Appreciating Calvary!

“And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.” Luke 23:33

When approaching this subject and talking about “Appreciating Calvary,” I am speaking of the finished work of the cross that Christ Himself accomplished in that place.

One of my favorite hymns to sing, written by William Reed Newell, says, “Mercy there was great and grace was free, Pardon there was multiplied to me, There my burdened soul found liberty – At Calvary!”

Calvary is that place we sing of.  Calvary is the place of the skull.  That same Calvary in our beloved hymn is the place which was also known as Golgotha Hill.

It was the place where the condemned were taken.  A place where life was taken.  It was a place of pain, and where life would come to an end.  No one who mounted a cross in that place expected to leave that cross, except by way of death.

And Calvary, a place just outside of the walls of Jerusalem became a place synonymous with that suffering.  It became a place known for its executions.  In that, it also became the place for the most wellknown execution of all time, that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Why is this so important?  Because He was, and is, so important.

History doesn’t record the name of others who died on that hill, for many have lost their lives in that place.  Calvary was not new to having blood flow down its hills.  Calvary was not new to having bodies bolstered high on its hill, exposing the shame of the condemned to everyone who walked by.

Calvary was not new to what the torture felt like that was carried out on its hills, but it wasn’t until Jesus became the one who walked up Calvary, His body already dealing with the pain of the scourging and whips; it wasn’t until Jesus, being fully submitted to the Father’s will, laid down His own life on that old rugged beam, that Calvary started to mean more than what it was used for.

I don’t know who died on that hill before Jesus.  And although some try to put names to the two thieves hanging next to Him, the Bible doesn’t mention them by their names (they are only noted by their actions).

But there is only one Man’s actions that made Calvary a significant place in history, and that’s Jesus.  It is only one name that climbed that hill that was worth remembering, and that’s Jesus.  It’s what Jesus did at Calvary that makes us appreciate it.  It is what Jesus performed on the cross on that hill that makes us want to pay attention to it and study it.  We want to know about Calvary because that’s where Jesus died for my sins and yours.

Before Jesus laid on that cross, He said, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24).

Before Jesus carried that beam up that hill, He said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.  This he said, signifying what death he should die” (John 12:32-33).

Before one nail ever entered His flesh, He once told His disciples, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.  No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:17-18).

Before He was sentenced to death, Jesus confidently told Pilate, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above. . .” (John 19:11).  You are not taking My life from Me!  I know what I came to Calvary to do!  I came to Calvary, at this appointed time, in this appointed place, to do the will of My Father!   Before the foundation of the world, I was appointed here to offer mankind so much more, and Calvary was the place to make it all happen.

Calvary is the place of fulfillment.  Calvary is the place where the Passover Lamb was sacrificed.  Calvary was the place where things would be different now.  Calvary was the place where all things would be made new.  All because of what Jesus did on Calvary!

There, He hung and bled.  There, He cried out and died.  Because of what happened there, the veil was torn, the dead were raised, and souls would be released from eternal bondage, and so much more!

How much more, you may ask?  Let me show you what Jesus, Himself said from that place on Calvary.

On Calvary, Jesus showed us what true forgiveness looks like, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  Instead of ranting and raving; instead of cursing and trying to get even; instead of hating those who put Him on the cross, Jesus prays to the Father for their forgiveness.

The pain He was feeling would not stop until He did.  Even when His body is finally put in the grave, the unbelievers would still be mocking Him, but He didn’t let that deter Him, His heart was set on forgiveness!

On Calvary, Jesus also gave the offer of something better.  The offer of heaven was given to the repentant thief.  Jesus said from the cross, “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).  While He was losing His life, Jesus showed just how important souls are to Him.  Heaven is waiting for those who believe!  Heaven is yours if you are repentant!  What this world throws at you does not have the final say!  The promise is there!  The promise is for us.  There is a place referred to as Paradise and Jesus offered it to this previous sinner.

Your sins do not have to keep you where you are!  Jesus showed us on Calvary, that there is something better waiting for us ahead!  “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).  Calvary showed us, that something better is waiting on the horizon!

On Calvary, Jesus showed us that relationships matter.  On Calvary, Jesus shows how much He cares for and takes care of those He loves.  Looking down from the cross we are told, “When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’  Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’   And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home,” (John 19:26-27, NKJV).

He had to go.  He had to die.  But that didn’t make it any easier for His mother to comprehend.  It was already prophesied to her, “(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:35).  It didn’t soothe the heartbreak at all.  A mother’s love does not work like that.  It is a special connection of the heart that starts at the time of conception and never leaves her.  Jesus knew she needed special care.  This woman who had raised Him and loved Him through it all needed to be looked after in a special way.

