Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
The Last Eight Days, Part 3. Conclusion - A Bible Study by Jack Kelley - https://gracethrufaith.com/topical-studies/holidays-and-holy-days/the-last-eight-days-part-3-conclusion/
Wednesday 13 Nisan. The Betrayal
Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present. (Luke 22:1-6)
Much has been written about the motives that drove Judas to betray the Lord. Some say His intentions were honorable while others say they weren't, but the Bible is silent on the issue. What it does say is the betrayal came as no surprise. Jesus had already predicted it. Then Jesus replied, "Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!" (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.) (John 6:70-71).
Some of the disciples asked Jesus where He wanted to celebrate the Passover because as soon as the sun set it would be Thursday, the 14th of Nisan.
He told them, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, 'The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there." (Mark 14:13-15)
Thursday 14 Nisan. The Crucifixion, Passover
When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me-one who is eating with me."
They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, "Surely not I?"
"It is one of the Twelve," he replied, "one who dips bread into the bowl with me (Mark 14:17-20).
John 12:26-30 confirms that it was Judas, who went out to alert the authorities as soon as he had taken the bread. His betrayal was a fulfillment of Psalm 41:9, written by David 1,000 years earlier. Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.
During the meal, which was eaten at the same time Moses and the Israelites had eaten the first Passover in Egypt, Jesus introduced the New Covenant. He took bread and said it represented His body, given for us, and the wine in the cup He held represented His blood, shed for the remission of sin. He said whenever we eat of the bread and drink of the cup we proclaim the Lord's death until He comes (1 Cor. 11:23-26). From that day to this, Christians have celebrated communion on a regular basis, each time looking back to the cross, where He died in our place, and forward to the crown, with its promise of eternal life. Paul called it the crown of righteousness, which the Lord will award to all who have longed for His appearing (2 Tim. 4:8).
After the meal, they went outside the city heading east toward the Mount of Olives, where the Garden of Gethsemane was located. It was an olive orchard just across the narrow Kidron Valley from the East Gate of the Temple. On the way, Jesus reminded them of His coming death and told them they'd soon be scattered for fear of the authorities, in fulfillment of Zechariah 13:7. But He promised He'd see them again after His resurrection. Peter denied that he'd fall away, even if all the others did. In reply Jesus said "I tell you the truth, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times" (Matt. 26:34) It happened just as He said.
When they arrived at the Garden, Jesus told them to wait while He went a little further to pray alone. 1,000 years earlier, David had described what it feels like to be crucified (Psalm 22:1-18) and Jesus knew full well the terrible suffering and pain that awaited Him. Three times He asked the Father to not to make Him go through with it if there was any other way to save mankind from their sins. Some theologians call this the unanswered prayer, but the Father's silence was the answer. There was no other way.
Without the shedding of blood, there can be no remission of sin (Hebr. 9:22), but the blood of sacrificial animals was not sufficient to the task. It only served to remind the people of their sins (Hebr. 10:3-4). It took the blood of a sinless man to redeem sinful mankind once and for all (Hebr. 10:11-14). Jesus knew His prayer had been heard when an angel from Heaven came to strengthen Him, and He rose to face His accusers.
A couple of the most obvious indicators of the Lord's messiahship happened during the course of His arrest. When the Temple guards arrived, Jesus asked who they were looking for, and they replied, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus said, "I am He," which caused them all to fall to the ground (John 18:4-6). The word "He" doesn't appear in the original text. It was added by the English translators. Jesus only said "I Am," the name by which God identified Himself to Moses from the burning bush (Exodus 3:13-14).
It was a clear demonstration of His power, to single-handedly defeat them, had He chosen to. And as if that wasn't enough, He told Peter He had more than 12 legions of angels at His disposal (Matt. 26-53). That's 72,000 angelic warriors standing by, ready and waiting.
At that point, Peter drew a sword and cut off the ear of the High Priest's servant Malchus (John 18:10). Jesus touched the man's ear and healed him (Luke 22:51), telling Peter to put away his sword, saying all who drew the sword would die by the sword (Matt. 26:52).
