Jesus

 

Apr

17

2014

Trevin Wax|2:10 am CT

The Multifaceted Diamond of Christ’s Atoning Work

Diamond scinilationThe atonement is like a multi-faceted diamond. What Christ accomplished on the cross is so massive, and the window into the heart of God is so big that no one explanation or description of the atonement can tell the whole story.

Because the atonement is at the heart of who God is and what he has done for us, we can never fully exhaust the riches that flow from this event. But recognizing our inability to mine all the theological treasures represented in the cross of Christ should not keep us from pondering the beautiful truth of this event.

In recent weeks, guest contributors have written about the different aspects of Christ’s atoning work. Here is a summary of their posts, with links for you to dig deeper into the significance of each truth.

On the cross, Christ slays the Dragon and wins our victory:

In the cross and resurrection, Christ the warrior king is the new and better Adam who delivers a head crushing blow to the serpent. He is the new and better Joshua who drives out all his enemies from the Promised Land. He is the new and better David who establishes the eternal kingdom of God.

On the cross, Christ drinks the cup of God’s wrath as a substitute sacrifice:

Because of this, when God looks at us, he no longer sees a sinner destined for wrath; he sees His Son nailed to the cross, shedding His own blood in our place. He died so that we may truly live, free from the shackles of sin and death.

On the cross, Christ redeems us from slavery to sin and death:

Can you see that this is what the redeeming love of God looks like—buying you back from the slave market? He wooed you to himself with gospel promises of mercy instead of punishment, belonging instead of estrangement. He loved you by redeeming you from your enslavement to all lesser lovers, and He is loving you even now as He cuts away from your character every lingering tether to your old way of life.

On the cross, Christ pays the ransom:

The ransom now paid, we have been delivered from the domain of sin and death into perfect union with the Son of God, in whom there is therefore now no condemnation.

On the cross, Christ is the Lamb who takes away our sin and shame:

Expiation is that angle on the atoning work of Christ that means we are clean. Clean. What we need is the good news that Jesus Christ died not only to forgive us, but to cleanse us.

On the cross, Christ is our liberator:

Redemption is not for our restriction, but for our joy. Christ did not die for our duty, but for our delight. I have been set free, but this freedom is not an unfettered pursuit of my desires, for that’s slavery all over again. It’s the joyful mission of bringing God pleasure because He has liberated and set me free.

On the cross, Christ shows how God is with us in our suffering:

There, in the midst of God’s own grief and sorrow, we see God with us and believe that he is able somehow to take up our burdens upon himself and deliver us from our despair. He is not distant from our pain. He understands our suffering because Jesus Christ – God in human flesh – suffered.

On the cross, Christ is the propitiation that makes us right with God:

Everybody needs a plan for getting on the right side of the gods. But if the true God has made his character known as it is found in the Bible, then there’s only one way of propitiation: the one that God himself put forward in the blood of Jesus, to be received by faith, the one who is his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

On the cross, Christ becomes our ultimate example:

Jesus Christ is the supreme model of Christian discipleship, the ethical exemplar of the Christian life. The compelling force of Christ’s sacrificial example is one answer to indifference and inaction in our broken world. Once we truly grasp what Christ did on our behalf, we will be compelled to live our lives in a way that reflects his self-sacrifice for all others.

 
 

Apr

16

2014

Trevin Wax|2:10 am CT

Arms Outstretched

Psalm22

Those hands need nails to keep them in line.

Something must be done.

Those arms must never embrace again.

We saw His arm reach out when He touched the leper, in defiance of our purity laws.

We saw His hands lift the face of an adulterous woman, thwarting our execution of her just sentence.

We saw Him welcome children into His arms, as if one must become like an infant to belong to His kingdom.

We saw Him break bread and divide the fish, as if He were supplying manna from heaven.

We saw His arms beckon sinners to His table, as if by repentance one can wash away the past.

We saw His arms do nothing to stop a sinful woman from anointing Him, as if He were a treasure greater than her priceless perfume.

We saw His arms crack the whip and overturn the tables, as if He were in charge of the temple.

And then we watched Him lead the blind and the lame inside, as if God’s house were for the broken and weary.

His hands are tainted, unwashed, defiled.

His hands, just like His speeches, are always about Him. He never ceases to point to Himself.

