Sunday, November 29, 2020

Gory glory

Matthew 27:33-37 / Mark 15:22-26 / Luke 23:33-34 / John 19:17-27…

The beauty in this brutal scene can only be seen with spiritual eyes. In this cruel context we see the wickedness of men, but we also see the wonder of Jesus. They continued to mock Him and even now the priests still want to marginalize Him (John 19:19-22). Yet in the midst of this savage and shameful torture Jesus was thinking about others.

He thought about the pain we all experience because of sin. They offered Him something that would ease the pain a little (Proverbs 31:6), or perhaps shorten the agony (Psalm 69:21). But He did not take it, choosing instead to experience the maximum amount of pain. Jesus was giving testament to the vicarious nature of the Atonement for sin.

He thought about how sin blinds us in ignorance. And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." The Bible doesn’t describe His agony, only man’s misery. He knew that we are often aloof to the sin, sorrow, and suffering that is right in front of us. Men often look to gain off of the misfortune of others.  But Jesus was fulfilling the plan of God (Psalm 22:18).

He thought about His Father’s mission for Him. The irony of the inscription above His head is that even as they mock Him, they are identifying Him correctly. The charge against Him was that He claimed to be the King of the Jews, the Messiah, the Son of God, and it’s true.  He is paying the penalty on the cross for the crime of being who He really is.

He thought about His mother, making provision for her. He was thinking about you, making the only provision for salvation you have, and the only one you need (Hebrews 2:3 / Acts 4:12). 

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Correct crying

Luke 23:27-32…

But turning to them Jesus said, Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. Jesus is pointing to the future. What He was experiencing was indeed a tragedy, but Jerusalem would soon experience its own tragedy. Things will be so bad that blessings such as children will be seen as curses, and people will be wishing they could just die rather than have to go through this experience.

For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry? Green wood still has the sap in it, and the moisture prevents it from burning well. Dry wood has been cut and aged so that it burns very easily. The point Jesus is making is that if the Romans are willing to sanction such injustice and put an innocent man like Him to death, what will they do to the Jews, and what will happen to Jerusalem, when the Romans no longer see them as relevant?

Jesus wants them to consider the rising tide of evil sweeping through Jerusalem. What will happen to Jerusalem is a picture of what hell will be like. Accordingly, people should be concerned for the multitude of souls who face the danger of eternal damnation because of the sin in their lives. This is always the big issue, the eternal state.

Certainly, it isn’t wrong to cry about catastrophe or weep over injustice. But our most correct cries are not about the personal tragedies we can see but the permanent tragedies that we can’t yet see. Christians are supposed to be compassionate, but with an understanding that temporal tragedy is nothing compared to eternal destiny. Do you cry out to the Lord for souls to be saved?

In the end, and as always, God will do what is right. For now, what is right for us to do is to weep for the lost, warn them of the judgment to come, witness to them of Jesus, and hopefully, by God’s grace, win them to Christ.

What are you crying about? Don’t just weep, but warn, witness, and win. Do that, and make your cries count. 

Friday, November 27, 2020

Bearing the burden of honor

Matthew 27:32 / Mark 15:21 / Luke 23:26…

And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. We see this scene and are reminded of how God will providentially arrange a bystander to become one of His followers, intimately bearing the burden of knowing Jesus.

Of course, this burden was actually a glorious honor for Simon. We can also infer that his family came to a saving knowledge of Christ (cf. Romans 16:13). 

Honoring others has a lasting effect, especially as it pertains to our brothers and sisters in Christ. But think about the text here and realize that it can be quite the burden when honoring means we have to help bear another’s shame.

It may be a hard thing to take, but your brothers and sisters in Christ are worth it because Jesus has made them so. No matter their shame. We are one with the Lord and one with each other (1 Corinthians 6:17). They are a part of you (Romans 12:5). We are called to honor them (Romans 12:10), and we help do that by helping them bear their burdens (Galatians 6:2).   

When Christians are beaten, bare, burdened, and broke, this is when you can be like Simon. When the world would mock, spit on, and curse them, we can honor them (1 Corinthians 12:23). A maturing mind will realize that taking up our cross at times means we are carrying someone else’s burden, and enduring their shame, as well.

In honoring others, we serve men to the glory of God.