The word servant is misleading. Malchus was most likely one of the High Priest's most trusted assistants, sent with the guards as his representative to make sure the arrest went as planned. There's no indication he was a believer, nor did he ask to be healed. With this miracle, the Lord protected Peter from arrest by reversing the effect of his impulsive act.
By the way, Jesus was not arguing against the taking up of arms in the general sense. It was a reminder that Peter was hopelessly outnumbered by professional soldiers. If he insisted on brandishing his sword, he would surely die from the thrusts of their swords.
That night Jesus endured numerous trials, all of them illegal. The Jews prided themselves in their mercy and only rarely invoked the death penalty. Formal charges always had to be filed before bringing an accused man to trial. Trials were never held in secret or at night. Conviction required a unanimous decision by the Sanhedrin, and they had a "sleep on it" rule that meant they voted again the next day. It took the confirming testimony of two independent witnesses to establish a man's guilt. None of this was the case in the Lord's conviction. No formal charges were filed. The group of leaders who tried Him purposely excluded anyone who would have been sympathetic toward Him. He was convicted on His testimony alone, and confined to a cell for an early morning execution. The sleep on it rule was ignored.
When he learned Jesus had been convicted, Judas, recognizing the terrible mistake he had made, tried to undo it by returning the 30 pieces of silver he'd been paid to betray Jesus. Failing in this, he threw the money into the Temple and fled. Because it was tainted, the priests were unable to return the money to the treasury, so they purchased a field to be used as a burial ground from a man who earned his living as a potter (Matt. 27:6-7). All this had been foretold in remarkable detail 450 years earlier (Zechariah 11:12-13). In his despair Judas took his own life.
Because the Jewish leaders lacked the authority to execute a criminal, Jesus had to be found guilty of a capital crime under Roman law. So they took Him to Pontius Pilate and stated their case. But Pilate was not persuaded. He tried to have Jesus released, but the unruly crowd that had gathered around demanded that Jesus be crucified. The Jewish leaders had stirred them up against Jesus and they weren't going to settle for anything less than His execution. When Pilate insisted that Jesus had done nothing deserving of death, they shouted all the louder, "Crucify Him!" Finally he called for water, and symbolically washing his hands, he said, "I am innocent of this man's blood. It is your responsibility" (Matt. 27:24).
All the people answered, "Let His blood be on us and on our children!" (Matt. 27:25) And so it has been. Pilate had Jesus flogged and turned Him over for crucifixion.
The Roman method of flogging was so brutal that many prisoners didn't survive it. When they were finished with Jesus, He was in deep shock. Their whips had torn the skin and muscle from His back exposing the bones of His rib cage. But the worst was yet to come.
It was nine AM when Jesus was nailed to the cross, and for the next six hours, He endured the most painful method of execution ever devised. Crucifixion is essentially a death by suffocation. Because the condemned man was hanging by his arms, he couldn't draw a full breath unless he supported His weight with His feet. But pushing against the nails that were driven through his feet was so painful he could only do it for a few seconds at a time, so his lungs slowly filled up with carbon dioxide until he could no longer breathe. Isaiah 53:4-5 tells us the magnitude of our sins made this brutality necessary to ensure our spiritual and physical healing.
At noon darkness came over the whole land. God had turned away, unable to watch, taking His light from the world as He did. 750 years earlier the prophet Amos had warned them this would happen.
"In that day," declares the Sovereign Lord, "I will make the Sun go down at noon and darken the Earth in broad daylight" (Amos 8:9).
Throughout this unspeakable ordeal Jesus had uttered not a whimper. With all the power of the Universe at His command He allowed himself to be led like a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7). But the pain of being separated from His Father was too much for Him to bear. Finally, at 3 PM He cried out for the first time. "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"(Matt. 27:46)
Knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:28-30)
At the last supper Jesus said He wouldn't drink wine again until the Kingdom came (Matt. 26:29), and He had refused a drink of it earlier in the day (Matt. 27:34). But now He was asking for one.
Also, the Greek word translated it is finished was a commonly used term that meant paid in full in standard legal and commercial affairs. The debt of sin mankind owed to God had been paid. Taken together these two things indicate that with the Lord's death phase one of the Kingdom, later to be known as the Church, had come.