As if He were the only way. As if He alone has truth. As if He alone gives life.

His arms are open to anyone (anyone!) who will repent, and yet He bars the door from those of us who need no repentance.

No more.

Those cursed arms must be pinned down. Those hands must be stilled. Those wrists must be bound.

If He is so determined to stretch out His arms, let them be stretched out and nailed to the tree.

Perhaps then His embrace of sinners will end. Perhaps then people will understand true holiness. Perhaps then purity and righteousness will reign.

But wait, what is He saying?

Who is He talking to?

Father, forgive?

He is praying. Yes, He is praying… for us.

See Him there, with arms outstretched. His hands are speaking again.

This time, they beckon us to come. To trade our taunts for tears. Our efforts for His accomplishment. Our debts for His inheritance.

Before His cross we kneel. Here He is enthroned, hovering over us, arms outstretched, His shadow covering our sin. Blessing in His blood.

Arms outstretched, His broken body fills the threshold. The narrow door of repentance is open to the world.

 
 

Jan

27

2014

Trevin Wax|12:10 am CT

Who’s the Real Seeker?

jesusandzacchaeusI’ve always liked Zacchaeus. Whenever I was in Sunday School singing about Zacchaeus being a wee little man, I could relate, being the smallest guy in the class. I imagine his mother said things that my mother used to say, “Don’t worry, there’s another growth spurt right around the corner!” My mom doesn’t say that anymore.

Of course, focusing only on Zacchaeus’ lack of stature is an adventure in missing the point. It’s neat to think of this little guy who had once climbed the ladder of business and politics to now be climbing up a tree to get a good look at Jesus. But that’s not all that’s going on.

Instead, this story is mainly about seekers – one who seems obvious, and another who is the true seeker in the story.

The small seeker

In Luke 19, we notice Zacchaeus, but in that moment not many other people do. In fact, the only person who seems to see him at this point is the narrator.

Luke tells us that Zacchaeus was a small, but wealthy tax collector who was curious about who Jesus was. But his height kept him from standing by the road to see Jesus.

The crowds don’t notice Zacchaeus. Maybe the reason they don’t let him through is because he doesn’t fit their idea of someone who should be a seeker in the first place. Maybe they were thinking: Oh, why is he trying to get through? He doesn’t fit the bill. He’s certainly not a seeker. He doesn’t deserve to get through!

Instead of giving up and going home, content with his lavish life, Zacchaeus ran ahead and found a sycamore tree that would overlook Jesus’ path.

The true Seeker

But then Jesus called his name. Jesus looked past the crowd. Jesus looked past the indignity of a man who’s up in a tree. He looked past the sinful reputation of this wee little man, and He said, “Come down because I’m going to stay with you.”

Zacchaeus didn’t invite Jesus over. Jesus invited Himself. He took the initiative.

The story starts with a small s – seeker: Zacchaeus. But it becomes clear that there’s another dynamic in play. The seeker has become the sought.

There’s a capital S Seeker – the Savior. The story isn’t focused primarily on Zacchaeus as the seeker, but Jesus. That’s why Luke ends this section with words about Jesus: “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.” He is the real Seeker.

Pointing seekers to the Seeker

If we’re going to be on mission the way God has called us to be, we’ve got to look for the seeker, look past their sins, but even more than that, we’ve got to look to the Savior. He is the only One who can change a sinner’s heart.

The transformation of Zacchaeus is a testimony to the power of Jesus to save. When you are meeting with seekers who want God, don’t get in the way of the capital S Seeker who seeks and saves the lost. He is the One who can transform a heart.

Pray to Him. Ask Him to put you in the right place at the right time. Do whatever it takes to introduce people to Him. Don’t make seekers climb trees to get around you in order to see Jesus.

The Savior goes to stay with sinners, but too often we separate from sinners. Instead of helping those far from Christ come near to Him, we act as if hanging out with people who don’t know God will cause us to contract a sin disease.

But sin isn’t a disease you can catch. Sin is a sign of death that only the Savior can defeat and overcome with new life.

That’s why we should seek opportunities to spend time with people who don’t know God. Get out in the neighborhood. Ride the bus. Witness to your coworkers. Open your home and your life to the lost. Get your hands dirty with the homeless and the disadvantaged people in your town. Seekers are everywhere. Stop seeing only their sins and start seeing the people themselves.

