HOLD HIM BY HIS FEET

Matthew 28:8-9 And did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

There is something amazingly different about Jesus. There is no angel in heaven nor any creature or human on earth that has the attraction that He has. Now not everyone is attracted to our Savior, only those who belong to Him. To those who are perishing Jesus is actually repelling, but to those who are being saved, He is the most prized possession of our lives. This first Resurrection Sunday these precious women were amazed beyond words. Those three days of darkness and depression had been swallowed up in an instant. “He’s alive, just like the angels said.” The appearance or words of angels had not driven the darkness from their souls, but one word from His lips and they were at His feet worshipping Him, overwhelmed with His love. This is how Spurgeon describes this scene.

“Jesus permits these godly women to hold him by the feet. It was an act of humility, worshipping and holding; and holding not his hands, but his feet. They must have seen the nail-prints before Thomas did, as they held him by the feet, and worshipped him. I do not find that these women ran to the angels, they rather shrank back from them; but they came to Jesus, for we are told that they came, and held him by the feet. I think that there must have been a new attraction about Christ after he had risen from the dead, something more sweet about the tones of his voice, something more charming about the countenance that had been so maimed at Gethsemane, and Gabbatha, and Golgotha.”

But what about us today? Do we have to go on someone else’s words? Do I have to live on the testimony of someone who lived two thousand years ago? Hardly! Jesus is in heaven but the Holy Spirit, the very One who raised Jesus from the dead is here with us. He comes to us just like Jesus came to the women on that road to Jerusalem that Sunday morning so long ago. He speaks to us and surrounds us with His love. Before you know it, you too will be at His feet consumed with the testimony of Jesus.

“The Heavenly Gardener”

MERRY MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” John 20:15

Such an encounter Mary had and she supposed him to be the gardener! Well in some ways he is a gardener of sorts tending to the gardens in our soul. It happens to all of us! The sudden surprise when Christ walks into the room. Throughout our ministry I have had the pleasure of hearing of such encounters. It’s what makes ministry the best occupation in the universe. When the heavenly gardener shows up everything changes!

Mary from Magdala had every reason to miss the Christ standing before her. The last 24 hours were full of blood, beatings, and then the tomb. She gathered the spices to anoint the dead and hurried to the tomb bringing her own tomb of troubles.

Little did she realize she was going back in time when she went forward to the tomb. There was another garden long, long ago where Adam and Eve did the unpardonable. Little did she know she was the new Eve restoring the kingdom and the curse that fell on man. The heavenly gardener is always about his fields tending to his harvest. He calls her out by name just as he did that other day in the garden. Mary woke up out of her dream of death and met Christ the resurrected one. He commissioned her to finish the story of redemption by going to all the world and telling others the good news.

Ambrose says this about the garden; “Jesus went forth with his disciples over the brook Kidron, where there was a garden (John 18:1)” many mysteries are included in this word, and I believe it is not without reason that our Savior goes into a garden… Because a garden was the place wherein we fell, and therefore Christ made choice of a garden to begin the greatest work of our redemption: in the first garden was the beginning of all evils; and in this garden was the beginning of our restitution from all evils; in the first garden, the first Adam was overthrown by Satan, and in this garden the second Adam overcame, and Satan himself was by him overcome; in the first garden sin was contracted; and we were indebted by our sins to God, and in this garden sin was paid for by that great and precious price of the blood of God: in the first garden man surfeited by eating the forbidden fruit, and in this garden Christ sweat it out wonderfully, even by a bloody sweat; in the first garden, death first made its entrance into the world; and in this garden life enters to restore us from death to life again; in the first garden Adam’s liberty to sin brought himself and all of us into bondage; and in this garden, Christ being bound and fettered, we are thereby freed and restored to liberty.”

No matter what you are facing my friend, the gardener has a way of bringing your winter to a close. He is tending to his business and calls you out by name. He has lifted the curse, and called you out by name! He is all around, he is in you working his eternal plan!

RESURRECTION CHANGES EVERYTHING

Matt. 28:8-10 – So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

The followers of Jesus were really caught by surprise by His death. Even though He had spoken to them about His imminent crucifixion it appears that none of them grasped it, and frankly, they wanted things to stay as they had been. Who wouldn’t? Their lives had been dramatically altered by the Lord and they could never go back to life without Him. When Jesus died His followers were in a state of sorrow and stupor, that is until they saw Him for themselves.

Mary is the obvious example. She was weeping outside His tomb after she had seen that it was empty. Jesus words that He would rise gain seemed like a fairy tale until she heard His voice. All He said at first was her name, “Mary”, He called to her. In a moment all of those fears that were hounding her disappeared. Jesus was alive and Mary was alive with hope. Jesus had truly risen from the grave.