Although it would be several hours before the Lord's body was removed from the cross and placed in a tomb, by 3 PM His Spirit had departed and was in paradise. All four Gospel accounts agree that the Lord's death took place on Preparation Day, as Passover had come to be known (Matt. 27:62, Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54, John 19:31). Christ, our Passover lamb had been sacrificed (1 Cor. 5:7) on Passover.
The Jewish leaders asked Pilate for the crucified men to be off their crosses by sunset when it became the 15th of Nisan, beginning the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It was a special Sabbath, on which no work could be done, (Lev. 23:6-7) and they wanted the crosses to be empty by then (John 19:31). Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy man and a believer in Jesus, asked for and received the Lord's body. He and Nicodemus, another prominent believer, laid it in Joseph's own tomb but were unable to complete the burial process before the sunset brought the Holy Day.
Friday, 15 Nisan. The Feast Of Unleavened Bread
For most of Israel in Biblical times, the 15th of Nisan was a day of celebration and rest, commemorating their release from slavery in Egypt. At the beginning of the 14th, they ate a quick ceremonial meal of lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs like their ancestors had done. The rabbis said if they consumed a piece of lamb the size of an olive they had met the requirements for the day. Then they spent the rest of the 14th hurriedly preparing for the coming feast. That's why the 14th became known as Preparation Day.
But on the 15th it was a different story because that's when they ate a large, leisurely meal while they recounted the story of the Exodus. It was a national holiday on which no regular work could be done.
For the disciples it was a time of mourning. Their teacher, their Messiah, had been executed and it felt like three years of preparation for the coming Kingdom had been for nought. They were also afraid they might hear the sound of soldiers coming for them too, in an effort to completely stamp out the Messianic movement in which they had placed such great hope. Jesus had told them they would weep and mourn while the world around them rejoiced. He said they would grieve, but their grief would turn to joy that no one could take away (John 16:20-22). But for now there was only grief.
Unseen to the living, another group was having an even greater celebration than the Jews in Israel. The spirits of Old Testament believers who had died in the hope that a redeemer would come to pay for their sins had finally met Him. Jesus had promised one of the men being crucified with Him they'd be together in paradise that very day (Luke 23:42-43). And, sure enough, there He was, preaching the Good News that their faith had been justified. He would soon be taking them to Heaven (Ephes. 4:8).
For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. (1 Peter 4:6)
He wasn't there to be tormented by the devil, as some teach, but to announce His victory, a victory in which those in Paradise would soon share. Remember, just before He died, He had said, "It is finished." The price had been paid in full, the work was done. There would be no more suffering.
While He was there, He also proclaimed His victory to the spirits in prison who had rebelled against God in the days before the Great Flood (1 Peter 3:18-20). Some say these are the fallen angels who are being held in chains while awaiting their final judgment (Jude 1:6).
Saturday, 16 Nisan. The Weekly Sabbath
Coming on the heels of the previous day's special Sabbath meant that the women were once again prevented from preparing the Lord's body for burial. Had there been a regular work day between the crucifixion and the resurrection they would have prepared the body immediately, as was the custom, and would not have been there to discover that it was missing.
Sunday, 17 Nisan. The Resurrection, The Feast Of First Fruits
The Feast of First Fruits always came on the day after the Sabbath that followed Passover. As the priests were taking a sample of the harvest to the Temple for dedication, the women were preparing to finish the job Joseph and Nicodemus had begun three days earlier. But when they arrived at the tomb they discovered the Lord's body wasn't there. An angel told them He had risen, just as He said He would, the first fruits of the first resurrection.
Jesus appeared and spoke briefly with Mary Magdalene outside the tomb that morning, asking her not to hold onto Him because He was going to the Father. The writer of Hebrews tells us He was taking His blood to sprinkle on the altar in Heaven in His capacity as our High Priest (Hebr. 9:11-12). This would open the gates of Heaven to all believers. Mary ran back to tell the others, but by the time Peter and John got there, the Lord was gone. They both inspected the tomb carefully, amazed to find it was empty.
