Saturday, September 30, 2006

Jesus Crucified

Isaiah 53:10 But the LORD was pleased To crush Him

I've started teaching Sunday School to the teenagers at my church, and I was sitting down pondering my next lesson during a week-long solo retreat to the mountains of Virginia. The phrase "They won't care what you know until they know that you care" kept ringing through my head. So how exactly do I get a bunch of teenagers to "know that I care" with only one hour per week to interact with them, and I'm teaching that entire hour? As I was rolling that question around in my head, I felt the Lord say in my heart, "Child, it's not you that they should know cares - it's Me."

Of course! I must decrease and You much increase! That's my standard prayer before I teach. "Lord, please just move me out of the way and you take over."

A new direction, and a new question. How do I get them to really know - at the core level - that He cares so they care what He says.

After some reflection and prayer, I decided to start with the crucifixion. If they really understood what He went through for them, then maybe they'd get it. So I went on-line and Googled "Roman Scourging" and "Roman Crucifixion" and read all about that.

I'd seen the Mel Gibson movie. I'd even gone to a sermon where they described the crucifixion from a medical perspective. But I was not prepared for what I saw and what I read. I was overwhelmed. I had to stop work for a while, and it was extremely clear to me that I could absolutely not read any of that to a bunch of high school kids I barely knew. I couldn't do to them what I had just done to myself. It was just too much reality for a bunch of young minds. It was almost too much for mine.

Note: If you think you can handle it, go do that now. The rest of this paper will mean a great deal more to you.

After I was able to regroup, I thought "I know the Bible addresses this in a little more acceptable fashion, so I'll use that." So I went to the standard sections. Psalm 22 first, then Isaiah 53, and Matthew 26 where Jesus told Peter to put away his sword because the Scriptures had to be fulfilled.

Jesus clearly knew what was about to happen to him because He knew the Scriptures. Let's look at what He must have had rolling around in His head. David wrote these prophetic words a thousand years before Christ.

Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning

He knew that God was going to leave Him for a while. He knew why. He knew that He was going to "become sin" for us, to take on our iniquity and as a result, the Father would have to turn His face away. His anxiety over it caused Him to sweat blood. He knew this from the time He was a small child.

2 O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; And by night, but I have no rest. 3 Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. 4 In You our fathers trusted; They trusted and You delivered them. 5 To You they cried out and were delivered; In You they trusted and were not disappointed. 6 But I am a worm and not a man, A reproach of men and despised by the people. 7 All who see me sneer at me; They separate (mock) with the lip, they wag the head, saying, 8 "Commit yourself to the LORD; let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him." 9 Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb; You made me trust when upon my mother's breasts. 10 Upon You I was cast from birth; You have been my God from my mother's womb.

Note this: In His anguish, Jesus, through the mouth of David, gave Himself encouragement by remembering who God really is at a time of His greatest need. No matter what your trials, remember to remind yourself how God has been there for you in the past. Jesus knew it would give Him strength, so did David, and so can you.

11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near; For there is none to help. 12 Many bulls have surrounded me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me. 13 They open wide their mouth at me, As a ravening and a roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And You lay me in the dust of death. 16 For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; 18 They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots. 19 But You, O LORD, be not far off; O You my help, hasten to my assistance. 20 Deliver my soul from the sword, My only life from the power of the dog. 21 Save me from the lion's mouth; From the horns of the wild oxen You answer me.

This is the gut-wrenching part. Jesus would have had this memorized as He told Peter to put away his sword. "...poured out like water," "all my bones are out of joint," "My heart is like wax, it is melted within me," "my tongue cleaves to my jaws" ("I thirst"), "They pierced my hands and my feet," I can count all my bones," "They divide my garments among them" ("Father, forgive them...").

Clearly He knew what awaited Him, and He told Peter "do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?" (Mat 26:51) I'm doing this because I want to, Peter.

Unfathomable. Beyond comprehension. If you only knew that much, you'd know He cares. But there's more. So much more...

Let's turn now to Isaiah. The book of Isaiah was written approximately 700 years prior to Christ's arrival on Earth. Isaiah speaks as if He knew Christ personally, and was writing about what happened to Him - not what was going to happen. Note the past tense.

Isaiah 53:
1 Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. 3 He was despised and forsaken by men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men would hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

All those wonderful calendars and pictures that show Jesus as this tall, slender, fabulous-looking guy with the piercing eyes? Well the eyes, maybe, but the rest of the image is a total lie. Isaiah tells us He was so unattractive to look at, and so despised as a man, that if it had been anyone but Jesus, people would tend to hide their face from Him. He had the option of looking however he wanted, and He chose that so people who were not blessed with physical attraction or other qualities that draw people to them could identify with Him. That's the heart of a man who cares.

4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.
6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

Again, gut-wrenching. He was pierced, crushed, chastened, oppressed, afflicted, judged, cut off, buried. He took our strokes for us. Yet He took it all without uttering a word. He knew what was coming, all right. He knew it all along. That's the heart of a man who cares. But there's more.

10 But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

Ok. Now wait. "Pleased?" Somehow that doesn't ring right. Willing, maybe, but "pleased?" I had to look that one up in the Hebrew dictionary. Brace yourself.

A verb meaning to delight in, to have pleasure, to have favor, to be pleased. Shechem took delight in Dinah; King Ahasuerus also took delight in Esther. This word describes Solomon’s pleasure in building the Temple. The Lord is described as taking pleasure in His people Israel. He is also pleased with those who practice justice and righteousness.

Delight? Pleasure? Favor? No, no, no. Please don't ask me to believe that God was pleased with all this?! How can that be?! What am I supposed to do with that?!

This was just too much to handle. The tears began to flow. I don't understand, God! Help me understand!

He said, Child, without this sacrifice, without this shedding of blood, without this ending to the story, there can be no beginning of the next story. Don't forget Who died that day. Jesus the man said "if You can take this cup from me," but God the Son said "I am pleased." Why? Because it was the beginning of eternity with you, child. Once that had been accomplished, you were sealed in Us. No one could take you out of Our hand. It was finished.

In every sense of the word, I was pleased to do it. Because...

11 As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.

God interceded for me and for you. He poured Himself out, bore my sins, your sins, and suffered so we could spend eternity with Him. Each and every individual one of us. Not as a "group" - but as individuals. For me and for you personally.

That's a Lord who cares more than I can comprehend. I'll never understand the depth of that love this side of eternity. But I know one thing...

I want to know what He has to say.

Meet Him in the pages of His book. Love Him back by spending time with Him there. Talk to Him as a friend as you contemplate His Word. Drink deeply of His love...

God bless you all, each and every one of His chosen children and my family in Christ.



At April 04, 2007 2:44 PM, Blogger SAGE said...

spread His fame always...

At April 10, 2007 9:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Santa Maria (CA) TIMES 4/6/07

April 2007AD

1. The Shroud has now produced three-dimensional images of
a body moving in space. Please seek your own trustworthy sources of verification. vincit veritas

2. The scientific world of physics is now undergoing a revolutionary
change: a paradigm shift of universe proportions and implications.

Sir Isaac Newton would not be surprised. Joel 3:14 kjv

Have a truly Happy Resurrection Day!

semper fidelis
Jim Baxter
Santa Maria, CA

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