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“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

(1 Corinthians 1:18)

“Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.

Like one from whom people hide their faces, He was despised, and we held Him in low esteem. Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God,stricken by Him, and afflicted.

But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet He did not open His mouth;
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter,and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of His generation protested? For He was cut off from the land of the living for the transgression of my people He was punished.

He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death, though He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer, and though the Lord makes His life an offering for sin, He will see His offspring and prolong His days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in His hand.

After He has suffered, He will see the light of life and be satisfied.
By His knowledge ,My righteous servant will justify many, and He will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give Him a portion among the great,and He will divide the spoils with the strong, because He poured out His life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.
For He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

(Isaiah 53:1-12)

“Well here we are, looking at Crucifixion Day or Good Friday 2020. Who would have ever thought we, the church of Christ Jesus would be commemorating this holy day in the quietness of our houses?
And yet, there seems to be an almost sureness of destiny to it all. We have no other recourse than to abide where God has provided for us.

It’s almost as if this year, not taking away the specialness of previous years, this year is marked to be personal and intimate with the Lord Himself, an opportunity, (If we are willing) to know the Cross, see the sacrifice, behold the resurrection He is doing in the lives of His sheep.
I’ve been praying and waiting on the Lord to give me words that might best reflect on His nature and find “good soil” to those who are searching for a practical meaning and encouragement, and for all of you who are home-bound for Easter this weekend I want to encourage you to keep their eyes, “fixed on Jesus”, so here we go! Two words I’m focusing on in this Good Friday message, Love and Sacrifice.

The 33 years of life of our Lord Jesus Christ is about as spectacular as any series of events that ever happened on this planet earth.
Seven hundred years before He arrived was His whole life already written down, that when it happened, that mankind would have no recourse than to proclaim, it must be true because it was already prophesied in the Scripture.
God was mindful of us, our needs, our sorrows, our pain and suffering and yes, our fallen condition, that we would need a Deliverer, a Messiah, a Redeemer.
Thank You God for sending Jesus, thank You Jesus for coming!

Sometimes we can get so familiar with things, times, events so spectacular that it doesn’t move us as it once did, sometimes it takes something lesser become “re-amazed”, and then look back to really feel the wonder of the original.

There is an old story of a group of American prisoners during the Second World War, who were made to do hard labor in a prison camp.
Each man was issued a shovel and would dig all day, then come in and give an account of his tool in the evening.
One evening 20 of the prisoners were lined up by the guard and the shovels were counted. The guard counted nineteen shovels and he went into a rage on the 20 prisoners demanding to know which one did not bring his shovel back. Not one responded.
The guard proceeded to take his gun out of his holster and said he would shoot five men if the guilty prisoner did not step forward and confess.
After a moment of tense silence, a 19-year-old soldier stepped forward with his head bowed down. The guard grabbed him, took him to the side and shot him in the head, and turned to warn the others that they better be more careful than he was.
When the guard left, the men re-counted the shovels and they counted……..20. The guard had miscounted. The 19 year old young man had given his life….. for his friends.

I gotta tell you when I finished reading this story thinking to myself, I couldn’t begin to imagine the emotions that must have filled the hearts of these soldiers as they knelt down over his body. I thought in my heart how in that five or ten seconds of silence, the 19 year old soldier must have weighed his whole future in the balance—a future wife, an education, a new truck, children, a career, and he chose death so that others might live. Yesterday I quoted the words of Jesus in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” In other words,To love can be choosing suffering for the sake of someone else…

Jesus loved us this way. Only, O so much more! Consider the life he laid down. One of the reasons that story hits us so hard is because the boy was 19 years old. If he had been 89 years old and the others 19, we might say it was a beautiful act of love, but with a full life behind him it wouldn’t feel like the same kind of sacrifice as when your whole life stretches in front of you like the 19 year old.
It got me to pondering in considering the life that Jesus sacrificed for us….

1. Jesus was young too. He was about 33 years old. His ministry was three years old. He was cut off, as we say, “before His prime.”

