Friday, 25 September 2009

Personal Object Lessons - Death


“But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. For if … we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” Romans 5 v 8, 10

There is one thing we cannot avoid in life: death. It is a certainty and it is also a topic that most people spend a lot of time trying to avoid. The net result is that whenever it occurs people have great difficulty coping with it, they don’t know how to deal with it. Generally people will avoid talking about death and anything surrounding it. However, death is not a subject to be avoided. Sure, it has sorrow attached to it, but on closer inspection there is also a reason not to be afraid of death as well.

We are all sinners, that is an undeniable fact and we are told that the penalty for sin is death (Rom 6 v 23). Fortunately for us, Christ Jesus has already paid the price for our sins when He died on Calvary. It is only death that brings freedom from sin (Rom 6 v 7). So the fact that Jesus chose to accept the sins of the whole world and be separated from the Father in the pain of the crucifixion was a sign of the love of God towards us. Through the death of Jesus we gained a gift: “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom 6 v 23). The beauty of this verse is that it states the fact that we are all sinners and that death is the price we have to pay for the sin; then the verse continues with the glorious condition that we are already promised the most beautiful present ever received, that of eternal life! Death has no more power over us once we accept this gift of life. Death loses its negative influence in our lives because we know that Christ died and rose again giving each and every person who accepts Him the gift of eternal life (John 3 v 16).

Jesus died so that we could live. He experienced death, for Himself and for us, and by His GRACE (God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense) we do not have to remain in our sin and be separated from God for ever (Heb 2 v 9). Without this ultimate sacrifice we have been delivered from our “fear of death” that could hold us in bondage “all our lifetime” (Heb 2 v 15). Jesus’ death releases me from fear of death, (it will still sadden me to lose people, as I will miss them because of the love relationship I’ve had with them – that is humanity) but because there is that promise, that hope of a different future, then death does not burden me as it often can if I had not chosen to accept the gift of eternal life from God through the death of Jesus.

The death of the Son brings life to the world: we are all able to be reconciled to God, and thereby we can all be saved! (Rom 5 v 10) - what a blessing.

©MHMorgan 2009

Monday, 21 September 2009

Personal Object Lessons - Crucifixion


“And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? And they cried out again, Crucify him. Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him. And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.” Mark 15 v 12-15

Christ was condemned to die. The religious leaders of the time despised His popularity and accused Him of claiming to be a king: this was against Roman law and seen as an act of rebellion against the emperor. When Pilate asked Jesus if He was the King of the Jews, Jesus’ only reply was “Thou sayest it” (Mark 15 v 2). During the heated trial Jesus was accused of many other crimes by the religious leaders and He did not answer or refute any of their accusations. The outcome of the trial was dictated by the mob gathered in front of Pilate. Pilate wanted to placate the people so he assented to their wishes.

Crucifixion is a form of death reserved for the most heinous of crimes. The reviled person is tied or nailed naked to the cross and left to hang there until they die. This public execution is designed to humiliate the condemned person as they are open and vulnerable to all who witness the event. The usual Jewish method of dispatching someone who fell outside of the rules, especially for blasphemy, was to stone them to death. The Jewish leaders tried to stone Jesus in the temple (John 8 v 59) but He passed through the crowds and left them there. Crucifixion was a Roman method of death. The two groups, the Romans and the Jews, worked together to eliminate Jesus from their lives.

Before the actual crucifixion came the betrayal by Judas and the denial by Peter: these men were amongst Jesus’ closest companions. Person alienation was swiftly followed by public hostility. After the one-sided trial Jesus was taken to be beaten. Scourging, mocking and humiliation were all part of the prelude to the crucifixion. Once He was beaten, bloodied and bowed Jesus bore the heavy cross and made His way to the site where He was to die. All the way there He was ridiculed and attacked on every side. Each painful step He chose to take because of love. “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. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3 v 16,17)

Jesus chose to suffer, to be the ultimate sacrifice for humanity. He took the pain of sin upon Himself. Our sin separates us from God; when we sin God hides His face and will not hear us. (Isaiah 59 v 2). Jesus paid the price, He endured the pain. By being stretched out on the cross He showed His total love for us. He, an innocent man, was separated from God by the sins of the world. The sense of hopelessness must have cause extreme agony at the reality of separation from God. Jesus lost contact with God, He cried “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15 v 34)

Is Jesus’ crucifixion relevant today? Many people remember the crucifixion by carrying a nail in their purse or wallet. Others replicate the suffering by scourging themselves. Jesus was crucified to save us from our sins. We can remember His sacrifice by rejecting sin and accepting His everlasting love.

©MHMorgan 2009

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