In His time of desperation, it is a blessing that He shifted the focus and thought about Momma!

And in His time of desperation on that cross at Calvary, He shifted His focus from Himself, and thought about you, and took care of you, because He loves you: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).  His relationship with you matters to Jesus, also.

On Calvary, Jesus fully felt the infirmity of mankind.  “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46, KJV).  Whatever the agony He felt in the garden that caused Jesus to sweat like great drops of blood during prayer (Luke 22:44), it wasn’t nothing compared to this moment.  Whatever agony His body felt as He hung with those nails impaled in His hands and feet, it was nothing compared to what He was feeling right now.

Placing all our sin upon Him, it is said, God turned His back on His Son.  He turned His back on Jesus, and Jesus felt the worst thing He had ever felt before separation from God.  He had a moment of not feeling the Father’s presence with Him.  When the Bible says, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15), that is exactly what it means.

Jesus not only knew what it was to live in the flesh, but Jesus knew what it was to die in the flesh.  Jesus knew what it was like to live in the presence of God.  And through this moment, through this agony He currently felt, He felt the fullness of what man would feel if there was no reconciliation through His blood.  He felt man’s lost state.  He felt what man would feel like if God were to turn His back on them.  Jesus felt it all and refused to come down from that cross.  He refused to sin against the Father’s will, even in this!

On Calvary, Jesus fulfilled every prophecy.  From the cross, He said, “I thirst” (After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. – John 19:28).

Not even the smallest of details were overlooked on the cross.  What may seem like an insignificant thing, Jesus fulfilled it all because your salvation is important and my salvation is important, and that we are able to trust in His salvation is important.  One can only trust a God who keeps EVERY WORD, even down to the simplest, “I thirst”.

If it is prophesied, “My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death” (Psalm 22:15), Jesus said, I’ll fulfill it.

If it is prophesied, “They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” (Psalm 69:21), Jesus said, I’ll not leave this cross until I fulfill it.  The details of the prophecies are too important.  The details of the promises this cross would heal and give are too important.  Even the little details, I will do.  People have to know that even the little promises from the Father matter the most because they matter the most!

So, in the brokenness of His body, Jesus said, “I Thirst!”

On Calvary, Jesus spoke, “It is finished!”  The time of victory is almost here.  In Matthew 5:17-18 Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

Jesus didn’t tap out.  Jesus didn’t give up in the middle of the process.  Jesus didn’t let people, discouragement, or pain stop Him from fulfilling everything that that moment on Calvary was asking for, or for everything the Father asked of Him, because for Jesus, it wasn’t over until it was all over.

He didn’t stop!  He had every right to.  When they mocked Him, when they spit on Him, when they blindfolded Him, and slapped Him, and said, “Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?” (Luke 22:64), Jesus still didn’t stop.  He kept going.  He kept enduring everything the crucifixion was throwing at Him.

Jesus didn’t let none of it frustrate His purpose for coming to this earth.  He let none of it get in the way of the salvation it would bring.  Jesus let none of it stop Him from being able to utter those words “It is finished!”

Genesis 49:10-11 says, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.  Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes:” “It is Finished!”

And finally, on Calvary Jesus spoke these words: “Father, into Your hands, I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).  Speaking these words, Jesus fulfills Psalms 31:5 which says, “Into thy hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD GOD of truth.”

1 Peter 2:23 tells us of Jesus, “When He was reviled, reviled not again, when he suffered, he threatened not; but committeth himself to him that judgeth righteously.”

He put it in the hands of God.  He trusted God for the outcome.  He did everything He was supposed to do and to God, He was leaving the rest.  What a lesson for us to follow!

In John 16:28, Jesus said, “I came forth from the Father, and I am come into the world; again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.”

In Psalms 23:4, it promises, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

Isaiah 12:2 confidendently tells us, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.”

Jesus knew His body would see pain and death, but Jesus also knew that He body was promised not to see corruption.  This body that hung on the cross today, was going to be resurrected on the third day.  Therefore, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!”  Release!  It was time to get out of here!

On Calvary, Jesus fulfilled every law.  On Calvary, Jesus fulfilled every requirement against us.  Everything we needed for a new life, started on that cross at Calvary.

In Christ, we are restored!

In Christ, we are blessed!

In Christ, we are made free!

In Christ, we are made new!

It had to happen!  It had to happen on Calvary!

My friend, today we are living on the other side of Calvary.  What our Lord Jesus did on that historical day that we call Good Friday wasn’t for Himself.  It was for you.  It was for me.  That indescribable gift of the life of Christ was laid down there in that place that we might one day rise in freedom.

Appreciate Calvary!