2. Jesus was the oldest Son of a widowed Mother As I shared in yesterday’s post, one of the last acts of Jesus’s life was to see that His mom was taken care of.
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!” (John 19:26–27)

3. Jesus was Sinless and Perfect.The Apostle Peter testified, “He committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). Even His enemies couldn’t find any fault in Him (John 19:6). Jesus led a sinless life. A life of perfectly balanced with joy and sorrow, tenderness and toughness, justice and mercy, grief and anger, speech and silence, prayer and action. His life, of all the lives that have ever lived, was the worthiest of living, the least worthy of dying.This is the life He gave for us that we might live. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

4. He Was the Son of God, Jesus was 100% God as well as 100 % man. His life was of infinite value—not the way other humans are of value, but the way God is of infinite value, we as humans have value to the degree that we reflect the image of God.

Our human value is because of the original, how much more value must belong to the original? With His life Jesus went to the cross for us. He covered the cost of our finite value with His infinite value to cover our sins against the holiness of God. And Jesus paid it willingly so we could live forever . “And this is the will of Him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)

When I consider that Jesus left the glory of heaven; took on human nature so that He could hunger like me, get weary like me, and in the end suffer and die, not like me, I am amazed.that God would choose through the incarnation to prepare nerve endings for the nails of the cross.

That Jesus would need a broad human back for a place to be scourged.
That Jesus would need a brow and skull as a place for the thorns.

That Jesus would need cheeks for Judas’ kiss and soldiers’ spit.
That Jesus would need hands and feet for spikes.

That Jesus would need a side as a place for the sword to pierce.

That Jesus would need a brain and a spinal cord, with no vinegar and no gall,

That Jesus would be able to feel the entire excruciating death—for me…….

The 19-year-old boy was a beautiful picture of love, but compared to Jesus the 19 year old was just that, only a picture. The young man’s death was quick and relatively painless. Jesus’ death was one of the worst kinds of tortures ever devised for human pain.

It reminded me of the passage in Ephesians 5:2 that says: “Christ loved you and gave Himself up for us,” Jesus Christ, “Gave Himself up for us.” His love was immeasurable His sacrifice was horrendous. “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)

I love what Pastor Chuck Smith said about the finished work by Jesus Christ at Calvary:
“God’s work of redemption for lost man is a finished work wrought by Jesus Christ upon the Cross, and there”s nothing you can add to it by your good works to be accepted by God.
All you can do is receive that finished work of Jesus. Any endeavor on your part to improve on the righteousness that God has already accounted to you is only going to mar things, it’s not going to help. It’s finished, God’s work of redemption is complete. And you can receive the greatest benefits with the simplest act of faith, in just believing.”

Sometimes we get so familiar with things that we just need to shut out the commotion and the noise that keeps us captivated by distractions. You and I have a proneness to forget the greatest love in the world, a love we cannot even begin to comprehend or imagine, and yet we need memorials reminders, in the midst of it all that Jesus loves us, Jesus pursues us, and we will always be His. Most times we are unable or unwilling to do it, to “re-set” with the Lord. I believe the Lord has done for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves, we are a captive audience in the midst of this pandemic, we are all ears Lord!

Patty and I like a lot of you are spending this Easter at home pondering the love and the sacrifice of God’s expression to us, that we value His infinite love And so how personally should we take this demonstration of love? I believe that this is what the Lord Himself is calling us to this Good Friday. To see the depths of the love and sacrifice of Christ for you. To believe the love that He has for you. To know that His heart is pursuing you to follow Him, spend personal time with you, for us to send the roots of our lives down, down, down into this bottomless love. And say with Paul,

“May you be rooted and grounded in love, and thus be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breath and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.”

(Ephesians 3:17-19)

The life we now live in the flesh we live by faith in the Son of God, who loves us , personally, and gave Himself for us…..

Billy Graham said that “The Cross speaks to you about your sins—your sins of immorality. Salvation is what we all long for, when we are lost or in danger or have made a mess of our lives. And salvation belongs to us, when we reach out for the only One who can rescue us—Jesus.”

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