Then there was Simon Peter. He could not believe his actions when push came to shove that fateful night. How could he have denied that he ever knew Jesus? To Peter, the dream was over. Even after seeing the empty tomb Peter was still overwhelmed with darkness. Even if Jesus was alive how could he even look Jesus in the face. According to Paul, Jesus met with Peter, probably alone, that glorious day. We aren’t privy to that conversation but Jesus didn’t need to tell Peter anything. One look into His eyes and Peter was good. Jesus was alive and Peter was forgiven, that’s all that really mattered.

Of course there was doubting Thomas. He seemed to be more angry than depressed. “I won’t believe unless I put my finger in the nail prints and my hand in His side that was pierced.” That also changed in an instant of time. Jesus appeared to Thomas and repeated Thomas’s words. “Put your finger here in my hands. Put your hand in the wound in my side”. Thomas was undone. All he could say was “My Lord and my God”.

So maybe you are a little down and listless this Easter morning. I have some good news for you. I have heard that Jesus is alive and He is still visiting people. Maybe you have an unexpected appointment today. Hope to see you in church.

SEVEN WORDS FROM THE CROSS

Lk. 24:46,47 – and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

As most Christians do, I took another look at the cross this Easter season. If you take a few minutes to look at Calvary, you can easily be swept away in the love of God. I began to reflect on the seven things Jesus said while dying on the cross, these words are deeper than any ocean. Here are those statements with a few short comments.

1. Lk.23:34 – “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

This type of forgiveness is unthinkable to me. The men killing Christ are committing the vilest sin imaginable, killing God’s Son. What was the Lord’s response ? Forgiveness and love.

2. Lk.23:43 – “This day you will be with me in Paradise.”

These were the words spoken to the man we call the thief on the cross. This man was likely suffering a just and well deserved execution. He obviously had heard of Jesus of Nazareth and when he realized he was dying next to the Lord, he began to cry out for mercy. Rather than eternal punishment he slipped into paradise with Christ.

3. Jn.19:26,27 – “Woman, behold your son.”

This tender statement shows us who Jesus considered family, those who believed on Him.

4. MK.15:34 – “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Again, the unthinkable happens. Jesus took God’s judgement of sin, your sins and my sins, on Himself. This is why Jesus felt forsaken at the cross. He bore my punishment that I could enjoy fellowship with the Father and the Son.

5 Jn.19:28 – “I thirst.”

Of course Christ was human and experienced excruciating thirst at Calvary. But this speaks of more than physical thirst, Jesus is thirsting for God to be glorified by the restoration of fallen man. This was why He came and why He died.

Passion notes -The Fountain of Living Water now thirsts for the souls of men and women to come to him. He thirsts for your friendship.

6. Jn.19:30 – “It is finished.”

The cry of victory as His suffering was coming to an end; redemption had been accomplished, we were delivered totally from the shackles of sin.

7. Lk.23:46 – “Into your hands I commit my spirit.”

Finally, Jesus yields His Spirit up to the Father. As He died in weakness as a human, He is totally dependent on the Father to raise Him from the dead. Three days later it all began, Christ was raised from the grave and the gospel began to be proclaimed in all the world.

MOCKED AND RIDICULED

Matthew 27:27-30. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.

 

 

No one likes to be mocked. Many times the accusations come a little too close to home. You know what I mean, being laughed at for being fat after you have put on a few pounds. Or maybe someone laughing at your outfit (you thought it looked pretty good). I can remember the smirks and whisperings in the back rooms with famous preachers I used to hang around with. Our church in New Orleans was never big enough or rich enough and after all we were one of ‘those’ kind of churches. You know the kind, not only were the poor there, there was way too much of those Pentecostal carryings on. That brings us to today’s passage, Jesus was very familiar with being mocked, as a matter of fact He was beaten, spit on, and laughed at because of His ministry. The last straw was raising Lazarus from the dead. The audacity of actually calling out to a dead body that had been in the tomb for four days. The catch was this, the body listened and Lazarus came out of the grave. Here is how Spurgeon describes this cruel behavior.

 

“Ridicule is very painful to bear at any time, and soldiers have been masters of that cruel art when they have been encouraged in it by their leaders. Remember, brethren and sisters, who it was that bore all this shameful treatment from these brutal men, — your Lord and the angels’ Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, who had designed, for a while, to veil his Deity in human flesh. And there he stood, to be “set at nought,” — to be made nothing of, — by those rough Roman legionaries, the creatures of his own hand, whom he could have destroyed in a moment by a word or a wish. What matchless condescension our gracious redeemer displayed even in his own deepest degradation and agony!”