Blessings~

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Sunday School Lesson – “The Resurrection Message” Luke 24:1-9, 44-48; Acts 2:36

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VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 24:1-9, 44-48; Acts 2:36 (KJV, Public Domain)

In describing Himself as the Good Shepherd to His disciples, Jesus once taught them, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.  No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:17-18). 

When Jesus stood before Pilate, he marveled that Jesus would not speak up for Himself or answer the charges of His accusers (Mark 15:3-5), or beg for His life.  And at one point during His trial, Pilate told Jesus, “Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?” (John 19:10). 

Pilate fancied himself to be in charge of the affairs that day, but Jesus quickly schooled him on his supposed power.  Jesus said, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above. . .” (John 19:11).

Before He ever faced Pilate or any of the illegal trials that took place on that night, when the band of men arrived in the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Jesus, and Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of one of the servants of the high priest (Matthew 26:51), Jesus spoke these words: “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Matthew 26:53-54; emphasis mine, more on this later).

Jesus always had the power to avoid that painful moment.  Although man was the instrument that would lead Him to the cross, none of them: not Judas Iscariot, not the chief priests and scribes, and not even Pilate, had the power to put Him on the cross.  That power remained under Jesus’ full control, and with that power at His disposal, harnessing great restraint against using any of it for His personal benefit, relief, or escape, He laid Himself down on the cross: “I lay it down of myself” (John 10:18).  He allowed the crucifixion to take place so that, “the scriptures be fulfilled” (Matthew 26:54; Philippians 2:6-8).

Thus, Jesus laid Himself down and became the sacrificial Lamb once and for all (click here for more information on that subject from previous lessons).

But this story did not end with Jesus in the tomb permanently.  Remember the words He spoke: “I have the power to lay it down, and the power to take it again” (John 10:18; emphasis mine).

Several times, Jesus foretold His resurrection (see Matthew 8:31; 9:9, 30-32; 12:40; 16:21; John 219-22).  Sometimes, Jesus used very exact and descriptive words to tell what would occur: “Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again” (Mark 10:33-34). 

The third day is here, my friends!  That moment in history that all were waiting for, even if they didn’t know they were waiting for it, has arrived.

Jesus Christ has RISEN!  And because He is risen, we have this promise that we who believe one day shall be raised also (2 Corinthians 4:14; read 1 Corinthians 15:12-26).  Because He is risen, the message for the whole world now is that we have an eternal hope (1 Corinthians 15:19-20) which is found in our true King, Christ Jesus our Lord.

 The Angels’ Resurrection Message: “He is Risen!”

Luke 24:1 “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.”

The women carefully watched where and how the body of Jesus was laid (Luke 23:55).  There was no time now.  The day of preparation was here, and the Sabbath would soon be upon them (Luke 23:54; John 19:42), but they would be ready on the third day to do for Jesus’ body according to custom.

Joseph of Arimathea already carefully dislodged the body of Jesus from the cross, wrapping Him in linen, and laid Him in a new tomb (Luke 23:50-53).  Nicodemus also was with him.  He was the same one who asked Jesus, “How can a man be born when he is old?” (John 3:4), and Jesus spent time teaching him of the love of God for the world (John 3:16) and of His death (John 3:14), and much more.

This Nicodemus brought his own contribution to the burial of Jesus.  He “brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight” (John 19:39).

There, in that place of a garden, where He was crucified, they laid Jesus (John 19:41-42), and the women watched, then went home, prepared, and waited for the third day.

Now, “the first day of the week,” Sunday, was here.  The third day has come and “very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre.” 

Why did they come to the sepulchre?  Because that’s where Jesus was laid.  That’s where you go to find the dead.  At the “sepulchre” is where they fully expected to find the lifeless body of Jesus and do for Him as was their custom, “bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.”

As they were coming, they wondered, “Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?” (Mark 16:3).  To get to the body of Jesus, they had to get behind the stone.  Being possibly about a ton in weight, the stone would be a hindrance to the love they wanted to bestow on the body of Christ.  These few women would not have the muscle or might to undo what took many men to put into place.

So, they wondered, and in their wondering, they kept moving, in hope, toward the place where they saw Jesus was laid.

Luke 24:2-3 “And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.  And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.”

They didn’t have to wonder at the performance of such a feat for very long because heaven already responded: “And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it” (Matthew 28:2).

The issue of the stone was taken care of and there would be no issues with the “keepers” either.  For, when they saw the countenance of the angel, they were overcome with “fear” and fell down like “dead men” (Matthew 28:3-4).

When the women arrived at the tomb, “they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.”  No obstacles remained before them and they easily “entered in.”

