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Saturday, April 07, 2012

Jesus Christ - Willingly crucified, the Embodiment of Love, the Example for man

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 NIV

Because of the charge to Christians to overcome evil this blog exists.  With a couple of posts in my back pocket being readied to continue my attacks against the gates of hell, I had planned to rip into Darwinism pretty hard, but work took my extra time during the week and then Easter weekend was upon me.   I will continue the battering ram project after Easter.

battering ram

Don't recognize the reference to the Bible verse? It is copied below in the old King James Version.   Christians need to understand this passage.   We are supposed to be on the attack against the enemy.   Armies do not come after you carrying gates!   Gates were the entrances to the walled cities of Biblical times.   Gates were shut at night or if an enemy was attacking.  All cities needed strong walls and gates and men prepared to defend them.   The reference therefore makes it clear that Satan and his forces are supposed to be on the defense against us.   Jesus Christ defeated Satan by going to the cross, carrying our sin and shame, taking it to death and ripping the powers ceded by Adam and Eve to Satan in the Garden of Eden from the hands of the enemy of mankind.  One might say that Jesus Christ handed his children the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 16:19) by virtue of His perfect life, the cup, the cross and blood sacrifice and wrested the Keys to Death and Hell (Revelation 1:18) from Satan's grasp forever.  Satan is a defeated enemy seeking to take as many casualties of war along with him down to Hell forever.   He'll take your life to grieve God if he can, for he has no weapons left other than spread all the pain and suffering he can before he is imprisoned in Hell forever.

Matthew 16:15-19

King James Version (KJV)

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 

And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

In the Greek,  Jesus referred to a stone or pebble in naming Peter (Petros) and a mass of rock (Petra) in referring to the rock of faith in Jesus the Messiah upon which the church is built.   Our faith in Christ is our sure foundation, a massive rock upon which to stand.  

Petra (exemplified by the Rock of Gibralter)


I remember as a child and teenager, I associated Christ and Christianity with "church ladies" and Sunday School and a big handful of Bible stories designed to teach young children to be nice to each other and give them stories about most of the big questions that would suffice until one reached adulthood.   I even got the idea of a wimpy Christ, with pictures of a guy with an English face and long flowing hair - Think Eric Clapton after washing his hair with a good shampoo and conditioner.   I could not see how any of that had anything to do with me.

Now I realize how wrong I was in so many ways.   The history written in the Book of Genesis is much better supported by evidence than Darwin's Fairy Tales.   I have come to see a Jesus Christ who was far from wimpy.   He was a carpenter before beginning His ministry, working with calloused hands at a job requiring hard labor, turning trees into beams and planks and boards or crafting tables without benefit of power tools or lumber stores.   Christ was able to come into the Courtyard of the Gentiles in the Temple and drive out all the moneychangers by Himself, chasing out dozens of men, overturning their tables, exemplifying righteous anger.  He walked all over the "Holy Lands" for three years, never choosing creature comforts over ministry, always choosing Truth over political correctness, probably never even riding on a beast of burden until the Biblical prophecy demanded that Jesus ride into Jerusalem on a donkey.   Dr. Taylor Marshall explains why Jesus did this:

Why did Jesus Christ ride a donkey on Palm Sunday?

Prior to entering Jerusalem, Christ instructed his disciples to acquire for him a donkey (in Matthew's Gospel a donkey and a colt).

Why did Jesus ride an ass? There are four reasons.

First, the prophet Zechariah wrote: "Behold, your king comes to you, triumphant and victorious. He is humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass." (Zech 9:9)

The messianic sign was at once perceived by the crowds who hailed Jesus as their king shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Mt 21:9) Catholics still shout this Davidic salutation every time the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated. It is an acknowledgment that Jesus is the true Davidic Messiah and king.

Secondly, an ass is integral to the story of Abraham's offering of Isaac, a type of the oblation of the First Born Son as a sign of obedience.

The third reason is that King Solomon Solomon rode to his messianic coronation on a mule that had once belonged to David (1 Kings 1:33-44).

Fourth, King Jehu rode into Samaria (a kind of false Jerusalem) over the garments of his adherents in order to destroy the temple of the false god Baal (2 Kings 9:11-10:28). One of the first things Christ does upon entering Jerusalem is bring judgment to the Temple which has become a den of thieves. The typology in this account is rather startling as 2 Kings chapter nine contains strong messianic language. Like King Jehu, Christ the King comes as a judge over ceremonial regulations.
In fact, Jesus was a man's man to the very end.   Consider the last hours of His life before being taken by Roman soldiers to the Sanhedrin (the ruling Jewish Priests) to be railroaded in an illegal trial by night, using false witnesses and being tortured, mocked and murdered by crucifixion.   He knew what was about to happen to Him, but Jesus spent time sharing Passover with the disciples, singing and probably laughing about some of the occurrences during his ministry.   God did not see fit to put such mishaps in the Bible, but likely Peter made a few brash statements or took silly dares only to flop...Perhaps James tripped over his clothing while trying to run....maybe James knew some of John's childhood misadventures that all could laugh about?   