When was the last time someone could say of you, “He’s in the home of a sinner. He’s in the home of a lost person.” When was the last time someone could say you were hosting a lost person in your home?

I admit I need to work on this too. I haven’t always been as intentional as I should be. I’m the first to confess that I haven’t got all this figured out. But one of the things God is teaching me is to keep my eyes open.

We must learn to look past sin and see the seeker – to point the seeker see the real Seeker. We can all do that, whether we are a wee little man or not.

 
 

Jan

07

2014

Trevin Wax|12:10 am CT

3 Ways We Try to Mask Death

grave-682_1150394aPeople have been trying to mask death since it first reared its face as a result of the fall, slithering in on the forked, but successful tongue of the serpent.

Even on the first Easter morning, the women were on the way to the gravesite to do just that. They were going to the cemetery, anticipating exactly what you’d expect at a tomb – a dead body that is beginning to decay. So they were bringing spices to cover the smell of death.

If we are honest, what the women attempted on Easter morning is no different from what many of us try to do every other day of the week. We want to mask the stench of death. We want to hold our nose, cover our eyes, plug our ears – anything to keep from thinking about the looming specter of death.

How do we go about masking death? We try to cover up the reality of death in one of three ways.

1. IGNORE DEATH

I know people who never go to a funeral. They have never seen a dead body. They don’t want to put together a will or pick out a cemetery plot. The idea is too much. They say, “I just don’t want to think about it.” So they don’t.

We can do our best to ignore death, but death doesn’t leave us alone. We want to shut out the idea and think of pleasant thoughts. If we can just put it out of sight, we can put it out of mind. So we think.

We’re like the rich fool in Jesus’ story – taking into account all the space we need for big barns and harvest and money and wheat, and yet at the end, the only space we need is a box in which to be buried.

2. EXPLAIN DEATH

The second way people try to cover the stench is by overanalyzing and examining death’s processes. We obsess over death in its details, and we analyze its causes and effects. But we do it safely through our televisions.

Some shows deal with the gory details of how the body passes from life to death, the gruesome crime scene, or the analysis of dead bodies. These types of shows revel in the details and desensitize us to death. Others shows use zombies, vampires and other monsters to show “death come to life.” Death has been glamorized.

But death can’t be contained to a flat screen. Science cannot explain it away. Pop culture cannot make it hip. Not when you are personally affected by it. When you lose someone you love, no amount of scientific explanation is going to satisfy you. No television make-up can hide the pain.

3. SPIRITUALIZE DEATH

The third way to mask the stench of death is to spiritualize it, to redefine it as something good not bad. So we talk about death in peaceful terms. We say things like, ‘Death is a natural part of life.’

We soften our language and talk about “passing away.” We speak about people who’ve died as if they are angels in the heavens or stars in the sky.

But no amount of spiritualization can take away the sting of death. Deep down, we know this is true. There is nothing more unsettling and saddening than to watch someone else suffer and die.

WE DON’T NEED DEATH TO BE MASKED…

Over the past few years, my father-in-law battled cancer, and over time, he wasted away – the disease capturing the last of his strength, until the final days were spent in agony, moaning with each breath. We gathered in his room and watched him close his eyes for the last time.

I will never get out of my mind the picture of my best friend and next door neighbor growing up – seeing him in his casket. He spiraled out of control mentally at the age of 16 and took his own life. I remember standing over his casket, looking at his body and thinking, This isn’t right. Someone do something! It stung. It still stings. The stench is there.

Who hasn’t turned their head away in horror at the scenes of people jumping to their deaths from the World Trade Center, the scenes of babies butchered in clinics in Philadelphia, the pictures of the wounded and dead in wars across the world, the scenes of flood waters rising and sweeping people away, or the little casket being lowered into the ground just days after a newborn entered and left this world?

You can’t tie a ribbon to death. A nice little bow won’t suffice. The women might have felt good by bringing spices to anoint the body of Jesus, but their spices could do nothing to change the horrible situation. Death is final, and dead people stay dead. We may feel better by covering the stench, but we cannot change the outcome, as much as we might try.

The good news is that we don’t have to try to cover it up.

… WE NEED DEATH TO BE DEFEATED

Death is not our friend. It is the fallen wages reaped by sinful man. It is the last enemy to be defeated, not a friend to be embraced.