I wonder what that was like for them, to enter the tomb of Jesus.  In that day, and in that culture, they may have had the opportunity to enter tombs before.  But this was Jesus’ tomb.  Were they nervous?  Were their hearts filled with trepidation over what they were about to see?

As they stood outside, and then “entered in,” had the sorrow they felt developed a knot in their throats over what was ahead inside?  Regardless, none of those feelings would stop them from honoring the Lord’s body.

They went in for the Lord’s body, but once in, they found nobody.  Literally, they “found not the body of the Lord Jesus.”  The women didn’t understand what they saw or didn’t see, I should say.

John even tells us that poor Mary Magdalene was utterly distraught when she was faced with the reality of what occurred at the tomb.  She ran to Peter and John and said, most likely, in a hysterical fashion, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him” (20:2).

Luke 24:4-9 “And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?  He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.  And they remembered his words, And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.”

“Perplexed” about the lack of the Lord’s body, the women realized quickly they were not alone: “Behold, two men stood by them in shining garments.”  These “men” were verified to be angels when these verses are cross-referenced with the parallel accounts found in Matthew 28:2-5 and John 20:12.

Here, in Luke’s account, they were described as having “shining garments.”  The other gospels support this with their descriptions: “His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow” (Matthew 28:3); “clothed in a long white garment” (Mark 16:5); and John’s version says, “two angels in white” (John 20:12).

Viewing this, “they were afraid.”  Their appearance was a frightening thing to behold (compare Matthew 28:4 and Mark 16:5).  The sight of angels often had this effect on people.

The angels then speak, “Why seek ye the living among the dead?”  But that’s just it, isn’t it?  The women came to the tomb to seek the dead among the dead.  Their eyes witnessed His death and burial.  Coming to the tomb, their eyes were also planning on seeing the dead body of Jesus, but this third-day experience was already turning out to be something extraordinarily special.

“Why seek ye the living among the dead?”  That question, along with emphasis on that word “living” – could it be?  Are they saying what we’re hoping they are saying?

The message of the angels is, Jesus is ALIVE!  To be alive means there is life.  To have life means one is “living.”  This is the opposite of the death they came to see.  They came to prepare a body to stay dead in the grave.  They came to say their final goodbyes to the man in the grave.  But the Bible tells us that it was not possible for death to hold H+im (Acts 2:24).  They came with spices for the flesh, but His flesh would see no corruption (Acts 2:31) as was prophesied in Psalm 16:10.

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).

To the women, they speak, “He is not here, but is risen!”  While the women were still trying to grasp the situation and form a response to the angels’ question, the angels themselves gave the answer.  You cannot find Him here, because “He is not here.”  The place of the dead was meant to hold the dead but, “He is risen.” 

In the introduction of this lesson, I listed verses where Jesus foretold of His resurrection.  Here, the angels say to the women, “Remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”  By pointing out that He is “risen,” the angels were verifying that since everything else occurred as Jesus said it would, the resurrection portion He foretold them of, had also come to pass.

He is RISEN!  The promise of the resurrection of Christ has been fulfilled!  As He told Martha previously, “I am the resurrection, and the life. . .” (John 11:25).

Their understanding wasn’t long in coming.  “They remembered his words.”  Hearts were enlightened as the flood of memories, the flood of “his words” came back to them.  Jesus promised His disciples earlier, “These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:25-26).  When time is spent listening to Jesus, those words, “his words,” will come back as a source of promise, revelation, and comfort when needed the most.

To the “eleven” remaining disciples (minus Judas Iscariot), “and to all the rest,” the women delivered the message of the angels, this Good News (Romans 1:1-4).  Jesus is alive!  Jesus has risen just like He said He would!

Jesus’ Resurrection Message, pt.1: “All Things Must Be Fulfilled”

Luke 24:44-45 “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.  Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,”

Along with the testimony of the women, others had the privilege of experiencing seeing the resurrected Christ.

Two fellows, walking on the road to Emmaus, encountered the risen Lord.  They walked with Jesus and talked with Jesus without the understanding of who this was in their midst (Luke 24:13-29).

It wasn’t until they sat to eat with Jesus, did they recognize Him by the actions of His breaking the bread (Luke 24:30-31).  Within that same hour, they rose and returned to Jerusalem to tell the disciples (Luke 24:33) this Good News: “The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon” (Luke 24:34; see also 1 Corinthians 15:1-5; more on the Emmaus Road trip can be found in the Explore section of the PDF or by searching “Recognizing Jesus” on-site).

Then, Jesus, Himself, appears to the disciples (Luke 24:36).  After encouraging their hearts that He wasn’t a spirit (Luke 34:37-43), He delivered His own message to His disciples.

