Tue, Aug 18th - 8:31PM
STUDY IN LUKE
"And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all of 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 Your hands I commend My spirit:" and having said this, He gave up the ghost. Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, "Certainly this was a righteous man." And all of the people who had come together and witnessed that sight, beholding the things which were done, struck their breasts, and returned. And all His acquaintance, and the women that followed Him from Galilee, stood far away watching these things (23:44-49)."
In verse 44 we are presented with darkness for three hours, a representation/symbol of separation and loneliness. This particular darkness told man something. It told people that they were separated from the "light." "And this is the condemnation, that light came into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, otherwise his deeds should be reproved.(John 3:19-20)." This darkness told people that they stood all alone. They could not see in the dark, not very well. They were, so to speak, standing in the world all alone, responsible for their own behavior; and they must face God someday all alone to give an account for their behavior.
Verse 45 presents to us the fact that the temple's thick, heavy, veil was torn in the middle. This symbolized open access into the very presence of Almighty God. This veil that was torn was the inner veil (katapetasma), the curtain which separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place. There was an outer veil/curtain (kalumma), which separated the Holy Place from the outer court of the temple. The Holy of Holies was the most sacred part of the entire temple. It was the place where the very presence of God was symbolized as dwelling in a very, very special way. It was closed off forever to everyone except the High Priest. Even he could enter the Holy of Holies only once each year, on the Day of Atonement (Exodus 26:33). At the very hour of Jesus' death, the High Priest would be rolling back the outer curtain in order to expose the Holy Place to the people who had gathered to worship in the outer court area. As he rolled back the outer curtain both he and the worshippers would stand in amazement. Why?? Because they would see the inner veil rent from top to the bottom. There they would stand frozen in place, witnessing the Holy of Holies, the special place where God would come to dwell, a place where the Shekinah glory of God would blaze in all of His glory. This was a sight that none of the people had ever seen before.
The important fact that it says the curtain was torn from top to bottom informs the reader of God being involved in the action. No person could cut this veil from the top to the bottom due to its height and thickness. This rending of the inner curtain symbolized that it was done by an act of God Himself. It also symbolized God giving direct access into His holy presence (Hebrews 6:19; 9:3-12, 10:19-23). Now, through the body of Christ, any person can enter the presence of God anytime, anyplace. I do not have to travel to Jerusalem and try to enter into the temple remains and find the site of the Holy of Holies. This torn veil also symbolized that all people could now draw near to God by the shed blood of Jesus the Christ (Ephesians 2:13-14).
Then, in verse 46 we come across Christ's work, His purpose. He uttered a great cry of trust---a picture of glorious triumph. He cried out one word in the Greek, Tetelestai, "It is finished" (John 19:30). It was a cry of purpose, a shout of triumph. Christ was dying for specific purpose and that was now fulfilled. "I am the door: by Me if any person enter in, they shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture...I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep...As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father: and I lay down My life for the sheep...Therefore does My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again. No person takes it from Me, but I lay it down willingly. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of My Father (John 10:9, 11, 15, 17-19)."
Of the people present witnessing this historic event, a Roman centurion gives a declaration of Jesus' righteousness, a heartfelt confession of the spirit. Since he was present he was the man put in charge of the entire crucifixion, which means he was responsible for overseeing all that took place. It is obvious that as events unfolded upon the center cross, he was stricken more and more with the claim of Jesus and the way in which the events were playing out before him. Christ's final shout convinced the centurion that He was righteous. Christ's death served a divine purpose, not just a routine purpose contrived by man. We must keep in mind that this centurion was a Gentile. He symbolized all who were to confess Christ in coming generations.
Finally, we can observe that all of the people who were present and witnessed these events upon Golgotha had stricken consciences. They had come to be entertained but went away with saddened, grieving hearts. God made sure that everyone were stricken in conscience. They were unaware that they were being prepared for the preaching to come after Pentecost. In counterpoint, we get to observe that Christ's acquaintances and the women that had followed Him from Galilee were not standing near His cross, but far off. Yes, they were still able to see and hear Him, but they had distanced themselves. All had done so, except Jesus' mother and the disciple known as John. We must not distance ourselves from Christ during times of persecution or ridicule. We must walk closely after Christ, accepting His yoke, becoming joined to Him and being able to share His power, His wisdom. Distance is the one thing that we must not ever do when it concerns Jesus.
I pray that you may find your way to "yoking" yourself to Christ. This way you will find the mind of Christ, you will be of one mind with Him, of one Spirit with Him, and will be yoked automatically with each and every other believer in Christ who has yoked themselves with Jesus. This way we can all achieve unity of mind, spirit, and of body. Amen.
Sat, Aug 8th - 10:07PM
STUDY IN LUKE
"And there were also two other, malefactors, led with Him to be put to death. 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 Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.' And they parted His raiment, and cast lots. And the people stood looking. 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 You be the king of the Jews, save Yourself.' And a superscription was also written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed at Him, saying, 'If You be Christ, save Yourself and us.' But the other answering rebuked him, saying, 'Do you not fear God, seeing you are in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man has done nothing wrong.' And he said to Jesus, 'Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." And Jesus said to him, 'Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in paradise.' (23:32-43)"
Pictured for us is Christ's identification with criminals, of being numbered with sinners. Why? Why is this important to us? Scripture is not explicit in explaining this, but perhaps this was a day set aside for execution, or perhaps it simply was a result of the Jewish leaders/rulers pressing Pilate to execute Jesus immediately. The Jewish rulers were adamant in their case that Jesus was just a man, an imposter who deserved to die just like other common criminals. Whatever the actual reason, Jesus was executed along with other criminals, adding more humiliation and shame He bore. Isaiah had prophesied this exact event (Isaiah 53:12).
