Glimpses of the Cross Day 20; “It is Finished”

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

“It is finished” John 19:30

When Jesus cried out these last words, He gave up His breath, and rested in the tomb on Sabbath. Four thousand years earlier, He had finished creating the world and rested on the Sabbath. Adam and Eve rested too on that very first Sabbath, though I don’t think they were really tired. Adam and Eve did not exactly have a long week that week, and they were not in need of physical rest, but rather they were in need of a spiritual rest. I can imagine God walking them through the garden that first Sabbath and showing them all of His works. They realized on that first Sabbath,

it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves. Psalms 100:3

Likewise, when Jesus cried out 4,000 years later from the cross, “It is Finished” He was not only our Creator but also our Redeemer. On that Sabbath after the crucifixion it was realized, that not only had He created us not we ourselves, but He also redeemed us, and not we ourselves. Jesus is the author and finisher of our creation and re-creation. The Sabbath takes on a special meaning after the cross and makes it more dearer and special than ever before. Jesus gave us an example of resting on the Sabbath both at creation and at the cross. Jesus never gave any notion that Sunday was a sacred day. Rather when He told Mary not to touch Him because He must ascend to His Father, He was recognizing Sunday as a work day and not a day of rest. He rested on Sabbath and then rose on Sunday because He had to see His Father and get back to work! Others say we should observe Sunday as a memorial to the resurrection, yet nowhere is that mentioned in the Scriptures. Rather the Scriptures give us a memorial to the resurrection which is Baptism.

Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. Romans 6:3-6 

When we follow Jesus’ example of resting on the Seventh-day Sabbath, we are recognizing that Jesus finished all the work in saving and redeeming us. We rest from our works on the Sabbath and rest our faith in Jesus. in Baptism we crucify our own works of flesh when we go down into our water grave. We come up out of the water, taking a new breath and living a new life that God has created and not we ourselves. Jesus is the author and the finisher of our creation and our re-creation.

The Resurrection and the Presence of God

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Several years ago I was flying from Fort Worth Texas to g home to Tulsa Oklahoma for the Thanksgiving holiday. It was a short flight and I was on what was called a commuter plane. Upon landing, instead of pulling up  to the terminal like the big jets, we were let out on the tarmac. I went up the stairs into the terminal and saw my family staring out the window looking for my plane, which they thought would pull all the way up to the terminal. This was well before 9-11 when family and friends could greet you right at the gate.

Since they were still looking out the window I and did not know I was already there I decided to play a joke on them. I found a newspaper and went to sit down beside them. I listened as mom said, “Is that William’s plane landing now?” Dad replied, “No. That is an American Airlines plane. He is coming in on Delta.” My two year old niece, Hannah was the first to notice me. She was very intelligent, even back then, because instead of saying anything, she just smiled at me with a huge smile, and twinkle in her little eyes as though she understood the joke and was playing along too. She knew I was near, though the grown-ups were clueless of my presence.

Finally I realized the rest of my family was not as adept as my two-year old niece, so I finally put my paper down and turned to my sister sitting next to me. “Ma’am, will you please tell me what time it is?” She glanced at her watch and then glanced back at me in shock. “He’s here!” she exclaimed. The whole family was shocked to find that I was sitting with them while they were still expecting me to come. The other day I mentioned this to my mother who remembered how startling it was to find I was with them while they thought I was far off.

For years now I have been using this experience as an illustration when preaching about the resurrection of Jesus. Mary stood at the tomb and in her grief was unaware of Jesus’ presence.

 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”

She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”

 “Mary!” Jesus said.

She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”). John 20:15-16 NLT

In her grief, Mary did not recognize the presence of Jesus, but He was still there just the same. On that beautiful day Mary was not the only person mistaking His presence and identity. Later in the same day Jesus is walking down a road that led to Emmaus. Luke fills us in.

As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them.  But God kept them from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”

They stopped short, sadness written across their faces.  Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”

“What things?” Jesus asked.