As the women were called to remember the words Jesus had spoken previously, here Jesus wants to draw His disciples’ hearts to the understanding of what He taught them “while I was yet with you.”

“All things must be fulfilled,” He said.  The word “must” is a key component here.  Like a command, it is sent out to fulfill the instruction it was given.  It had to happen!  As horrific as the cross was, it came to produce a glorious salvation, with a glorious message.  These men, who would be responsible for carrying the gospel message to the world, had to know and believe, that every step of the way, God was sovereignly in control.

The events that occurred were according to His holy timetable until they reached the point of manifestation on the cross.  Whatever God says, it will happen: “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19; see also Numbers 14:35; Psalm 89:34; 110:4; Isaiah 40:8; 55:11; Hebrews 6:18).

From the time of the Fall of man, God has spoken of the Messiah who would come and free mankind from the tyranny of sin.  In Genesis 3:15, God speaks, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”  These, and many more promises like it, with many more references and prophecies about the Messiah, “were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.”

So, Jesus “opened their understanding.”  Forever the teacher, Jesus does not leave them confused and frustrated with a lack of understanding.  He delves into it with them.  He spends time with them, with the Word, “that they might understand the scriptures.”

For them to become the powerhouses of being the first Church leaders, they themselves would need to be fully enlightened.  The baton was being passed.  His mission would become their mission and they needed to know all the who’s, what’s, where’s, when’s, how’s, and why’s.  They needed to know how prophecy became fulfilled in Christ and be readily able to teach it to others.

Jesus’ Resurrection Message, pt.2: “Repentance and Remission Should Be Preached in His Name”

Luke 24:46-48 “And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  And ye are witnesses of these things.”

“It behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.”  Now, people have a chance to be free from their sins.  The story of the cross speaks of the fulfillment of everything Christ did for humanity.  Pass it on.

“That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name.”  When one is talking of “repentance” they are basically speaking of making a U-turn in life.  You are sorry for the sin and have determined to turn away from it, denouncing it, and the wrong attached to it.  Then, redirecting oneself purposely towards what is right in God’s eyes.  It is making a complete change in one’s life, actions, heart, and mind.  This is part of the message they would preach.

Another focus of their preaching would be the “remission of sins,” or forgiveness.  In Christ, God forgives: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7; along with many more verses).

All of Isaiah 53 prophesied of this Messiah by whom sins would be forgiven: “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him . . . thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin. . .” (Isaiah 53:10).

They were instructed to carry this message “among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”  God’s intention was always for all the families and peoples of the earth, all ethnicities, and backgrounds, be exposed to this offer of salvation (see Genesis 12:1-3).  “It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6; compare Matthew 28:18-20).

“And ye are witnesses of these things.”  As eyewitnesses by walking with Jesus for these past three years, the apostles could not only relate the words of Jesus but the experience of being with the Lord.  The truth, mixed with that experience, along with the witness of the resurrection, would cause these men to turn the world upside down in spreading the faith of Jesus Christ.  They would go forward, never turning back.  Most would lose their own lives in the process of the preaching.  But Jesus’ resurrection message was too important to keep to themselves: “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name.”  Souls were out there.  And those souls needed to hear the gospel and be saved.

Peter’s Resurrection Message: “Jesus is Lord!”

 Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

On the day of Pentecost, after being filled with the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4), Peter preached a powerful message supporting the Kingship of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Testifying of Jesus of Nazareth and the “miracles and wonders and signs” He did (Acts 2:22), Peter, with all the boldness of the Holy Spirit in him, also testified against those wicked men whose hands have “crucified” the Lord (Acts 2:23).

But God would have the final say: “Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it” (Acts 2:24; emphasis mine).  The same one that God “raised up” is the same one who occupies the throne of David as King forever, as was prophesied from Psalm 110:1 (compare Acts 2:34-35).

Peter pointed out also that David, who wrote these particular psalms/prophecies referenced here, had long been dead.  But, before he died God gave him a promise “that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne” (Acts 2:30; emphasis mine).  This is seen in Psalm 132:11, where identical wording is used, saying, “The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.”  A promise, Peter declared, was fulfilled by Jesus (compare and read Acts 2:22-36).

The long-awaited Messiah, the true King forever, was expected to come by that covenant promise given to David (read 2 Samuel 7:1-16): “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever” (2 Samuel 7:16).  Peter presented his case that Jesus Christ completely fulfilled and filled all the requirements as the risen King, saying, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

Because He is Lord, and because the people needed to know what to do now that their hearts were “pricked” with this message (Acts 2:37), Peter went on to preach the same resurrection message Jesus instructed His disciples to deliver, “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name” (see above notes), by saying, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).

