A Prayer Prompted by Mark 15:22-41

Dear Lord Jesus,

You said during the time of your ministry, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Little did your disciples know at the time how that would happen or how it would look.

Now, having been accused, tried and sentenced, we see what you went through for us.  The humiliation, the pain and the suffering were all to pay the price for our sins.  You paid this ransom so that we could walk free.

You refused to come down from the cross.  You endured the abandonment of your disciples, which was tragic, but also of the very Father who sent you, at your greatest moment of need.  Such grief is thankfully beyond our experience. 

How fitting that those who passed by derided you, illustrating how badly we all needed the work your were completing at that moment.  How perfect also was the darkness that descended, dimming the view of the worst of your suffering from those present, and likewise from the rest of us who would read of it later,  And you died among thieves, like the worst of common criminals.

All of this you did for us.  We thank you for bearing our sin.  We thank you for paying the price for our salvation.  We thank you for the humility you expressed so that we might be glorified with you someday, and will know that glorified state for all eternity.

This is how we know what love is.

Thank you Jesus.

Amen.

The weight of sin – Mark 15:33-39

Last week we looked at Gethsemane.  Today we see Jesus die on the cross.  This is when he felt the weight of our sin upon him.  And it felt like being completely forsaken by God.  Let’s read about that hopeless, helpless moment.

33 And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” 36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

Crucifixion was cruel, but it wasn’t unusual.  People died this way all the time.  The day Jesus died, there were two robbers executed with him, one on each side.  What made Christ’s death any different from theirs?

The weight of our sin.

We really cannot say what that felt like.  I have compared it with the feeling of guilt.  Guilt is worse than pain because it has a psychological and/or spiritual component that physical pain makes worse, but cannot compare to.  When physical pain is gone, guilt can continue.  It can sap a person’t energy and deplete a person’t life.  Guilt, even without physical suffering can push a person to end his own life.   

And Jesus publicly and shamefully bore the sin, the guilt, of the world.

If there was ever a place that was truly God-forsaken, it was Christ’s cross that day on Golgotha.  “The Father turned his face away,” says the hymn.  Jesus was alone as he died, even though there were bystanders all around him.  None of them could understand what he was enduring.  Numbing the pain would never alleviate the suffering of substitutionary atonement. 

As Christ died, the curtain in the temple tore from top to bottom and the way was opened for us to come into the very presence of God.  Christ was separated from the Father so that we might be joined with them both inseparably and forever.  No one saw it or said it better than the centurion.

39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son  of God!”

 

Looking toward the end result – Matthew 5:3-12

Christ’s beatitudes, those memorable opening words from his Sermon on the Mount, are among the most loved and best known verses in the Bible.  People who never bother to read the Bible quote them.  They appear in all kinds of contexts and sometimes entirely out of context.  Here they are once more.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

What strikes me about them today is their long-term outlook.  Each one points to some activity or condition in the present and what we might call its long-term reward or payoff.  That is, it gives us the “why” that makes each activity or condition worthwhile right now.  Christ’s perspective is nothing short of eternal.

Some of them seem completely improbable.  “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” “Blessed are those who mourn,” “Blessed are you when others revile you…”  And yet we have on the authority of Jesus that in any of these situations we should count ourselves blessed.

These are the words of the one who brought blessing out of his cross.  Jesus endured that, knowing that it was necessary to accomplish his objectives.  I want to be able to look toward Jesus and look toward the end result of what he might be doing in my life in the same way.  It’s a lot like Hebrews 12:1-2.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

39 Books: Job – Suffering Well

39 Bks Torah Scroll White

Job – Suffering Well

The story of Job reminds us that life can be difficult and we do not always get the answers we want when we want them.


18 Job.pdf
             18 Job.mp3

Palmer St. Podcast: Finding Wisdom

 

What is the essential thing we need that will allow us to look back on a life well-lived?  The bottom-line answer the Bible gives is, “Wisdom.”

 Job 28.mp3

Job 28.pdf

Job 28.pptx

Palmer St. Podcast: My Redeemer Lives

The deepest depths of despair can be the times when we see our hope more clearly.  Our passage today will focus on what may be Job’s most triumphant expression of faith.

 

Job 19:23-29.mp3

Job 19.23-29.pdf

Job 19.23-29.pptx