Jesus Came to Die

Jesus came to die—but had no intention of staying dead.

[Closing off Mark’s Gospel]

OT Lesson  Jeremiah 31:31-34

NT Lesson  Hebrews 10:5-23

Behold the LAMB of GOD who takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29.

There are some who think that when Jesus came the first time, he came to live and reign, and that the rejection came as a surprise and so his death was not the “real plan”.  But that is to make the same mistake that the Jewish leaders and theologians had made.  The prophets [see Isa 53 etc.] had written about the “Suffering Servant” but it had been ignored because it was incompatible with their preconceived ideas of what the “Messiah” would do.  The prophetic was not predicting what “should happen” but rather warning about what “would happen”.     So as the crowds assembled before Pilate that fateful day you have the spectre of Luke 22:3 “Then Satan entered Judas… And Judas went to the chief Priests… and (he) watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them“.  The Jewish leaders incite the crowd to make a stand for the Passover choice — Barabbas [a murderer who had been arrested for his part in a coup attempt] or Jesus “The one you call the ‘King of the Jews’“.

The reply: “We want Barabbas….”      “What shall I do with the one you call the King of the Jews?”       “Crucify him…” they chanted over and over.      The Bible says that Pilate decided to do the easiest.  He released Barabbas and handed (Jesus) over to be crucified [see Interlinear by Green on Mark 15:15]      And so Jesus was rejected:

  • His Disciples forsook him at his arrest.
  • Passers by hurled insults at him.
  • The religious leaders mocked him.
  • One of those who was crucified with him  heaped insults on him.
  • And the ultimate rejection expressed by Jesus of his Father :”My God, My God, Why have you deserted me” (Feeling helpless and abandoned [see Amplified  Bible] quoted  from Psalms 22:1)

The resolution comes in Mark 15:37, 38. “With a loud cry he breathed his last.  The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”  The goal of this stage of the rescue of mankind was completed.  SIN HAD BEEN PAID IN FULL and the way was now opened up to go directly to God.  There were no longer any sacrifices necessary.  “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10)  Sins’ hold on mankind was broken.  We are no longer under obligation to sin.

And from rejection we go to response:

  • The Centurion says “This has to be the son  of God (Mark 15:39 MSG)
  • Joseph of Arimethia and Nicodemas take Jesus’ body and place it in a new tomb.
  • His friends come to check on his grave and to continue the embalming  process.

He is not here, He is risen… Go tell his disciples, and Peter“..

Jesus had come to die, but he had no intention of staying dead! He Arose! Triumphant over death and sin and the grave!

The challenge now became a possible reality. Jesus had said, “Who ever desires to come after me, let him deny himself , take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” [Mark 8:34,35]  and in Mark 10:21 “Take up the cross and follow me.”

The Apostle Paul describes the experience like this: “I have been crucified with Christ.  My ego is no longer central.  It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion and I am no longer driven to impress God.  Christ lives in me.  The life you see me living is not ‘mine’ but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. [Gal 2:20 MSG]

So, “Go and make disciples far and near marking them by baptism in the three-fold name: Father/Son/Holy Spirit.  Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you.  I’ll be with you as you do this… to the end of the age”  Matthew 28:19, 20 MSG]

JESUS CAME TO DIE BUT HE HAD NO INTENTIONS  OF STAYING THAT WAY

[Conclusion of the Gospel of Mark]

©1999 D H Friesen

What does it mean to Forgive?

The need to forgive is necessary and difficult.

Today’ feature is PRAYER FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH

Jesus said as he hung on the cross “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they are doing.”  That line became the model for the early church, as exemplified by Stephen, who just before he died by stoning said, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” [Acts7: 60]  And the modern martyrs have by and large taken the same position.  But the stories of persecution are all “out there someplace” — beyond the ken of our experience, for the most part.

The need to forgive, however, is as necessary and sometimes as difficult for us as for them.  Some people have confused forgiveness with forgetting, and carry a load of ‘false’ guilt.  Others have draped the call to forgive around the shoulders of wounded and hurt people like a mantle of shame, and they are bent over with the load.  Still others who are guilty of doing the injury throw a Molotov Cocktail of “You have to forgive me!” at the very one they have injured.  They try to run away from the truth of their action and burn the bridges of reconciliation behind them….

When we’ve been hurt, we want them to know how badly they have hurt us.  We want them to be sorry and ask forgiveness of us.  We want to get revenge (‘don’t get mad, get even” is often the adage). We want to be vindicated and justified.  We want everybody to know “What I’ve Been Through!” However, true forgiveness is letting go of the ‘Wants’. But our greatest need is traced to pain.  The deep, grievous theft of the soul, the tearing of the heart, with wounds that fester and do not heal.  To try to forgive without addressing the reality of pain is useless.  It’s like a ‘Band-Aid’ on a severed arm.   And when I demand they forgive me, when they’ve been deeply hurt, it becomes my escape, a quick legalistic get-away from the pain I’ve inflicted.  I’ve beaten the tool of Grace into a weapon with which to silence and destroy, and all in the name of God’s righteous requirement to forgive.