The Lamb who was slain has risen as King, and the message still stands today, the Good News, all who seek Him, who believe, and accept Him as their Savior, can find forgiveness from their sins and a chance to walk in a new life through our risen Lord, Jesus Christ our King.  That’s the resurrection message!

PDF Full Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – The Resurrection Message

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Acrostic Poem: He is Risen Acrostic

Draw the Scene:  The Resurrection Message Draw the Scene

He is Risen Draw the Scene: The Resurrection Message Draw the Scene 2

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Sunday School Lesson – “The Passover Lamb is Crucified” Luke 23:33-46; John 3:16

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 23:33-46; John 3:16 (KJV, Public Domain)

At twilight, at six o’clock that evening (being the time the Jewish day started), the celebration of Passover would begin, and the lamb of the Last Supper would have been killed for the feast (compare Matthew 26:17-19; Mark 14:12-16; Luke 22: 7-13).  Before twenty-four hours would pass, before this very time the next day, Jesus Christ would hang on the cross and be sacrificed as the Passover Lamb once and for all: “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).

Many things have happened between Jesus’ last Passover with His disciples and His journey to the cross.  Following Luke’s account, not long after that Last Supper, after exposing there is a betrayer among them and squashing arguments of who is the greatest (Luke 22:24), Jesus soon found Himself on the Mount of Olives, in that garden called Gethsemane, where He battled in prayer (Luke 22:39-46).

Soon after, the betrayer arrived in the garden with “a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees” (John 18:3).  The price had been paid, and Judas Iscariot would fully follow through on his part as an informant for the enemy, double-crossing Jesus with a kiss (Luke 22:47-48).

After His arrest and the desertion of His disciples (Matthew 26:56), and the denial of Peter (Luke 22:54-62), Jesus stood before Pilate, a man condemned, and yet not condemned.  Not condemned, because there was no sin attached to Jesus or in Jesus that would condemn Him (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5).  Even Pilate’s own mouth voiced His innocence with these words: “Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him:  No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him” (Luke 23:14-15).

Yet, the Bible tells us, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).  For that to happen, the Passover Lamb had to be crucified.

Pilate passed his sentence and condemned to death (Luke 23:24) He that came to bring life (John 10:10). 

Stripped and beaten, crowned with thorns and spit upon, scourged and mocked (Matthew 27:27-31; Mark 15:16-20; John 19:1), he “Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.  And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha” (John 19:16-17).

Jesus and the Cross

Luke 23:33-38 “And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.  Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.  And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.  And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.  And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, This Is The King Of The Jews.”

This was His destiny if we want to call it that.  This was the appointed time for Jesus to arrive at this place, this place called “Calvary, this place in history.

“Calvary” was more than a lovely thought in the hymns we sing and the story we pass down, it was a real place, where real pain and sacrifice were experienced.  It was a real place where love would win the ultimate victory.

Before He left heaven, this place, carrying out this plan of salvation was already determined: “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world…” (1 Peter 1:19-20; see also Acts 2:23; Hebrews 9:26; Revelation 13:8).  The very details of His crucifixion were recorded in Psalm 22 many years before it happened.

Calvary would be the place where God would satisfy the greatest need humanity has ever known: salvation.  Calvary is the place where “they crucified him,” where Jesus laid down His life on the cross (John 10:18).

Submitting to the Father’s will on the cross would mean things would forever be different.  He had done more than come to change the world, He had come to change the hearts and lives of men.  He had come to “seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:40).  He had come to reconcile broken humanity back to the Father (Colossians 1:20; 2 Corinthians 5:18).  The cross made the way for that to happen.

With that, the act of crucifixion commenced.  As His body was forced to lie on that rugged beam, being held in place, the nails were driven in His flesh to secure Him, to punish Him, to kill Him.  Being lifted high, with the weight of His body pulling and being jarred against the tearing of flesh and the pain of the wound of the scourging, He was hung between two “malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left” (we will talk more on them later).

This symbol of our Lord’s cross, posted between two others, is another real symbol in history testifying to the realness this moment demanded.  Our Lord’s death is not a fairy tale or a wonderful read of something lovely someone did for us.  His story is real, with incredibly real details that support the account of what He did for you and me.

Hanging there, Jesus wastes no time in speaking His first words from the cross: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”  Jesus refuses to let pain speak for Him.  He refuses to let resentment, bitterness, or anger have a word here.  Instead, love speaks.  The same love that drove Him to the cross (John 15:13) is the same love that is pleading for their forgiveness.  When the course of these events is over and Jesus ascends back to the Father, all who believe in Him will find life and forgiveness (John 14:6; 3:16; Acts 3:19; 2:38).