But for the believer, Jesus has conquered death.

The resurrection changes everything. Death didn’t have the last word on Jesus, and for those of us who are in Him, it won’t have the last word on us either.

No, we cannot mask death in feeble attempts to disguise its ugliness. But we can trust in the accomplished work of Christ. He stood face-to-face with death, unmasked it forever, and came out victorious on our behalf.

 
 

Oct

29

2013

Trevin Wax|12:15 am CT

God’s Commitment to Forgetfulness

forgiving

For I will be merciful to their wrongdoing,
and I will never again remember their sins.
(Hebrews 8:12)

It is I who sweep away your transgressions for My own sake
and remember your sins no more.
(Isaiah 43:25)

Last Wednesday, my daily devotional reading was near the end of the book of Judges, where Samson met his fateful end after a life of disordered love and disobedience. As I closed my Bible that morning, I recalled how the sad epitaph on Samson’s life in Judges (“he killed more in his death than he did in his life”) is not repeated in the New Testament. The author of Hebrews lists Samson as a man of faith. Period. How kind of the Lord, I thought, to put Samson’s flawed legacy in the background and simply list him as a hero, one who “gained strength after being weak.”

Later that day, Johnny Hunt spoke at LifeWay’s chapel and delivered a truth-filled message about how God’s grace overcomes past regrets. He brought up God’s promise to “forget” our sins, to never bring up our past again, and he pointed to the New Testament’s discussion of Old Testament heroes as proof.

Think about it. No matter how flawed our heroes are shown to be in the Old Testament, they are presented at their best in the New.

Noah

Noah’s story doesn’t have a flattering end. The one righteous man who obeyed God and survived the flood winds up drunk and naked in his tent. But the New Testament makes no mention of Noah’s drunken escapade. We see him as a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5) who condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith (Hebrews 11:7).

Lot

Lot seems to be a half-hearted believer, waffling between his position in Sodom and his faith in the Lord. His family members laugh at him when he warns them of judgment, perhaps due to his lack of godly credibility. In the end, the angels must compel him to leave the city. Then, after Sodom’s demise, there’s a tragic scene of incest between Lot and his daughters. But the New Testament holds up Lot as an example of righteousness, someone “distressed by the unrestrained behavior of the immoral” (2 Peter 2:7).

Abraham

Abraham is the father of the faithful, but he had moments of significant weakness. He was willing to put his wife’s life at risk by lying to Pharaoh, and he slept with a slave in order to produce an heir. But these stains on Abraham’s record are not mentioned in the Hebrews account of his life. He was looking forward to the city whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10).

Moses

Moses’ anger and pride kept him out of the Promised Land, but the New Testament refers to him as “faithful as a servant in all God’s household” (Hebrews 3:5) who “persevered as one who sees Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27).

David

Then there’s David. The great king of Israel covets his neighbor’s wife, steals her for himself, lies to cover up his sin, and then has her husband killed. But David is never remembered for his wickedness. In fact, the New Testament quotes more heavily from the book that bears the name of this philandering murderer than any other Old Testament book.

God Promises to Forget

What do these examples show us? When God promises to forget your sin and never bring up your past indiscretions, your flaws, failures, and rebellious deeds, He is serious. He will never again bring up your sins. As far as the east is from the west, our sins have been removed.

As Gil would remind us:

“Isn’t that a glorious promise? That God won’t ever bring up our sin again? Takes a lifetime of determination to get that truth planted deep in your heart. We commit to memory. God commits to forgetfulness.” - Clear Winter Nights

 
 

May

02

2013

Trevin Wax|3:15 am CT

Book Notes: Jesus – A Theography / The Incomparable Christ / Who Is This Man?

I’ve always got a book about Jesus in my reading stack. Here are three I’ve read recently:

Jesus: A Theography
Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola

Unlike biographies of Jesus that begin in Bethlehem, this book starts with the Trinity and explores the person and work of Christ through the Old Testament. Tracing the presence and power of the Son of God throughout the entire Bible, Sweet and Viola demonstrate the internal unity of the Bible and its focus on Christ as the cornerstone.

