The Ultimate Question:- The Answer Changes Everything

 

2nd April

For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

In most countries across the world, Easter, the event to remember Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and His victory over sin, was celebrated yesterday. There are many perhaps, who just enjoyed the day off from work, some enjoyed receiving chocolates or even families gathering together. Yet Easter always leaves us with one big question… Why did Jesus die? Many would answer this question with the statement that ‘Jesus died to forgive our sins’, and if so, would correctly answer this question. Jesus did die to forgive our sins. However, Jesus’ death on the cross represented more than just a spiritual exchange of our sins and His purity and forgiveness. Jesus died on the cross, as said by Jesus Himself in John’s gospel narrative, because ‘God loved the world’.

If we look at the cross merely as a symbol of our forgiveness, we can sometimes just get caught up in a cycle of ME, feeling guilty because of our sin, repenting, sinning, repenting and so on, repeating the cycle until we go up to glory. However, if we look at the cross as a symbol of love, knowing that whatever we do, we are still radically and unconditionally loved by the God who created this world, who saw it fit to allow His own Son to die in our place, it changes everything. We begin to stop focusing on our own sinful nature and start focusing on God’s love. The more we open our hearts to receive it, the more we naturally become bearers and sharers of it. God’s love for us is foundational to our faith. Knowing we are loved so much changes our perception of the kind of God we serve and our own self image. As we celebrate His resurrection, celebrate too, how much you are loved by the King of all ages.

The Grief Of Remorse

30th March

When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshipped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.” And when all the crowd that came to see the crucifixion saw what had happened, they went home in deep sorrow.”

Luke 23:47-48

Have you ever done something so bad that had huge consequences, then after you do it, you are filled with an immeasurable amount of shame, guilt and remorse? Maybe not, but there are plenty of people throughout the Bible who had. One such man was the Roman officer, commissioned to oversee Jesus’ crucifixion. We may not know a lot about this man but based on Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s accounts of Jesus’ final moments, we can assume that this man knew he had made a big mistake in executing, not just an innocent man, but as Matthew records in 27:54, “..the Son of God!”

As Jesus breathed His last breath the Heavens mourned for the Only Begotten Son of God. There was an earthquake, the skies were turned black, and the curtains of the temple tore in two. There was chaos. This had never happened before after someone had been crucified. Was it a coincidence? Was is a natural phenomenon? No! It was the pains of the Son of Man dying and at the same time, the victory cries that what Jesus set out to do had been completed.

These events caused such a stir, that many people began to question, ‘did we just call for the head of an innocent man?’ Even the crowds, who a week earlier had rejoiced in Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem on a colt with palm trees and songs of praise, who then called for Jesus’ crucifixion with such hatred, seemed to also be filled with great remorse as they went home with “..deep sorrow.”

Jesus’ death and resurrection still causes controversy today. Opinion is divided as people recall the event of 2000 years ago. Some people, like the Roman officer, feel remorse for their sins and realise that what Jesus did on the cross was for them. Others ignore what He did. Yet for those who do accept, great joy and freedom await. What will you choose? Will you let the realisation that Jesus died for you lead you to Him or reject the truth and live in the bondage of remorse and guilt?

Even In Death…

 

29th March

“”Oh, is He a Galilean?” Pilate asked. When they said that He was, Pilate sent Him to Herod Antipas, because Galilee was under Herod’s jurisdiction, and Herod happened to be in Jerusalem at the time. . . (Herod and Pilate, who had been enemies before, became friends that day.)”

Luke 23:6-7, 12

Jesus was and is the Prince of peace. He was and is the reconciler and the biggest ambassador of unity. He died so the we would be reconciled back to God the Father, in perfect unity and without separation. Today’s key verse, highlights this very truth. Let’s take a look.

Have you ever wondered why Luke purposefully decided to include verse 12 in his narrative of Jesus’ last moments? Perhaps many just skip through this verse rushing ahead to read about whether Jesus was found guilty or not! Yet it is important not to miss this wonderful truth.

As Luke tells us, Pilate and Herod were enemies, although the reason is not stated in the text. For some reason Pilate is prompted to send Jesus to Herod’s jurisdiction, Galilee, to see if he thought Jesus was guilty or not. Incredibly this act, in whatever spirit it was done, bought unity and reconciliation between two people who were formerly enemies. Luke writes that Pilate and Herod ‘became friends’ after this encounter. Even though Jesus was being sentenced to die, even in His beaten state, Jesus’ very presence brought unity and reconciliation where there was hate and animosity. It is incredible that just by being, Jesus carried with Him life and relationship changing peace.

Perhaps it is reading too much into the text, but if Luke thought it important enough to include it in his writings, shouldn’t we too pay attention. That is why just simply inviting Jesus’ presence wherever you can, can change the atmosphere and your surroundings. We are carriers of this light and love and wherever we go, we too can take with us Jesus’ life changing peace, unity and reconciliation, even in the midst of hate and darkness.