Earlier, Jesus prayed for His disciples (John 17), and here He prays for the executioners, the nailers, the mockers, the whippers, and for them who yelled, “Crucify Him!” (Luke 23:21).

In an article I previously published titled, Focus Shift, I wrote:

Instead of ranting and raving, Jesus, in His agony and pain sought the betterment of the very ones who were killing Him.  He knew He would die.  He knew the pain would not cease until He did.  This plan was going to go forth.  Yet, He focused on the needs of others rather than Himself.

How awesome is that?  Often, we hear these words during a Seven Last Words service on Good Friday, but can we even begin to imagine the strength and willpower it took for Jesus not to focus on Himself during that time?  For Him to look beyond what He was currently going through to care for and about others?  I don’t think we have a clue.  He immediately pleaded with the Father for their forgiveness.” (©WordforLifeSays)

So, thus, He prayed.

As they “cast lots” for His garment, fulfilling even more prophecies (Psalm 22:18), the response of the very people Jesus just prayed for while in agony was startling.  They “derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.”

The “soldiers” too “mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar.”  That old phrase, “rubbing salt into an open wound,” comes to mind when I read these words.

Love lays down on the cross.  Love prays for His transgressors.  Love bleeds in the place of man.  Yet, love is scorned and mocked with wagging heads (Matthew 27:39; compare Psalm 22:7-8), tormenting Jesus with more than the nails in His flesh.  The hurting words of the people must have pierced His heart in a way a sword never could.

Yet, He refused their taunts.  He refused the temptation to leave this appointed place.  He refused to save Himself from this hour (John 12:27).  Remember what He said in the garden?  “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Matthew 26:53-54).

Therefore, He hung, with Pilate’s “superscription. . . over him”, written in “Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

Why was Pilate so adamant about keeping his superscription as it was?  The Jewish leaders insisted that he revise the wording by saying, “Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews” (John 19:21).  But Pilate refused and stated, “What I have written I have written” (John 19:22).  What was meant to be a written charge of the condemned became a written testimony for all to see.

Pilate knew they handed Jesus over by unjust means (Matthew 27:18), and they had no real evidence to condemn Him.  Even more startling was his wife’s interruption of the proceedings to send a private message to him, straightly telling him, “Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him” (Matthew 27:19).

He spoke twice in Luke, “I find no fault in him” (Luke 23:4, 14).  Was his conscience bothering him?  That, mixed with the warning from his wife, could have stirred something inside of him, but not enough to totally release Jesus from this fate.

Was he making a point?  Who really knows his thoughts behind the process, but the words of the superscription, written in the three main languages of the day and region, would stand to proclaim, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

Jesus and the Thief

Luke 23:39-43 “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.  But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?  And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.  And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

So, there Jesus hung in between the two thieves (Mark 15:27), fulfilling scripture once again, being “numbered with the transgressors” (Mark 15:28; Isaiah 53:12).

Originally, both thieves had a thing or two to speak out against and challenged our Lord, and “reviled him” (Matthew 27:44; Mark 15:32).  Jesus was truly taking a battering on the cross.  There would not even be a camaraderie with His fellow condemned.  As His body bled and writhed in agony, would He be forsaken by all?

The challenge picked up in intensity as the pain and feeling of hopelessness crept in for one of the thieves.  He “railed. . . If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.”  In his railing against the Lord, he probably wasn’t as much concerned with Jesus and His claim to deity, and saving Himself, as he was for his own life being spared.  Out of fear for his life and his own pain, he made this selfish request.

But, challenging his challenge, the other thief spoke up, “Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?”  Being this close to the end of his life may have awakened a reality in this man that the other seemed to miss.  None of them would leave these crosses alive.  The Roman soldiers would make sure of that (John 19:31-34).  All of them faced the same outcome.  Or did they?

Was there no fear of God in the first thief, even in this late hour of life?

As the prodigal son did in the pigpen (Luke 15:17), had this second thief finally come to himself and realize the wrongs that undid his life?  Did he question the choices he made that led him to Calvary as well?  Did he see something in Jesus, even in this late hour of his own life –  the man who speaks forgiveness from the place of pain, that he wanted for his own life, what little of it was left?

We don’t have all the answers to the questions or thoughts this man was struggling with on the cross, but we do know that he recognized two things.  First, he recognized his own undone state, that he “justly” was suffering for his “deeds.”  Recognizing personal sin is the first step to true repentance.  Jesus may have been nailed next to him, but he knew what Pilate and Herod already knew: “this man hath done nothing amiss.”

