Three Crosses, Two Crowns, One Sacrifice

(Since  January 2011, this has been our most-read post. The sequel, A Bloody Crown, A Bloody Cross, A Bloody Sacrifice is scheduled for Friday.)

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There is not only the foreordained plan of God according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11); but also His purpose in all He has planned and does
Romans 8:28-29; Ephesians 1:10).

THREE CROSSES

When I consider three men dying on individual crosses at the same time — Jesus being the middleman — I see the significance in this event for all humanity. What is this that took place and was symbolized for us?

Three men were tried and convicted of crimes.
Two men were guilty by reason of their own actions.
Jesus was termed “guilty” by reason of God’s decree
(Acts 4:27-28),
as a substitute for His people who were guilty in their own sins.
(2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18)

                                  TWO CROWNS

A crown in heaven awaited two men. Jesus earned the crown for Himself, in obedience to God’s will — and for the other man. The other man earned nothing for himself but was given the gift of pardon and eternal life in heaven with Jesus.

                                 ONE SACRIFICE

One man for all eternity was offered as a sacrifice for many by God the Father for propitiation; by Jesus’ willingness, and through His one sacrifice took their punishment upon Himself (1 John 4:10).

Christ was crucified in the middle of all humanity. On one side is a man who may represent all unbelievers, who received no mercy, but all that his own sin deserved. On the other side is the man who may represent all believers — those who see and hear and receive Jesus Christ through the message of this “great salvation” for which Jesus died (Hebrews 2:1-3).

All humanity is hanging. All men are born into this world under the “death” penalty.

One group is:
1. Unaware of its condition,
2. Trusting in their own merits, with hope that they can save ourselves, or
3. That someone greater than Jesus Christ will come along and offer a better deal.     Without Christ and repentance, these will die in their sins and receive the just penalty—eternal death and hell.  (Luke 5:32; 13:3; Acts 5:31; 20:21; Romans 2:4)

One group is:
1. Seeing their condition of sin and misery, their dying, and need of a Savior.
2. Seeing and hearing the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
3. By regeneration of the Holy Spirit (how else could one sinner have turned to Jesus, and not the other?) turning in faith and repentance to Him, alone, for this “great salvation,” promised in and through Him.
With, and in Christ, these are “living” now and forever “unto God” with assurance and the abiding hope that is ours in Him.

On which side do you hang?  Is it with those who have no hope, except for what they can do for themselves or by their works — alone for the rest of this life and eternity?

Which cross have you been given?

Be joyful if you can “envision” Jesus next to you, having suffered the penalty that you deserve.  Be thankful if He has bid you to look to Him, “the only begotten Son of God” who hung in your place. Praise Him if He has been “high and lifted up” for you.

As a “new-born” believer be adamant, fervent, and diligent as you “present your body to Him as a living sacrifice.” By the power of His grace “live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age”  (Romans 12:1-2; Titus 2:12).

Looking for that blessed hope,
and the glorious appearing of the great God
and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Who gave himself for us,
that he might redeem us from all iniquity,
and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
Titus 2:11-14

Dear Father, we thank you and praise you for the continual reminder by your Holy Spirit of the sacrifice that you and your Son made in that time of history, for your love for us and the eternal hope you give for all believers. Enable us to remember who we are in Christ. In His name, I pray.  Amen.
Fran
                                            Music: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Grace Crowned with Glory
Grace and Grace Alone

 Images: Google

 

The Day of All Days

All things in heaven and earth‘That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven
and which are on earth, even in him.”
Ephesians 1:10

Here, in a few words, is the “mystery of  God’s will” revealed. This supernatural event will surpass all others. Creation, the incarnation, and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ will all pale in comparison to this day that He has prepared for His people and His eternal kingdom.  That will be GLORY for you and for me.

As I look forward to this event, as I live in light of this promise and this vision, LIFE here has a profound meaning. Each day in prayer and Bible study, meditation, and intercession, fellowship, growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and proclamation of the gospel, is in anticipation of that day.

