The Crucifixion – Wine, Part 2

April 13, 2017 – Maundy Thursday
crucifixion
Read: Mark 15:33 – 40
Focus: v. 36

One man ran and filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

We enter now into the final verses of Jesus’ life. No longer are we talking about a final chapter. Time is getting very short. Jesus is still on the cross at this point and it follows a very long time of Jesus being awake. Nowhere is there any indication that, from sometime Thursday morning (likely at sunrise near 6:00 AM when He would have risen for a day which included partaking  of a Passover Feast with His disciples and ended with His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane), Jesus had an opportunity to sleep. From then on He was in the hands of the Temple guards and dragged from place to place for His trials and beaten severely. This became so bad that he could not even carry his cross to the place of crucifixion. It is unlikely that all this time after the Passover Feast that Jesus has had anything to eat or drink. We wrote in an earlier devotional that he was offered wine mixed with myrrh to deaden the pain of crucifixion and enable Him to live longer and therefore suffer longer. Jesus, we are told, refused that wine so that He would experience the full impact of His act of redemption on behalf of all mankind.

The crucifixion was at 9:00 AM and in our scripture reading for today it has reached about 3:00 PM. Jesus has been on that cross for six hours of excruciating pain throughout His body. He has suffered from loss of sleep, beatings and the continued bleeding from the crucifixion wounds as well as the wounds from His beatings. All this means tremendous pain. He is thirsty but receives nothing, according to Mark, until after He makes His final cry from the cross: “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”  (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) After this, to mock Him, those standing by offer him “sour wine” (nearly vinegar) so they can hear if He says anything else. They thought he was calling to Elijah and wanted to see if Elijah came to take Him from the cross. Did Jesus accept the “sour wine”? Once again He refuses. Why? Because it was His responsibility to bear the full amount of pain and suffering from the crucifixion so that our sins would be paid for in full. He took no shortcuts to accomplish our redemption! Shortly after being offered the “sour wine” Jesus calls out loudly once more and “breathed His last.”

Salvation was now accomplished and Jesus was freed from this earthly life. Never again would He be bound by earthly things but after His resurrection would be free to return to His Father. Twice wine was offered to give some succor to the Savior and twice he refused. No one would be able to say He took any shortcuts to do the work the Father sent Him to do. In this respect also He is our example as believers. Do we take shortcuts while doing the Lord’s bidding?

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The Crucifixion – Wine, Part 1

April 12, 2017 – Wednesday
Myrrh
Read: Mark 15:21 – 32
Focus: v. 23

Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.

There are two instances found in the Gospel of Mark where Jesus is offered wine to drink at the Crucifixion. This is the first instance and takes place at the beginning of the Crucifixion itself. It appears that nothing was offered to Jesus during the long night before the Crucifixion took place.  Why now? The soldiers in charge of the crucifixion of these unfortunates were not trying to be humane. Rather, they were endeavoring to make this hateful thing last as long as they could. Apparently to them and others watching, it was likened to a sport. We do know that certain things could be done to hasten the deaths of those being crucified. At the end of this long day for Jesus, and the two criminals, they decided to break their legs so the suffocation would take place faster since they could not support themselves and lift up to breathe when their legs were broken. This hastened their death.  This did take place for the two thieves but not for Jesus as He was already dead when they decided to do this at the request of the Jewish religious leaders. Those leaders did not want those men to be still hanging there when the Sabbath began.

Why give them wine mixed with myrrh? Because the myrrh added to the wine worked as a painkiller so they would last longer on the cross. It was not to be humane but rather so their agony could be dragged out as far as possible. Jesus had already been beaten so badly he could hardly stand and needed help carrying his cross to the place of crucifixion. Crucifixion was a very cruel Roman practice for executions and was well-known throughout the Roman Empire for its excruciating pain. I can well imagine the two thieves gratefully drinking this mixture since they knew what was ahead for them. We are told by Mark, however, that Jesus refused this elixir. Why would He do this? It seems Jesus was determined to drink this cup of bitterness to the full so that no one could say He took the easy road. Jesus bore ALL the pain with none of it deadened by any drug, neither the alcohol nor the myrrh. He bore it all! Jesus didn’t go halfway in any manner for our redemption!

Day 47 – Up From the Grave He Arose!

Easter Sunday – March 27, 2016

Day 47 – John 20:1-18 risen

Focus: vss. 14-16

 

14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).