I don’t know how much of Jesus this thief could see physically with his eyes, but with his heart, it appears he had seen enough to believe that even now something better can come from his wasted life.  “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”

Others were jeering, mocking, and cursing Him, but this dying thief recognized Jesus by what others missed, addressing Him as “Lord.”  He would die as a consequence of his actions, of this, he was sure, and he accepted that.  At the same time, he also accepted that the One who hung next to him was “Lord.”

To the “Lord” he prayed, “remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”  He didn’t rile.  He didn’t even suggest to Jesus to be released from his cross.  But when his story was done on this earth, he wanted to be where Jesus was, in His “kingdom.”  As the minutes passed, and the struggle to breathe and endure the pain and humiliation of the cross were getting extremely harder, this thief was looking ahead, with hope, for something better.

His late hour faith in Christ was rewarded with these words from our dying Lord: “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”  Today, Jesus promised him, this will all be over.  Today, this man would be saved once and for all.  Today, Jesus would carry this precious soul to heaven with Him.

Jesus and the Father

Luke 23:44-46 “And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.  And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.  And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”

Earth responded to the Lord being crucified.  From noon, “the sixth hour”, to three o’clock in the afternoon, “the ninth hour”, “darkness” covered the “earth” (see Amos 8:9).

At this “ninth hour” Jesus cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).  The nails, the taunts, the pain were incomparable to this feeling of separation between Himself and the Father, a feeling He had never experienced before.  These very words were prophesied to be voiced at this time (Psalm 22:1), as the sin of the world laid literally on the shoulders of Jesus.

Heaven also responded to the crucifixion of our Lord when “the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.”  The need for further sacrifices was no longer there.  Through Jesus Christ, God was making a new way for believing souls to gain access to Him.

Before the cross, Jesus taught that He was the “way” (John 14:6) and the “door of the sheep” (John 10:7).  In John 10:9, Jesus says, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”  There was no longer the need for “the veil of the temple.”  The Good Shepherd gave His life for the sheep (John 10:11), and heaven tore the “veil” because the way has been made:

“God made a way through the life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.  To the life that will turn their heart and soul over to Him, He made a way.  “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” (John 14:6).  He is our access key.  He is the one who paved the pathway for us in righteousness and through His blood provided a space for us in His heavenly realm.  If we are His and have turned to Him, there is a place with your name on it in heaven.  A place waiting and wanting to be filled by you, but you must come through Jesus Christ only.” (God Made a Way/WordforLifeSays.com)

Seeing that all was done, every prophecy and command fulfilled, Jesus, spoke, “It is finished” (John 19:30).  Then, to the Father, Jesus cried out, echoing the words of Psalm 31:5, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”  There was nothing left for Him to do.  This portion of His story was written, and written perfectly well, and now it was time for the ending.  The work of the cross was finished.  The Passover Lamb had been crucified.  The price for sin has been paid (Romans 5:8; 6:23; Hebrews 9:12; 1 Peter 1:18-19).

Jesus and the World

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16 isn’t just a wonderful sentiment.  It’s more than a good word spoken to a seeking man by the name of Nicodemus.  John 3:16 was the expressed saving power of God on display in one verse, and Jesus knew that when He died on the cross, when He was lifted “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness” (John 3:14), through His sacrifice, those who believe will find “eternal life” (John 3:15) in Him.  “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17).

Why?  Because, “God so loved the world.” 

Love is God’s great motivation for everything.  From the calling of everything into existence to His moving through history, in all of it, God has operated in the sphere of love.

There is a popular quote that you may have heard before touting, “Love makes people do strange things.”  While love, or man’s idea of love, may have tripped people up and caused confusion over what love really is or how to respond to it, God never had any misgivings.  Anything and everything He did for love was an on-purpose act with a direct point of what He wanted to accomplish, even the death of Christ on the cross.

Love doesn’t make God do strange things.  God’s love does impossible things that only His perfect heart can do.  Although some may not understand the act of sacrificing Your perfect Son for the most unworthy of people, and they may view it through the eyes of limited human knowledge, thinking it strange, God sees it as the only way out for mankind to have a renewed relationship with Him.  God knows that for any man, woman, or child to be redeemed, they need to be reconciled to Him.  Only what Jesus did through the cross, as our Passover Lamb, can do this.  Only God’s love put Jesus there for us, for the “world”, to hang on Calvary’s tree: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16; emphasis mine).

Because of what Jesus Christ has done, we now have “access by faith into this grace,” and we have a reason to “rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2).  Through His sacrifice of blood, He bought the key that would give us an open door to our heavenly Father.  And with everything we face in this life, our promise through Christ stands, and we who “believeth in him” shall have “everlasting life.” 

Thank God for the Lamb!

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 3:19

“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

“Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” 1 Corinthians 5:7

PDF Full Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – The Passover Lamb is Crucified

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