Your Word Has Given Me Life

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“This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life.” Psalm 119:50, NKJV

The richness of God’s Word can never be underestimated in our lives.  When sought after wholeheartedly, it becomes more than we could ever hope for.

As we peruse the pages of Scripture and happen upon those words that speak directly to our hearts – that speaks directly to our situation – that speak, in some way or form, directly to us personally – those words give us life.

They animate us from the inside out.  They stir something beautiful and special in us, a sweet meditation of the heart that is full of His Spirit and fuel for our life because the living Word is not only about what is written before our eyes on those glorious pages, but it dwells in the very center of our being.

You cannot have a satisfactory and full, beautifully flourishing relationship with God if you do not have a relationship with His Word, who also our Lord Jesus Christ is described as (John 1:1, 14).

Scripture doesn’t just tell us stories of a long-ago time for us to glean wisdom and encouragement from.  My friend, it is so much more.  The very Word is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16) and anointed, and powerful beyond what the ink of my pen or my understanding could write here today.

Nourished by the Word, it seeps like butter over fresh out-of-the-pan hot pancakes into every crevice of our heart, mind, and soul.  It enlivens us and awakens our spirit in a way that nothing else can.

I implore you, do not neglect the gift and the life found in the Word.  Hold its precepts, its correction, its instructions, and its encouragement like the treasure it is (Psalm 119:11; Colossians 3:16).  Keep it close to you and never let it go.  When you have nothing and nobody else, the Word will be your friend, your advice, your guide, your love, your inspiration, your hope, and your life.

In a previous article, Relationship With the Word, I jotted down some of my favorite “Word” verses found in just Psalm 119, NKJV.  That chapter alone is a treasure trove of verses to learn about and be inspired by God’s Word. I will place them here as well in the hope that they will inspire your heart to find life in His Word.

Pick up these treasures and let them breathe life into your day:

  • “Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart!” (vs. 2).
  • “You have commanded us to keep Your precepts diligently,” (vs. 4).
  • “Oh, that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes,” (vs. 5).
  • “Let me not wander from Your commandments!” (vs. 10)
  • “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You,” (vs. 11).
  • “I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches,” (vs. 14).
  • “My soul breaks with longing for Your judgments at all times,” (vs. 20).
  • “Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end,” (vs. 33).
  • “Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it,” (vs. 35).
  • “Establish Your word to your servant, who is devoted to fearing You,” (vs. 38).
  • “Behold, I long for Your precepts; revive me in Your righteousness,” (vs. 40).
  • “Remember the word to Your servant, upon  which You have caused me to hope,” (vs. 49).
  • “Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe Your commandments,” (vs. 66).
  • “I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right,” (vs. 75).
  • “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven,” (89).
  • “Unless Your law had been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction,” (vs. 92).
  • “You are my hiding place and shield; I hope in Your word,” (vs. 114).
  • “Direct my steps by Your word,” (vs. 133).
  • “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble,” (vs. 165).

In many dark times, and even on the good days, the Word is what shines a light brighter than any sun.  In the Word, we find comfort, solace, and peace no matter the prisons that try to hold us. We need the WORD!

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The Water We Need

It is dreadfuly hot in our area right now.  The need to stay hydrated and well-watered is not just a good idea, but it is essential to staying healthy and safe during these extreme fluctuations of temperatures.

“Come to the waters,” is something I once wrote, with the invite to “Step into the abundant life He so offers (John 10:10).  Come and let your soul be spiritually satisfied.  Come and take the offer of His salvation for yourself.” (Come to the Waters)

The truth is, the heat of this life affects us all and we all need that saving water.

One day Jesus was walking with His disciples and He felt compelled to go through Samaria (John 4:4). Whilst there, He spoke with a woman He happened upon at a well.  He asked her, “Give me to drink,” (John 4:7).  Her response was, “How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans,” (John 4:9).

John 4:10, 14 says, “Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.  But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life,” (emphasis mine).

Furthermore, it is expressed in John 7:37-39, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me [Jesus], and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.  (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

Water is life-sustaining. Water is necessary.  No matter what climate or environment one dwells in, water is a mandatory need that has to be met in order for one to thrive.  For Jesus to identify what He had to offer as “water springing up into everlasting life” is a triumphant statement.  It means He meets the needs and satisfies all that is required for one to enter into life everlasting.

Take of Him today, my friend, drink of what He has to offer and you have this promise: “And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not” (Isaiah 58:11).

“Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3).  

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More than we could ever imagine…

“Behold, God is mine helper…” Psalm 54:4

Prayer does not have to be hard.  Previously, I published an article titled, “God, I need Help” and revisiting that article, I think, ain’t that the truth.  

The simplicity of our hearts crying out to our God, is really all it takes.  There is no reason to have some convoluted plan to try to “persuade” God (if that’s the way we want to think of it) into hearing and responding to our prayers.  As our Heavenly Father, not only does He hear, but He personally concerns Himself with every area of our lives.

Isn’t that a wonderful thought?  

But, He doesn’t stop there.  

God also gives us more help than we could ever imagine because we are more important to Him than we could ever imagine.  And I think this is where many allow their faith or lack thereof to be swayed like a pendulum, swinging between belief and unbelief of just how much God cares for each of us individually.

 Swing and sway no more, my friend.  Today, let us just focus on trusting God enough to simply ask and believe?  

That is really all it boils down to, a simple ask with a simple belief. 

David, in the above psalm, after praying, “Save me, O God, by thy name… Hear my prayer, O God” (Psalm 54:1-2), simply says, “God is mine helper.”  Do you see the confidence in that statement?  Do you see how personally he knew that God was for Him?  When others were after him and still others sold him out, David remained assured in his faith that God would see him through every trial and work out what he wasn’t able to.  David knew, through past experiences, just to believe God in the midst of whatever he may be facing.

“God is mine helper.”  Is that your declaration today?  If it’s not, it can be.  Don’t overcomplicate your needs, your prayers, and the ability of your God to help.  Simply ask.  Simply remain confident.  Simply believe.  And just hold on and let God work it out.  God knows what He’s doing. 

God is for us more than we could ever imagine.  “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).  “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:6).   

Blessings~

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Marveling at Great Faith

“When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.  And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.” Luke 7:9-10

Jesus was not amazed at the situation or the people who spoke on the Centurion’s behalf.  Jesus was amazed at the Centurion’s response.  He had not met anyone in Israel, among His fellow brethren, who had so recognized His authority and power as this man; someone who willingly gave himself over to total abandon to trust Jesus to heal and believe that He will.

Astounding!  This was the true epitome of “great faith!”

When one’s faith is centered on Jesus, healing can take place.  Not just physical healing, as we see here.  But emotional, spiritual, relational…, in every area of life that needs restoration, Jesus is able to heal.  But it only comes about by faith.  The Bible reminds us, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).  The Centurion filled this faith criterion.  Beyond a shadow of a doubt, he knew that Jesus was able to do all that he had known of Him, and he sought Him with an open heart of belief.

Jesus spoke highly on his behalf, saying, “I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.”  If we were to put our spiritual thermometer in the waters of faith, how would we measure up?  Would we be found on the “greater than” side of faith or on the “less than” side?

Faith is the access key to everything God wants to do through us and for us.  Jesus once taught, “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.,” (Matthew 21:22; emphasis mine).  One must believe, as the centurion did, with total abandon, that Jesus can do this for you, too.

Adapted from The Centurion’s Great Faith previously published here on WordforLifeSays.com.

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God’s Omniscient View

In dealing with any adverse condition, circumstance, or trouble one thing’s for sure: God knows all about it and He has the final say! This was proven at the beginning of the book of Job when He limited what Satan could do (see Job 1:12 and Job 2:6) and at the end when God commanded a double blessing over Job’s life (see 42:10) and we see that “The LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning . . .” (Job 42:12a).

But what about the in-between?  That’s the hard thing about trying to hold on while going through the trials of this life isn’t it?  We don’t know the outcome as we are traveling through those difficult times. How awesome would it be to see the beginning from the end; yet, that would not allow our faith to be exercised and stretched, for the Bible says, “(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)” (2 Corinthians 5:7) and “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

While we may not be able to see or even understand everything we are dealing with or going through; while we may not have an omniscient overview of our life, God does.  He is omniscient meaning He is all-knowing.  The Bible lets us know, “Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5).  There are no limits to what He knows, sees, or understands.

Isaiah 46:10 also reassures us that God is, “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.”  In other words, to reiterate my previous statement: “God has the final say” and His purposes for our lives will stand because He is the only one who knows all about it!

