Good Friday Devotional: The Weight of The Cross

Friday, March 30, 2018

Read Matthew 26:36-39

36Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watchd with me.” 39And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

The Weight of The Cross

When you think of something weighty, what comes to mind? I think of big life events, such as birth and death. Just before my father passed away, the doctor asked me and my siblings, “What do you want to do?” The question was to prolong his life or let our father die. That was too weighty, so we deferred to Dad and told the doctor, “Ask him, he’s still lucid.” My father, realizing his weakness and frail health, made the decision to “let it go.” He kissed my mother one last time and passed away within 12 hours.

To us, that was weighty. Yet Jesus faced the weight of the world, literally.Screen Shot 2018-03-25 at 9.44.58 PM His hour had come and this cup he was to drink was full and heavy. It was a world class cup. It contained every sin ever, of all mankind, and the wrath of the Father toward every act of disgraceful disobedience, disrespect and dishonor against Him.

Jesus knows the weight, the horror, the pain and the ultimate cost. Drinking down the Father’s wrath and consuming the sins of mankind will be crushing. Understandably, He is sorrowful and troubled. For in the instant that He consumes the cup, He will experience separation (Matthew 27:46) from His Father that He has never before known; He will feel the horrendous weight of being forsaken.

It’s no wonder He asked the Father to let this cup pass from me. It’s an even greater wonder that he was steadfast and faithful and said, “not as I will, but as you will” and then took up The Cross. This is a depth of love and obedience that is beyond comprehension. Jesus knows something deep and weighty, and He is committed to it. He knows His loving obedience to the Father is the pathway to joy, gladness, and glory.

So He bore the weight, took the blame, and crushed death, so that we might have life.

 

Prayer:

Father, thank you that life is mine to live, won through Your selfless love. 
This, the power of the cross: Son of God – slain for us. What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross. Amen.

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Holy Week Devo #4: The Mercy of The Cross

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Read Matthew 26:30-35

30And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 31Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 33Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”35Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.

The Mercy of The Cross

Have you ever found yourself doing something you said you would never do? It happens.  As parents, we say ‘I would never hurt my children,’ then your frustration peaks, anger erupts and wounding words fly. A wife promises to be faithful, for richer or poorer, then financial hardship comes, fear and insecurity overwhelm, and she lashes out at the man who is sweating bullets to provide. Yesterday, Frank Page, the President and CEO of the Southern Baptist Executive Committee (the SBC’s highest post), resigned over a “morally inappropriate relationship.” Page has been a faithful pastor and family man for decades, only to fall (at 65 years of age) to something he would have said a thousand times – NO!

In our journey to the cross, we see Peter, again, adamantly sure the Lord is wrong and that he will be faithful to Jesus to his death. Jesus says, Peter “you won’t last the night.”

I mean no condemnation to anyone, especially Peter or Dr. Page. I am very aware that I too, too many times to count, have sinned in ways I prayed I never would.

Mercifully, Jesus does not shame Peter, but says after all this I’ll see you in GalileeScreen Shot 2018-03-25 at 9.44.58 PMHe acknowledges the weakness, brokenness and propensity to wander that exists in every human heart, even those who have taken bread from the Savior’s hand. And Jesus says, I know you’ll fall away, see you soon.

Our wandering hearts are the sad reality of a broken world, racked by sin from the beginning. Sin takes on different forms, but none of us can evade the disease. We dislike some folks sin more than others, generally detesting the sin that hurts ‘me’ most… but we all have the curse.

Yet, Jesus did not come to curse, condemn or judge the world (John 3:17), but that we might be saved through Him. Jesus does not point out Peter’s fast approaching denial to kick him in the teeth with shame and guilt, but to help him appreciate the depth of mercy held by the cross. Jesus has mercy sufficient for all – and we all, including Peter, Frank, me and you are desperate for it. By faith the mercy of the cross is ours in Jesus.

Prayer:

Thank you for this love, Lord. Thank you for the nail pierced hands. You
washed me in Your cleansing flow, now all I know is Your mercy and your grace! Hallelujah, what a Savior! Amen.

 

Holy Week – The Journey to the Cross #2

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Read Matthew 21:12-17 (following the Triumphal Entry)

12Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13“It is written,” he said to them, “ ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’e but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’f

14The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.

16“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.

“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’g ?”

17And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

SPACE FOR THE CROSS

Have you ever had a junk drawer or closet full of all the stuff you think you may need at some point, but don’t know what to do with it right now? It’s not important enough for its own assigned spot, so it takes up residence in the junk drawer. The really important things go in my top dresser drawer, that belonged to my father, in a special box that also belonged to my father. Screen Shot 2018-03-25 at 9.44.58 PM There are everyday things and there are things we hold sacred. I don’t go to the gym in my dress suit and I wouldn’t go to a wedding in workout cloths. It’s just wrong and out of place.

The wise elder men of Israel had allowed the sacred temple to become full of the ordinary. The Father’s house had become a junk drawer. Meanwhile, the blind and the lame and the children are coming to him, finding healing and hope, and praising Jesus.

It’s a strange situation – the Scribes and Pharisees are full, like junk drawers, and have no room for Jesus. On the other hand, the young, hurting and broken are hungry to have a sacred encounter with the Living God. Their brokenness, their emptiness, has created space in them longing for Jesus. They are the temple of God (1Cor6:19), welcoming His holy, healing presence.

Mercifully, Jesus does not discard the Scribes and Pharisees and the Temple; He brings a cleansing fury. He drives out the ordinary, the secular, the vulgar to make room. The point is that there is more to fill this space than junk. Kindly he presses them, and us, to see that he has more for us when we make space for Him. He has a sacred love, a deeper joy, a fuller glory with which to fill us. And like children and babies, safe in a mothers love and nurture, we will praise Him like satisfied children when we make space for Him.

PRAYER:

Father, let me clean out my closet and empty it of my accomplishments and my sense of goodness, of my sins and failures in order to be open to your love, forgiveness and divine glory. Work in me, your temple, to bring satisfaction to my soul and praise and glory to You. Amen.

Day 26 – 40 Days to the Cross & Resurrection of Jesus

The Lord’s Day, March 11, 2018

Read Matthew 6:12

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

FORGIVENESS KILLS

There is often nothing I want more than to be forgiven and for whatever happened to be forgotten. But forgiveness requires asking to be forgiven. This is hard because it requires owning our debt (or offense) to another and speaking aloud the offense for which we wish to be forgiven. That’s tough for me. What can be even more difficult is to forgive the offender, especially when we have been hurt and feel betrayed by them.

I believe our resistance to forgiveness, both seeking and offering it, is often less about forgiveness than it is the desire to keep another distant from our hearts so that we will not hurt again.  We all love forgiveness, because it a healing balm. It’s rather the fear of the pain, the potential rejection, the wound open again, or the hurtful word that keeps us holding a deadly debt.

Jesus went to the cross for a people of whom he said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” He went to the cross, a place of death, to forgive a people who did not even own their hurtful betrayal. At the time they were too ignorant to understand it. They couldn’t fathom who he was, what he offered them, or the death that awaited them if he did not die for their debt.

Amazingly, Jesus forgave our debts before we were even aware they existed. It killed him to do it, but in His forgiving death, we received eternal life. May we know the glory of forgiving our debtors, though sometimes forgiveness kills us.

PRAYER:

Our Father, forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. AMEN.