The Plot

So there was Jesus doing what He always did — healing the sick, offering hope to the downtrodden, feeding the hungry, revealing truth that would change lives forever.  Yet, there were those who hated Him for everything He did.  Some tried to discredit Him.  Others actually wanted to kill Him.  So strong was their hatred that they began plotting a scheme to rid the world of Jesus.

Their strategy involved one of Jesus’ ardent followers.  They needed inside information.  Was there anyone among His disciples that could be purchased?  Yes.  His name was Judas.  For thirty pieces of silver Judas told them where they could find Jesus.  In fact, he would lead the way to Him.  The first part of the plan was completed.

Next, Jesus had to be arrested.  After all, there were many witnesses who had heard the claims of Jesus to be on an equal standing with God.  Blasphemous!  This had to end!  Forget the miracles Jesus had performed.  Forget the good works and His compassion.  Forget the fullfilment of Sripture.  Just get rid of Him!  That was their foolproof plan.

The scheme was unfolding perfectly.  Now, a trial without a jury.  There was no one to speak for Him.  Why, Jesus did not even speak for Himself.  How could He stand there, mute, like a lamb being led to slaughter?  If only they knew.

Oh, happy day for those haters of everything about Jesus!  He had been legally found guilty and sentenced to death!  Aha!  They had won!  This will be a most sobering lessen to His followers.  Ha!  Look at them standing beneath the cross.  See how they shed their tears, but see how others hide in the shadows, afraid now to show their faces.  This will show the world the truth about Jesus.  Yes, indeed, the truth will win.  

It was the third day.  Those who hated Jesus, the false religious leaders, still reveled in the victory that was theirs.  Jesus was dead!  No more of His do-gooder ways to gain attention.  No more of His doctrine to fool the people into false belief.  Now the people would once again follow their teachings and adhere to their religious requirements.   They were in for a huge surprise!

What’s this?  Who is that woman running through the streets?  Where is she going? What’s that she’s saying?  What!  Jesus is alive?  She has seen Him?  Good grief!  What nonsense!  The killers of Jesus  had seen Him take His last breath.  They had witnessed the deed to the end!  Oh, they knew of the false claims that Jesus would rise from the dead.  That’s why they had placed Roman Guards to thwart any attempt of Jesus’ followers to steal the body and make these outrageous claims!

On that same morning, the guards came trembling.  They gave their account in abject fear of what would happen to them for allowing the body of Jesus to be taken.  Instead of reporting to their own authorities, they went to the religious leaders.  They explained the earthquake and the angel that had descended, moving the rock that sealed the tomb.  The religious leaders were livid!  They could not allow this report to be given.  They agreed among themselves to offer the soldiers a large bribe to keep quiet about what they had seen.  They were instructed to say that somehow the disciples had come in the night, overthrown them, and managed to steal the body.  The guards accepted the bribe and told the story as they were commanded.  They had no idea that their lies could not hide the truth, and the truth would set men free for generations to come.

Jesus endured great shame and He experienced agonizing pain to pay the penalty for our sins.  His death on the cross was brutal but Jesus’ love for us outweighed His pain.  You see, He knew what the end held for Him and for us.  He chose to suffer because He knew the ultimate result —  total forgiveness of our sins,  an inheritance of eternal life in heaven, strength, peace, and joy for each day on earth.   Then, Jesus actually conquered  death that put Him in the grave.  Yes, He rose again!  Today, He sits at the right hand of God interceding on our behalf!  Those who hated Him didn’t see that coming!  

He’s alive and lives in the hearts of all who invite Him in!  He is still changing lives forever!  When Jesus is invited to sit on the throne of our lives, we are never quite the same again!

“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”  II Corinthians 5:21

 

 

The Beauty Of The Cross

When we hear the words, “the beauty of the cross,” we may understandably think of a silver or gold cross dangling from a necklace.  Sadly, even among Christians, the cross has become nothing more than an Easter subject or a jewelry selection.  I write today to encourage us all, do not forget that without the cross, all humanity would be lost and without hope.

You see, if not for the cross, humans would attempt to fill the void in their lives with points of religion that entail rules and regulations.  Of course, no one can perfectly maintain rules and regulations.  We will slip up somewhere along the way.

Thank God the cross is not about religion, nor rules and regulations; the cross is about relationship.   The cross held upon it’s roughly hewn timbers the embodiment of love, because it stretched upon those timbers, the life of Jesus that spilled out the blood of forgiveness for all mankind’s sins — no matter what those sins may be. The cross is the key to freedom.  The cross is the way of hope.  The cross points to the way of forgiveness.  The cross is the revelation of the heart of God.

If Jesus had not died on the cross, life would be senseless.  However, since Jesus did take our place for the payment of sin, everyone has opportunity to receive, not only forgiveness of all sins, but also to receive a promise of eternal life in heaven, where there will be no more tears or sorrow.  Because of the cross, we have available to us, the power of God working in our lives, showing us the way to successful and joyful living.  How weak we would be if not for what happened on the cross.  Our own attempts at triumph in life would be futile and depressing.  Thank God, that through the love of Jesus on the cross, He conquered death, gaining victory on our behalf.

The way of the cross was cruel and painful, painted in blood, leading to death — enter Jesus — and the way of the cross becomes the most beautiful object because of the love that was nailed there.  When we understand the way of the cross, we can say with Paul as he said in Galations 6:14, “As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Because of the cross, my interest in the world has been crucified, and the world’s interest to me has also died.”

Without the cross, our eyesight is limited; with the cross, our eyes are opened to the glory of heaven.  Therefore, how beautiful is the cross.