Utterly Helpless…Then Christ Came

28th March

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. ..But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

Romans 5:6,8

No other story is better placed to explain this verse than that of the criminals hanging on the cross with Jesus at His crucifixion. Yet Jesus’ love didn’t just stop or was not just for the repentant criminal, it was in fact for everyone at the scene of the crucifixion. He died for those that were spitting at Him, shouting abuse at Him and scorning Him. He died for Pilate, the very man who gave Jesus His death order, even though he knew Jesus was innocent. He died for Judas even though he betrayed the Son of God. He died for the High Priest and the Pharisees who orchestrated His capture and execution. Do you get it yet? Jesus died for us all! And He didn’t wait for us to be good, or to comprehend God’s love. He died while we were still sinners. He proved His love for us because we were and are utterly helpless without Him. He came at the right time and showed His great love for us.

This same love never runs dry, never runs out and is always available, as much of it as you want, for those who accept it, receive it and believe it. There are no catches. Jesus died for all and was resurrected so you can be part of Him and His family!

Prove It!

27th March

One of the criminals hanging beside Him scoffed, “So You’re the Messiah, are You? Prove it by saving Yourself – and us, too, while You’re at it!” But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with Me in paradise.””

Luke 23:39-43

‘Prove it – save yourself’, cried one of the scoffers hanging next to Jesus. Have you ever asked yourself the question, what if Jesus did prove it? What if He did supernaturally release Himself, come down from the cursed cross and healed Himself of His wounds? You may have your conclusions but the Biblical truth is.. . . nothing. Jesus didn’t need to do anymore to prove that He was who He said He was, the Son of God.

Time and time again He showed who He was by His miraculous works and His life changing teachings. He raised men and children from the dead. He fed thousands with barely nothing. He calmed the raging sea. He turned water into wine. He healed people of their sickness’ and forgave them of their sins. He had a meeting with Elijah and Moses. He Himself said He was the Son of God. How much more did Jesus need to do to prove that He was who He said He was.

And yet even if He did come down, would people then believe in Him? Again….NO. Jesus was raised to life and now lives and people still ignore He even exists. He heals today, saves today, teaches us and reveals Himself to many, yet people still reject Him. Believing in Jesus, believing that He was who He said He was, is down to a personal choice. The evidence is clear. He really did exist. He really did rise again on the 3rd day and He really is still alive today. However, the choice is yours to make; Believe in truth or join in with the scoffers.

The God Of Second Chances

26th March

One of the criminals hanging beside Him scoffed, “So You’re the Messiah, are You? Prove it by saving Yourself – and us, too, while You’re at it!” But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with Me in paradise.””

Luke 23:39-43

This surely has to be one of the most powerful demonstrations of Jesus’ love, mercy and acceptance in the whole of scripture. Jesus has just been beaten, punched, kicked, abused and is carrying the weight of every sin of humanity on His shoulders and yet still, He could find space in His heart to recognise a sinners remorse and forgive Him with His dying breath.

The remorseful criminal knew that Jesus was an innocent man. He may not have fully understood why Jesus had to die, he certainly was not baptised or put through the sinners prayer, and in addition, although not mentioned in the text, this was probably the only time he had talked to God (Jesus). Yet Jesus looked straight past the criminals sinful exterior, and straight into the man’s heart, who had clearly realised that next to a Holy Man, he fell very short of God’s holy standards and knew that Jesus was no ordinary man.

Jesus completely forgave the man of his sins, although again not mentioned in the text but can be assumed based on Jesus’ confirmation that this criminal would be in paradise with Jesus Himself. The man hanging on the cross for his own sins, forgiven by the Man hanging on the cross for humanities sins. Isn’t that just an astounding picture. Jesus hanging next to the criminal, taking the criminals sins upon His shoulders, and releasing the criminal from the wages of his own sin, death. A marvellous exchange of sin for grace; of punishment for redemption. This is the Jesus we serve.

The Pain Won’t Last

23rd March

I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to Me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy.”

John 16:20

Jesus’ death truly does conjure images of grief and mourning amongst believers. It is sad that Jesus had to physically be beaten and tortured to pay for our sins. It is sad that an innocent man had to die for us. It is sad that our God and King was made a mockery of. BUT, as Jesus said, our weeping and mourning is now over, and our grief has been turned into wonderful joy, because He has been resurrected!! He is alive!! Jesus likened this pain and joy to the metaphor of a woman giving birth. When a woman is in labour, giving birth to her child, she suffers with great pain. But, as soon as the child is born, the pain is quickly swept away with the emotion of joy and happiness at the sight of their new born child.

Friends, don’t stay mourning for a dead man, but rejoice in a resurrected King. He is no longer in the grave. He is alive and He lives in us. Let us cast our pains and burdens to Him, because He lives. Let us receive and walk in the joy that comes from worshipping our resurrected King.