Easter: The Cross

Thursday, April 17, 2014

John, the Beloved Disciple - A Journey of Responsibility - Easter



For John, to be at the cross was to stand at a place of responsibility. What we need to first understand is that John stood at the cross restored. He, along with the other disciples, had forsaken Jesus and fled for their lives at the garden of Gethsemane. But, John came back to the cross.  Christians may stray and deny our Lord, but we can still come back to the cross. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done. The cross is the place to go for forgiveness, deliverance and restoration.

For John to stand at the cross was probably not the safest place to stand or the easiest place to stand. It would have taken courage and love for John to come back to the cross. But remember what did John write years later in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.

Jesus not only restored John but he gave John some responsibility. Once you’ve known the truth of redemption, correction, and completion – there comes a great responsibility. You are to take responsibility for you actions….responsibility for the message…responsibility to care for others.

“John, you are going to take my place. I will no longer be on earth, to watch over my mother, so you are going to take my place. You are going to take my mother, and you are going to be a son to her.” - For John, the cross was a place of responsibility.

A journey to the cross is a journey of responsibility. All believers are taking His place here on earth. John 20:21 tells us that, “As my Father has sent me, even so, send I you.” You and I represent Jesus to others. To
acknowledge the cross, is to acknowledge a place of responsibility. If you and I have come to the cross, we have a huge responsibility to love the Lord Jesus (because he has loved us on the cross), to love others (just like John loved Jesus’ mother), and to love others the same way Jesus loved us. The cross is indeed a place of responsibility.

Have you journeyed to the Cross of Responsibility? You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mary, the Mother of Jesus - A Journey of Completion - Easter



Mary was at the foot of the cross. She was also Jesus’ earthly mother and He did not ignore her on the cross because he completed his journey with her by declaring he care for her, “Dear woman, here is your son”.

Why did Jesus go full circle with his mother? We have just concluded above that redemption and correction come at a high cost. What was the cost for Mary? What suffering did she endure?Top of Form    
Luke 2:35 reveals a prophecy concerning Mary, “A sword shall pierce your own soul also” How did she suffer? She suffered physically when she brought the Savior into the world. She suffered shame and reproach and gossip when found to be with child before the marriage was consummated with Joseph. She fled to Egypt to save her child, but countless innocent children died because of her child. How do you think she felt about that? She would have suffered emotionally. There was a growing separation between her and Jesus when Jesus declared to her one day, “Don’t you know that I must be about my fathers business?” Yes, a sword shall pierce your side. She felt the climax of Simeon’s prophecy at the cross, when her son died, and she suffered because of 1) the way he died (on a cross, numbered with the transgressors) and 2) where he died (openly, publicly, shamefully). And Mary stood there feeling the pain of the sword go through her soul.

But Jesus saw her and had compassion for her and assured her of His love for her. Her journey to the cross had started 33 years early in a manger. Jesus felt her sorrow, he knew her loneliness, and grief…the loss of a child is the hardest stress a parent can endure.

For Mary, to stand at the cross was to stand at a place of completion… In her mind this was the end of her 33 year journey. Ultimately, God is faithful to complete that which he started. Philippians 1:6 states: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Those who suffer or have suffered for his sake can live confidently that he will bring it to completion. Jesus knows our trials and our needs. The Scriptures teach us that, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.” Jesus was bringing and end and completion to death.
Have you journeyed to the Cross of Completion? You know I love ya, Don

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Salome - A Journey of Correction - Easter


Who was Salome? She was at the foot of the Cross of Jesus. Most commentators identify “his mother’s sister” as Salome, the wife of Zebedee and the mother of James and John (Matt.20:20-23). As the mother of James and John she was the one who once asked Jesus a very selfish request, “Can my two sons have places of honor in glory?” In other words she wanted something for her two sons. She wanted one of them to sit at the right hand of Jesus’ throne and the other to sit on the left hand of Jesus’ throne. What she asked of Jesus was a very selfish request. She wanted the best for her two sons.

Jesus responded (Matt.20:20-24) by saying that she didn’t know what she was asking.
“Can they drink the cup that I going to drink?” (i.e. referring to his death). Salome’s request was born out of pride and selfishness.

