May Resurrection Day power fill your heart with unending blessings.
The Father once spoke these words to me…
“Those offensive cords of hate that wrapped the feet and hands of My Son became cords of great love to My children. When a heart is breaking, I take those cords and tenderly wrap them around that hurting heart so as not to bruise it, and ever so gently, I tie them in an eternal knot that cannot be undone.
“The cruel nail scars in His hands should daily urge My children to keep their hands empty of the things of this world and ever open to My gifts and teachings. They should use their hands to work for My kingdom and raise them in praise.
“The excruciating pain My Son suffered from the pounding of the nails into His feet should remind them that their painful struggles upon this earth are meant to cause their feet to follow in His footsteps, for He walked a path that was common to all.
“The crown of thorns so mockingly placed upon His head marked Him as different from the rest of the world. I make that crown of thorns into an eternal circle of love and place it upon My children as a constant reminder to be separate from the world. They should wear this crown in truest humility and love for Him. One day, it will be exchanged for a golden crown of life.
“The blood that spilled from His bleeding side should draw them into a covenant relationship with Him and remind them that He willingly became the sacrifice for the forgiveness of their sins and to give them Eternal Life.
“Oh, the love He bore as He hung there that day. In pain and agony, He suffered for My precious ones. His wounds should pierce into their very hearts and cause them to weep that their sins caused Him such suffering.
“His chords of love should bind them in remembrance of His cross of sacrifice. His death and release from the tomb should remind them to daily aim at death to self and deliverance into newness of life. Because I love you, He died for you.”
“Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 KJV)
Prayer: Oh, dear Jesus, thank You that You suffered such great agony and endured it willingly for a world of lost sinners. For this, I am eternally grateful. This Easter season, may hurting and lonely souls experience those cords of love and accept Your sacrifice for them that they may have Eternal Life in You. No greater love ever existed. Amen.
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Time to celebrate the greatest sacrificial act any man ever performed throughout all time.
Easter is coming. What is Easter for? Something maybe you’ve never thought about.
I love reading Isaiah 53 and the prophetic description of Jesus and the benefits and blessings of His sacrifice.
Isaiah said, “For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.
“He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (Is. 53:2-5 NKJV)
Many times, we stop reading at verse 5 or even 7, but the latter part of verse 10 and all of verse 11 say something interesting and worth pondering.
“When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.” (Is. 53:10b-11 NKJV)
So, what is Easter for? Yes, to take away the punishment of our sins and offer forgiveness. But what else?
He shall see His seed. The labor of His soul. Why? “The plan was that He give Himself as an offering for sin so that He’d see life come from it – life, life, and more life.” (Is. 53:10 Msg)
Seed in Hebrew also means offspring, sowing, posterity, child, fruitful, descendants, and so on. We are God’s children, His seed, His children of promise.
Jesus was planted as resurrection Seed, “that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29 NKJV), and those after Him would receive resurrection from death to eternal life as His seed after Him.
Jesus said, “The truth is, a kernel of wheat must be planted in the soil. Unless it dies it will be alone–a single seed. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives.” (John 12:24 NLT)
God was satisfied that He had not sent Jesus in vain. His pleasure flourished.
James said, “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He created.” (James 1:18 NIV) And that One Eternal Seed is still to this day producing more seeds of like kind.
What is Easter for?
For Jesus to become “the Giver of eternal salvation to all those who obey him…to seek and to save that which was lost…that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (Heb. 5:9 TLB, Luke 19:10 NKJV, John 10:10 NKJV)
And for holy seeds to be planted.
In the chilly dampness of the early morning hours, a woman gropes her way through the dark city streets of Jerusalem. Carrying only a small oil lamp to light her way, Mary Magdalene is joined by Joanna, Salome, and Mary, the mother of James. Leaving the city, they wend their way to the dew-moistened garden where Jesus had been buried.
Dressed in their mourning apparel and blurry-eyed from their tears of grief, they enter the garden of the tomb, carrying the spices to anoint Jesus’ body.
The first glints of sunlight peek over the horizon as they approach the tomb. Suddenly, the ground shakes violently as an angel appears and rolls back the large stone covering the tomb’s entrance.
The angel says, “Do not be afraid; Jesus is not here. He is risen! Go and tell the others.”