Christ bore my ridicule, the Creator was mocked and beaten unjustly. He humbled Himself and forgave. It was this incredible love that began to win His enemies. Lord, strengthen us, strengthen me, to walk in your steps.

KING OF THE JEWS

Jn. 19:19,20 – Pilate had them post a sign over the cross, which was written in three languages—Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. Many of the people of Jerusalem read the sign, for he was crucified near the city. The sign stated: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.

There were so many supposed coincidences that day. Jesus just happened to be killed on Mount Moriah, the same mountain that Abraham offered his son Isaac on the altar of sacrifice. Jesus was also executed at the time of the Passover sacrifice fulfilling the prophecies as the Lamb of God. He was also killed the same year that Daniel prophesied that Messiah, the Prince would be cut off.

At Calvary we have the most unthinkable scene, God the Son, the Creator of all things, being offered as a sacrifice for the sins of all men. The mystery of the incarnation was coming to its peak, God in the form of a man was being offered as a sacrifice for our sins to God our Father. In the note on this verse in the Passion Translation another divine coincidence is explained. Check this out.

“Aramaic was the language of the common people in Israel. Hebrew ceased to be their spoken language after 450 BC, after the Jews returned from Babylon. Aramaic remained the language of Israel for nearly one thousand years. Latin was the official language of the Roman Empire. The inscription was also in Greek, for the Alexandrian Jews who had come to observe the Passover in Jerusalem would be unable to read Aramaic. The words were, “Jesus, the Nazarene, King of the Jews.” The first letters of each of the four words written on the sign in Aramaic (Hebrew) were: Y-H-W-H (Y’shua Hanozri Wumelech a Yehudim). To write these letters, YHWH (also known as the tetragrammaton), was the Hebrew form of writing the sacred name “Yahweh.” No wonder the chief priests were so offended by this sign and insisted that Pilate change it. This was a sign given to Israel, for over Jesus’ head on the cross was written, Y-H-W-H! God, the Savior, bled to death for you.”

So, as we remember the Lord’s death again this Good Friday we are drawn to the power of Christ’s death. Yahweh Himself, in a human body, was being offered for the sins of the world. The part that is most devastating, YHWH was dying for me.

KING OF OUR HEART

John 12:12-15 ¶ The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!

What a strange way to conquer a city. Make no mistake, this King of Peace came in to Jerusalem to conquer. His conquest was not like any other invading king. There was no swords, horses, or armies and no arrows piercing the sky. His conquest was different from all the others. He came to conquer our hearts. His entrance on a young donkey, hardly a great military maneuver. Jesus had His sights set on our hearts all along. He would cleanse the temple, heal the sick, and prophesy about the coming of the Holy Spirit. No threats, no blows, just the love of God pouring out of Him into all who were thirsty. Here is how Barclay describes this scene.

“It was not the kingship of the throne which he claimed; it was the kingship of the heart. He came humbly and riding upon an ass. We must be careful to see the real meaning of that. In western lands the ass is a despised beast; but in the east the ass could be a noble animal. Often a king came riding upon an ass, but when he did, it was the sign that he came in peace. The horse was the mount of war; the ass was the mount of peace. So when Jesus claimed to be king, he claimed to be the king of peace. He showed that he came, not to destroy, but to love; not to condemn, but to help; not in the might of arms, but in the strength of love.”

So…..has He captured your heart yet? Have you been captured by His agonizing prayer as He prayed for us in the garden? Maybe your heart was touched when He was whipped beyond recognition carrying our sickness and pains. Or was it the crucifixion that got you, He was wounded for our transgressions and the chastisement of our peace was upon Him. His entrance to Jerusalem was all about His choice to suffer and die for us. He is the conquering King, He has captured the hearts of His sons and daughters.

HE IS RISEN INDEED

Rom.1:4 – who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,

Jesus made some amazing claims during His ministry on earth. He said “I am the Bread of Life, I am the Resurrection and the Life, before Abraham was I am”. He also said things like “I have power to lay down my life and take it up again” and “if you drink the water that I have to give you will never thirst”. As C.S. Lewis said, “Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or the Son of God”. According to the Apostle Paul in today’s verse, the resurrection backed up all of these claims. The resurrection was the Father’s great declaration that Jesus Christ was His only begotten Son, there is no other conclusion that can be drawn. Maclaren speaks about God’s declaration in his comments on today’s verse.

