A Part of Jesus’ Sacrifices

I’ve learned about crucifixion over the years, and the more I learn the more I realize just what Jesus did for me. We talk about how Jesus left Heaven and gave up some of His “God powers.” These are amazingly, eternally significant points, and I do not want to downplay them! Yet sometimes we gloss over the physical parts of Jesus’ complete sacrifices, the ones we can more easily grasp in our finite human terms.

Crucifixion was the ancient Roman form of capital punishment. It was a torturous, slow death, sometimes taking several days. In Jesus’ case He was given a few extra horrors before He even got to the cross. He was scourged, meaning He was lashed open with a nine-tailed whip that tore His skin to shreds, and eventually could rip down to bone. His body would likely be in shock at this point, and probably unrecognizable. Jesus was also given a crown of thorns to mock His claim of kingship. It was beat on well with a stick and the long thorns dug into His scalp.

After that, Jesus was made to carry His own cross beam. Once at the place of execution (likely at eye-level with people on the road), He was hung completely naked on a cross. Often people would be hung with rope on their arms and feet, but as in the case of Jesus sometimes they would be hung with nails to hasten the dying process. At times a person might hang for several days.

If you didn’t die of exposure, dehydration, starvation, shock, or exhaustion, you would die of asphyxiation. Hanging there required you to heave your body and pull in order to breathe, so eventually the effort, pain, and agony would take its toll and you would be too weak to try.

Knowing all this, I wonder at how we Christians can sometimes be so casual when talking about it. This was a traumatizing experience for Jesus and His friends and family! Jesus was beaten nearly to death, then hung to die slowly. Can you imagine going through all that? At least a few of His friends and His mother were there to see it. Can you imagine what that must have been like, seeing your son or best friend dying slowly for a false accusation?

Jesus said “I love you” in the greatest way possible! And that’s only part of the physical part! Then Jesus rose again! Jesus went through all that and died for our sins, then lived to tell about it! All because He loves us!

Take a few moments to think about each part of Jesus’ sacrifices for us: the physical and the metaphysical. Go through the Bible and look at them in detail. Throughout Jesus’ earthly life, from the very beginning onward, He limited Himself to and sacrificed whatever God told Him to, right down to being left all alone and dying so we wouldn’t have to, and right up to rising again to bring us eternal life! If all that doesn’t say love, then nothing does.

The Battle Is the Lord’s

We who believe in Jesus serve a King who has never lost a battle.

We serve a King who sometimes wins battles by not fighting.

We serve a King who will not call us to battle unless He is there with us.

We serve a King who not only directs the battle, but also fights it alongside us.

We serve a King who not only fights alongside us, but also fights for us.

We serve a King who sings victory songs ahead of time, when our battles ahead look hopeless.

We serve a King that has already won and overcome.

Unbound by Culture and Language

I’m sure you already know, but it’s always nice to be reminded: God’s love is not bound to any single culture or language. There is no language or culture barrier in the way of God’s love. The Gospel is for everyone of every time and place!

Sometimes we forget this, especially when we’re typically surrounded by people who are more like us than unlike us. We love quoting John 3:16, but sometimes put our own conditions on its application in our lives. It’s inconvenient and difficult to show God’s love to some people, so we make excuses so we don’t feel guilty about ignoring God’s command to spread the Gospel.

But when God calls you He also equips you! We sometimes forget that, too. God doesn’t tell us to do something and then leave us to figure out how all by ourselves. God is going with us, or rather we’re going with Him! God is going to people of all nations, cultures, and languages. God is going across the world, God is going next door, and God is going in the dark alleys and under bridges.

God is even bringing people right to our doors! More and more people of different walks of life are mingling together through travel and immigration. People of many different cultures and languages are moving into our neighborhoods with us.

If you don’t like the idea of being around people of other cultures and languages, then I’m not sure you’ve read the Bible. The Gospel didn’t start with you, and it doesn’t end with you either. Jesus is the Author and Finisher (Hebrews 12:2), the One who leads and completes. God loves the world, and in Heaven there will be people from all over the world! (John 3:16; Revelation 5:9, 7:9-10)

Whether God calls us to go far or near, His love and Gospel are for all people. Each and every human on this earth is someone that God loves, even if you and I don’t. Each and every human on this earth is someone that God wants in Heaven with Him.

A little experience of mine on the topic:
Across Cultures, Across Languages

God’s Will

A lot of people say, “I want to know God’s will,” but we don’t always really want to know. We’re afraid we won’t like it or that we won’t be able to do it. But God’s will is always the best thing, so we can like it. And God will never call us to do something that He won’t also equip us and help us to accomplish.

If you want really to know God’s will, you’ll be willing to do whatever it is, even if you’re afraid you won’t like it, and even if you’re afraid someone else won’t like it. But before that, you’ll be already doing what God has already revealed. A lot of us want to know what God wants us to do specifically for the future. But if we’re not already doing what God has revealed to everyone in His Word, why would we think He’d tell us something else that we won’t listen to?

If I’m not telling people about Jesus as directed in the Great Commission, if I’m not living a pure life, if I’m not doing what God has already very plainly laid out in the Bible, then I’m not listening to Him. And if I’m not listening, then what makes me think He should tell me anything else? What makes me think I’d even hear Him?