Terrified, Mary Magdalene rushes to get Peter and John and returns with them to the tomb. With their hearts pounding in fear and lungs struggling for air, the men enter the tomb and frantically survey the surroundings until their eyes turn to the stone slab, where only the death cloths lay.
Seeing that the body of Jesus is not there, the disciples rush back to tell the others.
While the other women wait outside the tomb, Mary Magdalene stoops down to look inside. With tears streaming down her cheeks, she turns to leave and encounters a man, who asks, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”
Assuming him to be the gardener, “‘Sir,’ she asks, ‘if you have taken Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will go and get Him.’” (John 20:15 NLT)
“Mary,” He whispers compassionately.
Recognizing a familiar voice, she gasps, “Rabboni!” and falls at His feet in worship.
I have been a Mary Magdalene. . .a follower of the Lord yet not being able to find Him. I wandered around for relentless hours, with stinging tears spilling down my cheeks, weeping in pain, sorrow, and loss. I searched the tomb of the world and found it emptied of dreams, hopes, and purposes.
My restoration came when I realized my Savior stood beside me all along, compassionately whispering my name. When I heard His loving voice, I fell at His feet in worship.
Have you ever been a Mary Magdalene? Do you weep over loss of dreams, hopes, or purposes? Pain, sorrow, or circumstance? Do you stand at the tomb, wearing the grave clothes of mourning, wondering where Jesus is?
Just as Mary Magdalene met Christ in an unexpected way, so your Easter experience comes to you in your hour of despair. Jesus will be there beside you to comfort you, compassionately whispering your name and asking, “Why do you weep? Whom do you seek?”
Jesus always brings you hope of resurrection as on that first Easter morn. He comes to lift you up, to wipe away your tears, to release you from your pain, to remove your grave clothes of fear and depression.
Jesus says to you, “Do not wear the grave-clothes stained with the tears of grief. Come into My garden of beauty and I will give you the robe of Easter’s resurrection gladness. Take My Hand and let Me lead you along the path to life everlasting. I gave My life that you might live eternally with Me.”
He says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 NKJV)
Do you believe this? Then, weep no more! Fall at His feet and worship Him!
May you know the power of Christ’s Resurrection Life in a deeper way this Easter season.
Along the Via Dolorosa. The Way of Suffering. The Way of Grief. The Painful Way…
Winding through the city of Jerusalem is a stone-paved, narrow way. It meanders through stone buildings of the marketplace, now congested with pilgrims in the city for Passover. Each pilgrim wends his way through the crowd, attempting to shrug off the unwanted venders hawking their wares.
Rushing against this already packed area presses a mob of angry people, along with Roman soldiers. The shoppers have not witnessed the gruesome happenings of the day, though they have heard the rumors of what took place.
Now, confronted with the reality of the events, they turn away in horror at the sight of the man in the center of the throng. Stumbling through this cluster of people is a man bloodied from head to toe, his appearance distorted from a brutal scourging. A crown of thorns presses into his scalp, as blood trickles down into his eyes. A cross beam lays across his slumped, raw back.
Along the way…
Those following the throng continue to shake their fists at this man, shouting, ‟Crucify him! Crucify him!” These are the same people who, one week earlier, hailed Him as the Messiah, as He entered the city, but now reject Him.
Along the way…
Does this bent-over man, who is called Jesus, see only the stones along the way, or does He look up to see the stony hearts of those yelling “crucify Him”? Does He see only dirty sandaled-feet, or does He see tear-washed faces? Does He see the fists of rage, or does He see the hands reaching out of those who love Him?
Along the way…
The soldiers see Jesus struggling to stay on His feet. As they lead Him away, the soldiers notice a man nearby, Simon of Cyrene who is visiting Jerusalem. The soldiers seize him and put the crossbeam on him, making him carry it behind Jesus.
Along the way…
…of the Via Dolorosa…the way of suffering. An agonizing walk to Golgotha, the Place of a Skull.
Along the way…
…to the cross on the hill…to the death on the cross…where the blood was shed for the sins of the world. For me. For you.
~Along the Via Dolorosa. I love this song. It says it all. This is a wonderful video. I pray you will watch it…
Prayer: Lord, it saddens my heart that You suffered such a horrible death, yet my heart overflows with joy that You choose to walk along the Via Dolorosa for me, for everyone. I shudder to think what my life would be like without You and Your forgiveness. I pray Your Easter joy will fill the hearts of everyone traveling along their own way of suffering this Easter. May others be confronted with the price You paid and choose to accept Your gift of love and forgiveness. Amen!
