Agony and Wonder

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split. – (Matthew 27:50-51, NIV)

Again Jesus cried out loudly and then died. When Jesus died, the curtain in the Temple was torn into two pieces. The tear started at the top and tore all the way to the bottom. Also, the earth shook and rocks were broken. – (Matthew 27:50-51, ERV)

Jesus passionately cried out, took His last breath, and gave up His spirit. At that moment the veil in the Holy of Holies was torn in two from the top to the bottom. The earth shook violently, rocks were violently split apart. – (Matthew 27:50-51, TPT)

Good Friday was a day full of agony and wonder. Jesus endured tremendous suffering in the temple courts, before the Sanhedrin, Pilate and the soldiers, and went on carrying His cross to the horror on the hill. There Jesus was hung upon a cross between two criminals, mocked and rejected, yet all the while chose to remain in place for a purpose. Not only did He bear the weight of all our sin, but He cried out for God to forgive all who caused Him to endure the agony upon the cross. When He had accomplished all that was intended, He cried out to God and gave up His Spirit. Darkness had overcome the land, the veil in the Temple was torn in two, there was an earthquake, and rocks were split apart. The tearing of the veil was incredibly significant, as the split opened the curtain to the Holiest of Holies, thus removing the barrier between God and people. Christ’s death on the cross removed the sin and shame that had been cause of the need for the barrier from the beginning. Because He bore our sin and shame, our own behavior that created the divide between us and God, had been removed. In the same way that the rocks were shaken and split, our hearts ought to be stirred to split away from that which keeps us from closeness with Christ. May we be intentional to look to all that Christ endured upon the cross, and give Him praise with awe and wonder at the depth of love that would compel Him to bear all of our sin and make the way for a right relationship with God.

Willing to suffer,

He bore all our sin;

To open the way,

Let new life begin.

It was through His pain,

And all He endured;

That we’ve been made clean,

Granted hope secure.

The goodness that day,

Was promised in three;

A soon empty tomb,

Power to set free.

Let’s look to the cross,

Thank the Lord with praise;

Receive forgiveness,

True hope for all days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible love that sacrificed and endured for our sake. Jesus, thank You for suffering in our place to make the way for relationships to be restored with You. Forgive us for every portion of pain that our thoughts, words and deeds heaped upon You on the cross. Teach us to live in the freedom of forgiveness and grace that grows our hearts to love like You. Show us how to love all those around us in ways that make Your heart visible to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You and praise You for all that You have done, still do, and will continue to do, to make the path clear as we seek to serve and honor You. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

(Let us) fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2

The Seeming Lunacy of Lavish Love

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. – (1 Corinthians 1:18, NIV)

The teaching about the cross seems foolish to those who are lost. But to us who are being saved it is the power of God. – (1 Corinthians 1:18, ERV)

To preach the message of the cross seems like sheer nonsense to those who are on their way to destruction, but to us who are on our way to salvation, it is the mighty power of God released within us. – (1 Corinthians 1:18, TPT)

 

Without the cross, we would have a lengthy laundry list of laws that we would be required to follow to find way to heaven. The cross changed all that. Laws show us our sinfulness, yet Christ went to the cross to bear the burden of our every failure to follow. Rather than rules and rituals requiring strict adherence to look to the Lord, we now have hope in a Savior who calls us to love. The saving power that was presented at the cross, provides the desire and strength to look to the Lord and be in relationship with Him. Before, there was a veil that separated people from God. Torn in two, as Jesus took His last breath, His decision to die for us all destroyed the barrier between God and mankind, and made the way for us to know Him, personally. The more we know the Lord, the more we are compelled to let go of our former foolishness and follow after Him. He who knew no sin, wore all of our sin upon Himself so that we could come to know His power, individually. His mercy and grace provided us with a fresh start and a call to two things: love God and love people. When we do the two, we reflect the goodness of God to the world, and make salvation tangible for those who do not know Him. May we ever embrace the goodness and grace that was granted at the cross, and receive His power that is presented to us as we come to Him in faith.

 

Seemingly foolish,Live Right by His Light

God sent His own Son;

To take away sin,

This Most Holy One.

Bearing our burdens,

In love, chose to die;

So we might know Him,

All sins rectified.

Such power and love,

Laid bare on that cross;

All to offer life,

Horrifying cost.

Yet freely He chose,

So we could know grace;

Receive and believe,

Daily, seek His face.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the radical and unfathomable love that You have for us. Thank You for making the way for us to come to know You, personally. Forgive us for all that we think, say and do that led You to choose the cross so that we might live. Teach us to trust You more, ever coming before You with gratitude and eyes to see the depth and breadth of Your love. Show us how to love those around us in a way that makes Your goodness and grace visible to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for who You are and how You love, trusting our very lives into Your holy hands.  Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

When we were overwhelmed by sins, You forgave our transgressions. – Psalm 65:3

Perseverence in the Face of Persecution

Jesus was no stranger to insult, persecution, and slanderous statements. From the night on which He was betrayed, until the moment He drew His last breath on the cross, He endured ongoing evil against Him at the hands of men. Despite the malice and maltreatment, Jesus was without sin. In fact, He sustained suffering we cannot begin to fathom at the hands of mankind, all for the sake of our sins. He chose to hang on the cross and be subject to all the anguish, so that we could have life in Him. In the throes of His affliction, He asked God to forgive them, for they knew not what they were doing. What kind of love does that?

 

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” – (Matthew 5:11)

 

This particular verse comes from the Sermon on the Mount, as Jesus gave some specific words of encouragement for those who would come and follow Him. Jesus himself, spoke the words about rejoicing when we are persecuted. He did not simply ask nor instruct us in these things, but rather He modeled it with His very life. Though I have not reached a point yet where I embrace even the idea of persecution, there are benefits in the process, for those who believe. Withstanding persecution takes our eyes off of earthly rewards, and instead points to the eternal; it strengthens the faith of those who endure, and those who persevere faithfully, serve as incredible witnesses.

 

Let not slander,Perseverance in the Face of Persecution

tear your heart down;

think of Jesus,

and that thorny crown.

Though He suffered,

He chose to give;

His life away,

so we might now live.

Insults were thrown,

and lies were told;

yet Jesus loved,

the Hope we can hold.

As nails were placed,

in outstretched hands;

He still chose love,

to fulfill His plan.

As skies grew dark,

and lots were cast;

the veil was torn,

and Christ breathed His last.

The best of it,

was coming soon;

for in three days,

stood the empty tomb…

 

Dear Jesus, thank You that You came. Thank You that You lived and loved and showed us what it is to walk in Your way and do the will of the Father. Thank You that You did not leave us on our own and expect us to just figure it all out, as You sent Your Holy Spirit to dwell in us, so that we have help and comfort and Your constant presence with us always. Forgive us for fearing the trials that may come our way, and grant us strength and grace to endure all things. Teach us to trust You as our source of strength and hope, even when things seem unbearable. Please grant Your peace to those who are in the midst of such suffering, and give comfort to their loved ones who are away from them. Help us to love as You love us, and may many come to know the blessed hope held in You alone. Be exalted in all that we say and do. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

I thank and praise You, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power. – Daniel 2:23