“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people.  But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him.  We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.

“Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report.  They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.”

 Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:13-27

For years I have been using this passage when studying about the Scriptures, on how Jesus could have just opened their eyes and showed them his nail sacred hands and said, “Look it’s me!” But He did not do this. Instead of going by sight, He wanted them going by the Scriptures. So instead of opening their physical eyes it was their spiritual eyes, their hearts that He opened. Seeing will never become believing, until you can finally see it with your heart and not just your eyes. So today, Jesus does not want us putting our faith in feelings or in signs and wonders. He wants us to put our faith in the Scriptures.

I realized last Sabbath though, that while having this understanding of the above passage, there was more. While listening to our associate pastor, Claudette Aleman, speak last Sabbath she read,

“As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them.  But God kept them from recognizing him.”

Then she asked the question, “Have you ever gone through a hard time in your life, only to find that Jesus was with you and you did not know it?”

Again I was reminded, just like Mary, these two men were grieving, and Jesus came near and joined them, but they did not perceive that it was Jesus who was with them.

Friend, you may be going through a hard time right now and wonder where God is. I promise you He is with you. I know this because the Scriptures, which Jesus saw as more valid than sight say so.

Even when I walk   through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Psalms 23:4 NLT

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. Isaiah 43:2

And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20 NLT

For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”Hebrews 13:5 NLT

Today we have Facebook, text messaging and even Skype to keep us close to each other, but even better than that Paul tells us in Acts 17:27,

“He [God] is not far from any one of us.”

Today when I go through a dark valley and don’t necessarily feel God’s presence, I just open the eyes of my heart, my childlike heart, and smile at God with a twinkle in the eyes of my childlike faith. He smiles back at me. The grown- up skeptics may be clueless of His presence. My little niece was not imagining things when she saw me, though no one else could. I know my childlike heart is not imagining things when it sees God. We smile at each other. I know He is near.

The Gospel and Creation

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Friday’s section of this week’s SS lesson asks the question, “Critics of Christianity will often argue that Jesus knew beforehand that, though He would die, He would be resurrected to life. Thus, they ask, what was the big deal about His death when He knew it would be only temporary?”

My mother knows that flying in an airplane is safer than traveling by car. She knows the sad statistics that people are killed every day on the highways, while a rare jet crash makes headlines around the world. Knowing all this, when my mother gets on an airplane she sure does not feel that it is safer! There is a difference between knowing and feeling. Jesus died as a man, not just a God.

As a man, this is what Jesus experienced;

“In that thick darkness God’s presence was hidden. He makes darkness His pavilion, and conceals His glory from human eyes. God and His holy angels were beside the cross. The Father was with His Son. Yet His presence was not revealed. Had His glory flashed forth from the cloud, every human beholder would have been destroyed. And in that dreadful hour Christ was not to be comforted with the Father’s presence. He trod the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with Him.”-Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, pp. 753, 754.

“The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God.” -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 753.

Foxe’s book of Martyrs tells us John Huss was singing songs of praise as he burned at the stake for his faith. I ask you, if John Huss, a mere mortal man could be singing songs of praise as He died at the stake, why couldn’t Jesus sing songs of praise instead of crying out “My God My God why have You forsaken me?” The answer is John Huss died a totally different death than Jesus died. John knew he would be resurrected. He knew he was at peace with the Father. But on the cross Jesus was being treated the way we deserve to be treated so we can be treated the way he deserves to be treated. Think about this, Jesus always called God His Father.

“In my Father’s house are many mansions.”

“I always do those things that please my Father.”

“I and my Father are one.”

But when Jesus was on the cross being treated the way we deserve to be treated He could not call God His Father! Instead He cried out, “My God! Why have you forsaken me?” This fulfilled the prophecy of Psalms 22 of Jesus dying the second death.

