I am currently studying Luke’s Gospel, as part of my daily Bible reading. I’ve read it many times before but enjoy it more each time I read it, as I grasp the significance of the Crucifixion and what it means to me.
I was in tears as I yet again read Luke’s account of how Jesus was hounded into a false trial, betrayed by one of his own disciples, and how Pilate refused to set him free, although he believed Jesus was not guilty of the crimes He had been accused of. It was cowardice that made Pilate give in to the crowds, as he was afraid of losing his high position in the Jewish government.
I read afresh how Jesus was mocked, tortured and humiliated, before being forced to die such a painful and agonising death. And He did all this so that the likes of you and me could be forgiven and granted a place in God’s kingdom.
People (including me) glibly accept the sacrifice our Lord made, so that we don’t have to take the rap for our sins. It’s a foundation of the Christian faith that we only become close to God by the blood of Jesus Christ and it’s so familiar that we sometimes recite it without thinking much about it. This is why we need to read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark and John, as well as Luke) on a regular basis – to keep this fresh in our minds.
Yet again, through my tears, I thanked Jesus Christ from the bottom of my heart for going through these horrific times for my sake – and the sake of everyone else who believes in the death and the resurrection of Jesus. He was God in human form and must have suffered from the very real human terror of what was to come. Luke says that Jesus prayed so hard beforehand that He ‘sweated blood’. Jesus apparently prayed to His Father, God, and asked if it was possible for Him not to have to go through this ordeal but there was no other way to atone for all the sinners on the earth, and so He went willingly to the cross for us. But can you begin to imagine how terrified He must have been?
I only read one chapter of the Bible each day, because I read all the notes in my study Bible, and also the cross-references to other parts of the Bible. In this case, I was overwhelmed by the following verses.
“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience, and having our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:19-22)
The curtain referred to was in the Holy Temple and was torn in half at the moment of Jesus’ death. This was the curtain which separated the ultimate ‘Holy Place’ where priests were only allowed to go once a year, to offer the sacrifice for the nation’s sins. This passage refers to the fact that the blood sacrifices of the Old Testament, eg goats and lambs, are now extinct, as Jesus had not yet been born into the world. But approximately 2000 years ago, the Son of God came into this world as a new-born baby, to live in Israel for a short 33 years. He trained His disciples to carry on His ministry after He was gone, and so Christianity was born.
The good news is that Jesus did actually rise from death three days later and showed himself to many people, over the course of 40 days, before being taken back to heaven to be with His Father again. Christian actually means ‘little Christ’ and this is what we are, once we truly believe and accept what Jesus did for us and why. All we have to do is acknowledge that our sinful nature could never be acceptable to God. We need to believe in Jesus’ death on the cross, and also believe that He did indeed rise again three days later.
Once we truly believe and repent, that’s the moment that we become Christians and are accepted as God’s children. And is that it? Well, yes – and no….
If we have accepted the gift of eternal life, we surely want to pass on the good news to as many people as possible during the time that we have on this earth. As well as that, if we are truly grateful to God for the gift He has given us, we should want to live as much like Jesus as we can. A very tall order indeed but we can certainly read and learn from His word in the Bible. We can always pray to God to ask Him to help us to do our best to live the best life He wants us to.
Above all, God wants us to have complete faith in Him. He doesn’t want us to worry too much about what is going on in this world but to take comfort from the fact that there is a far better world beyond this, which every Christian can realistically hope for.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayers and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Wishing you all a peaceful and blessed weekend. Keep safe and well.