The Christ-exalting nature of the narrative gives this book the feel of a modern-day Patristic account of Christ’s life and significance. Imagine Chrysostom or Augustine writing a biography of Jesus. The appendix is a lengthy collection of quotes from post-apostolic witnesses to Christ as the center of the Scriptures. (I have a few Southern Baptist gems I wish had made the quote collection!)

I like how this book is relentlessly focused on the written Word’s testimony to the Living Word.

The Incomparable Christ 
John Stott

I love John Stott. He’s always clear, simple, winsome, and profound. A pastor friend recommended The Incomparable Christ, and I’m glad he did. This book didn’t disappoint.

  • Stott begins with an overview of the Bible’s witness to Christ. He shows the portrait of Christ we find in every book of the New Testament.
  • Then, he moves throughout church history, looking at the way different aspects of Christ’s life and work have inspired Christians through the years.
  • Next, he traces the influence of Jesus on the world (including unbelievers).
  • The book ends with a study of Revelation and how Christ is unveiled in John’s visions.

This is a book that will give you an overview of biblical theology and church history all at once. Brilliant!

Who Is This Man?
The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus
 

John Ortberg

Who is This Man? is a book of “subtle apologetics.” By that I mean it is unassuming and winsome in how it makes one central point: Jesus has undeniably changed the world for the better. In contrast to those who see Christianity as regressive and backwards, Ortberg shows just how much better off we are because of Jesus’ life and teaching.

Reading the book reminded me just how “upside-down” so much of Jesus’ ministry was. Here are a few quotes:

Jesus said it wasn’t the child’s job to become like Herod. It was Herod’s job to become like the child. Greatness comes to people who die to appearing great. No one else in the ancient world—not even the rabbis—used children as an example of conversion.

A saint doesn’t try to grab worth through an endless race of achievement, but receives worth by grace.

For Jesus, the categories break down like this: It’s not us and them. It’s perfect and not perfect. It’s holy and sinful. Which puts all of humanity on the same side: the wrong side. But Jesus was determined to make that his side.

The influence of Jesus helped create a state where people could choose not to follow Jesus. In this way, and not only in this way, Jesus is present even in his absence.

The book’s ending was a bit of a letdown. Ortberg invites the reader to experiment with following Jesus to see how it works out. (I thought his call to repentance could have been much stronger.) But don’t let that keep you from the book. There is a wealth of great material here, and Ortberg is a terrific communicator.

 
 

Mar

29

2013

Trevin Wax|3:13 am CT

Good Friday Meditations

Behold!

1. Take Time to Stop

Behold! That’s an old biblical word that says, “Stop and look.” So take time this week to stop and gaze at the crucified One.

2. Behold the Man!

On a Friday morning, two thousand years ago, Jesus stood before the people, and Pilate declared, “Behold the man!” It was the sixth day of the week, the day God created man. And now the second Adam was undoing the first Adam’s sin.

3. Behold Your King!

In this moment, Caesar looks strong and Jesus looks weak. But through this weakness, Jesus will conquer the world.

4. Behold the Son!

This is the One who turns water into wine, who offers water that quenches thirst forever, water that never runs dry. Yet now, He thirsts. His lips are parched. His throat is raw. He is thirsty, so you don’t have to be.

~~~~~

The Beauty of the Cross

1. The Beauty of a Blood-stained Cross

There is one death so beautiful, so glorious, that despite its horror and brutality, we are transfixed by its splendor.

2. God with Us

As we witness the evil and pain in this world, we too cry out Abba! Abba! God does not give us an explanation. He gives us himself. Jesus is God’s answer to our cry.

3. God instead of Us (1)

We will never grasp the heights of God’s forgiveness until we comprehend the depths of our own sinfulness. We not only need someone to suffer with us. We need one who will suffer for us – in our place.

4. God instead of Us (2)

The essence of Adam’s sin was that he put himself in God’s place. The essence of Christ’s righteousness is that he put himself in our place.

5. God for Us

We need more than a shoulder to cry on. We need more than hands and feet that will take the nails that we deserve. We need the strong arms of a Savior who comes back from the dead.

~~~~~

The Resurrection

1. Let My People Go!

As Jesus was dying upon the cross two thousand years ago, the voice of God the Father resounded throughout the universe, sending the clear and unstoppable message to Satan and all the forces of hell – LET MY PEOPLE GO!