Be encouraged today, my friend, knowing that God’s got this no matter how chaotic, difficult, hurtful, or wrong it seems right now.  He, in His divine sovereignty, sees it all and has it all under control.  His view of our life is so much better than our own.  Hold on and trust the God who is infinitely all-knowing.

Have a very blessed day!

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Take Away the Stone

“Jesus said, Take ye away the stone . . .” John 11:39

Their loved one has been dead for four days.  They sent for Jesus while he was just sick, but Jesus spoke without wavering: “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (John 11:4). Therefore, the Bible tells us He waited and didn’t immediately run to Lazarus’ side.

Now, He has arrived at the place of grief.  Acceptance of the situation has taken over and the loved ones and the people gathered there responded as any would.  Mary and Martha cried.  They mourned.  And much of what they were feeling, they probably couldn’t understand themselves.

The scene was heart-wrenching and troubling and now Jesus asked what seemed to some to be an unreasonable request: “Take ye away the stone.”

Unreasonable? Not in the least.

What Jesus was asking for was permission to gain access to the problem.

There are steps of faith and participation Jesus asks His followers to take. If you remember, back in 2 Chronicles 20:17, the people were told to get battle-ready and go out against the people even though they would not need to fight in that particular battle.  We are responsible for activating our faith in Him by following through on His requests even if it seems irrational or unreasonable.

God does not move according to our timetable.  Nor, does He move in ways that we think are right or not.  In fact, His ways of thinking and His plans are far out of our reach of human understanding (Isaiah 55:8-9).  And when He’s ready to move, we need to be ready to move.

By removing the stone they would not only be giving Jesus access to Lazarus, but they were giving Him access to their faith. When one opens their faith they give Jesus a chance to speak life into that place and do the impossible.

Many of us have areas where we could use a touch from Jesus.  Areas that need life spoken into them.

Stones, or blockades of any kind, act as hindrances to the miracles and moving of our Lord.  Are there stones in the way of you receiving something from Jesus?  Does He have full access to your life and faith?

Earlier, Jesus spoke, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).  Jesus’ objective is and has always been to give life.  Life here, and life for all eternity.  Take away the stones and give Jesus unobstructed access to your life.

Blessings ~

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We Who Know God

“With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.” 2 Chronicles 32:8

When you don’t know the true God, your perception of things becomes off.

When the servant of Sennacherib was sent to Hezekiah and those in Jerusalem during the siege, this servant boasted of something that was false; in something that would falter (2 Chronicles 32:9-17).

His boast was that his god was better than the Lord God.

His boast was to mock the worship of one God, before one altar.

His boast was in thinking that God Almighty could be catagorized in the same catagory as other gods who were unable to save their people: “And they spake against the God of Jerusalem, as against the gods of the people of the earth, which were the work of the hands of man” (2 Chronicles 32:19).

Ah, my friend, but we who know God, know Him to be outside of those false catagories.

We who know God, know where our help comes from (Psalm 121:1-2).

We who know God, change the focus of the boast of the enemy and declare the God who is able to deliver; the God who has been faithful in the past; the God who is “with us . . . to help us, and to fight our battles” (2 Chronicles 32:8).

As David before Goliath, we know know God can say, “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied” (1 Samuel 17:45).

When Isaiah declares, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 54:17), we who know God can march forward in the truth of those words and promises.

When Paul asks, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31), we who know God can readily answer to His call in complete faith.

When God tells Joshua, “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:9), we who know God can move with the same confidence knowing that we have this promise: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).

“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).

With eyes of faith and hearts that believe, we can overcome because “with him is an arm of flesh” (2 Chronicles 32:8), but we who know God, “may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:6).

We know our God is with us to help fight life’s battles and we can rest ourselves upon the promise of the Word.

More Word Promises:

“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” Psalm 20:7

“For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.” Proverbs 3:26

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10

“Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.” Jeremiah 17:7

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13

“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.” Hebrews 10:35

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While I live, I will praise the Lord!

Every day above ground is a day to give Him praise! He’s worthy!

“While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.” Psalm 146:2

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This morning, lay to rest…

This morning, lay to rest and hand over any troubles that may be stirring in your heart. Jesus is the answer for a troubled heart.

Father God, we are praying for an anointed release over Your children. We are praying against any troubles or circumstances that try to invade the peace that Christ so beautifully secured for our lives. Father God, we know that You are near Your children regardless of what they face or may be going through. Help us to grab hold of that truth as we go about this new day that You have blessed us with. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray, Amen!

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” – John‬ ‭14:1

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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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