Every good story has a moment where all seems lost before a glorious climax where the good guys pull out a stunning victory. John is telling just such a story. We get three years-worth of Jesus battling the bad guys and doing amazing things. He’s the hero of the story and everyone is pulling for Him. But the bad guys are getting angrier and angrier and you know that it’s all going to come to a head. Finally the bad guys do what bad guys do – they fight dirty. So they arrest Jesus and level false charges against him. According to the other gospels they bring in false witnesses to solidify their case before handing Him over to the Roman authorities. John shortens the story a bit and gives you the bare details. There is a trial, there is a crucifixion, there is a resurrection. The crucifixion is the moment where the bad guys have won. Jesus loses. This can’t be. Then the glorious climax when the tomb is found empty and Jesus walks out alive and well.

These are some great verses. Peter and John see the empty tomb and go home but Mary Magdalene stays behind and weeps for Jesus. Then she peers into the tomb and sees something very unusual: two angels are sitting where the once-dead Jesus was. She asks where they took the body of her Lord and then another guy shows up. It’s Jesus but she doesn’t recognize Him. I wonder if she couldn’t see through the tears or her mind just couldn’t fit the puzzle together as she knew well that Jesus had died on that cross. How could he possibly be here now? So he says her name and suddenly she knows who he is.

Jesus called her name and she recognized his voice. The Shepherd called to his sheep and she recognized his voice. It’s an amazing moment when Jesus calls your name. I’d recognize that voice anywhere. It’s the voice of the Risen Savior. Climax. The grave couldn’t hold him. Death couldn’t beat him. Satan couldn’t win. All seemed lost until the stone rolled away and Jesus walked out alive.

Do you realize what Jesus has done for you? We’re fond of saying that Jesus died for you but, even more importantly, Jesus lives for you. His death provided the sacrifice to pay the penalty of all the sins of humanity. His blood can wash our hearts clean. But if the Savior doesn’t defeat death, then we can never defeat death. Jesus defeats death on our behalf. Jesus has won the victory and you can have eternal life because He lives.

Prayer Focus: Dear Jesus, thank you for dying for my sins. Thank you for defeating death so that I might live eternally. Thank you for loving me unconditionally. Help me to live my life knowing that it is a gift from you. Thank you for saving me. Amen.

Day 45 – That You May Believe

Friday – March 25, 2016

Day 45 – John 19:28-37 dark cross

Focus: vs. 35

35 He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe.

The story of the death of Christ can be a difficult one to read and even more difficult to watch on the big screen. It was a bloody affair designed by the Romans to be as painful as possible for as long as possible. It was, essentially, death by asphyxiation, which is why we see the legs being broken of the other two men on the crosses with Jesus. With broken legs they could no longer hold themselves up in position to get air into their lungs. When they came to Jesus, however, they didn’t have to break His legs since he had already died. Instead, they pierced his side with a spear to make sure He was gone. When they did, blood and water flowed. It was significant enough to the executioners that they talked about it.

There are medical reasons for why this happened. The way in a person died during crucifixion would cause water to build up in the area around the heart. When Jesus’ side was pierced by the spear it must have burst this area of the heart open. What is more remarkable is the prophetic nature of how all this happened. John mentions this all took place to fulfill scripture. The first reference – that not one of his bones will be broken – likely comes from Exodus 12:46. The second reference – that they will look on him whom they have pierced – comes from Zechariah 12:10. John wants you to know this so that you will understand how Jesus continued to fulfill scriptural prophecy, even in His death. It continues to prove that He is the Messiah.

Today is Good Friday, the day of the death of Jesus which we remember during Holy Week. This is a dark day in the Church as we ponder a world where the Light has gone out and the earth is left in spiritual darkness. I can’t imagine the utter hopelessness that must have been felt by so many on this day. God showed up and we killed Him. People are still killing Him every day as they live in unbelief. Listen to the hope of Good Friday: In three days Jesus will rise again. If you think His death was amazing, wait until you see the stone roll away from the tomb!

Ponder the darkness today. It’s entirely appropriate to do so. As you think about the Light of Christ which shines in your heart, consider those who do not yet believe. Their souls still wander in darkness. Let your light shine!

Prayer Focus: Dear Jesus, help me to see the darkness of a world without You. Break my heart for the spiritual condition of so many that are around me. Help me to let my light shine so that others will find Your light. Amen.