In Matthew 6:14,15 Jesus said, “If you forgive…your heavenly Father will forgive … If you do not forgive men their sins your Father will not forgive your sins.”

We were created to have deep meaningful relationships.  But sin came in. We’ve been deeply disappointed in relationships and so we often responded by becoming demanding and self-protective (“I’m never going to let anyone hurt me like that again!”) But that hinders Love.

Notice that the call to forgive does not require the re-victimization of the vulnerable, (we’ll touch that later) but rather the Love of God frees us to face profound disappointment and the pain in broken relationships.  And accepting and appropriating God’s Love frees others from being what we need them to be to us.

Accepting disappointment frees us to love.  Allowing God to be our most meaningful relationship frees us to love ourselves and love others.

But don’t rush past the pain.  Mourning the losses gives us permission for wounds to heal.  Accepting the incredible disappointment destroys the idea that life has to be fair.  Allowing ourselves to be profoundly sad is the way to true healing.

Forgiveness is an act freely chosen.  Jesus exemplified it at the Last Passover with his disciples.  He had passed around the first cup.  And then when they had washed their hands he went on the wash their feet — and that included Judas’, whom Jesus knew had already sold him to the religious leader for 30 pieces of silver.   And the first words from the cross were “Father forgive them…”            Forgiveness frees you from the need to have “them” repent. It’s independent of any response from the ones who have hurt us.  But it is a process.  So it’s OK to grieve!            Forgiveness does not open the way for re-victimization.  However, when you are no longer defenseless, you can determine the way and the terms by which to relate.  Forgiving gives you control and the liberty to keep lines open in relationships.

  • Forgiveness isn’t forgetting — The cross reminds us that the full price had to be paid.
  • Forgiveness isn’t earned — Christ died while we were yet sinners.
  • Forgiveness isn’t dependent on the other’s even knowing about it, or requesting it.
  • Forgiveness is a privilege, not a right.  It is a tender mercy.

And when I accept forgiveness I take the first step toward possible reconciliation.

“...God … gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them…We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” [II Cor. 5:18-21]

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses…let us fix our eyes on Jesus! Consider him… so that you do not grow weary and lose heart” [Heb12: 1-3]

Part of the outline taken from Ti Eller’s article in The Canadian Baptist, Nov. 1994.

©1999 D H Friesen

Jesus’ Vision of the Future

A STUDY IN CONTRASTS

MARKS’ GOSPEL CHAPTER 13
O.T. LESSON  Psalm 117
N.T. LESSON  Hebrews 4:11-16

Mark 13 is a study in contrasts.  Jesus is preparing his followers for what is ahead and so he instructs them regardless of the fact that didn’t have a clue what it all meant.      On one side is human perception.

  • The rich give noisily  [12.41]  out of their abundance.
  • The temple architecture was impressive and awe inspiring.
  • Armed conflicts give the impression of massive amounts of power.
  • Showy and  influential religious practices especially of the ascetic type give the impression of religious power.
  • All-pervasive and oppressive government legislation gives the impression of political power.
  • Nature, the earth and the visible universe are permanent.

On the other side is God’s Plan.

  • The widow gave all she had — more than all the rest put together [The Message]
  • Jesus said that though it looked impressive ‘not one stone would be left on another’ [The Jewish historian Josephus says some were 37x12x18 feet] In 70 AD the Romans soldiers tried to get all the gold out from between the stones.
  • Jesus said the timing of the ‘end of the world’ was God’s
  • Jesus said that many would come and attempt to ‘Play God’, and many people would follow them. [vs 22,23]
  • God will be in charge and collect His own ‘from the four winds’ [vs26, 27] regardless of political power.
  • “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” v 31.

So then we are called to “Be alert”  and “Be on your Guard”  and “Keep watch” —  Jesus said that the timing is God’s and it will come “as a thief in the night” for those who were not ready and anticipating the return.  In the meantime Jesus calls us to do the job he planned for us to do.

Matthew 28:18-20 — because “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me… Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of… Father/Son/Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…. Surely I AM [see Exodus 3:14] with you always, to the very end of the age.”

He not only gave us a job, but he also told us how he wanted it done — “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength… and your neighbour as yourself”.  “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  [ Mark 12:30,31; John 13:34,35]

BE FAITHFUL IN THE MEANTIME!

©1999 D H Friesen