Snaking Sin

Sin in your life is like a snake in your backyard: it might not be bothering you right now, but it is dangerous and will eventually bite you – maybe even someone you love. You might think you have it tamed, but this kind of snake will bite the hand that feeds it. Pet sin is still sin. It waits coiled to strike when you least expect it.

Like a snake in your backyard that endangers your household, you must kill sin! Cut off the head and kill it! It might wiggle around for a while, but know that it is dead.

What About the Year?

This year has been an interesting ride. But what about this year? Good things and bad things have happened. Through it all God has been there with us. He has worked and is working goodness out of it all.

What about next year? Many are looking forward to next year being better. Some are dreading it will be worse. But let me remind you that either way, God is still here working things out for good (Romans 8:28-32). Just like this last year, good things and bad things will happen, and God will still be there no matter what.

More on God working things out:
For Good in the New Year

More on God’s plans:
God’s Plan
God’s Plans and Our Plans

Representing God

I was thinking the other day about when people are told to leave God at the door or to keep their belief in God on the down low. That’s not how belief in God is supposed to work. Don’t be obnoxious about it of course, but don’t hide or downplay God and His work in your life.

You do not keep God on the down low, He is high and exalted (1 Chronicles 29:11; Psalm 46:10, 97:9). Whether or not I choose to express that does not change where God is or who He is, it just determines how well I am representing Him.

More on representing:
You’d Better Be Representin’!
Image Bearers

First and Second Coming

Around Christmas we focus on Jesus’ first coming, when He came as a baby. He came to live the perfect life that we couldn’t live so that He could offer Himself in our place to pay for our sins, and then to rise again to go back to Heaven.

Then one day Jesus is going to come a second time to set the world completely aright. Once enough time has passed for humanity to accept or reject what Jesus has done for us, He will come to get rid of all that opposes goodness and peace.

When? We don’t know; it’s a surprise. Until then, we are to tell people about Jesus’ whole life and what He’s done for us. Jesus wants everyone to be saved!

Because of the first coming, we can look forward to the second one!

More on first and second:
After Christmas
Surprise Coming

Light and Hope for Christmas

This has been a very strange year for everyone. It’s been tiring and frustrating. It’s been downright disheartening for so many. So now that we’ve reached the busy, busy end of the year, it’s really starting to wear on people. Be aware of that, in others and in yourself. Then be aware that though things seem dark and hopeless, the light and hope are not actually gone!

Remember that God the Son, God Himself, came from Heaven to be a human while still being God. The Light of men wrapped Himself up and came down here so we could have hope! (John 1:4-5; 3:16-17)

Remember that sometimes it gets hard to see the light and hold on to the hope, but both are always there. Just look around and ask God to help you. God will point you in the right direction of the light and help you renew your grip on the hope! He has never left.

Remember that God is the source of light and hope. God is light and hope. He has shown and continues to show us His light, and lights our way when we seek Him. He even holds hope for us and won’t give up on us, which is why He sent Jesus! God doesn’t want to leave us alone in the dark, so He sent Jesus to light the way to Him. God sent Jesus so that we could have hope and a chance to get out of the darkness.

Remember that light and hope aren’t just a one-time opportunity. God didn’t give us light and hope and just leave us to our own devices with them. Given our nature to wander away from such things, light and hope wouldn’t be much good then. But given God’s omniscience and love, He always points us in the right direction again!

Light and hope are not gone and they are not lost. God still freely gives both! Take and share them!

A little more on hope and light:
Faith and Hope
Good in the End
Light of the World

On missing a loved one at Christmas:
A New Normal for Christmas

Thoughts and Reasoning

God gave us the ability to think and to reason. At the same time, we can only think and reason so far, and only based on what we know. We are limited as to how far we can apply thought and reasoning.

God, on the other hand, has no such limitations, knowing everything that transpires in the context of everything. God knows all of time: past, present, and future, in all the inter-lacing details that history books can only begin to tell you. God knows all of creation: matter, energy, and space, each star, each animal, each cell. God knows each and every human – in any point of time – right down to our most detailed thoughts and motivations. God knows every law of physics. God knows every detail of math. God knows every abstract concept. God knows and is the true moral standard. In short, God knows everything.

Yet sometimes we still go around trying to apply our reasoning to God, instead of the other way around. We wonder why God lets things happen, why He makes things happen. We wonder how on earth God is going to straighten out a particular situation. And though we Christians know that God is beyond us in every way and can do no wrong, even we sometimes wonder if God is being fair. Sometimes we go around acting as if God thinks like we do.

But God is not human, and we do not think like He does.

God knows in detail what’s going on everywhere right now, and He’s got a plan. You and I may not know what it is, but God knows how it all ends up.

God’s thoughts are deep (Psalm 92:5), and our thoughts do not compare (Psalm 94:11; Isaiah 55:8-11; 1 Corinthians 3:19-20).

God has wisdom, and He is willing to impart it (Job 28:20-28; James 1:5).

God is God, and we are not (Isaiah 46:9-10; Revelation 1:8).