That afternoon Jesus came alongside two of his followers on the road to Emmaus, but they were initially kept from recognizing Him. When He asked why they appeared so downcast, they explained all that had happened concerning Jesus of Nazareth and were surprised that He hadn't heard about it. And what's more, they said, it was the third day since all this had taken place (Luke 24:13-21).
That comment alone should have forever put to rest the controversy surrounding the actual day of the Lord's crucifixion. Think about it. It was Sunday, the third day since it happened. That means Saturday would have been the second day since it happened, Friday the first day since, making Thursday the day it happened.
That evening Jesus appeared to ten of the disciples. (Judas was dead and Thomas was missing.) For the first time, they received the Holy Spirit (John 20:19-22).
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:45-49).
In these eight days the Lord lived out the essential doctrine of our faith. Paul would later write, "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." (1 Cor. 15:3-4) Believing this is what makes us Christians. The empty tomb is proof that our faith is not in vain.
Palestinians 'definitely' going to reject Trump's Mideast peace plan - By Ariel Ben Solomon -
Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch sees the conflict as continuing until the Palestinians change their culture of hate and education system, saying "until that happens, talk of land for peace is a recipe for more tragedy."
The Mideast peace plan soon to be presented by the U.S. administration is likely not going to get very far upon its initial presentation, but it could provide Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump with an opportunity to alter the dynamics of the conflict.
Itamar Marcus, founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch, told JNS in an exclusive interview that the Palestinian Authority "will definitely reject" the upcoming U.S. backed peace plan, and that past Palestinian behavior does not lend support to any chance of compromise. The plan offered by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was, according to PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, extremely generous by offering P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas 100 percent of the land area he demanded, the division of Jerusalem and the acceptance into Israel of 150,000 "refugees," yet Abbas rejected it.
The Trump plan is bound to offer the Palestinians much less, so rejection is certain.
PMW monitors and reports on the activities and statements of the Palestinian leadership daily. It continues to warn about the P.A.'s ongoing hate and terror incitement, especially in the education of Palestinian youth, and the P.A.'s continued denial of Israel's right to exist and anticipation of its destruction.
"The root of the conflict is not merely territorial. A poll by ADL in 2014 found that Palestinians 'showed the highest levels of anti-Semitism in the world,' and PMW was not at all surprised by this finding. The anti-Semitism taught through official P.A. structures promote the worst hatred imaginable, including the message that the Jews are the fundamental evil force in the world and therefore need to be eliminated for the benefit of all humanity," said Marcus.
For example, a P.A. preacher on official P.A. TV said in December that Jews pass on evil in their genes: "Humanity will never be able to live with them ... count them and kill them one by one."
Marcus sees the conflict as continuing until the Palestinians change their culture of hate. "Until that happens, talk of land for peace is a recipe for more tragedy. Israel has paid with many deaths every time we followed the 'land for peace' formula since the signing of the Oslo Accords."
P.A. will change only if it's 'forced to change'
Marcus spends much of his time traveling and speaking to world parliaments and government officials in order to educate them about what is really going on inside Palestinian society under direction of the its leaders. He recently visited parliaments in the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Canada. "They have heard of Palestinian incitement, but until they actually meet with me, they don't realize the full extent and danger of P.A. indoctrination to hate and terror."
"I show them that the fundamental P.A. ideology regarding Israel is not that different from Hamas, including denying Israel's right to exist, rewarding terrorists and naming schools and sporting events after murderers. However, the P.A. leaders' policy of duplicity has been very successful, and much of the international community thinks they are peace-promoting," continued Marcus.
His goal is to reach and influence international decision-makers. "The only way the P.A. will ever change is if they lose international support and are forced to change."
Marcus cites PMW's main objectives: First, to stop Israel's isolation around the world and to convince governments to stop pressuring Israel to make concessions, which has proven to be detrimental. And second, which is more long-term, is to have real change in the Palestinian world. The only way this will happen is when the international community starts treating the P.A. like a terror-supporting entity and isolates them politically. Once the P.A. stops being artificially propped up by the international community, the Palestinian people may "eventually rise up against their corrupt leadership and replace them with better leaders."
Not only the Israeli government, but many governments and legislators around the world, including Trump's advisers, receive regular updates from PMW, and some of them tweet PMW findings to their followers.