Passover with disciples

While celebrating the Passover with His disciples, Jesus was well aware of the fate awaiting Him.   But Jesus kept ministering to them, kept teaching and praying for them, always loving them until He was alone in the Garden of Gethsemane and the rest were sleeping.   Only then did Jesus ask His Father about the cup of sin and wrath that Jesus abhorred, only then did Christ give one thought to what awaited Him and ask if becoming sin was absolutely necessary.   I do not believe Christ was asking to avoid pain and suffering and death.   His reference was to the cup of sin and shame and wrath of God, His burden that caused him to actually sweat blood was to accept becoming sin itself and being separated from the Godhead.   Jesus was to be everything He detested and He would do this alone.   The Father would turn His face away from the Son, the Holy Spirit would flee from Him...This was the source of Jesus' grief on that night in Gethsemane.  But love for God and for mankind got him through this time of personal crisis.   For your sake and mine Jesus both thought about and accepted what was to Him unthinkable.

For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them.

Thus saith thy Lord the LORD, and thy God that pleadeth the cause of his people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again:

Jesus Christ cared for others above Himself even while on the cross.  He was concerned for the care of His mother, had reassurance for a thief being crucified next to Him, and called on the Father to forgive the very men who were killing Him.  God is love.   Jesus embodied the love of God in the form of a man to the end of His Earthly life and beyond.

Ironic that mankind would give up the right to rule and reign over the Earth in a garden and then almost 5,000 years later the Savior would be grabbed and taken into custody by soldiers while in a garden.   God has a way of teaching us in layers, with simple teachings that a child can understand yet interrelated events and parables and prophecies and real life situations that challenge those of us who have studied the Book for decades.   I do not know any Christians who will tell me that they have read all they need to read of the Bible.   My mentor has studied the Bible for approximately as long as I have walked on this Earth and he still needs to study more.   I keep learning from reading the Word and I am quite sure I'll never stop learning.   God is never silent.   It is all on me to decide to listen.   There is always more to hear.

Stephen Curtis Chapman, a fantastic singer and accomplished songwriter and guitarist, wrote a song that tells so much about Christ, His gift to mankind, by going to the cross for our sake.   The song and the words...

My life began like any other man held beneath a mother’s loving gaze
Somewhere between now and then I lost the man I could have been
Took everything that wasn’t mine to take but Love believes that it is not too late
Only one of us deserves this cross, a suffering that should belong to me
Deep within this man I hang beside is the place where shame and grace collide
And it’s beautiful agony that He believes it’s not too late for me

This is how Love wins, every single time
Climbing high upon a tree where someone else should die
This is how Love heals, the deepest part of you
Letting Himself bleed into the middle of your wounds
This is what Love says, standing at the door
You don’t have to be who you’ve been before
Silenced by His voice, death can’t speak again
This is how Love wins

Did you see this moment from the start that we would drink this of cup of suffering?
I wonder, did we ever meet? Childhood games in dusty streets
For all my many sorrows and regrets nothing could compare to just this one
That in the presence of my King I cannot fall upon my knees
I cannot carry You up to Your throne; You instead, will carry me back home.

This is how Love wins, every single time
Climbing high upon a tree where someone else should die
This is how Love heals, the deepest part of you
Letting Himself bleed into the middle of your wounds
This is what Love says, standing at the door
You don’t have to be who you’ve been before
Silenced by His voice, death can’t speak again
This is how Love wins

What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood, nothing but the blood
What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood, Nothing but the blood
Because this is what Love say, standing at the door
You don’t have to be who you’ve been before
And silenced by His voice, death can’t speak again
This is how Love wins.

Steven Curtis Chapman / Nordeman/Herms

Chapman wrote this song from the perspective of the thief being crucified next to Christ, the one who acknowledged and worshiped Jesus from his own cross and from out of his own suffering and pain cried out to Jesus Christ. 

Luke 23:39-43

New King James Version (NKJV)

Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”

But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.”   

Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”

And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

Christian, be of good cheer and fight the good fight!   In this life we know we will have trials and tribulations but we have a certain hope because of the work of our Savior, Jesus Christ.    As Paul eloquently proclaims:

1 Corinthians 15:41-58

New King James Version (NKJV)

There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.

So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.  It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.  It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.  And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.  The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.  As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly.  And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.  Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades(Hell) , where is your victory?”

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

He is risen!


Anonymous whatsit said...

Like Christmas, would Easter even survive as a holiday if it weren't for all the pagan accoutrements?

Anonymous said...

Pagan traditions were added after the fact. Get your facts straight, Easter is Christian, not pagan.