“Still further, the Resurrection is God’s solemn ‘Amen’ to the tremendous claims which Christ had made….If the Cross and a nameless grave had been the end, what a reductio ad absurdum that would have been to the claims of Jesus to have ever been with the Father and to be doing always the things that pleased Him. The Resurrection is God’s last and loudest proclamation, ‘This is My beloved Son: hear ye Him.’….The old alternative seems to retain all its sharp points: Either Christ rose again from the dead, or His claims are a series of blasphemous arrogances and His character irremediably stained.”

In the first century, the power of the gospel being preached by the apostles was in the fact that they were eye witnesses, they had seen Christ physically after He had been raised from the dead. As a matter of fact, there were at least five hundred people who had seen Christ after He was risen. That was the power of the Apostle Paul’s words, Christ Himself, not a vision of Christ, appeared to Paul on the Damascus Road. Paul was instantly converted from being a strict Pharisee and a persecutor of the church. There is no other explanation for how the world was turned upside down by those first preachers. In the same way today, our testimony of Christ, when it comes from a personal experience with the Risen One, carries the power of the resurrection. The only conclusion; Christ is risen, He is risen indeed.

BORN AGAIN BY RESURRECTION

1 Peter 1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Peter knew exactly what he was talking about. He was there the very evening after Jesus had been raised from the dead with the other disciples. They were shaking in their boots (I mean sandals) when Jesus walked through the wall right into their room. They saw the wounds in His hands, feet, and side. It wasn’t a vision or an apparition, Jesus was there in flesh and bone. That’s when the born again thing happened, just as the Father had breathed life into Adam at his creation, Christ breathed life into Peter and the other disciples. “Receive the Holy Ghost”, Jesus declared. Peter was never quite the same after that, he had been born again by the breath of the resurrection that first Easter evening. Here is how John Gill describes this verse.

“by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; which may be connected either with the act of begetting again; for Christ’s resurrection is the virtual cause of regeneration, or regeneration is in virtue of Christ’s resurrection; had he not risen from the dead, none would have been quickened, or made to live, or have been raised to newness of life: his resurrection is the exemplar of regeneration; there is a likeness between them; as his resurrection was a declaration of his sonship, so regeneration is a manifestation of adoption; and as Christ’s resurrection was his first step to glory, so is regeneration to eternal life; and both are wrought by the same almighty power: or the clause may be connected with the foregoing, “unto a lively hope”; for the resurrection of Christ is what is the means of, and lays a solid foundation of hope….”

So Easter is a celebration of our new life, we have been born again by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When Peter wrote this epistle many years after Christ’s resurrection he still had the resurrection life and power surging through his body. It was that same power that fell on him on the Day of Pentecost; just a stronger, more potent dose. Today, this resurrection life can be received by anyone who hungers for something real. Call on His name, just maybe He will walk into your room.

I THIRST

John 19:28 – After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, *said, “I am thirsty.”

Toward the end of the crucifixion Jesus cried out, “I thirst”. He had remained silent through the beating, the mocking, and the crucifixion; why cry out now?

There are two things we can see from those simple words spoken from the lips of the dying Savior. First, He really became a human. He was not an angel or a spirit floating about. He was flesh and blood. He became a real man to redeem fallen man. He suffered beyond imagination as He took our place on the cross. Here is how Bishop Ellicott describes this.

“If he was ever to redeem man, he must become man. He had to become what we are in order to make us what he is. That is why John stresses the fact that Jesus felt thirst; he wished to show that he was really human and really underwent the agony of the Cross. John goes out of his way to stress the real humanity and the real suffering of Jesus.”

Secondly, maybe Jesus was expressing a different kind of thirst, maybe He was crying out for the kingdom of God and the redemption of fallen man. I believe He was and we can see a clue to this in the scripture. When they offered Him the vinegar to drink He turned His head. He didn’t try to quench His thirst or relieve the suffering, He was drinking the Father’s cup, He was crying out for fallen man. Here is how Matthew Henry describes this.

“But the reason of his complaining of it is somewhat surprising; it is the only word he spoke that looked like complaint of his outward sufferings. When they scourged him, and crowned him with thorns, he did not cry, O my head! or, My back! But now he cried, I thirst. He would thus express the travail of his soul. He thirsted after the glorifying of God, and the accomplishment of the work of our redemption, and the happy issue of his undertaking.”

God displayed His love for us through His Son’s death on the cross. He bore the full cup of God’s wrath against our sins, He literally suffered from the ramifications of my sin when He suffered and died on the cross. What incredible love! What an incredible Savior.