Did her two sons deserve thrones? Thrones are not given away, you have to earn them. Salome had forgotten the true cost of reward. She did not realize that suffering comes before reward. There is no crown without a cross. There is no wearing of a crown without the drinking of the cup of suffering. Even the Lord Jesus Christ himself did not return to the throne of heaven except by way of the cross.

Sometimes we can be so selfish in our desires. Salome’s request for her two sons was a selfish, earthly, proud request. She did not realize the price that her two sons would have to pay. Remembers James, he was martyred and John was exiled before they went home to glory. Salome was at the place of correction standing at the cross, realizing what it cost Jesus, the Son of God, to give up. Jesus gave up the glory of heaven and became a servant for us by giving his life for us.

As we contemplate the cross I wonder if we are corrected because of our selfish desires. Jesus says to us, “Are you willing to drink this cup?” We say, “Oh no, Lord, we just want the answer to our prayers!” Jesus continues, “Are you willing to suffer for me?” We respond, “Oh no, Lord, I just want the blessing, not the suffering!” Salome says to each one of us this morning, “The cross is a place of correction.” When we contemplate what Jesus did for us and gave up for us, what he endured for us and what suffered for us, the cross is a journey of correction in the light of our own selfish desires and ambitions.
Have you journeyed to the Cross of Correction? You know I love ya, Don

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mary Magdalene – A Journey of Redemption - Easter

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Luke 8:2 tells us that Mary Magdalene was a woman whom Jesus had cast out seven demons. She had been in bondage to Satan for a long time. These seven demons made her do terrible things. Satan was at work in her life to destroy, cause havoc, wreck her physically, emotionally and spiritually. Mary was in a hopeless and helpless situation.

Then Jesus came along and cast out these seven demons. Jesus delivered Mary from her bondage and set her free. Mary Magdalene was miraculously saved from her dilemma. Mary Magdalene was redeemed and bought back from the bondage she was in. She was ultimately delivered through a miraculous encounter with Jesus.

When we talk about the deliverance that Jesus can provided for Mary Magdalene I often think of a verse in Acts 26:18, which reads, “To open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to the power of God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins…” A Journey to the cross is a journey of redemption.

When a person trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ for deliverance from the bondage of sin, these same marvelous changes take place in their life. They go from darkness to light (mental, moral, spiritual). They go from the power of Satan to the power of God (God begins to take control). They go from being guilty to experiencing forgiveness. They go from being spiritually impoverished to becoming spiritually wealthy (becoming heirs of the Kingdom).

This is what Jesus did for Mary Magdalene. He redeemed her and bought her out of her miserable condition.

But, redemption is a costly thing. When Jesus delivered Mary Magdalene it cost Him something. Standing there at the cross Mary saw the price being paid. Jesus had to die that we might be redeemed and bought back from bondage. Yes, redemption is a costly thing. It is no wonder Mary Magdalene was standing there at the cross. It is no wonder that Mary Magdalene was there at His burial. It is no wonder that Mary Magdalene was there at His resurrection. Mary Magdalene had experienced redemption and she stood near the cross because it was a place of redemption.
 
Have you journeyed to the Cross of Redemption? You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Devoted is not new...


God’s favor does not stop at the close of Acts. God would continue to work in the lives of believers who are devoted. Jonathan Edwards, John of the Cross, Henri Nouwen, John Calvin, Thomas Kelly, and E. Stanley Jones commonly attest to the devoted nature it takes to be a follower of Jesus in their writings. “God, in his word, greatly insists that we be in good earnest, fervent in spirit, and that our hearts be engaged vigorously in our religion.” [1] “God perceives the imperfections within us, and because of his love for us, urges us to grow up.”[2] “Through the practice of a spiritual discipline we become attentive to that small voice and willing to respond when we hear it.”[3] “It is a very important consideration that we are consecrated and dedicated to God. It means that we will think, speak, meditate, and do all things with a view to God’s glory.”[4] “How, then, shall we lay hold of that life and power and live the life of prayer without ceasing? By quiet, persistent practice in turning all of our being, day and night, in prayer and inward surrender, toward him who calls in the deeps of our souls.” [5] “You cannot attain salvation by disciplines – it is a gift of God. But you cannot retain it without disciplines.”[6] Passionately devoted to growing in the image of Christ while demonstrating the humble attitude of Christ is commonly shared throughout the ages of the church

As  we celebrate Easter, it is a great time to renew our resolve to be followers of Jesus. We are to continue to be devoted... You know I love ya, Don


 


[1] Richard J. Foster and James Bryan Smith, eds., Devotional Classics Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups. (New York: Harper One, 2005), Jonathan Edwards, 19.