'Peace will be built through people-to-people contacts'
Asked if Netanyahu and Trump are likely aware of the probable Palestinian rejection of the upcoming proposal and are planning to move forward with Netanyahu's campaign promise of extending sovereignty to the West Bank, Marcus replied that if this occurred, he predicts that Palestinian opposition would not be that explosive, despite likely attempts to incite violence by Abbas.
Abbas and his official P.A. media tried to incite violence when the United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem, but it didn't succeed, said Marcus. The proposal to extend Israeli law to Israeli cities in Judea and Samaria "won't change daily life on the ground, and for most Palestinians will just be a technical issue that they read about," he argued.
On the other hand, if such a move could lead to more business cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank, it would benefit everyone, he predicted. Such cooperation is already strong and growing, according to Marcus, who notes that these projects don't get the publicity they deserve.
Marcus has his own formula for peace: "Peace will be built through people-to-people contacts and not by politicians working over texts of peace agreements. In 1996, following 30 years of Israeli administration-and daily contact between Israelis and the Arab population-the most important Palestinian pollster found that Palestinians thought that Israel was the best in the world in democracy and human rights, compared to the U.S., France and the P.A. itself."
Marcus added "that was because from 1967 to 1994, borders were open, and there was no Palestinian Authority to poison the minds of the population."
"A peace plan that has a chance to work today must increase cooperation and contact between Palestinians and Israelis of all ages, and change all the fundamentals of P.A. education and public messaging."
Marcus went on to conclude: "Once the Palestinian population is no longer taught that Jews are 'monkeys, pigs and the enemies of Allah,' and this is replaced with belief in the value of peace with Israel and seeks the benefits cooperation with Israel, serious talk about political arrangements can begin. Until this happens, there's no point to politicians wasting their time drawing new lines on maps and participating in meaningless chatter about a future peace agreement that P.A. leaders have no plans to accept or implement."
Which Crowd Are You In? - Nathele Graham -
Jesus walked this earth at a time when travel was by foot or horseback. Nobody had Twitter, Facebook, or cell phones to spread news about things He did. Still He was known around the area and people followed Him. Twelve men had been chosen by Him for the special purpose of being His close disciples. These men were just regular people, but Jesus knew they would learn from Him, spread the Gospel, and lead the lost to salvation. Some were fishermen. "And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19. One was a tax collector, which was a less than honest profession. "And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him." Matthew 9:9. Those men each left much behind to follow Jesus. It wasn't always an easy crowd to be in. They traveled on foot to many places and sometimes they faced danger. Jesus was straightforward with the disciples. "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Matthew 16:24. Those twelve men had no idea how true those words were. Among that crowd of twelve men was one who followed Jesus, heard His words, and saw His actions. In spite of all he saw, Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
Jesus' love and compassion drew crowds. He healed many infirmities and spoke words of hope. The people wanted to hear more. "And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things." Mark 6:34. The message Jesus shared was not one of condemnation or religious rituals. He gave hope. When He saw people possessed by demons He didn't send them to a psych ward, but cast the demon out. When a woman was accused of adultery and brought before Him for condemnation He didn't condemn her but forgave her and told her to stop living a sinful life. When He saw a widow whose only son had just died, Jesus brought that son back from the dead. "Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise." Luke 7:12-14. It's no wonder that the crowds loved Him.
There were Pharisees among the crowd that followed Jesus. They kept a close eye on His activities because they wanted to find fault with Him. There was a feeling in that day that the Messiah was in the world, which troubled the religions leaders. They made it their duty to discredit anyone who claimed to be the Messiah. Their suspicion weeded out false messiahs, but blinded them to the true Messiah. Jesus threatened their control over the people. One Pharisee decided to come to Jesus with an open mind and came by night to find answers. "There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him." John 3:1-2. Nicodemus was in a crowd by himself. While he was seeking truth, other Pharisees were looking to discredit Jesus. They followed Him and argued with Him. They called Him names and wanted to stone Him to death. Why did they want to stone Him? Jesus claimed to be God, which was blasphemy. Jesus didn't just claim to be God...He was God. "Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God." John 10:32-33. The Pharisees were too blind to see the truth and wanted to kill Him. When the time was right, Jesus would willingly go to the cross, but the Pharisees would have to wait.
