Excruciating Thursday

Thursday, April 18, 2019

[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?

The “Triumphal” Entry

Sunday, April 14, 2019

“All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass” (Matthew 21:4,5 KJV).

Do you ever wonder why Jesus Christ rode on a donkey the Sunday before His crucifixion?

In today’s Scripture (cf. Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-19), Jesus’s crucifixion on Calvary’s cross is just five days away. Leaving Bethany, He travels to Jerusalem (a mile to the northwest). Israel’s believing remnant in Jerusalem is excited to hear that Messiah is returning to “the city of the great King” (Psalm 48:2; Matthew 5:35); in anticipation, the great multitude throws their garments and palm branches on the ground. As Jesus enters the city, they cry out, “Hosanna [“O save!”]: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:9,10; Luke 19:38; John 12:13; cf. Psalm 118:26).

While often called the “Triumphal Entry,” there really was no victory being celebrated in today’s Scripture—the victory was to come later! What we need to realize is that Jesus Christ was humble (“meek”) here: as a King riding on a donkey into Israel’s capital city, He demonstrated He desired peace with Israel (a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9). He had not come to destroy her, though He would have been just in doing so; He had come to save her from her sins, her enemies, and her satanic bondage (Matthew 1:21; Mark 2:17; Mark 3:22-30; Luke 1:68-75; Luke 9:55,56; Luke 19:9,10; Acts 3:24-26; et cetera).

Just a few days later, Jesus Christ appeared weak and defeated. He never fought back as the Roman soldiers mercilessly abused Him; He allowed Himself to be crucified on Calvary. It was His meek and lowly coming; now was not the time to pour out His wrath. He resurrected and ascended into heaven as a royal exile. Revelation 19:11 says Jesus Christ will return to Jerusalem on a white horse, a sign of war and wrath (Zechariah 14:1-4)—that will be His true triumphal entry, for He will conquer Satan’s world system forever!

An Unlikely Convert #4

Saturday, April 13, 2019

“And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20 KJV).

Who is this preacher?

Thus far, we have been reading the testimony of the Apostle Paul. Listen to him in his own words as he stands before Gentile King Agrippa, nearly 30 years after his conversion: “[9] I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. [10] Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. [11] And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities” (Acts 26:9-11).

Saul was bloodthirsty religious fanatic! He did not think twice about arresting and putting to death any Jew who followed Jesus of Nazareth. Yea, he was God’s leading enemy in the earth at the time. Saul was heading the world’s rebellion against the God of creation. In Acts chapter 9, Saul (the chief of sinners) met Jesus Christ (the Saviour of sinners)!

First Timothy chapter 1: “[12] And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; [13] Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. [14] And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. [15] This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. [16] Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”

So, Paul’s salvation is a “pattern.” No matter how hopelessly lost someone appears, just remember they can come to Christ by faith as well. The mercy and longsuffering God extended toward Paul is still being offered to any and all today 2,000 years later. If only they would believe on Jesus Christ as Paul did!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain, ‘Give strength to the LORD?’

An Unlikely Convert #3

Friday, April 12, 2019

“And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20 KJV).

Who is this preacher?

Some people will never trust Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour: they will indeed go to Hell forever, fully content with their “good works.” We meet them daily. Others are lost now, but they will trust Him before physical death comes. These latter people are the few and far between. We encounter them as well. Seeing as to both classes, how do we differentiate them? How do we know who to witness to and who not to waste our time? Some argue that we need not witness at all, for if God has chosen to save them He will save them and if He has not chosen to save them then preaching to them is useless anyway. What malarkey! We should “preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2) to one and all—and then let God take care of the rest!!

Ananias probably considered Saul of Tarsus the least likely person to believe Jesus is the Son of God. Saul was just too bitter of an enemy. However, via a heavenly vision—where the ascended Lord Jesus Christ Himself appeared to Saul—Saul realized his lost estate (see Acts 9:1-9). Not only did Saul pass from death to life, Ananias actually saw and heard him preach about that very Jesus Christ in synagogues throughout Damascus (today’s Scripture)!

Notice the shock of Saul’s audience: “[19] And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. [20] And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. [21] But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? [22] But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.”

Simply put, no matter how “hopelessly lost” someone appears, he or she can be delivered from the worst cult, the most extreme brainwashing. After all, look at Saul (!)….

An Unlikely Convert #2

Thursday, April 11, 2019

“And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20 KJV).

Who is this preacher?