Every day is a day of preparation, especially today—THE LORD’S DAY.  Our heavenly Father prepared this day from the time of creation for that final Sabbath with Him. When Christ was raised from the dead the Christian Sabbath was established, not only for celebrating His resurrection and our new life in Him, but for each Lord’s Day to be a rehearsal for that grand and glorious day when He, the Lord, Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God…AND SO SHALL WE EVER BE WITH THE LORD.”
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

“This is the day which the Lord has made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Psalm 118:24

Dear Father, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit, make us to know the glory of your presence today, as we seek to worship you in Spirit and in truth with all your saints, here on earth and in heaven—for your glory and our joy. In Jesus name, we pray.  Amen.
Fran
(Original post ~ 2011)
Image: Google

Three Crosses, Two Crowns, One Sacrifice (Revisited)

Since beginning this blog in January 2011, this has been the most read post.

Three Crosses, Two Crowns, One Sacrifice

As we are celebrating that most glorious event of all time I am directing readers to this one, shared on March 13, 2012.

Dear Father, we thank you and praise you for the continual reminder by your Holy Spirit of the sacrifice that you and your Son made in that time of history, for your love for us and an eternal hope for all believers. Enable us to know who we are in Jesus Christ.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Related article:  A Bloody Crown, A Bloody Cross, A Bloody Sacrifice

The Tomb That Became a Womb

tomb16 “Jesus awakes, as a mighty man from his slumber, unwraps the napkin from His head and lays it by itself; unwinds the grave clothes in which love had wrapped Him and puts them by themselves; for He had abundant leisure; He was in no haste; He was not about to escape like a felon who bursts the prison, but like one whose time of jail-deliverance has come and lawfully and leisurely leaves his cell. He steps to the upper air, bright, shining, glorious, and fair. He lives! He died once, but He rose from the dead! There is no need for us to enlarge here. We only pause to remark that this is one of the most jubilant notes in the whole Gospel scale….Death is overcome! There is found a man Who by His own power was able to struggle with death and hurl him down. The grave is opened! There is found a man able to dash back its bolts and to rifle its treasures. And thus, brethren, having delivered Himself, He is able also to deliver others.
Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)

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The context (John 12:23-33) from which Jesus’ words here are quoted was that which spoke of his impending crucifixion. “The hour has come” for Him “to be glorified.” That glorification awaited Him as He continued to follow the will of the Father; when He would be lifted up, and so draw unto Himself those that receive the truth of His word. These would die to themselves, take up their crosses and follow Him.

Jesus left in the borrowed tomb the seeds of new life for all those who belong to Him. He finished the planting that He came to do. He was raised and now waits and rejoices over every new plant.  His Holy Spirit waters by the word of truth in each heart and brings to life what Jesus planted. Those seeds are eternal, continuing to bear fruit.

 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
John 1:1

  “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;

it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,

and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:11

Grapes Desktop Wallpapers-023“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you,
that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain:
that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”
John 15:16

Dear Father, today, please bring forth new plants for your joy; and water what you have planted within us by your Spirit.  Let the word of Christ dwell in our hearts richly so as to bring forth the fruit of your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and temperance.  In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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A Bloody Crown, A Bloody Cross, A Bloody Sacrifice

Since posting Three Crosses, Two Crowns, One Sacrifice I have wanted to do this follow-up. In that article images depicted everything clean, as if the cross of Christ was never used. The crowns were those of earthly kings. The precious sweet lamb was untouched, alive in the green grass.

As the church plans to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ this Lord’s Day I am reminded that we seldom think about the events that led to this celebration. Too often we skip the crucifixion and the tomb, forgetting the suffering and the sacrifice that made our salvation possible. Some people can look at blood and gore and are insensitive to it. I, as others, usually avoid it at all costs. Even the sounds of violence from a distance make me cringe. Still others will not consider their need for a bloody Savior. The rich man of the South who said, “I don’t need anyone to die for me,” didn’t know his own heart.

But understanding how we are reconciled to God through the blood of His own Son is necessary ~ if we are to experience the power of His love and grace working on our behalf.