2. Easter Means Our Coffins Will Not Stay Closed

What was true of our Messiah in the dim light of Resurrection morning will be true of us in the noonday sunshine of the Last Day.

 
 

Mar

28

2013

Trevin Wax|3:44 am CT

Behold the Son!

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,  “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”

So the soldiers did these things, but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:23-30)

At the foot of the cross where the sins of the world are being condemned and judged and the Savior is down to His last breaths, the soldiers are casting lots for His clothing. They divide and rip up His clothes, but they take care not to sever the tunic. Why tear such a good piece of fabric? Meanwhile, the body of Christ hovers over them, torn and bloodied.

What love! Christ was stripped naked on the cross, so that you and I might be wrapped in His robe of righteousness. Our sin for His righteousness. His death for our life.

~~~~~

In His death Jesus forms a new family. He looks down at His precious mother. The frightened teenager who told the angel, “May it be as you have said” is now the widow watching the life of her beloved Son slowly slip away.

But Jesus does not leave Mary without a family. He says, “Behold your son!”

And for a moment, I suppose Mary must have thought, I am beholding my son. I’m watching You now, my Son, wishing I could hold You in my arms the way I used to, wishing I could sing to you the songs of our people’s hope the way I once did, wishing we could go back to Nazareth and pretend none of this ever happened, wishing the prophecy of old Simeon in the temple that a sword would pierce my heart too was never spoken.

But Jesus wasn’t talking about Himself. He was talking about one of His disciples. “Behold your son.” And then to the disciple He loved, “Behold your mother!” A new family was born.

As Jesus died upon the cross, all those who trust in Him become part of His family. He is our older Brother. We are one with Him, united to Him in His death and resurrection, ushered into the family of God.

Jesus didn’t die merely to save you as an individual, but also to bring you into the fellowship of His family. United to the Son of God, we too can have a relationship with our Father. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. We have fathers and mothers in the faith. We are not alone.

~~~~~

Behold the Son of God, thirsty and dying. At the beginning of John’s Gospel, we saw Jesus turn water into wine. The wine was so good everyone commented on it.

“Woman, my time has not yet come,” He told His mother. Now, the time is here, and the wine has gone bad.

Jesus is offered sour wine that fails to soothe the pain or delight the tastebuds. He gave us His best and then took our worst.

~~~~~

Later in John’s Gospel, we see Him meet the woman at the well, a Samaritan who offered Him a drink. Jesus turned the tables and said, “Drink from Me and you’ll never thirst again.” Little did she know that the only way for her to never thirst would be for Him to experience her thirst by dying in her place.

~~~~~

Then in the middle of John’s Gospel, Jesus stands up at a celebratory feast and says: If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink! Streams of living water will flow from the one who drinks from Jesus’ well.

This is the One who turns water into wine, who offers water that quenches thirst forever, water that never runs dry. Yet now, He thirsts. His lips are parched. His throat is raw. He is thirsty, so you don’t have to be.

The blood and water will flow from His side, so that you can eat His body and drink His blood and live forever.

~~~~~

Behold the Son of God who completes the work of new creation. “Finished,” He says. The price of humanity’s sin had been paid.

Piercing through the dark storm clouds and echoing through the valleys surrounding the hill of Golgotha, Jesus cried out from the cross, “It is finished!” announcing that His work was complete.

On the sixth day, God had completed his work of creation. Now Jesus finished His work, as the spotless Lamb who died as our sacrifice. “It is finished” – the victory cry from the cross. The sacrifice had been accomplished. And God saw that it was good.

~~~~~

Calvin Miller:

There is no way to God that does not depend upon nails, thorns, ropes, and wood. The blood of Christ is the witness of God to the triumph of love. The blood of Christ is God’s signature on His new agreement with us. The blood means that God means business and the agreement is valid.

 
 

Mar

27

2013

Trevin Wax|3:35 am CT

Behold Your King!

“Don’t you know I have the power?” Pilate asks Jesus. How silly to see the bluster of a dithering man who stands before the true King of the world!

Pilate thought he could set Jesus free, but Jesus was the One with the power to set Pilate free – from sin and death and hell. But in that moment, who would have expected the reversal?

