For the message of the cross is…the power of God.
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We know that countless numbers of books have been written about what Jesus accomplished on and through the cross. In order for us to appreciate, to value, the events concerning the crucifixion of our Lord, our prayer for wisdom and revelation must be ongoing. If it is our personal desire to walk in the destiny our Father has for us, the Peace, Healing, Victory and Freedom He has for each of us — then it is vitally important that we become students of what happened to Jesus and all the events surrounding the cross.
Let’s pick up the telling of the final events of what Jesus confronted while He was here on
earth. Let’s start at the mountain where His transfiguration took place, its when Moses and Elijah appeared before Him. (Matthew 17:1-3) They were likely discussing the total fulfilling of all the laws and just as importantly each and every prophecy of the Old Testament down to the last detail. Because of this special meeting with Moses and Elijah, plus several other scriptures throughout the Bible, we know that Jesus was fully aware of everything that was about to happen to Him. What is vitally important is that we understand at the beginning here is everything Jesus experienced, He foreknew, there were no surprises. Another way of saying it; our Lord and Savior was not caught off guard in anyway. So let’s revisit what in heaven is celebrated as “The Most important event in all of Human History.”
Now, from the Mount of Transfiguration let’s fast forward to Jesus’ last hours before His death.
In his book “Experiencing the Cross,” Henry Blackaby explains: Jesus
was about to confront three “waves,” of intense agony, pain and suffering, the likes of which can never be imagined:
The first would be in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The second on the Cross itself.
Then the third: Jesus time in “Outer Darkness”.
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Beginning at the Garden of Gethsemane
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During the first hour or so, when Jesus entered the garden, we are able to have a glimpse of a most intimate time between Jesus and our Heavenly Father. As we meditate on Jesus and what He went through in the garden, we see that He sweat blood while prayerfully weighting all He was about to experience.
(Luke 22:44) The Bible tells us that the intensity of that hour was so profound for Jesus that our heavenly Father had to send an angel to minister to Him, least He die from the agony He was in. (Luke 22:43) Shortly after this He was betrayed by a friend, then He was arrested and bound. (Mark 14:45-46) Then, over the next several hours, time and again Jesus was hit in the face, spat upon, beaten, and chunks of His beard were torn from His cheeks, all the while being rejected for His claim of being the one true God. We also see during these encounters, He was verbally abused, laughed at and mocked. This began when Jesus was taken to the high priest and elders where He was first falsely accused. (Matthew 26:65 – Matthew 26:67-68 – Isaiah 50:6.) In the mist of this, one of His closest friends denied Him three different times. (John 18:25-27) Next, Jesus was taken to Pilate who was the governor of Jerusalem, and after a short assessment of all that was happening, Pilate quickly realized that he had an innocent man on his hands. (Matthew 27:2 – Luke 23:4.) Trying to avoid condemning Jesus, Pilate sent Him to Herod, the local ruler, hopefully for him to judge. (Luke 23:6-7) But Herod came to the same conclusion as Pilate and sent Him back to Pilate’s court. For it is clear both Pilate and Herod knew Jesus was innocent. (Luke 23:8-12 – Luke 23:13-17 – Luke 23:20) At that point, Pilate hoped against hope that just flogging Jesus would satisfy the crowd. Pilate handed Him over to his soldiers, who took Him, stripped Him naked and beat and whipped Him so severely that He could not be recognized. Next, the soldiers put a purple robe on Him and beat a crown of thorns into His head, while laughing at Him and mocking Him saying; “Hail, to the King of the Jews.” (John 19:1-5 – Matthew 27:29) A short time later we see Jesus – barely able to stand beside Pilate in front of a gathered crowd and scripture says: Now it was the custom at the Feast to release a prisoner whom the people requested. (Mark 15:6) Therefore, Pilate offer the crowd a choice, release Jesus, who Pilate knew was not guilty or release a known murderer named Barabbas. (Mark 15:7) The crowd, encouraged by the chief priests and the elders responded with one voice saying, “Release Barabbas to us.” (Mark 15:11 – Luke 23:18) But Pilate asked; “What should I do with this man, Jesus?” (Matthew 27:22 – Luke 23:20-21) Their response was, “Crucify Him!” Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. (John 19:13-15 – Matthew 27:24 – Mark 15:15).