They want to leave it all behind; take the road out of it all. So, the two men depart from the hills of Jerusalem to get away from all the reminders of a heartrending crucifixion on the hill of Golgotha. Just as the road slopes down from Jerusalem, so their souls now slope down, reeling from dashed hopes of an empty tomb.
With the Sabbath now past, the two men somberly amble their way to the village of Emmaus, just a little more than seven miles away.
One would think that the crisp, clear sky, the warm afternoon sun, and the aroma of spring buds in the air would revive their souls. Not so.
In their attempt to leave behind the pain and disappointment, they find they yet carry the heartache with them: the lashings of punishment strike at their emotions; the nails of hatred pierce their hearts; the thorns of a mocking crown penetrate their thoughts.
Numb from it all, Cleopas and his friend stroll along the way discussing the dreadful events of the past few days and try to make sense of it all.
“Passover will never be the same. No Passover lamb can ever be eaten with the same savor; the herbs will be more bitter; and the bread, oh, the bread of brokenness.”
A stranger comes from behind to join them and interrupts their conversation. “You seem to be in a deep discussion with such mournful expressions. What concerns you so?”
They abruptly stop. A look of bewilderment blankets their faces.
“Are you a stranger in Jerusalem? Do you not know the things that happened there these last three days?” asks Cleopas.
“What things? What has happened?”
As they walk, the two men recall to the stranger all the anguish: the judgment, the whipping, and the crucifixion of an innocent man named Jesus.
Cleopas says, “We thought He was the glorious Messiah come to rescue Israel.”
The other man says, “Some women from our group of His followers went to His tomb early this morning and rushed to tell us that His body was gone; the tomb was empty! And they also saw angels who told them Jesus is alive! Some of our men ran out to see, and, indeed, Jesus’ body was gone, just as the women said.”
“Do you not understand?” the man asks them. “Are you so slow to believe what the prophets wrote in the Scriptures? Didn’t they predict that the Messiah would have to suffer these things before He entered His time of glory?”
The stranger attempts to rekindle their embered hopes by quoting them the prophets, starting with the book of Genesis and going through the Scriptures, explaining what they meant.
Listening so intently to what the stranger says, the men do not realize they have reached the outskirts of Emmaus. The man acts as if he is going on but they beg him to stay.
“Stay and have supper with us. It’s nearly evening; the day is done.”
Agreeing to go with them, he joins them as they head toward their lodging place. As they sit down at the table for their meal, the man takes the bread, blesses it and breaks it, giving a portion to each one.
Suddenly, the veil of obscurity vanishes from their eyes and they recognize him! It is Jesus Himself! And at that moment, He disappears from their sight.
“It was Jesus! It was Jesus!” they both shout.
So exhilarated, they begin to remind each other of their Emmaus walk, “Didn’t our hearts burn as He talked with us along the way and opened up the Scriptures for us?” Grasping it all, their hearts blaze again with the Emmaus heartburn.
And so it is with us as we travel the road of life and leave behind the pain, not only of the past at the foot of the cross but also of the tomb emptied of hopes and dreams, for our hearts cannot stay at the site of death and resurrection.
We must take that daily, life-road walk, and, as we do, we find Jesus walking with us in fellowship every step of the way.
As we walk with Him, talk with Him, invite Him to be our guest, and spend time with Him, sharing the Bread of the Word, the true unveiling comes, and, we have a celebration of revelation.
May your heart be set ablaze with His presence, as an Emmaus heartburn.
***This is the fourth annual Easter post.
Whipped…lashed within an inch of His life.
Mocked…crowned with thorns.
Slapped…beard ripped from His face.
Bound…nails pounded into His flesh.
Ridiculed…garment gambled for at His feet.
Pierced…in His side, and in His heart.
He sighed His last breath…
“It is finished.”
Now, it is time to bury Him.
But who will take Him down from the cross?
Who removed those gruesome nails from Jesus’ body?
Walk with me and let’s see…
Evening approaches. Clouds blush in the western sky as the sun begins to slide into the distant hills. It’s Preparation Day, the day before Sabbath.