From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down onthe judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. Now it wasthe day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilatealso wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written. (John 19:12-22)

The history of the world is told in the tales of kings and kingdoms, people grappling for or holding onto power. The authority God invested in Adam is twisted into abuse and domination, with everyone doing what is right in their own eyes. Even the best of Israel’s kings were a far cry from the perfect ruler we long for.

We need a king. Someone to put things right. Someone to lead us.

“Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar!” cried the crowd. What they failed to realize was that everyone has a king. We all live according to the dictates of someone or some thing. It may be money. It may be pleasure. It may be reputation. It may be power. It may be yourself.

But make no mistake. We have a king. The only question is – who is the rightful king? Who should be king?

~~~~~

The Jews didn’t see in Jesus the kind of king they wanted. So they decided He should be put aside.

If they couldn’t get Pilate to crucify Jesus by claiming He made Himself God, perhaps they will convince Pilate by claiming Jesus made Himself a King. A king who is rival to Caesar.

But Jesus did not make Himself a king. He was a king before He came, He was a king as He stood before Pilate, and He is the King of Kings today. That’s why it’s no surprise that Pilate again says more than he realizes: “Behold your king!”

Usually, a king in a palace would say “Away with them!” when he wanted the hall cleared of his subjects. But this time, it’s the king whom the people want to put away.

Crucify Him! Enthrone Him on the cross! Show the world we have no king but Caesar, and this is what happens to all who challlenge His throne.

So Jesus the King is judged, condemned by His people. He is enthroned on the cross, with revolutionaries on His right and on His left.

A sign is placed over him that says “King of the Jews” in three languages – Aramaic, Greek, Latin. Greek was the language of the world. Latin was the language of the empire. Aramaic was the language of God’s people. The statement hanging over Jesus’ head is true. He is the King of the Jews, and He is being presented for the whole world to see.

~~~~~

John wants us to remember that this was the Day of the Passover. This was the time of day when the lambs were being slaughtered.

In the book of Revelation, we are introduced the striking image of a lamb on a throne. The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world is the King who deserves to sit on the throne as judge of all people.

He is the Lion and the Lamb. That image of a lion’s authority and a lamb’s meekness, the weakness of a bleeding lamb upon the strength of a powerful throne – that image is what we see at the cross. This is where Jesus redefines power and authority.

~~~~~

The night before He died, Jesus called His disciples “His friends.” Now, the Jewish leaders tell Pilate to condemn Jesus in order to be Caesar’s friend.

Who appears to be the stronger friend? Jesus or Caesar? Who would you follow? Who would you bet on?

In this moment, Caesar looks strong and Jesus looks weak. But through this weakness, Jesus will conquer the world.

No one is worshiping Caesar today. But billions bow the knee to Jesus.

~~~~~

What does this tell us about power and weakness? Do you remember when Governor Jesse Ventura said, “Organized religion is a sham and crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers”? And then Ted Turner piped in, saying “Christianity is a religion for losers.”

That kind of vitriolic speech rubs you the wrong way, doesn’t it? Makes you want to stand up for Jesus, to proclaim the truth, to shame the mockers! But perhaps in our rush to defend ourselves, we are missing the larger truth that Turner and Ventura have unconsciously stumbled upon. Like Pilate, maybe they are saying more than they know.

It is true. Jesus is for the weak. Jesus is for the poor. Jesus is for “losers.” Jesus is for those who come to the end of themselves and look to God for deliverance.

“Weak” is a four-letter-word for self-sufficient, boastful entrepreneurs. But we see that the world’s understanding of strength is backwards – that true strength is made most visible in intentional weakness.

~~~~~

“Behold your King!” Pilate says. Look at King Jesus long enough and you’ll come to terms with a radically different conception of power.

Caesar ruled by conquering lands and subjugating people. Jesus ruled by conquering sin, death, and the grave and freeing people.

This King bore the full weight of God’s anger and judgment towards the evil of the world. Then He rose again to new life.

Behold your King! The Lamb slain for your redemption.

 
 

Mar

26

2013

Trevin Wax|3:25 am CT

Behold the Man!

“Behold the man!” That’s what Pilate says in John 19. And strangely enough, we ought to obey Pilate this week. We ought to stop and stare at the Man he is pointing to.

It’s funny to think that Pilate has no authority over you or me today. Truth be told, he didn’t have ultimate authority over Jesus either. But he somehow thought he did.

The only reason we would obey the words of Pilate this week is because John took these words and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit placed them in His Gospel. Why? So that we would not only hear Pilate’s words in their original context, but also look through these words to their meaning for all people at all times.

Behold the Man!

Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, forI find no guilt in him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” (John 19:1-11)

Put yourself in the sandals of a first-century Jew. There you are in the throng of people outside the palace. It’s Passover. You’re celebrating the deliverance of your forefathers from Egyptian oppression. You’ve been hearing about this Jesus, the One everyone says is the Messiah.

But it appears to you that He’s just a man. You’re disappointed. He’s a man of skin and blood. (And you see a lot more blood than you do skin now that He’s been flogged!)

The soldiers have whipped Him and lacerated His skin. They’ve mocked Him by placing on his head a crown of thorns. They’ve put him in a purple robe. And now He stands before you, before Pilate, before the crowd, and Pilate says those three words: “Behold the man!” Look at Him. Here’s the guy!