[2] Foster and Smith, Devotional Classics Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups. John of the Cross. 37.

[3] Foster and Smith, Devotional Classics Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups. Henri J. M Nouwen 81.

[4] Foster and Smith, Devotional Classics Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups. John Calvin. 130.

[5] Foster & Smith, Devotional Classics Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups. Thomas Kelly. 176.

[6] Foster & Smith, Devotional Classics Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups. E. Stanley Jones. 281.

Monday, March 31, 2014

I am resolved to be devoted!


In the first chapter of Daniel, Judah had fallen and the Jewish Kingdoms had come to an end. The Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar, took Hebrew children as captives and prisoners to live in a foreign land as slaves. These children had been taken from their homes as well as everything they knew as safe. It would have been a very frightening time. Guards separated the strongest and handsome of the captives in preparation for them to serve in the royal courts. A select group was to be the chosen few to serve the king and the palace. The selected captives would be treated with the best that royal life could offer. The guards offered the hungry, hurting, grieving, and lonely young men the choice life of fine foods, drinks, and pleasure. Daniel was one of the chosen few and he refused to defile himself with the pagan culture. He resolved to abstain from the any pagan pleasures that were offered in order to maintain his loyalty to his God.

Daniel witnesses several trials through his captivity. Yet, decades later his resolve would see him through a visit to a den of hungry lions. In Daniel 6, Daniel would pray three times a day. His time with God was precious and was his lifeline to the Creator. King Darius and the Medes conquer the Babylonians. The new governors request a decree, which requires everyone to pray to the pagan king. Daniel responds by remaining faithful to his resolve and goes home. Three times a day he looks toward Jerusalem and bows in prayer to give God thanks. The result is a trip to a den of hungry lions, where God would save Daniel. King Darius praises God and elevates Daniel as the leader of the entire country. 

            Daniel’s devotion is not unique throughout scripture. God responds favorably to a devoted nature by granting blessing and grace. Moses’ devotion to God would energize his ability to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt. King David’s devotion to God would grant him courage to face a giant. Mary’s devotion to God prepared her to carry God’s son. Stephen’s devotion would empower him to preach the message of the cross, endure being martyrdom and see Jesus standing in heaven. Peter’s devotion would break through cultural barriers so as to extend the gospel message to Gentiles. Saul would be blinded and experience a personal encounter with Jesus, which would result in a devoted life. Saul, renamed Paul, would travel the Roman Empire preaching, teaching, and establishing new churches throughout the region. Repeatedly, one’s encounter with God results in a devoted life. 

 I wan to be known as devoted. You know I love ya - Don 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Blame: The Responsibility


Isaiah states in 53 verse 10; “Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin.” An offering is a sacrifice ceremonially offered as a payment for an offense. Jesus was perfect in every way…that is what made him acceptable to Holy, Perfect and Just God. Jesus was also willing to take responsibility for our offense…He took the blame.
In a concentration camp, a guard announced a shovel was missing. Screaming at the men, he kept insisting someone had stolen it.  He shouldered his rifle, ready to kill one prisoner at a time until a confession was made. As the story continues, a Scottish soldier broke ranks, stood stiffly at attention, and said, "I did it."  The guard killed the man. As they returned to camp, the shovels were counted. The guard had made a miss counted.  No shovel was missing after all.
Who does that?  What kind of person would take the blame for something he didn't do? Jesus does. Isaiah 53:6 says, "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all."
Christ lived the life we could not live and took the punishment we could not take, to offer the hope we cannot resist!
Jesus took responsibility. We are not willing to blame Jesus…but Jesus was willing to take the blame as his own!You know I love ya, Don