Jesus was not crying out, “why have you forsaken me till Sunday morning.” You don’t forsake someone when you leave them for the weekend. When I tell my Sabbath School class I will be preaching at another church next Sabbath, none of them ask me why I have forsaken them. They know I will be back the following week. You don’t forsake someone when you leave them for the weekend. When Jesus cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?” He felt abandoned forever. He felt what the wicked will feel.

Obadiah 1:16 says the wicked will be as though they had never been. Jesus was not facing a mere six hour pain endurance marathon. A lot of cancer patients would gladly trade their years of battling cancer for six hours on a cross. The physical pain is not what made it the supreme sacrifice. What Jesus was facing was going into total oblivion and it being as though He had never existed! While Satan was willing to sacrifice anyone who got in his way of being number 1, Jesus was willing to go into total oblivion if He could just save someone else.

Hebrews 2:9 tells us Jesus tasted death for everyone. Jesus and Paul both refer to the first death as sleep. Jesus did not save us from that death, as we plainly experience that death ourselves. Paul did not say Jesus tasted sleep for everyman. No, He tasted death, the death of the wicked. Yes, He prophesied of His own resurrection, but that was while He still felt the presence of His Father. When Jesus felt the Father turn His back on Him, He felt, as a man that the promise of the resurrection had left with the Father. Jesus became the God-forsaken God.

Some say, how could Jesus have died the second death while He never lost faith in His Father? Remember Jesus had no sense of self-preservation. The sense of self- perseveration belongs to Satan. Jesus had faith, but His faith was not that He would be saved but that you would be saved!

Some have a hard time wrapping their minds around this awesome love. Some refuse to believe that Jesus would be willing to die forever to save us. In that case they have made Moses more loving than Jesus. In Exodus 32:32 Moses is willing to be wiped out of eternity in order to save the children of Israel. Do you think Moses loved them more than Jesus loves sinners? Of course not! Only when Moses experienced the self sacrificing love of God could he express such love. If you don’t believe that Jesus was willing to say goodbye to life forever in order to save us, then you have Moses showing more love than Jesus. This is impossible.

Since the Jews were accusing Jesus of blasphemy they could have just stoned Him to death. According to Leviticus 24:16, blasphemers were to be stoned and not crucified. Yet Jesus was crucified. Why? Because Deuteronomy 21:22-23 tells us those who are hung are cursed by God. Someone could plead for mercy and have the hope of salvation, just like John Huss had even though they were stoned to death. However, being hung was a sign you were cursed by God. Joshua 10 tells the story of five kings who refused to accept Israel’s God, and were hung from five trees, telling the world they had rejected God and so there was no salvation for them. It was goodbye to life forever.

Friend, does this help you understand how much Jesus loves you? He could have come down from the cross and returned to heaven where He could wear His kingly Crown instead of the crown of thorns. He could have left the road to Calvary and walked on streets of gold. He could have left the mocking mob and returned to hear angels sing His praise. He could have returned to His mansion. Why didn’t He do just that? because the thought of going back to heaven without you did not appeal to Jesus. Heaven would not be paradise without you as far as Jesus is concerned.

There is nothing I would rather be preaching than this message here. It is the everlasting gospel in the three angel’s messages. This kind of love changes everything. It changes how we look at the cross and how we look at sin. Most of all it changes our hearts. The disciples were just a bunch of self- ambitious men until they saw this love displayed on the cross. After they saw this love they were willing to give everything-even their own lives. Revelation 15 tells us there will be a multitude singing the song of Moses and the Lamb. They will be filled with this self -sacrificing love just like Moses and Jesus. They will hate sin more than they hate death and they will love God more than they will love their own lives or self preservation.

Jesus’ love for you goes deeper than the nail scars. He loves you more than He loves life itself. He was willing to go into total oblivion and it be as though He had never existed if that is what it took to save you!

