Thursday, April 5, 2012

One Dark Day Brought Life to Us All

By Allen White

From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”

Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. Matthew 27:45-56

The final sequence of events leading to Jesus’ death started with the Passover celebration with his disciples. Passover harkens back to the time of Moses and the exodus from Egypt. As a persecuted people, Jewish holidays celebrate God’s protection over and over again throughout time: Passover (Exodus), Purim (Esther), and Yom Kippur (Maccabees). God provided for His people then and will provide for His people again today.

Passover centers on the ten plagues inflicted on the Egyptians. The plagues are a bit curious. After all, frogs, locust, hail – was God just taking creative license? All ten plagues were purposeful in targeting a specific Egyptian god.

The final plague resulted in the death of the first born son in every family. While the first born son is often the heir, the first born son of the Pharaoh was regarded as divine. The final plague overcame the chief Egyptian deity, the Pharaoh himself.

To protect themselves, the Israelites were given instructions to sacrifice a lamb and paint the doorposts of their house using hyssop as a brush. God provided a way of escape using the blood of the lamb.

Jesus, the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29) began His journey to the cross by celebrating Passover with His disciples. He wasn’t kissed by the angel of death, but He was kissed by Judas.

After He cried out on the cross, a sponge of sour vinegar or grog was raised to His mouth on a hyssop branch. You see, even the device used to apply the lamb’s blood to the door posts in Exodus was symbolic of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God and our salvation.

To each of us who have received Christ, we have passed from death over to life. This transaction is not humanly possible. Only God can turn the destiny of our souls.

Many phenomena occurred at Jesus’ death. The earth shook. The curtain in the temple separating ordinary people from the presence of God was torn in two. Temple priests were no longer necessary. Jesus is our Mediator. Through His death, we have direct access to God.

A Roman soldier, who more than likely worshipped pagan gods, realized he had witnessed something remarkable. He was not a proponent of Judaism, let alone Jesus, but what flowed out of his mouth came deep from his soul: Surely he was the Son of God!”

On that dark day, Jesus bore the sins of the world. Every evil ever committed. Every sinful, selfish act you and I have ever done or will ever do – it’s all covered through Christ’s death on our behalf.

Christian ideas and symbols are commonplace in American culture. We have become so familiar with the old, old story. Sometimes it seems like it’s getting old.

But, what would your life be like without Christ? What if you carried the weight of all of your guilt and shame? What if your future was uncertain? What if you were hopelessly lost and unable to find your way? We can be thankful for Our Savior and His sacrifice for us.

Take a moment right now and whisper a couple of sentences to Jesus thanking Him for the joy of His salvation.

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