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Holy Thoughts for Holy Week - Part 7

"'You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.'"
Matthew 27:65

Saturday was relatively uneventful for the disciples. Their Savior was dead. Luke tells us, "On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment." Surely they were emotionally drained and distraught. 

But while the disciples rested, the chief priests and Pharisees plotted. They remembered Jesus' claim, "'After three days I will rise,'" so they urged Pilate to secure the tomb lest Jesus' body be stolen. Pilate complied with their request and ordered the tomb sealed and guarded.

I wonder though if Pilate had some secret concerns. He wasn't excited about crucifying Jesus. His wife had sternly warned him and he found no guilt in Jesus. Maybe he had a hunch that the thousand pound stone wouldn't work.

That stone may serve as an impressive symbol of unbelieving man's herculean efforts to suppress the truth of the gospel in unrighteousness. Unregenerate people are forever concocting arguments and espousing philosophies to debunk the resurrection. They strive to make their views secure, solid, coherent, and irrefutable. Not too many years ago Bishop Spong said, "I couldn't be more excited about the future of the Christian faith, but it will be a different faith." He went on to describe traditional faith as suffering a "last gasp death-rattle in a world explained by Darwin, not Deuteronomy."

But with all due respect, he was wrong. The stone could not contain the Savior. The chief priests could not suppress the truth. The guards could not resist the angel. And to this day neither liberal theologians nor pagan philosophers nor the gates of hell can resist the risen King who quietly but relentlessly builds His church.

I'm sure that particular Saturday lasted 24 hours like every other day. But for the resting disciples it must have been the longest 24 hours in history! If Jesus had not come out of that tomb, we would be of all men the most to be pitied. But He did come out and in so doing defeated sin, conquered death, and opened Paradise. I don't hear any death-rattle, do you? "Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Christ has burst the gates of hell; death in vain forbids Him rise, Christ has open Paradise!"

P.S. Here is a little music from our cowboy friends in Montana, Peter and Gracie Rosenberger, to cheer your soul.

Posted by Jim Bachmann

Holy Thoughts for Holy Week - Part 6

"'Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.'"
Luke 23:43

Jesus came to seek and save the lost and give His life a ransom for many. Even with His last breath He saved a lost, unworthy thief. Centuries earlier Isaiah predicted that the Savior would be numbered with the transgressors. And so on Calvary hung Jesus, with thieves on either side who respected neither the law of God nor the law of man. They were seconds away from a hellish eternity.

Public opinion had turned against Him—quite a change from five days earlier. Even His disciples had forsaken Him. A great friend once said, "When a toxic person can no longer control you, he will try to control how others see you!" Indeed the toxic religious leaders turned public opinion against the Lord.

Admittedly, Jesus didn't look like a Savior. How could the Messiah suffer crucifixion? How could the Son of God, as He claimed to be, die? No one in the crowd was pointing at Him and saying, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" It was all a huge stumbling block to the Jews and utter foolishness to the Gentiles.

What could Jesus possibly do on the cross? His first words proved that He was still the Savior: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

When we are in pain we seldom think about anyone else's needs. If we are in severe pain we become entirely selfish. We want relief and we want it immediately. But Jesus, in spite of His agony, was ever the Savior. He offered a short prayer for His murderers that became a saving sermon! The thief's heart was quickened and he responded with a short, desperate request: "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." A very short sermon led to a very short request which led to an eternity in Paradise!

Even as He died Jesus saved others. To this very day He is still saving the lost. Count Zinzendorf once wrote a beautiful hymn, one stanza of which says this:

Jesus, be endless praise to Thee,
Whose boundless mercy hath for me,
For me a full atonement made,
An everlasting ransom paid!

The unworthy thief received boundless mercy and the assurance of immediate, everlasting paradise! And the same blessedness is available for all unworthy sinners who repent and call upon the Lord: "Lord, remember all of us when You come into Your kingdom!"

Posted by Jim Bachmann

Holy Thoughts for Holy Week - Part 5

"'A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.'"
John 13:34-35

Thursday evening the disciples had supper with Jesus in the Upper Room. He had less than 24 hours to live. Bloody sweat and passionate prayer in Gethsemane was just a few hours away. But before leaving the Upper Room, He washed the disciples' feet and issued the "new commandment."

What is new about the new commandment? To love our neighbor as ourselves was not new! But to love as Jesus demonstrated was unheard of: "'If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.'" The Lord was a servant! The King was a commoner!

I've just started watching Downton Abbey. Kristen graciously watches it with me, though she and Rachel watched it together several years ago. One is constantly reminded of the stark differences between the aristocrats and everyone else! The "haves" were not to marry the "have-nots." The aristocrats were waited on hand and foot. Never were they to swap places with the maids, footmen, valets, etc.

But Jesus swapped places with the lowliest of servants. Against his objections He washed Peter's feet. Knowing of his pending betrayal He even washed Judas' feet. And then, He commanded us to love friend or foe, disciple or traitor, as He had shown.

Our salvation would not have been possible had Jesus not "emptied" Himself, made Himself nothing, taken the form of a servant, and become obedient to the point of death on the cross. He came to serve, not to be served. He was rich beyond all splendor but became poor for our salvation.

Do you want the world to know you are Jesus' disciple? If so, find someone who has betrayed you and "wash their feet." We have more in common with them than we like to admit. Someone writes, "I looked at my brother through the microscope of criticism and said, 'How coarse my brother is.' Then I looked at him through the telescope of scorn and said, 'How small my brother is.' Then I looked at him through the mirror of truth and said, 'How like me my brother is!'"

Posted by Jim Bachmann


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