Finally the time came for prophecy to be fulfilled. It was the time of year when many people crowded into Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. This year the Passover Lamb would change the world. A prophecy given by Zechariah described the Messiah entering Jerusalem. "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, the King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass." Zechariah 9:9. Jesus fulfilled this exactly. As He rode to Jerusalem and the crowds praised Him. "And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest." Matthew 21:8-9. Had the people in the crowd seen the miracles Jesus had done? Had any of them been cured of deafness or received some other healing? They praised Him as "the Son of David" which is a title of the Messiah. This was not lost on the Pharisees who were in that crowd. They told Jesus to silence the people. "And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out." Luke 19:40. What a day that was. The crowd praising their Messiah, the Pharisees becoming more and more angry, and Judas Iscariot plotting to betray Him.
It didn't take long until the mood of the crowd changed. A few days after entering Jerusalem to the shouts of Hosanna, Jesus was arrested and illegally put on trial. It had to happen because the time had come for prophecy to be fulfilled. Another crowd gathered and this time they weren't praising their Messiah but calling for His death. During the Passover celebration it was customary for a prisoner to be released. Barabbas and Jesus both stood before the crowd and Pilate asked which prisoner he should release. "But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus...Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified." Matthew 27:20 & 22. How many of these people had praised Him a few days earlier? Had He healed any of them? On this day the cry of the crowd was "Crucify Him". There was no court of appeals and no lingering on death row for years. Jesus was to be crucified that day. "Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers." Matthew 27:27. The crowd this time was a band of soldiers who proceeded to mock Him and abuse Him. They They placed a scarlet robe on Him and crown of thorns on His head "...and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!" Matthew 27:30b. They spit upon Him and beat Him. Then they led Him away to crucify Him.
There was a small crowd at the foot of the cross. Of course the chief priests and scribes where there to mock Him. The soldiers were there and gambled for His garments. Some of the crowd there didn't mock Him, but were brokenhearted over this horridness event. "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home." John 19:25-27. The disciple was John, who cared for Mary until she died. Where was Peter? He was hiding in fear. Where were the other disciples? The crowd at the cross was thin.
The story didn't end there. Jesus chose to die on the cross and shed His blood for the salvation of all who will accept His sacrifice. "After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst...When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost." John 19:28 & 30. The nails didn't hold Jesus to that cross...it was love that held Him there. He chose to give His life so we can live. The crowd who wanted Him to die felt they had won a victory. The crowd that loved Him would soon understand that He had conquered death."The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him." John 20:1-2. The crowd at the tomb grew. The stone had been rolled away and the body was gone. All that was left were the grave clothes. "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" 1 Corinthians 15:55. Jesus had risen from the dead!
Each one of us today needs to ask "Which crowd am I in?" The religious crowd should have recognized Him but their words and actions showed their true heart. Maybe you just follow the crowd and praise Him when you're with Christian friends but yell "Crucify Him" when you join with your secular friends. Are you in the crowd of the disciples, but deny Him like Peter did? Maybe you're more like Judas and outright betray Him. Whatever crowd you're in, remember that there is forgiveness when you come to the cross. When Jesus looked down from the cross He only felt love for the sinners there. "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Luke 23:34a. Love held Him to the cross. No matter what sin has kept you from turning to Him for salvation you will find forgiveness there. Come to Him and repent. Join the crowd of the redeemed.
God bless you all,
Ron and Nathele Graham's previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is "theopneustos" God breathed.
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The Least I Can Do - By Dennis Huebshman -
The scenario: you have been accused of a "capital" crime, and the punishment is death. The charges have been proven beyond any shadow of a doubt, and there is no appeal. All hope is just about gone.
Then, you're taken from your cell and called back into court for final judgment; the outcome looks dim. Just before the Judge announces your punishment, a Man steps forward and says, "Your Honor, I will take this person's punishment, and ask that you set him/her free." The Judge sees that the One making the request is His Own Son.
The Judge grants the request, and you're told you are free to go. As you exit the courtroom, you pass by the "Volunteer," and you look into His eyes. All you can see is pure love. He gently says to you, "I died for you; will you live for Me?" At this point, what would your answer be?
