The Death of Jesus pt 1

10/10/2012 4 comments

Matthew 27:45-50

45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[c] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[d]

47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”

48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

Jesus had known great pain and suffering (both physical and emotional) during His life. Yet He had never known separation from His Father. At this moment He experienced what He had not yet ever experienced. There was a significant sense in which Jesus rightly felt forsaken by the Father at this moment.

The agony of this cry is significant. It rarely grieves man to be separated from God, or to consider that he is a worthy object of God’s wrath. Yet this was the true agony of Jesus on the cross. At some point before He died, before the veil was torn in two, before He cried out it is finished, an awesome spiritual transaction took place. God the Father laid upon God the Son all the guilt and wrath our sin deserved, and He bore it in Himself perfectly, totally satisfying the wrath of God for us.

– David Guzik

How might Jesus’ experience of separation from God differ to ours?

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The Crucifixion of Jesus pt 2

09/10/2012 1 comment

Matthew 27:38-44

38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

They acted as if Jesus did what they said, they would believe Him. Yet it is precisely because He did not save Himself that He can save others. Love kept Jesus on the cross, not nails! Jesus did greater than come down from the cross; He rose from the dead, yet they did not believe even then.

– David Guzik

What does the phrase “Love kept Jesus on the cross, not nails!” mean to you?

The Crucifixion of Jesus pt 1

08/10/2012 1 comment

Matthew 27:32-37

32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

It was customary to give those about to be crucified a pain and mind-numbing drink, to lessen their awareness of the agony awaiting them. But Jesus refused any numbing drug. He chose to face the spiritual and physical terror with His senses awake.

It is significant to remember that Jesus did not suffer as the victim of circumstances. He was in control. Jesus said of His life in John 10:18, no one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. It is terrible to be forced to endure such torture, but to freely choose it out of love is remarkable. Can we ever rightly doubt God’s love for us again? Has He not gone to the most extreme length to demonstrate that love?

– David Guzik

What are some ways to ensure you do not become indifferent to the severity of Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice?

The Soldiers Mock Jesus

07/10/2012 1 comment

Matthew 27:27-31

27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

When Jesus said, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me (Matthew 16:24), this is exactly the scene He had in mind. Everyone knew what the cross was: an unrelenting instrument of death and only death. The cross wasn’t about religious ceremonies; it wasn’t about traditions and spiritual feelings. The cross was a way to execute people. But in these twenty centuries after the death of Jesus, we have sanitized and ritualized the cross. How would we receive it if Jesus said, “walk down death row daily and follow Me”? Taking up your cross wasn’t a journey; it was a one-way trip. There was no return ticketing; it was never a round trip.

– David Guzik

How does this passage affect your view on “taking up your cross” and following Jesus?

Jesus Before Pilate pt 4

06/10/2012 2 comments

Matthew 27:24-26

24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”

25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”

26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

Pilate washed his hands saying, “It’s out of my control. Personally I wish this Jesus no harm, but these things happen.” Yet the power and responsibility of what to do with Jesus rested with him. Saying “I find no fault in Him” was not enough. Looking for a clever solution in releasing a prisoner at Passover was no solution. Washing his hands was meaningless. Therefore he could not escape responsibility, and is forever associated with the crime of sending Jesus to the cross, echoed through history in the creeds (crucified under Pontius Pilate).

– David Guzik

In what ways do we (wrongly) justify ourselves with logic?

Jesus Before Pilate pt 3

05/10/2012 4 comments

Matthew 27:19-23

19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”

20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.

21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.

“Barabbas,” they answered.

22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.

They all answered, “Crucify him!”

23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

We can imagine Barabbas, in a dark prison cell with a small window, waiting to be crucified. Through the window he could hear the crowd gathered before Pilate, not far away from the Fortress Antonia where he was imprisoned. Perhaps he could not hear Pilate ask, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” But surely he heard the crowd shout back, “Barabbas.” He probably could not hear Pilate’s one voice ask, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” But he certainly heard the crowd roar in response, “Let Him be crucified.” If all Barabbas heard from his cell was his name shouted by the mob, then the “Let Him be crucified,” when the soldiers came to his cell, he surely thought it was time for him to die a tortured death. But when the soldiers said, “Barabbas, you are a guilty man – but you will be released because Jesus will die in your place,” Barabbas knew the meaning of the cross better than most. We wonder if he ever took it to heart.

– David Guzik

What would go through your mind if you were in Barabbas’ shoes?

Jesus Before Pilate pt 2

04/10/2012 2 comments

Matthew 27:15-18

15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus[b] Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.

Mark 15:7 tells us what made Barabbas notorious. He was one of several insurrectionists, who had committed murder in the insurrection. We would today regard a man like Barabbas something like a revolutionary terrorist.

Pilate saw through the manipulative words of the religious leaders. He knew their motive was envy, not any other concern.

– David Guzik

What are the dangers and risks of envy?