An Enduring Love

It was revealed through Isaiah that God would send a savior to save us from eternal darkness.  It would be our sin that would keep us in darkness, but it would take one last sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sins of the past and in the ages to come.   It is recorded in John 1:29 NIV that John the Baptist proclaimed who Jesus was:

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

For many years, the requirement of the Israelites for atonement of sin was to sacrifice of a perfect lamb without blemish; it was what God taught them through Moses.  The Israelites had been in captivity in Egypt for 400 years, and many of their ways had become Egyptian, such as idol worship.  Once God freed the Israelites from Pharaoh —the Egyptian king — they needed to be taken through a cleansing process.  This would mean that it would be necessary for God to teach the Israelites in a new way that would help them to put their old ways behind them.  This new way would teach the Israelites a hands-on method.  It was designed to instill the need for purity and give insight into a new covenant that God would eventually make with them.  It was Jesus’ death and resurrection that sanctioned a new covenant as He became the last sacrifice.    Through this, salvation would be available to all through a very whole-hearted act of devotion that didn’t require a process of legalistic rituals.  Romans 10:9-10 NIV tells us:

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Shortly before Jesus was betrayed into the hands of the Pharisees, he prayed this prayer:

 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.  I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

—John 17:6-19 NIV

What beautiful words that Jesus said in his prayer to God!  Jesus knew what he was doing and what was going to happen to him, but he did not avoid arrest.  He stood his ground in the purpose that God had chosen for him.  If he had not, you and I would live forever in an eternal suffering.

So, this week, I want to share with you Isaiah 53:2-6 NIV.  It is a prophecy, or foresight, given by God through the prophet Isaiah.  Here are the words:

  He grew up before him like a tender shoot,

    and like a root out of dry ground.

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,

    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by mankind,

    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.

Like one from whom people hide their faces

    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain

    and bore our suffering,

yet we considered him punished by God,

    stricken by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,

    he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was on him,

    and by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

    each of us has turned to our own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

    the iniquity of us all.

So this sums it all up.  Jesus endured so much suffering and paid our penalty—our ransom— so that we may be free from the hand of Satan.  He was the perfect lamb that would forever pay that ransom.  Before Jesus, the perfect lambs would have to be sacrificed each and every day.  Because of Jesus, there are no more sacrifices for our sins, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us, and this freedom is available to all, Jew and Gentile.  We just have to choose to follow Jesus.  I have never known anyone who has regretted their decision to follow Jesus.  It really is freedom if you seek him with all of your heart.  It is my prayer that you take out some time this week to seek God for your life and find true freedom in Christ.  Also, take some time to show up at a church and celebrate that wonderful gift from God—Jesus Christ.

Note: If you haven’t yet, go back to read the rest of the Easter series and share the posts with friends.  Jesus is so special, and he truly came to die for the sins of the entire world.

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A Woman of Reckless Devotion – Part 2

Every day, I am reminded by the reality that I would not be here in this place and on this earth had I not had an encounter with Jesus.  He is so important to me, because he met me when I was in a very dark place in my life.  It is one of the many stories I share in my book When The One You Love Doesn’t Love You Anymore.  It is my prayer that I live a life worthy of the price Jesus paid for me.  While I do my best to remember my past so that I can always be thankful for what God has done in my life, it is even more important to remember Jesus in this season—the season leading up to Resurrection Day.

Today, I want to fast forward to the day of Jesus’ resurrection.  Jesus had endured a crucifixion, but three days later he arose from the grave.  The tomb was now empty as discovered by Mary Magdalene (John 20:1NIV), the “other Mary” (Matthew 28:1 NIV) — presumed as being the mother of James and Joseph (Mark 15:40 NIV), and Salome (Mark 16:2 NIV).  While I believe that it is so important to recognize Jesus and the whole meaning of celebrating Resurrection Day, I also believe that it is important to ponder the events and who was there.  Just as I have been writing about Mary Magdalene in earlier posts —The Heart of a Woman, and Reckless Devotion — I believe that there is more to ponder about her. 

The women I mentioned above were the first to find the empty tomb.  Being shocked by what they observed, they ran to tell the disciples that the tomb of Jesus was empty.  Then Peter and another disciple, with the two women following, ran to the tomb only to discover that what they were saying was true.  Not sure what to think about what happened, they all left the tomb — everyone but Mary Magdalene.  When we read John 20:11-18 NIV, we discover what happens next: 

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”  “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”  Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”  Jesus said to her, “Mary.”  She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).  Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

I find it very interesting that Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene.  There have been speculations, but I believe that Jesus’ motive was entirely different.  If you refer to the last two posts, The Heart of a Woman, and Reckless Devotion, you will read about how Lazarus and Mary Magdalene were good friends with Jesus; it is revealed through Jesus’ response in that narrative.  Also, it was Mary Magdalene that poured expensive perfume —meant for her wedding day —on Jesus’ head.  Here is the account:

When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

—Matthew 26:10-13 NIV

And here I am, telling her story!  I believe that Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene as a result of the enduring devotion she had shown him when she poured her perfume on him.  She was scorned for what she did by the disciples who were indignant, or to put it into modern terms, they were outraged. (Mk 14:4 NIV)  Even though Jesus rebuked the disciples for what they said, they still did not understand the resurrection that would come, but somehow, in some way, Mary Magdalene caught a glimpse of it even before it happened.  Now, if I needed to convey a message, I would first tell this message to the person who believed in me the most.  It is my synopsis that Mary Magdalene had her heart in the right place and was passionate about Jesus, who he was, and what was to become of him.  It was as if Mary Magdalene had received a revelation that helped her to understand the passion of Jesus Christ.  I truly believe that she knew God, and people who know God understand him and his ways, maybe not completely, but enough to display such extravagance toward him as she did.  That perfume was worth a year’s wage! (Mk 14:5 NIV) 

So, in this week leading up to Resurrection Day, let us remember who Jesus is: the Son of God filled with compassion who laid down his life for mankind.  Let us also remember how Jesus might have felt about the heart of a woman that led her into reckless devotion.  Let us remember the love demonstrated through the passion of Christ.

Go forth and be blessed, my friends, in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who bore the sins of many.

Note: If you haven’t yet, go back to read the rest of the Easter series and share the posts with friends.  Jesus is so special, and he truly came to die for the sins of the entire world.

Go forth and be blessed, my friend.

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