A somber atmosphere hangs heavy in the city. Hearts sting from the ghastly sight of Jesus body being nailed to a cross as a common criminal.
But now, who will take down His body? He must be buried.
Appearing with boldness before Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus is Joseph of Arimathea. A rich man. A prominent member of the Sanhedrin. A secret follower of Jesus waiting for the kingdom of God.
What? Pilate summons the centurion. Jesus is dead? Pilate asks. The centurion replies in the positive. Pilate then gives Joseph permission to take Jesus’ body and bury it.
The day is growing short. Joseph rushes to the market for some linen burial cloths. Nicodemus joins him, helping to carry one hundred pounds of burial spices.
Hearts throb while lungs heave in their chests as the two men flee toward Golgotha.
Joseph takes a deep breath. Remove the nails? How can I do this?
Tears of deep grief fill his eyes and spill onto his cheeks. With trembling hands, Joseph extracts the bloody nails driven for the sins of man. First, from Jesus’ feet.
He finds a nearby ladder and timidly climbs up. He releases the cords of hate that tied Jesus’ wrists to the offensive cross beam. Next, he struggles to remove the nails…from one hand, then the other.
The Savior’s lifeless body plunges into the arms of Nicodemus.
Kneeling beside Jesus’ body, the men delicately wrap each linen strip with the spices around His body. Their arms and legs strain from the weight as they then carry Jesus to a newly hewn tomb in the garden.
After laying His body inside, the men back out of the tomb, bowing in reverence. Joseph rolls a large stone against the entrance of the tomb. The men walk back to the city in silence.
It is finished. Or is it?
I’m hooking up with…
Standing at a distance, she gazed at the man’s crucified body, dying on a cross, as her heart pounded in agony. Deep sobs heaved her chest. Her knees began to buckle.
What brought her to the cross? A mother’s love. For this was Mary’s son, dying for the world.
John the disciple, who had leaned upon this Divine Man so many times, stood with Mary, in utter dismay.
What brought him to the cross? Genuine love and deep gratitude.
With John and Mary stood Mary Magdalene, trembling. Tears of grief streamed down her cheeks.
What brought her to the cross? Love, for the forgiveness of the sins in her life, for scripture says, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much.” (Luke 7:47a NKJV)
Kneeling on the ground at the foot of this Man’s cross, the soldiers cast lots for His tunic.
What brought them to the cross? Their duty. And now their greed.
Two thieves hung on either side of this cross.
What brought them to the cross? Violation of the law.
Simon the Cyrenian was there.
What brought him to the cross? Bearing the burden of the cross to the hill of sacrifice.
The multitude gathered, murmuring to each other.
What brought them to the cross? Anger. Belittlement. Wonderment. Doubting.
The chief priests stood with the scribes, poised in pride and defiance.
What brought them to the cross? To mock Him, thinking it all utter foolishness.
What did all these have in common? They all needed the very thing for which this Man Jesus was dying on the cross: Salvation and the forgiveness of their sins.
Some accepted it; some rejected it. Paul later wrote to the Corinthians, “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 Cor. 1:18 NIV)
What brings you to the cross? Love? Gratitude? Grief? Duty? Violation of God’s Law? Bearing a burden? Anger? Belittlement? Wonderment? Doubt? Pride? Defiance? Mocking?
Do you come weeping in pain, sorrow, or loss? Emptied of hopes and dreams? Feeling lost in your circumstances?
Without the cross, there would be no Garden of Easter Gladness…to lift you up, to wipe away your tears, to remove your grave clothes of fear and depression.
Walk that trail from the cross to Easter’s Garden of resurrection. See your Savior Jesus standing there, waiting for you.
He compassionately whispers your name and says, “Do not wear the grave-clothes stained with the tears of grief. Come into My garden of beauty and I will give you the robe of Easter’s resurrection gladness. Take My Hand and let Me lead you along the path to life everlasting. I will never leave you nor forsake you. I gave My life that you might live eternally with Me.”
Jesus always brings us hope of resurrection as on that first Easter morn. He says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 NKJV)
Do you believe this? If so, weep no more. May you experience the salvation and forgiveness of the cross, the power of the resurrection, and embrace the risen life in a new way this Easter season.
What brings you to the cross? May it be…Genuine Love.