Easter: The Story

As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.’

This exciting announcement is part of “Easter: The Story,” a free Audio Bible program produced by Faith Comes By Hearing, the world leader in Audio Bible recordings, and is available for free download here or at the iTunes store. From the ministry website, listeners can download their copy of this Audio Bible story in either .MP3 or .wav format.

Via: Faith Comes By Hearing

A Good Friday Meditation: Christ and the Meaning of the Universe

Why did God create the universe and why is he governing it the way he is? What is God achieving? Is Jesus Christ a means to this achievement or the end of the achievement?

Jesus Christ is the supreme revelation of God. He is God in human form. As such he is the end not a means. The manifestation of the glory of God is the meaning of the universe. This is what God is achieving. The heavens and the history of the world are “telling the glory of God.”

But Jesus Christ was sent to accomplish something that needed doing. He came to remedy the fall. He came to rescue sinners from inevitable destruction because of their sin. These rescued ones will see and savor and display the glory of God with everlasting joy. Others will continue to heap scorn on the glory of God. So Jesus Christ is the means to what God meant to achieve in the manifestation of his glory for the enjoyment of his people.

But in that accomplishment on the cross, as he died for sinners, Christ revealed the love and righteousness of the Father supremely. This was the apex of the revelation of the glory of God—the glory of his grace. Therefore, in the very moment of his perfect act as the means of God’s purpose, Jesus became the end of that purpose. He became, in his dying in the place of sinners and his resurrection for their life, the central and supreme revelation of the glory of God.

Christ crucified is therefore both the means and the end of God’s purpose in the universe. Without his work, that end to reveal the fullness of the glory of God for the enjoyment of God’s people would not have happened. And in that very means-work he became the end—the one who forever and ever will be the focus of our worship as we spend eternity seeing and savoring more and more of what he revealed of God when he became a curse for us. Jesus is the end for which the universe was made, and the means that makes that end possible to enjoy.

—John Piper

Via: Desiring God Blog

Pierced For Our Transgressions

Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

—Isaiah 53, ESV

Thursday of the Commandment

Today is Maundy Thursday. The name comes from the Latin mandatum, the first word in the Latin rendering of John 13:34, “A new commandment (Mandatum novum) I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” This commandment was given by the Lord on the Thursday before his crucifixion. So Maundy Thursday is the “Thursday of the Commandment.”

This is the commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.” But what about Galatians 5:14? “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” If the whole law is fulfilled in “Love your neighbor as yourself,” what more can “Love one another as Christ loved you” add to the fulfillment of the whole law?

I would say that Jesus did not replace or change the commandment, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” He filled it out and gave it clear illustration. He is saying,

Here is what I mean by “as yourself.” Watch me. I mean: Just as you would want someone to set you free from certain death, so you should set them free from certain death. That is how I am now loving you. My suffering and death is what I mean by ‘as yourself.’ You want life. Live to give others life. At any cost.

So John says, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16). Was Jesus loving us “as he loved himself“? Listen to Ephesians 5:29-30, “No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.”

In the horrors of his suffering Christ was sustained “by the joy that was set before him” (Hebrews 12:2). And that joy was the everlasting gladness of his redeemed people, satisfied in the presence of the risen king.

Therefore, let us see the greatest love in action during these next 24 hours. “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1). And let us be so moved by this love that it becomes our own. “He laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” This is the commandment. This is the Thursday.

—John Piper

Via: Desiring God Blog

John Owen: Look Upon Him You Have Pierced

Look upon Him you have pierced. Say to thy soul, “What have I done? What love, what mercy, what blood, what grace have I despised and trampled on! Is this the return I make to the Father for his love, to the Son for his blood, to the Holy Spirit for his grace? Do I thus repay the Lord? Have I defiled the heart that Christ died to wash, that the lovely Spirit of God has chosen to dwell in? And what can I say to the dear Lord Jesus? How can I hold my head up before him? Do I account my intimacy with him of so little value, that for the sake of this sin I have scarce left him any room in my heart? How shall I escape if I neglect so great a salvation? Have I, through infinite cost to Christ, now obtained access to the countenance and presence of the Father that I might now provoke him to his very face? Was my soul washed and straightened up by God to make room for new defilements? Shall I now work to endeavor to frustrate the very end goal of all the mighty sufferings and torments an death of Jesus Christ? Shall I daily cause grief in the heart of that Spirit within me whereby I am sealed until the day of redemption?” Friends, entertain thy heart daily with such treaties. See if it can stand hard before this aggravation. If this makes it not melt in some measure, I fear the case is dangerous.

—John Owen
On the Mortification of Sin in Believers

Via: New City Church

A Crucifixion Narrative

Jesus pushes himself up again and cries, “It is finished.” And it is. Every sin of every child of God had been laid on Jesus and he drank the cup of God’s wrath dry.

It’s six o’clock, Friday evening, and Jesus finds one more surge of strength. He presses his torn feet against the spikes, straightens his legs, and with one last gasp of air cries out, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”

And he dies.

The merciful centurion sees Jesus’ body fall far forward and his head drop low. He thrusts a spear up behind Jesus’ ribs—one more piercing for our transgression—and water and blood flow out of his broken heart.

In that moment mountains shake and rocks spilt; veils tear and tombs open.

The merciful centurion looks

up at that lifeless body of Jesus and is filled with awe. He drops to his knees and declares, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

Mission accomplished. Sacrifice accepted.

—Rick Gamache
A Crucifixion Narrative

Related: Please read this post in it’s entirety at the New Attitude website.

John Piper: Jesus Gives You to the Father

What happened on Wednesday of Jesus’ final week before the cross? According to Matthew 26:2, "after two days the Passover is coming.” That probably means it’s Wednesday. We can’t be sure because fragments of days count as days, and because when Passover starts is reckoned in different ways. But it’s close.

The next verse says, “Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him.” What did they say behind those closed doors?

We get a glimpse of what they may have said from an earlier conversation in John 11:47-53. It is astonishing.

So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.

Note:

1) God preaches the Gospel to the council through the mouth of Caiaphas. Jesus will die so that the nation might live—that is, so that all Jews who believe might live (John 3:36).

2) John adds that the atoning power of Jesus’ death will gather the “children of God” who are scattered among all the nations—”I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also” (John 10:16).

3) This strategy to hold back the Romans did not work. In fact, it totally backfired. Jesus said on the way to the cross, “If they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:31). That is, if the fires of violence in Jerusalem consume even the most righteous branch, what will happen when the sins of the nation are complete? Answer: The desolation of A.D. 70.

4) Marvel that God chose you to hear the story of the cross and believe—that you proved to be among “the children of God” scattered abroad. Give thanks that Jesus prayed, “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me” (John 17:6). There is no happier gift than to be given to Jesus by the Father.

Via: Desiring God Blog

John Piper: The Intensity of Christ’s Love and the Intentionality of His Death

The love of Christ for us in his dying was as conscious as his
suffering was intentional. “By this we know love, that he laid down his
life for us” (1 John 3:16). If he was intentional in laying down his
life, it was for us. It was love. “When Jesus knew that his hour had
come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own
who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1). Every
step on the Calvary road meant, “I love you.”

Therefore, to feel the love of Christ in the laying down of his
life, it helps to see how utterly intentional it was. Consider these
five ways of seeing Christ’s intentionality in dying for us…

Read the whole article.

Via: Desiring God Blog