The Ball Brothers are a Christian/Gospel quartet that formed in 2006. Their music is very pleasant and inspirational, and even though they are all young (compared to my age), they don't do the "7-11" songs that are popular in some circles today. You know, the same 7 words sung 11 times, then another 7 words sung another 11 times, and so on and so forth. Their style appeals to all age groups, and their messages are significant.
The other day, I listened on YouTube to one of their releases, and it caused me to stop and do some serious self-evaluation. My true relationship with the Savior goes back over 30 years, when I finally realized just how lost I really was. Had the Lord called me to leave this earth before that time, I realized I would have ended up separated from Him forever. Like so many others, I believed I was "good-enough" for the Father to take me Home. Careful study of His word showed me just how wrong I really was.
I called out to Him to rescue me, and over the past several decades, my faith and trust in Him has only grown stronger. He is my Rock, my Shield, my Comforter, my Redeemer, my Savior, My Lord, my King, my God and, most of all, my Best Friend. Do I ever disappoint Him? Absolutely! But He is always ready to forgive me when I ask (1 John 1:9).
The song I heard is called, "The Least I Can Do." Consider the words as you read further. (emphasis mine)
(V-1) You never asked me to stretch out my arms; no one put nails in my hands. I'll never feel the weight of the world, or carry that cross on my back. Nothing I do could ever repay all that you did for me on that day.
(chorus) You took my place up there on that tree; You paid the price so that I could be free. You died for me, now I'm living for You. Lord, that's the least I can do.
(V-2) You never sent me out on my own; You're always leading the way. All that I ask, Lord, is a hope in my heart and only a small seed of faith. I know You gave me all that I have; so why would I not give it back?
(chorus; V-3) You didn't have to walk down that road; You didn't have to rescue my soul, lay down your life just for me; I should have been taking those steps. It should've been my last breath, but you just want me to believe.
All too often, we get caught up in the things of this world, and lose sight that it's only temporary. Many do not stop to think, we came into this world with a sin-nature already built in. If we go through this life and never do anything to atone for our sins with the Creator, we are lost forever. Satan will do all that's in his power of deception to keep us from that atonement.
From the first sin of mankind in the Garden of Eden, all persons that ever lived on this earth - except One - have sinned (Romans 3:23). Jesus, Our Savior, was the only fully-human to have lived without sin. He was tempted just as we are; He was scorned and ridiculed, and ultimately died on a cross that was meant for us. He did this just so our sins could be completely forgiven. Some false prophets today say He had to have sinned at least once; but that would've made His sacrifice null and void. Though He was still fully-God, He allowed Himself to be lower than the angels for a while (Hebrews 2:9). This way, our Creator could experience firsthand what human needs, feelings, desires and all the rest were like. Also, His sacrifice was totally His will; He was not forced (John 10:18).
Even though He never sinned, for a brief moment He took on every sin that ever was, or ever would be committed on this earth. Only His precious blood could cover anything of that enormous magnitude. Thinking of this, I look back on my past and realize that every time I sinned, Jesus had taken my punishment for them. Then I realize, I am only one person among the billions that have lived, and all those who will live on this earth through the Millennium.
Is it any wonder that the Father would have some "requirements" for us to fully receive this gift that was given so freely by His Son on an Old Rugged Cross? Also, is it any wonder that any and all who refuse this gift will be made to answer for their own sins and be judged accordingly?
So, what do I have to do to meet the "requirements" and have all my sins forgiven forever? First, I must admit (confess) that I am a sinner, and that I can't possibly save myself from the Lake of Fire. Then I must believe Jesus came to this earth, and His sacrifice was for me, to cover all sins that I have committed or will commit. Next, I must believe His fully human self really died on that cross, and was raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit just as the Bible says. (note: as with all believers today, His Spiritual Self was with the Father immediately at His last breath on the cross. That is why He said He could be with the thief that accepted Him that day.)
Next, I must have the Faith that His sacrifice was complete and paid my sin penalty in full. Then, I must accept His wonderful gift that He gave to me, and call out for Him to be my Savior. After all, what good is an unopened gift? What else? That's it.