Matthew 27; The God-forsaken God

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Here is a sermon I have preached at least 50 times maybe a hundred. I plan on preaching this over and over until I die. I wanted to share it here for this Easter weekend.  It explores the depths of Christ sacrifice for us on the cross. If you would like you can also watch and share it on video. On the list of videos it is the one called “The God-forsaken God”. I have broken it into sections here for those who are busy and don’t have too much time to read.  

   

 
 

 

The Supreme Sacrifice

    

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring” Psalms 22:1 

 

 

 

  What was it that made Jesus’ death the ultimate sacrifice? Many times we think of the physical torture Jesus endured while on the cross, but many have suffered physically just as much. As a matter of fact, if you asked a cancer victim if they would like another year of chemo or six hours on a cross, they will choose the cross over chemo! What made Jesus’ death the ultimate sacrifice goes a lot deeper than they physical pain. He died a death no one has ever died yet. He tasted the second death.      John Huss sang hymns of praise while he was burning at the stake. If Huss could sing as he died for his faith, why wasn’t Jesus singing songs as He died too? Why was He instead crying out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Because Jesus died a totally different death than Huss or anyone else has ever died. Huss died knowing he was accepted of the Father, but Jesus had to be forsaken by the Father in order for us to be accepted.       “Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. ‘With His stripes we are healed.’ ” {Desire of Ages, p 25}  

 

      Crucified, not Stoned   

   “Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And [Pilate] saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify [him], crucify [him]. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify [him]: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.”   John 19:5-7      

The law the Jews were talking about is found in the verse below, but notice the law states that one who blasphemes (which Jesus did not do but was accused of doing), should be stoned, not crucified.    

  “And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, [and] all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name [of the LORD], shall be put to death.”  Leviticus 24:16

 

 Notice in the verse below, the Jews were not ignorant of this law. “I and [my] Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.”  John 10:30-31    

   “And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree:  His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged [is] accursed of God;)” Deuteronomy 21:22-23      If a man committed a crime worthy of death he could still ask forgiveness and have the hope of the resurrection, but if he was hung on a tree that meant he was accursed of God and it was good-bye to life forever. This is what Jesus experienced for you, so you could experience the acceptance of the Father. “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” Ephesians 1:6-7   

 

      Accursed of God  

    And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom ye fight.  And afterward Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged them on five trees: and they were hanging upon the trees until the evening.   Joshua 10:25,26    

  By hanging these five kings on five trees, Joshua was saying that they had their opportunity to accept Israel’s God and rejected Him so it was good-bye to life forever. This is the death Jesus tasted for us. He did not taste the death of the righteous as he did not save us from the death of the righteous. He saved us from the death of the wicked, therefore He tasted the death of the wicked. Jesus faced the death of the wicked which meant facing total oblivion Obadiah 1:16.      

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?  Matthew 27:46      Jesus had always called God His Father. But on the cross, while He was tasting the death of the wicked, He could not call God His Father. He cried out “My God” and not “My Father.” He was not crying out why have You forsaken me till Sunday morning. You don’t forsake someone when you leave them for the weekend, you forsake them when you leave them forever!      

 

 “Satan with his fierce temptations wrung the heart of Jesus. The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God.” {Desire of Ages, p 753}

 

 

   

What God did to His Son

 

   

 

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  Isaiah 53:4

 

 

 Isaiah 53:4 tells us He was smitten not by us or Satan, but by God! This verse is about what God did while Christ was on the cross. Jesus loved you so much He was willing to do way more than endure terrific pain for six hours! He was willing to say goodbye to life forever if that’s what it took to save you! The thought of living eternally in heaven without you was Hell to Jesus!       Sure, Jesus could have come down from the cross and saved Himself. He could have thrown down that crown of thorns and taken back His royal crown. He could have ascended back to His throne and the angels would have welcomed Him with open arms. He could have gone back to those mansions He talked about in John 14. But listen to what He says about those mansions, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 

 

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, [there] ye may be also.”  John 14:2-3.

