped off. His massive blood loss weakens Him further. Having been stripped of His clothing, He struggles to carry His heavy cross to Mount Calvary: Simon must carry His cross for Him. The crowds watch Him, laughing and jeering. His little flock looks on in total shock.

They lay Him on the wooden cross, yanking His limbs to nail them in place. His bones unbroken, but exposed, and His limbs dislocated. They pierce His hands and feet with long spikes, severing the median nerve in the hands, causing permanent hand paralysis. They raise up that cross, and He hangs, slowly suffocating due to His own weight. Every breath becomes increasingly difficult, His lungs fill with fluid, His heart becomes progressively strained. Eventually, He cannot breathe, and thus dies.

Now imagine His spiritual suffering. Three hours into His crucifixion, His heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost have abandoned Him. For the first time ever, He is totally alone. Physical and spiritual darkness now cover the earth. The weight of all the world’s sin and sins of all time crushes His soul. God’s undiluted wrath falls upon Him, as it does on those suffering in hellfire. He cries out in agony. Hanging on that cruel cross, with His spiritual eyes, He observes Satan himself and all his evil creatures snickering and cheering. He looks out to see His disciples staring at His helpless disfigured body. Oh, if only they knew how His physical and spiritual bodies were being tormented, utterly tortured beyond imagination!

After six hours of excruciating pain, He finally lets Himself die….

Please check out our archived Bible Q&A: “Was Jesus Christ really crucified on Friday?

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who or what are the ‘Chemarims?’

The Word Was Made Flesh

Sunday, December 25, 2016

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…” (John 1:1,14 KJV).

On this Christmas Day, we reflect on the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

The candidate who could solve man’s sin problem had to meet two requirements. He had to be God, and He had to be man—a “God-Man.” It had to be God, because God’s righteousness had to be satisfied, but it also had to be man, for it was man who had sinned. God’s righteousness was offended, since “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But, it was also a man who had sinned, “As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).

Consider Philippians 2:5-8: “Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” In short, heaven’s best—Jesus Christ—came to save earth’s worst—us! In summary, Jesus Christ was born to die for us.

Brethren, the salvation that we enjoy today in Christ could not be possible without the shed blood of Christ on Calvary’s cross, and the shed blood of Christ could not be possible without the incarnation of Christ! God is a Spirit (John 4:24), and in order for Him to shed sinless blood, He had to first have blood. Thus, it behooved Jesus Christ to take upon Himself the form of a man. It was at this time of year that God the Son entered the virgin Mary’s womb, possessing a body that was conceived by the Holy Ghost.

Remember, “The Word was made flesh” (today’s Scripture) so we could have an opportunity to be “made the righteousness of God in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Merry Christmas!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study with the same name. It can be read here or watched here.

Forsaken of God—For You!

Friday, November 18, 2016

“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 KJV).

Jesus was forsaken of God, that you not be forsaken of God in everlasting hellfire!

These past several months, I have been ministering to a lady about a year old in Christ. (Perhaps you remember me writing about her several weeks back. When Mom and I visited her at home, she cried because she was so burdened that her son and daughter were still trapped in the cult she had escaped months earlier.) Just a few days ago, her son was nearly killed in an explosion. While he sustained major burns on his back and arms—about 20% of his body—he did in fact temporarily avoid a greater fire (hell!). He is certainly thinking about eternity right now, and so thankful to be alive. In the near future, I do hope he allows me to visit him so I can give him the Gospel.

Friends, let us face it. We are all going to die at some point, short of the Lord’s coming. Furthermore, we should never be under the impression that we have “all the time in the world” to get right with God. People die unexpectedly and enter hell every single day. Someone once estimated 100,000 people enter hell daily—about one death every 0.9 second. If that rate is accurate, by the time you finish reading this study, over 100 souls will have left our physical world and entered the flames that will never be quenched!! We can almost hear their bone-chilling wails, their incessant weeping, and the crackling of the flames around them—there is no hope here, no joy or friendship, no comfort. Yes, they remember. They remember us. How they plead with us not to join them in that place of torment!

Thankfully, Jesus Christ suffered such awful spiritual torment on Calvary’s cross. He bore our sin on His soul, pain beyond description, and died. We see just a hint of it in today’s Scripture. However, He resurrected so victoriously, to give us His life. Oh, may we trust Him as our personal Saviour now!

The Greatest Veteran

Friday, November 11, 2016

“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:14,15 KJV).

Today is Veterans’ Day in the United States, so let us especially thank the “Greatest Veteran of All Time.”

We thank veterans, living and departed, the often-forgotten men and women who risked their lives to secure our freedom. Just as we remember flesh-and-blood veterans who fought for our physical liberty, we reserve our worship and utmost respect for the least esteemed Veteran, He who secured our spiritual liberty.

“But thanks be to God, which giveth us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). Through Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary, we have eternal victory over sin, death, hell, and Satan. Everything that God has planned for us is dependent upon Christ’s victory at Calvary.

Jesus Christ nailed the Mosaic Law to His cross (today’s Scripture). His sinless blood covered our failure to obey God’s laws; Jesus’ righteousness annulled our unrighteousness (sin). Christ not only liberated us from sin and its penalty (the everlasting lake of fire), but today’s Scripture affirms He also triumphed over Satan himself!

