Bound to the Cross by Love
Jesus … who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross. Hebrews 12:2
The last supper Jesus shared with His disciples was a Seder, commemorating how God set the Israelites free from bondage. It helps us see the enormous significance of Jesus taking the cup and saying,
“This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28).
He added, “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
He was essentially saying, “I’m forsaking the pleasures of this world until the day when all the redeemed can gather in My Father’s kingdom. I’m doing this for your sake.”
After the Seder, they sang a hymn as they went to the Mount of Olives. There, Jesus would pray in Gethsemane, “Can this cup pass from me?” He understood what was ahead. He knew Isaiah had prophesied that His visage would be marred more than any man. Given that Jesus sweat drops of blood while praying in the garden, imagine what happened to Him on the cross as He became sin on our behalf, and God turned His face away.
It makes what the Romans did to Him seem small. It makes the scourging, the crown of thorns, and the nails in His hands and feet seem small in comparison.
If I were preparing for this, I would not be singing. Yet that’s what Jesus did on the way to Gethsemane.
A Seder’s last song is Psalm 118, which begins, “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!” It then commands Israel and those who fear the Lord—which includes the Gentiles and us today—to say, “His mercy endures forever.” So as Jesus was singing, He was declaring, “This is for all people, for all time.”
The psalm continues,
“The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation. I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD. The LORD has chastened me severely, but He has not given me over to death” (vv. 6, 14, 17-19).
Verse 24 says, “This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” It’s amazing to think that as Jesus went to Gethsemane, He could rejoice that the day appointed for the salvation of all people had come.
Then verse 27 states, “Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.” In Jewish tradition, sacrifices were not bound to an altar; yet Jesus sings this while preparing to be bound—nailed to a cross.
We’re the reason Jesus went to the cross—giving us freedom, forgiveness, mercy, and new life. And He was bound there by love so we can live with Him for all eternity. God bless you.
Easter: All That Matters vs All I Live For
By: Shawn McEvoy, crosswalk.com
He has risen, just as He said. – Matthew 28:6, NIV
What would I ever do if someone I knew came back from the dead? Especially if he had said he would, and if he had spent a couple nights in a grave already?
Seriously, what would I do? What would you do? Wouldn’t I blab to everyone I know – and most people I don’t – about this miraculous event? Heck, I tell everyone when I’m feeling under the weather or when I saw a good movie.
Then factor in that the same guy was now telling us that because of what he had done, none of the rest of us would ever have to suffer death. What’s more, simply by believing what we had seen, no matter our background, history, race, or education, we could restore our long-lost connection with the Almighty, and live forever.
Man… unfortunately, I’m having a hard time conceiving what I would do. Or, even if I can conceive it, I can’t quite believe it, because honestly, I have seen this, I do believe this, and yet my daily reaction to it doesn’t exactly line up with The Acts of the Apostles.
Has the news of a resurrected savior really become passe?
Why don’t I want to read Acts?
What am I afraid of?
That I’ll be rejected?
That I won’t be powerful enough?
(God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (2 Tim. 1:7)).
That the good news isn’t relevant enough?
Salvation and the message of the resurrection, the miracle of born again-ness, is a salve to all wounds.
This Easter I’ll join choruses like “He’s Alive” while pondering and praising the miracle, but when it comes time for the next day of my life to begin, a day and a life that means nothing if not lived for my Savior, it’ll be all about me again and my troubles and making my way and who cut me off and what I have to get done and who I don’t like and what can we complain about today.
I want this Easter to be real. Because I did see it happen (so to speak; the resulting spread of those who ran to the corners of the earth to tell the story with no regard for personal safety is traceable to this day), it is real, and I’m cheating life and people God loves if I’m not shouting those facts from every corner and rooftop I can find. Everything else is just window dressing; “Christian living” is often just how we pass all our extra time in this country where so many of our basic needs are so easily met, and where we can cordon ourselves off from each other. What matters in life?
That there is life, and…
how it came about that there might never be death, but…
there are still dead men walking.
Really, why else are we here if not to keep excitedly shouting the truth of the miracle as if we’d just experienced it with our own eyes yesterday?
Matthew 24 begins what is sometimes called “The Olivet Discourse.” In it, Jesus talks about the near and far future for the church. Bible scholars often point out the importance of recalling the precise question the disciples asked that precipitated this entire discourse: “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3 ESV)
There are clearly two parts to that question. Jesus had just prophesied the destruction of the temple, and the disciples asked when that would happen AND what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age.
The trick is that Jesus understood those two events were not concurrent. The temple was destroyed in AD 70, yet Jesus still hasn’t returned as of today in 2017—but the disciples didn’t and couldn’t have known that. They assumed that the destruction of the temple would be the climactic event of the end times. They didn’t realize that it would only be the beginning. Therefore, as we listen to what Jesus said by way of response, we have to remember that he is talking about a near future and a far future and we have to understand which is which. There are a couple of key indicators in the text. Look for examples at verse 6 and verse 8. After talking about some things that would happen he says: “but the end is not yet” (v. 6) and “All these are but the beginning of the birth pains” (v. 8).
The end is not yet. This is just the beginning. Jesus seems to be saying that a bunch of things are going to happen that are NOT the end times events the disciples were thinking they were. Things like wars, things like the rise and fall of empires, things like massive natural disasters. Those things ARE NOT SIGNALS OF THE END—rather they are more like table setters. They are like birth pangs. They open the door, but they are not the baby.
After these things, you want to watch for a couple of indicators. Watch for the Great Commission to be completed in an environment of increasing persecution, tribulation, false religion and apostasy; then the end will come. Look at verse 14: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14 ESV).
Following that, there will be a short season of intense persecution and tribulation after which:
the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:29–31 ESV)
That is the end. After that, according to Matthew 13:43, the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father, forever.
Even so, come Lord Jesus.