His healing stripes…

Seven hundred years before Jesus endured his final hour, the divinely inspired prophet Isaiah wrote down in precise detail how he would die. Words like pierced, bruised, and crushed all describe the scene brought on by the Jews and Romans on that fateful day, Good Friday. Many would have passed out from only a portion of what Jesus endured. Amazingly, he hung in there through the suffering. All for you and me.

Taking a look at the sacrifice he made, the torture, the humiliation, and how he was mentally and emotionally brought down by the weight of humankind’s sin, it’s mind boggling. What the Lord went through is stirring in the deepest of ways because what he suffered was what we deserved, not him. An innocent lamb led to slaughter. The marvelous mystery of God’s plan to redeem man through the scourges of his son is unfathomable. Though because of this miraculous feat, we are now set free. Set free spiritually from everything that besets our souls forever.

The compassion of God is truly greater than anything we’ll ever come to know. The more we dwell upon the flogging he endured… the stripes upon his back… the nails in his wrists, and the crown of thorns on his head, we more fully can understand the magnitude of his suffering. The greater meaning of it all, we’ll understand in heaven, but for now, we can rest in the truth of God’s word that these things were designed from the beginning for good.

The only remedy for the world’s sickness and disease of sin with all of its manifestations is the Lord. Isaiah tells us: “By His stripes we are healed.” We take medicine for our physical ailments, but the only medicine to cure our souls is the blood of the perfect lamb.

No red carpet… though he’s a star above stars

At Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem days before his crucifixion, there was great excitement. He came down from the Mount of Olives on a donkey. The people were moved, though some wondered who he was. They laid down their cloaks and garments in his path and waved palm branches, signifying, to them, the liberation they thought was on the horizon. No pomp and circumstance, just the shouts and acclamation of the commoners, who sang and shouted, “Hosanna to God in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

The chief priests and Pharisees were anything but pleased. They thought peoples’ exultation toward Jesus would be their loss.

As Jesus approached the city, he was disheartened to the point of weeping because he knew the imminent suffering that was to befall the people. This day was among the last before his crucifixion. Had the people of Jerusalem truly understood what Jesus was all about, he would have saved them all. Yet they chose their own way, which brought about their ruin. Sadly, even the apostles were not aware of the prophecies being fulfilled, nor did they understand that Jesus was approaching a heavenly rather than an earthly coronation.

Jesus, a living hope

What we may go through on earth–the struggles and trials in the storms of life–we’ve yet to suffer like Jesus. That God would send him to earth is beyond remarkable. For him to humble himself to the point of death for mankind, even death on a cross, is truly unfathomable. The mental, physical, and emotional agony endured is beyond comprehension. That he would even leave heaven to do so is superlative to anything we could even imagine.

On the day they cruelly hung Jesus on the Roman cross, his reaction to those who put him there was not spiteful but just the opposite. He asked his father to “forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Despite his agony, Jesus’ concern was not for himself but for the forgiveness of those who hated and despised Him. Even as they pounded nails into his flesh, his heart bled for them.

One can only imagine the surprise of Mary and Salome three days later when they went to Jesus’ tomb and found it empty. How vexing for Satan to know that his plan to thwart Jesus was in vain. The final enemy of death has been vanquished forever through our Lord.

He overcame death and through Jesus, we do also. Jesus is alive. We serve a risen savior. There is no longer any sting of death for those who believe in the finished work of Jesus Christ.


Just another holiday?

Holidays come and go. They’re just days, really. Though as a kid, we thought differently. At twelve-years-old, I was allowed to stay up to see the clock strike midnight on New Year’s eve. With all of the anticipation about the the new year, I was seriously disillusioned that there wasn’t more when the minute hand and the hour hand both hit twelve. Then at one minute after twelve, aside from a few pots and pans still banging outside, the dark hour became no more exciting than the fact that it was time to go to bed.

But not all holidays are alike.  Above and beyond, most people would probably say Christmas is their favorite holiday. Of course, this holiday is special because of Jesus’ miraculous incarnate birth. But there’s something to be said for Easter.

Of all the special holy days and traditions we ascribe to as part of our faith, there is none more significant to the Christian belief than Easter. Christ’s rising from the dead is significant in light of the fact that it is the fulcrum upon which our faith hinges. If he didn’t rise from the dead, to what purpose would our adherence to Jesus lie?

While honoring Christ would be a noble pursuit, even then, if he weren’t truly God in nature, then what has been proposed through the prophets and the Lord himself would be a lie. If Jesus didn’t die and rise to life again, then we who are believers in scripture are the most foolish. What’s more, we would still be dead in our sins.

Jesus’ death is significant for several reasons:  1) It defeats any and all of Satan’s arsenal to harm what is justified and protected by the Lord. 2) It demonstrates the power and glory of the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth. 3) It shows the humility by which our God emptied himself in every conceivable way to prove to his creation how much he loves us.

While we celebrate our glorious Jesus every day in our hearts, soon we will commemorate his resurrection on Easter Sunday. His birth was miraculous, his rising from the dead, even more so.


So where is Jesus in all this?

A brother in Christ recently posted a link from a New York Times article about the apparent mass exodus of black people from white evangelical churches. In my opinion, the NYT is a purveyor of indoctrination more so over fact, but that did not stop me from reading the story. After reading it twice, I ventured to share my thoughts about the story.

My initial question was:  So where is Jesus in all of this?

The comebacks were kind and measured, with most in the conversation asking the same question. My thinking to leave the conversation with the question in the air would have been prudent. Though in the name of Christian apologetics, I felt there was more to say. After praying that God would be with my mouth I proceeded to ask a second question:  Is this a spiritual argument or a political one? 🙂

Things remained cordial until I defended the truth as I saw it by quoting scripture. Then came the attacks. It didn’t take long before someone’s ire rose and I was verbally shut down.

In the online discussion, I attempted to share my thoughts about the woman in the story and what may have caused her to want to leave her primarily white evangelical church. The fact that she suddenly didn’t feel welcome coincidentally after the 2016 election sent up a red flag for me. She did not undergo any overt ostracism or persecution.  She just did not want to stay there. I wonder if it’s because her candidate did not win the election? Our discussion swayed into politics–the politics of “social justice,” diversity, multiculturalism, and racism.

In my purview, I go to church to worship the Lord and not to have my ears tickled. It’s really not about me or what color the person next to me is; it’s about worship, evangelism, and encouraging others. It’s not about ourselves and how we feel when we walk out of there. Church is not about getting high on the entertaining music. That’s not church, that’s a party.

Unfortunately, Satan is alive and well in churches. He hates them and will use any means possible to disassemble and divide, cause friction and animosity–subtly or otherwise.

As the discussion continued, they didn’t see a kernel of truth to my assessments nor anything I said. They had no cogent reply than to espouse their viewpoints, shame and silence me before labeling me a racist.

So I believe I answered my own initial question. This wasn’t about Jesus at all.