Even as I am studying the humility of Christ this year, I wanted this season to be different, and so am praying, as I write, that the Lord will give me a deeper understanding of His sacrificial atonement. I pray that you, the reader, will receive something of what He is showing me; to know the love that was in the blood that was shed for us; to so let that love fill us that we love Him even more; and as Paul spoke to the Roman church, that we be so humbled by His mercy that we respond by offering ourselves as “a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1-2) for our God, “who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us.”    Ephesians 2:4

A Bloody CrownimagesCharles Spurgeon said in his sermon  The Bloody Crown
Beloved, I always feel as if my tongue were tied when I come to talk of the sufferings of my Master. I can think of them. I can picture them to myself. I can sit down and weep over them, but I know not how to paint them to others! Did you ever know pen or pencil that could? A Michelangelo or a Raphael might well shrink back from attempting to paint this picture! And the tongue of an archangel might be consumed in the effort to sing the griefs of Him who was loaded with shame because of our shameful transgressions.”

“Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. John 19:2

And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium;
and they call together the whole band.
And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns,
and put it about his head,
And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews!
And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him,
and bowing their knees worshipped him.
Mark 15:16-19

Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s Gospels record the scourging and mocking right before Jesus was led away to be crucified. But John’s gospel records (and he was an eye witness) Pilate bringing him before the chief priests, the elders and the crowd before He was led away.

Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! John 19:5

What did Pilate mean by doing this? He may have thought that all that blood would discourage the Jewish leaders and the crowd, but no; they wanted more. What they saw from Jesus’ beating and the thorns on His head was not enough. They must have his life. They must see Him destroyed; no matter how much blood it took.

They could not know how powerful that blood would be to save His people, and to condemn them. The envy, the anger, the hatred, the malice from the enemy was the very reason that Jesus had to endure such suffering.   God knew what was needed to accomplish our redemption ~ an innocent Lamb, a holy man, Himself in human form. He knew that in the presence of sinful men He would be massacred.

At any point, amid the pain and the humiliation from Pilate, the soldiers, and the Jews Jesus could have shown His power and position as God. Even in His physical weakness He could have spoken the word, or called down heaven and destroyed all or part of Jerusalem. (That would happen later.) But, all was part of the plan for our redemption. Jesus could not turn back now. From the sweat drops of blood in the garden, the betrayal of Judas, the forsaking of the disciples, the mocking of the soldiers, and the crown of shame, He was well into fulfilling the new covenant.

He was revealing the necessity for blood, the reality of atonement through His own blood. To endure all for our sake was the true manner of humility revealed to us.

The pain which He had endured from the scourges caused Him to throb with exquisite anguish—but we read neither of tears nor groans—much less of angry complaints or revengeful threats. He does not seek pity, or make one appeal for leniency. He does not ask why they torture or why they mock. Brave Witness! Courageous Martyr! Suffering exquisitely, You also suffered calmly! Such a perfect frame as His—His body being conceived without sin—He must have been capable of tortures which our bodies, corrupted by sin, cannot feel.” Charles Spurgeon

Bloody-Cross-600x450A Bloody Cross

For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” Leviticus 17:11

The beatings and the blood on His head did not faze Jesus. He was the central figure in this greatest event in history. It is His story of redemption. The cross, saturated with His blood, is the main scene ~ the turning point for humanity and the gate leading to eternal life with Him. In the last decade I have given up watching mere men do this role in plays and movies. It is but an act. No man but Jesus Christ has done this part. It is better to read and meditate on His word for this reality in our own hearts than to see an imitation.

The cross was the means that God had chosen; that Jesus knew He must bear; it was the implement of God’s love and grace. It is the symbol for us to remember. We wear crosses around our necks.   Most of them are gold and silver. None are bloody. But we must remember the blood of the cross of Christ; His life that was shed for us.

That blood was the blood of the new covenant. The beatings and the bloody crown were only the prelude to our own lifeline. Without the blood of His hands, His feet, and His side there would have been no reconciliation and peace between God and us. I use the words ‘God and us,’ instead of ‘us and God,’ because He is the initiator and the fulfillment of the covenant. We must see the blood, even as He had to see the blood, and therefore passed over our sins.