Christ was counted among sinners that He might bear the sin of many.
The crucifixion of Christ was the summit of sin and love. It was the most horrible means of death. There was the pain of the driven spikes through the hands and feet of Jesus. The entire weight of His body jolted and pulled against the spikes as the cross was lifted up and slid into place. There was the scorching sun and the unquenchable thirst sapping His strength away. There still was blood oozing down His scourged back. The sharp thorns of the crown shoved down upon His brow, His stick beaten head. Imagine the clouds of pestering flies and gnats seeking out the wounds upon His body. Then there was the excruciating pain when that spear was thrust into His side. But this entire time upon the cross, His body worked against Him, slumping down due to gravity His lungs had to work harder and harder to take in breaths. In simplest terms, Christ was put to death for our sins in order to bring us to God.
We must not overlook the two criminals who were crucified with Him. He was dying because of them and because of all other people's sins. All people are criminals against God, rebelling against Him and breaking His commandments. Romans 3:23, part of the "Romans Road", informs us that all people have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Jesus is the glory of God. Despite being crucified by rebellious people, Christ prayed for all of His enemies. This is a clear picture of God's love and forgiveness for humanity up to the very end. This is picturing Jesus as the Mediator. This is why He had come, to stand as the Mediator between God and sinful people everywhere. Thus, He prayed for those who stood around Calvary reviling and mocking Him. This had been previously prophesied in Isaiah 53:12. Christ's purpose for coming down from heaven to this earth was to make the means for forgiveness of sins. Because of His death, God would be able to forgive the sins of men, even those who were now crucifying Him. Because they did not know who He was, they did not know what they were actually doing.
But incredibly, the most wonderful truth in all of this world is this: God will hold no sin against any person, if that person will personally trust His Son, Jesus Christ. If God forgives the men who killed His only begotten Son, God will forgive anyone for any sin, if that person will simply ask (Acts 13:38-39). It is also seen that there was shameless gambling for His clothing. It evidenced the level of selfishness, greed, and sin of the men. It would seem that the operating method of the soldiers was to claim whatever they wished of the clothes of crucified criminals. But His coat was valuable: it was seamless, one piece of cloth, woven from top to bottom just as the High Priest's coat or cloak was. The soldiers obviously decided to cast lots to determine who would get this valuable piece of clothing (John 19:23-24). This event, as well, was predicted in Psalm 22:18. Before being nailed to that cross Jesus was stripped by the soldiers of His earthly clothes. His mortality was being stripped away. It was a symbolic act, even though the soldiers had absolutely no idea that it was. Christ allowed this to happen that He might abolish death and bring life and immortality to light.
We also can observe that there was ongoing mockery, the peoples' misunderstanding of His salvation. Who were these people who stood and mocked Him? They were regular people as well as religionists, mocking His claim to be the Messiah. They had no concept of God's Messiahship. These people all had had opportunity to believe, for He had not hidden Himself or His message of salvation. But being part of a rebellious and sinful people, they led each other to do shameful and despicable actions. We must realize and understand that leaders, civil and religious, are all people. Position or profession does not make the person, it is a person's heart, their character. The soldiers mocked and taunted Christ. They mocked His claim to be King, but they did not comprehend His claim. Christ did not come to be a military leader, physically killing the enemies of Israel. Christ came to usher in the kingdom of heaven, of spiritual revival, of spiritual renewal.
Jesus was offered drugged wine at the beginning of the crucifixion, but refused it. He was also offered vinegar just before His death. It was a means to mock Christ even further. The mockery continued with the inscription on the cross. The sign placed above Jesus' head was intended to mock the Jewish authorities and to reproach His claim. But God overruled and used the sign to proclaim the truth to the entire world (Luke 23:38). Without their knowing, these words proclaimed His deity and honor. There was the mockery coming from the unrepentant thief which is a picture of hardness even in the face of imminent death. The thieves had to have heard the assembled crowd mock Jesus about being the Messiah, the Savior of the world. Nailed on crosses themselves, they ought to have been searching to see if there was any chance that Jesus could have been who He claimed to be. Only one of them showed enormous faith. The other showed enormous hardness of heart by mocking the very thought that Jesus was the Christ.
Finally, we reach the repentant thief, a picture of true repentance. This man demonstrated the steps to salvation and true changing of mind. He feared God, he declared that Jesus was righteous, and he asked Jesus to remember him. Importantly, we must not relegate Jesus' answer to him to the sidelines. Jesus promised the second thief eternal life; he would be with Christ in paradise that very day (study out Luke 16:23). The thief would not be with Christ in heaven, but in paradise. Heaven was not the immediate destination. He would be where Christ was. Christ did not even go to heaven until much, much later. This scene also puts to rest the necessity of all persons having water baptism in order to be saved. The thief had no opportunity and yet would join Christ that very day. Circumstances can prevent water baptism, but they can't stop the choices of the heart once they have been made.
Next time I will finish up this particular section of Scripture by covering verses 44-49. I realize that it has been over two months since my last posting. Life has been hectic, interesting, and unexpected. But things appear to be settling down once again, allowing me the time to return to this blog. May you receive some instruction, knowledge, wisdom, and/or assurance from today's posting here. Grace and peace be yours now, and for always!
Back to Blog Main Page