There are no works we can do, or price we can pay that would be worthy of this gift (Ephesians 2:8-9). To believe we could is to insinuate His sacrifice wasn't complete, and this would be a large insult. If we truly accept His gift, we should want to turn away from habitual sin, and to live to honor Him. It was the Son's Grace and the Father's Mercy that has saved us. He knows we will still slip and fall, and is always ready to forgive us. Our sins from this point on should be the exception, not the rule.
What is so awesome is, He is available any hour, minute and even second to receive our call. He is never too busy. Talk to Him daily (prayer), and read His love letter (Bible). He will be rising up very soon from His throne, which is at the right hand of the Father, to take up all existing believers to be with Him (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53).
Those who died from the day of the cross to that moment of His call will rise first to meet Him in the air. They will be reunited with their souls that went to be with the Savior at their death. They will receive an imperishable body designed to last for all eternity. Then, the believers that are still alive will be caught up (Raptured) to meet Him. Our bodies will be converted on the way up as well. The description of the speed of this event is said to be in "the twinkling of an eye," or considerably less than one second. Therefore, you must have accepted Him before He calls.
He's made it possible for all to call on Him to be saved. Wouldn't accepting His gracious gift be "the least we can do?" It's a decision each and every person must make for themselves, and one you will never regret. He is coming any day now.
Shalom! Come Lord Jesus!
Daily Jot: Mueller report release to public - Bill Wilson -
The Justice Department is releasing the redacted version of the Mueller Report on Russian collusion during the 2016 election. Now the political grandstanding, demagoguery, and gamesmanship will go into full gear. The leftist Democrats will be pouncing on their worn out themes, twisting every word to their advantage. Just remember words mean things. The White House will once again declare that there is no collusion, and the media will repeat every theme they have over the past two-plus years in a "Yeah, but" scenario. The circus begins all over again. There will be fighting for a long time over various "interpretations" of the document. You are going to see just how ridiculous the left and the media have become.
Just a few things to remember ahead of the countless hours of media analysis and the proclamations of politicians who should be focusing on the problems America is facing rather than this report: The report's four-page summary issued by Attorney General William Barr stated:"[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities." Further, Barr's statement said, "the Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign."
Here is where a lot of talk will be focused: "the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as "difficult issues" of law and fact concerning whether the President's actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction. The Special Counsel states that "while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."" This leaves the door wide open for the coup-makers to continue their obstruction of government and communist-style investigations at taxpayer expense for as long as they would like. And that will be ramped up over the weekend when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ and Jews celebrate Passover--Great timing to have to listen to this noise.
If America is fortunate, the Mueller report will reveal new details on how the Clinton Campaign, the immediate past president, and the Democratic Party paid for a falsified document against Donald Trump and used it to obtain a warrant to spy on Trump's campaign. Or maybe it would show just how involved Hillary Clinton, her husband Bill, and her campaign manager John Podesta were in receiving huge sums of money from the Russians before the election. Notwithstanding, it's time to move on to the greater challenges we face as a nation. The public should accept the Mueller Report and be thankful that we live in a country where wrongdoing is investigated-selective as it is. Remember 2 Timothy 3:13, "But Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." Just don't be one of the deceived!
Daily Devotion: The Power of Christ's Words - by Greg Laurie - www.harvest.org
Christ's passionate love for the world is evident in His statements from the Cross:
"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." Luke 23:34
Do you realize that you are in need of the Father's forgiveness?
"Today you will with Me in Paradise." Luke 23:43
Have you realized and confessed Jesus as your personal Savior?
"Woman, behold your son." John 19:26
Jesus is concerned for us and provides for all of us.
"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Matthew 27:46
Jesus was forsaken so we don't have to be.
"I thirst!" John 19:28
This personal statement reminds us that Jesus is not only God, but He also was man. Jesus identifies with our needs.
"It is finished!" John 19:30
Jesus paid for our sins, and sin's control over our lives is broken!
"Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit." Luke 23:46
You can entrust your life into God's hands.
If you are reading this today and you've never committed your life to Jesus Christ, would you click KnowGod.org and confess Him as Your Savior and Lord?
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