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So condemned to die, the journey to Golgotha began. By this point Jesus was so physically weak that He needed help carrying His cross. Arriving at the top of Calvary hill, Jesus was again stripped naked and nailed to the cross. He was one of three crucified that day. During the last hours of His life, the soldiers pass their time by dividing up His garments and gambling for His underclothes. (John 19:24) Plus we read that many of the onlooking crowd joined in hurling insults at Him. How bad was the ridicule of Jesus? We read that at one point during the crucifixion Jesus cried out; “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:45-49) And we see that someone offered Jesus a little wine vinegar from a sponge they put on the end of a stick. (John 19:29) (In those days sponges were used by the Romans, as we use toilet paper today.) Needless to say, Jesus refused. Finally, once He had died, they took a spear and pierced His side, just to make sure He was dead. (John 19:34) Jesus was so controversial, that when His body was placed in a borrowed tomb, guards were posted at that tomb to make sure it was not disturbed. The tomb itself had a special Roman seal place on it to reinforce the importance that the tomb was not to be opened. (Matthew 27:59-70)
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It is at this point we must personally accept or reject our part in these events that took place over 2,000 years ago and several thousand miles away. Every true believer must face his or her own personal guilt in the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus went to the cross for me, for you. Because of our pride, our unbelief, our rebellion towards Him, the Father and the Holy Spirit. And here we see what our sinful rebellion produced, namely, “His death.” Now we can intellectually review this meditation in a few minutes or we can slow down and in faith reflect upon how our Lord and God responded to the sins in our lives, by taking them on Himself.
The Outer Darkness
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Now Colossians 2:15 tells us:
And having disarmed the powers and authorities,
he made a public spectacle of them,
triumphing over them by the cross.
And according to Acts 2:31, being in hell had no effect on Him: “…he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. Therefore we know according to scripture that Jesus entered hell and over those next three days He: “…went and preached to the spirits in prison.” (Hell) (1 Peter 3:19) This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train…” (Ephesians 4:8) Those who He preached to the “captives,” that He led when He ascended on high, They are the ones, Jesus talks about them in Luke 16:19-31 (those who where at Abraham’s side.) Also concerning Jesus time spent in Hell – Jesus took something else from hell when he departed from there! We read about it in Revelation 1:18:
“I am the Living One;
I was dead,
and behold I am alive forever and ever!
And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”
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Our Risen Victorious Savior, our Lord Jesus, knew what He had to go through. The agony, suffering, pain and death. He knew that each of these events must be gone through, to get to the other side and reconnect with His Father and the Holy Spirit. The garden, the cross and the outer darkness was the price He was willing to pay to experience the Resurrected Life that our Heavenly Father had prepared for Him. As we look at these three waves with the eyes of the Spirit, we can see through them, to His victory over sin and death. And the reality is that today Jesus is alive with all power and authority, and right now He is seated at the right hand of our heavenly Father. (Ephesians 1:15-23) Now for us, kneeling in praise and worship within our hearts next to His cross, we come to the place where His sanctification of us takes place. It is at this place that our hearts will become clean and tender and pure and holy. (1 Corinthians 6:11) And as this is happening in our minds, and in our hearts, then our whole life will begin to be effected by this experience also. For the reality is that the cross of Jesus Christ has not lost any of its power. (1 Corinthians 1:17-18)
So, how do you respond to this meditation?
It is important, that you take any sin that is besetting you,
Place it on this cross that Jesus died upon, and each and every time one of these issues arises within you, commit to refocus on, to prayerfully meditate on the overcoming power of the cross and what it cost our Brother, our Lord and Savior Jesus, instead of focusing on your issues. As you sincerely do this, you will begin to see the sanctifying power of God working within you.
What does it say in 1 Corinthians 1:18
“For the message of the cross…
…it is the power of God.”
What “power” does this “message” have? For you, for me right now, it is the sanctifying power to change our hearts, to be like His Heart. This is the “power” the Holy Spirit will use to change us into the “Image and likeness of Jesus!”
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