Christ has “spoiled [destroyed] principalities and powers [Satan’s power], he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it [His cross].” Jesus Christ destroyed Satan’s plans. Through Christ’s cross, God has “delivered us from the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13), Satan’s evil system of Ephesians 2:1-3.

During a recent cemetery visit, I noticed American flags flying above deceased veterans’ headstones. These individuals can no longer hear or regard our thanks, but Jesus Christ’s body is not decaying in some tomb. If there ever was a Veteran most worthy of our gratitude, it is our Lord Jesus Christ. Though He died in battle, allowing Himself to be executed on a Roman cross of shame and scorn, He resurrected. He is alive and well today, alive forevermore!

Saints, eternity will ring with our thanks to the Veteran worth thanking, the Lord Jesus Christ.

*Adapted from our 2010 Bible study, “The Greatest Hero.” The Bible study video can be viewed here.

Bones Out of Joint

Monday, October 10, 2016

“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels” (Psalm 22:14 KJV).

Let us consider these “bones… out of joint.”

This past weekend, I visited an injured 79-year-old brother in the ministry. While he had been standing six feet high on a ladder, its feet slid, and so did he! He fell down with the ladder, hitting his head on a rung. His shoulder went through two rungs to hit the concrete floor below! The dear man had to be rushed to the hospital emergency room. Thankfully, he had no head injuries. However, his shoulder was dislocated, and he had very limited use of his arm. He had to be anesthetized so the orthopedic specialist could set the bone back in its socket! In his own words, that dislocated shoulder was the worst pain he had ever felt in his nearly 80 years of life!

As we discussed those events, I reminded him that he was fortunate to be alive. He could have easily fallen on a metal pipe railing nearby, and possibly suffered a broken arm or fatal head trauma! (He would have been fellowshipping with the Lord and the saints in heaven, instead of talking to me at his kitchen table there!)

I reminded him of today’s Scripture. (Incidentally, before I arrived, he had just told someone about that same verse.) King David, about 1,000 B.C., depicted Messiah Jesus being crucified in such graphic language (see verses 1-21). This is amazing proof that the Spirit of God was leading David. The Persians did not invent crucifixion until several centuries after David! The Romans borrowed and perfected crucifixion just before Christ’s birth. Crucifixion, in addition to slowly suffocating them, forced the victim’s bones out of joint. I reminded that brother that, he only had one dislocated shoulder—which was painful enough. I also told him that the Bible says “all” of Jesus’ bones were “out of joint.” Imagine the pain of all your bones dislocated. That condition is beyond human words!

That love that sent Jesus Christ to that awful cross on our behalf is beyond human words, too!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Does Jesus Christ save us or does the Gospel save us?

The Greatest War Hero

Monday, May 30, 2016

“For God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 KJV).

In the United States, today is Memorial Day, when we remember those who sacrificed their time and lives to provide our physical freedom. Likewise, as Christians, we have spiritual freedom, which was more costly. Someone had to die to give us the eternal life we now enjoy….

Scripture describes a spiritual warfare between good and evil, God’s truth program versus Satan’s lie program: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles [schemes] of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:11,12; see also verses 13-20).

Satan distracts mankind from God’s pure Word, the Bible, keeping unbelievers lost (dead in their sins), and preventing unbelievers and Christians from knowing God’s will. The devil draws them away (seduces them) from God’s Word by using religious tradition and human “wisdom” (1 Timothy 4:1-3; cf. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Galatians 3:1-3).

God loves us, so at Calvary’s cross, Christ fought for us sinners, died in battle (today’s Scripture), shed His divine sinless blood, and eternally rescued us from Satan and sin: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:14,15).

Hebrews 9:12 says Jesus Christ has “obtained eternal redemption for us.”

If we have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, God “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). Now, God can use us for His glory for all eternity.

Beloved, let us rejoice in our victory over sin, death, and hell that Jesus Christ secured for us by going to Calvary’s rugged cross! Jesus Christ is now alive forevermore—He is our Hero, the Greatest Hero!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study “The Greatest Hero,” which can be read here or watched here.

The Old Rugged Cross #3

Sunday, April 10, 2016

“To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19 KJV).

The third and final verse of George Bennard’s classic 1913 hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross,” highlights today’s Scripture.

“In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see;
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.”

“For he [God the Father] hath made him [His Son, Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (verse 21). The wood of Calvary’s cross was ordinary wood, but it was stained with extraordinary blood. It was the innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4 KJV). Peter wrote, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just [righteous] for the unjust [unrighteous], that he might bring us to God…” (1 Peter 3:18). “…[T]he Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood (Acts 20:28 KJV). Modern versions omit the correlation here, but our King James Bible says God’s own blood was shed at Calvary!

How could God have blood? Why, God became a Man, and as a Man, He had blood (Hebrews 2:8-18). Because it was God’s blood, it was sinless, divine, able to cover the sins. Had it been regular human blood, it would have been linked to Adam. Jesus was much more than a “good man;” He was the visible manifestation of the invisible God (Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:3). Had He been anything less than fully God and fully man, He could not mediate between both parties!

Many people in history have died for their religion. But, Jesus Christ did not die as a “martyr.” He gave up His life, to “pardon and sanctify” those who would accept His payment for their sins. That blood was shed to impart spiritual life to those who would believe in it. It was shed to set apart a group of people whom Father God would use through the ages of eternity future to glorify His Son, the Person who died on the “old rugged cross.” 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What swallowed Jonah—a fish or a whale?