“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” Isaiah 53:11

“Mark his brow-they have put about it a crown of thorns, and the crimson drops of gore are rushing down his cheeks! . . . But turn aside that purple robe for a moment. His back is bleeding. ..They lift up the thongs, still dripping clots of gore; they scourge and tear his flesh, and make river of blood to run down his shoulders! This is the shedding of blood without which there is no remission…They fling him to the ground; they nail his hands and feet to the transverse wood, they hoist it in the air…Blood from his head, blood from his hands, blood from his feet. . They pierce his side, and forthwith runneth out blood and water.   Charles Spurgeon

A Bloody Sacrificeimages

                “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin 1 John 1:7

“After that tremendous struggle, the strength of Love mastered the weakness of Manhood—He put that cup to His lips and never shrank—He drank right on till not a drop was left! And now the cup of wrath is empty—no trace of the terrible wine of the wrath of God can be found within it! At one tremendous draught of love the Lord drank destruction dry, forever, for all His people. Charles Spurgeon

The blood on the crown of thorns and the stain on the cross was the blood of Jesus Christ. The pouring out of His blood on the ground was more than a sprinkling and spoke better things than that of Abel. (Hebrews 13:24) There was life in that blood, the life of the Son of God who lived for one purpose ~ to lay down His life, to shed His blood for us.

“It is finished.” It was done according to His everlasting covenant. He was the bloody sacrifice for His people. We don’t have to look at a bloody cross anymore, but we must remember it. Nor do we need a crucifix with a figure of a man with no bloodstains.

He left us with two ordinances to remember His sacrifice; baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We need but to be baptized into His death once, but His sacrifice is to be remembered when we come together for worship. Blessed are we who celebrate the resurrection and remember His death with the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s Day.

Peace Through His Blood
Jesus is no longer a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger,  a man on a cross, or wrapped in a linen shroud lying in a tomb. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords living today and forever as our merciful and faithful High Priest; sitting at the right hand of God, having offered the oblation of His blood for His people; making reconciliation for us; and now, as our mediator, interceding for us.

We would be blessed today and tomorrow to read and mediate on the crucifixion of our Lord, so as to come to worship and celebrate this Lord’s Day with a deeper sense of His mercy and grace.

“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,
through sanctification of the Spirit,
unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:
Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.”
1 Peter 1:2

“The blood is one of the strangest, the deepest, the mightiest, and the most heavenly of the thoughts of God. It lies at the very root of both Covenants, but specially of the New Covenant. The difference between the two Covenants is the difference between the blood of beasts, and the blood of the Lamb of God! The power of the New Covenant has no lesser measure than the worth of the blood of the Son of God! Your Christian experience ought to know of no standard of peace with God, and purity from sin, and power over the world, than the blood of Christ can give! If we would enter truly and fully into all the New Covenant is meant to be to us, let us beseech God to reveal to us the worth and the power of the blood of the Covenant, the precious blood of Christ!”   Andrew Murray

Dear heavenly Father, just as we cannot paint the picture of Christ, your Son, for others, neither can we put into words our praise and gratitude for so great a salvation, performed as planned and executed in your timing and place.  Let the blood of Christ, that is efficacious, doing all that you planned it to do, work in us the power over sin.  Cleanse us and keep us always looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

 

The Pink Kwansan Cherry

This month the Kwansan Cherry tree is taking the spotlight from the prickly Bradford Pear.  Like the Bradford Pear the Kwansan Cherry is an ornamental (no fruit), a hybrid planted only for its showy pink blooms. It grows 30-40 feet high and wide . Growers say that it is worth the display if only for its 15-20 year life span.

Pink is the color for April and one of my favorites, not just for landscaping, but overall.

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Blue is my other favorite because of the blue sky. It is a canopy over all the earth reminding me of God’s grace. The dogwoods are also blooming this month in Georgia.

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Pink has been a mystery, though. I do not know why it became my favorite color; except that it is derived from a combination of white and red. I have decided that God spotlights the pink trees in the landscape at this time of year that we might think of His purity and the blood of His dear Son given for us for our redemption.

 “ Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”     Hebrews 13:21-21

Related Article:  Grace ~The Sky’s the Limit