~~~~~

Hold that picture in your mind for a moment, and then go back to the beginning of the Bible. It’s where John wanted us to start.

After all, John began his Gospel with the opening words of the Old Testament. “In the beginning.” Only this time, the story that John is telling us is the story of new creation. It begins with “The Word” who was with God and was God. The light and life of men. We know from the beginning of John’s Gospel that he wants us to go all the way back to the beginning, right? So that’s where we head.

God is the Creator who makes the sun, moon and stars, the birds and fish, the plants and land animals. On the sixth day of creation, God made man in His image. He created Adam, named him, and commanded him to rule wisely over the rest of creation. He breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life, and Adam became a living being. Here he was! The glorious fulfillment of all God’s creative plans and activities. A real, live human being!

You can imagine God stepping back on that Friday, admiring His handiwork. This was the first day He saw that it was not just good, but very good. Something about the creation of humanity changes the description from a good world to a great world. “Behold the man!” The masterpiece of God’s creative work.

~~~~~

Not long after, God speaks again. “Adam, where are you?”

God’s question in the Garden of Eden resounds throughout the pages of Scripture.

The Father looking for His most precious creation.

The God of the universe seeking to be present with His people again.

The God who pursues men and women while we were still sinners.

God found Adam, and Adam found God – as Judge. He was hiding because he was naked. “Who told you you were naked?” God asks. “What have you done?”

Adam was ashamed of himself. And the result of his sin and guilt and shame would be the thorn-infested ground that would make his work toilsome. He was created the crown of all life – the pinnacle of God’s creation, the only creature to bear God’s image. But as a result of sin, he would be cursed to till the ground and endure the weather and fight the thorns.

The good news is the story of God’s redemption doesn’t end there! It is only beginning. Because even there in the Garden, God promised to Eve a son – a man, a true human being, who would come to crush the head of that crafty serpent. A second Adam would come to put right what went wrong.

The Word would take on human flesh and dwell among us. Live like us. Live with us. All His life would be preparation for His death. He entered this world with the express purpose of one day leaving it, so that in leaving this world, we could enter His.

~~~~~

On a Friday morning, two thousand years ago, Jesus stood before the people, and Pilate declared, “Behold the man!” It was the sixth day of the week, the day God created man. And now the second Adam was undoing the first Adam’s sin.

Adam was always meant to wear a crown. Now Jesus would wear one.

Adam had been sentenced to toil among the thorns. Now Jesus would have those thorns twisted into His brow.

Adam was ashamed of his failure and sought to hide behind fig leaves. Now Jesus would wear the purple robe and hear the taunts of the mockers.

The hands of humanity that reached out for the forbidden fruit were the fists that beat the face of the precious Savior.

“Behold the man!” Pilate didn’t know what he was saying, but John the apostle did. Jesus is the perfect man. The image of the invisible God, the beginning and the end, the One in whom all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. The one who shows us what God always intended humanity to be like. He is the One who takes the shame of our sin and bears the mockery of evil.

~~~~~

As the second Adam, Jesus fulfills our purpose. Just look at how the Jewish leaders seek to crucify Him according to their law. God sentenced to death the sons of Adam for believing the lie of the serpent. But here the sons of Adam sentence to death the Son of God who tells the truth. They had it backwards. This is not just a man who has made Himself to be the Son of God. This is the Son of God who has made Himself man.

Behold the Man!