Saul of Tarsus was a brilliant man of evil reputation. A rabbinical theologian, he had a head knowledge of the Law of Moses, but no heart faith in it! Had he truly believed God’s words through Moses, Saul would have seen Jesus as Messiah. Hundreds of ancient prophecies had been fulfilled during the three years this “Jesus of Nazareth” had traveled the land of Palestine. However, like most of his Jewish countrymen, Saul worshipped his religion rather than the God who gave that religion. When God showed up in human flesh, Saul (like most of his Israelite kin) overlooked and spurned Him as an imposter. Saul eagerly imprisoned and/or kill anyone who confessed Jesus as Christ, God’s Son, His Anointed Saviour.

Acts chapter 7: “[57] Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him [Stephen] with one accord, [58] And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. [59] And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Saul was present when his fanatical countrymen—fellow religious leaders—took the life of God’s spokesman Stephen. It gets worse.

Chapter 8 begins: “[1] And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. [2] And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. [3] As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. [4] Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.”

Read the context of today’s Scripture again: “[13] Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:….” Ananias, although fearful and offended, by faith followed the Lord’s instructions. He would go minister to horrible Saul….

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The “Habitation” of God’s Throne

Monday, April 8, 2019

Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face (Psalm 89:14 KJV).

Behold, a King like this world has never known!

The word “makown” (as in fixed place, foundation, dwelling place) appears in the Hebrew Bible 17 times; most occurrences are associated with God’s presence. It appears first in Exodus 15:17, when Israel has departed Egypt bound for the Promised Land: “Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place [makown], O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established.”

When then find it regarding Solomon’s Temple: “I have surely built thee an house to dwell in, a settled place [makown] for thee to abide in for ever” (verse 13). It is the “dwelling place” in verses 39, 43, and 49 (cf. Chronicles 6:2,30,39). Ezra 2:68 speaks of Zerubbabel’s Temple, built later, as “the house of God… set… up in his place [makown].” Heaven is called “the place of [God’s] habitation [makown]” (Psalm 33:14).

Psalm 104:5 refers to the “foundations [makown] of the earth,” those which make Earth permanent forever. Isaiah 4:5 speaks of the LORD creating “upon every dwelling place [makown] of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud of smoke by day, and the shining of a flame of fire by night….” (In light of all these, Daniel 8:11 speaks of the a counterfeit habitation, the “place [makown]” of the Antichrist that will be “cast down” [destroyed].)

Read today’s Scripture again: “Justice and judgment are the habitation [makown] of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.” Compare that to Psalm 97:2: “Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation [makown] of his throne.” Read these two chapters, as they describe the future reign of Jesus Christ in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:12-16; cf. Luke 1:31-33). His throne is founded upon “justice [righteousness] and judgment [lawfulness],” for He Himself has settled down in that fixed position. Such sits in contradistinction to the rulers of “this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4), those to be “cast down!” “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).

The “Offensive” Gospel!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5 KJV).

Behold, “the offence of the cross” (Galatians 5:11)!

I recently asked an elderly lady if she thought people could know where they go when they die. She answered, “Since most people are good, Heaven.” Afterward, naturally, she revealed her good deeds—especially her kindness toward others. Therefore, I inquired again, “Where will you go?” That pointed question was unexpected, prompting her hesitant reply, “I hope Heaven.” Notice when it became personal she was unsure. The Holy Spirit used those questions to convict her, and she actually expressed concern of being “scared.” Yes, this sweet little lady could not hide behind her “good works” any longer. She recognized she was Hell-bound!!

It was quite a friendly conversation from start to finish. Without doubt, by the time we parted ways, she understood her dire predicament and, most importantly, the solution. What she did with the Gospel of the Grace of God was her choice. I left her some printed material (verses). Just maybe she will contact me and we can talk more if necessary.

We often hear people stressing “good works” as necessary to enter Heaven. Point out to them Matthew 7:11—“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children….” Focus on the fact that man’s nature is “evil” despite doing “good” deeds. Rather than God emphasizing man doing evil, He underscores man being evil.” By nature, man himself is the problem. Consider Matthew 7:21-23 quite carefully: read it over and over until you get the impact. It is surprising to say the least! “Good” deeds can be exceedingly deceptive.

Lastly, I offered her a simple analogy. We can pick all the oranges from an orange tree, hang apples on it, and yet never change its nature. The tree can produce only oranges. Likewise, the sin nature can yield only sins. We can trade fleshly sins (lasciviousness) for religious sins (self-righteousness), and our nature is unaffected. However, in Christ, through Calvary’s crosswork, we receive a new nature, and it produces the good works God accepts. Ultimately, though, it is the new nature (not its resultant good works) that gets us into Heaven (2 Corinthians 5:14-21).

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