 

 

 Did you catch that? “That where I am there ye may be also.”  We always focus on the mansions in that verse, but what Jesus is focusing on is the being with you part.       See, while Jesus had mansions, golden streets, a throne and angels who would bow and worship and serve Him perfectly heaven just isn’t heaven to Jesus without you. So the thought of leaving the Cross and ascending back to His throne without saving you, just didn’t appeal to Jesus. Jesus loves you more than He loves life itself. His feelings for you are beyond love- you are His passion. Do you love Jesus more than you love life itself? Is He your passion?   

   

Tasting Death for Every man

 

 

 

 

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”  Hebrews 2:9

 

 

 Some may say, “How could Jesus have died the second death while prophesying of His resurrection?” Good question. Remember though, feeling and knowing are two different things.  Many people know flying is safer than driving, but you put them on a plane and they sure don’t feel safer! Jesus may have known He would be resurrected but He sure did not feel it! Also the Bible tells us He tasted the second death in the verse above.        Jesus obviously has not tasted the first death for every man, we taste that death ourselves. The first death Jesus does not even call death, He calls it sleep. Jesus did not taste sleep for every man, He tasted death, the second death. Jesus never lost faith in His Father. But His faith was not in His own salvation but in your salvation!       

 

He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?  Romans 8:32

 

 

 

God gave all when He gave His son! Jesus was willing to say goodbye to life forever to save you! He gave all of His life! Will give Him all of your heart?

 

 

   If you would like to talk to me about giving your heart to Jesus, you may contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net    

For more Easter devotionals click here Click here for “Was the Atonement for an Angry God or an Angry Race?”

He is Risen!

I am writing this morning from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Happy Resurrection Morning! When Jesus rose from the dead so did all of our hopes and dreams. As we contemplate this incredible event here are some of my thoughts.

It’s a good thing I’m not Jesus. I would have done things so differently. First, when I had risen I would have gone straight to the leaders in Jerusalem and tell them I was back and now they were done in for not believing in me. Not Jesus, He never did that. I guess He had nothing to prove to them. Instead He appears to a former prostitute and tells her He is going to heaven to live forever as her Savior. That’s the thing about Jesus, He seemed to spend all His time impressing the wrong people if you know what I mean. How can little children, publicans and sinners help you get ahead in life? I guess getting ahead in life was not his aim. His aim was helping people.

Not only does Jesus not have anything to prove to the religious leaders of His day, but He also seemed to have a bad memory after His resurrection. He tells the women to tell Peter He is alive and will see him soon. Peter had denied Him. Jesus calls his betrayer “friend” and is given His life back so He can live His life saving people who denied Him!

Romans 6:3-6 tells us that baptism, not Sunday observance is the memorial to the resurrection. We too die to self and begin a new life. Our new life can be like Christ’s life! Imagine living your life with nothing to prove. Baseball season is starting and there are a lot of guys out there who will be hitting homeruns to prove why they should be given bigger contracts and be the league MVP at the end of the year. Some guys though, will be hitting homeruns to help their team win the game. Why do you want to hit the homeruns in your life? If you believe that Jesus died and rose again and behold the love that makes us children of God then you too, have nothing to prove. Just bask in God’s love.

If we are risen like Christ, then we too can go to all the world and tell them Jesus is risen and wants to meet us soon! This includes the Peters and Judas’ in my life. Joseph was born with an ambition to be great. After being sold as a salve in Egypt that dream died. He was given a new life in Egypt though, but He realized that the dream God had for Him was not to rule over those brothers who had hurt him, but rather to save them!  He easily forgave them because after all, he was a new creature. The old man that they betrayed and denied did not exist anymore! He became a new man that had never been hurt. His dreams and ambitions were resurrected, but his dream and ambition is to save others and not himself.

When Jesus rose He brought your dreams and ambitions back to life. Everything is new again. Enjoy your new life! Tell everyone, including Peter about your new life!

Here is a collection of Easter devotionals.