"They took Jesus, and led him away."
He had been all night in agony, he had spent the early morning at the hall of Caiaphas, he had been hurried from Caiaphas to Pilate, from Pilate to Herod, and from Herod back again to Pilate; he had, therefore, but little strength left, and yet neither refreshment nor rest were permitted him. They were eager for his blood, and therefore led him out to die, loaded with the cross. O dolorous procession! Well may Salem's daughters weep. My soul, do thou weep also.
What learn we here as we see our blessed Lord led forth? Do we not perceive that truth which was set forth in shadow by the scapegoat? Did not the high-priest bring the scapegoat, and put both his hands upon its head, confessing the sins of the people, that thus those sins might be laid upon the goat, and cease from the people? Then the goat was led away by a fit man into the wilderness, and it carried away the sins of the people, so that if they were sought for they could not be found. Now we see Jesus brought before the priests and rulers, who pronounce him guilty; God himself imputes our sins to him, "the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all;" "He was made sin for us;" and, as the substitute for our guilt, bearing our sin upon his shoulders, represented by the cross; we see the great Scapegoat led away by the appointed officers of justice. Beloved, can you feel assured that he carried your sin? As you look at the cross upon his shoulders, does it represent your sin? There is one way by which you can tell whether he carried your sin or not. Have you laid your hand upon his head, confessed your sin, and trusted in him? Then your sin lies not on you; it has all been transferred by blessed imputation to Christ, and he bears it on his shoulder as a load heavier than the cross.
Let not the picture vanish till you have rejoiced in your own deliverance, and adored the loving Redeemer upon whom your iniquities were laid.
"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."
Here a confession of sin common to all the elect people of God. They have all fallen, and therefore, in common chorus, they all say, from the first who entered heaven to the last who shall enter there, "All we like sheep have gone astray." The confession, while thus unanimous, is also special and particular: "We have turned every one to his own way." There is a peculiar sinfulness about every one of the individuals; all are sinful, but each one with some special aggravation not found in his fellow. It is the mark of genuine repentance that while it naturally associates itself with other penitents, it also takes up a position of loneliness. "We have turned every one to his own way," is a confession that each man had sinned against light peculiar to himself, or sinned with an aggravation which he could not perceive in others. This confession is unreserved; there is not a word to detract from its force, nor a syllable by way of excuse. The confession is a giving up of all pleas of self-righteousness. It is the declaration of men who are consciously guilty--guilty with aggravations, guilty without excuse: they stand with their weapons of rebellion broken in pieces, and cry, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way." Yet we hear no dolorous wailings attending this confession of sin; for the next sentence makes it almost a song. "The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." It is the most grievous sentence of the three, but it overflows with comfort. Strange is it that where misery was concentrated mercy reigned; where sorrow reached her climax weary souls find rest. The Saviour bruised is the healing of bruised hearts. See how the lowliest penitence gives place to assured confidence through simply gazing at Christ on the cross!===
Today's reading: Judges 19-21, Luke 7:31-50 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Judges 19-21
A Levite and His Concubine
1 In those days Israel had no king.
Now a Levite who lived in a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim took a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. 2 But she was unfaithful to him. She left him and went back to her parents' home in Bethlehem, Judah. After she had been there four months, 3 her husband went to her to persuade her to return. He had with him his servant and two donkeys. She took him into her parents' home, and when her father saw him, he gladly welcomed him. 4 His father-in-law, the woman's father, prevailed on him to stay; so he remained with him three days, eating and drinking, and sleeping there....
Today's New Testament reading: Luke 7:31-50
The Faith of the Centurion
31 Jesus went on to say, "To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:
"'We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not cry.'
33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.' 34 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.' 35 But wisdom is proved right by all her children...."===
There is no new Lent reading today; today is a catch-up day. If you've kept up with the daily readings so far, congratulations! If you've fallen behind, here are the readings from the last week in case you want to go back and catch up:
Monday: Mark 13-14
Tuesday: Mark 15-16
Wednesday: Luke 1-3
Thursday: Luke 4-6
Friday: Luke 7-9
Saturday: Luke 10-12
Have a blessed Sunday!
THE FREEDOM OF THE CROSS
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).
What a bold claim! Because Christ came, because he lived a perfect life and died the death that should have been ours, because he rose from the dead on the third day, we can be free! Free from what? One can think of all the things that put the human soul in bondage. Fear of death? Yes! Jesus went there, and came through the other side, and said we could join him. Sin? Yes! God wants us to be free from the task-master that is sin. He wants us to be liberated from our own limitations, our obsessions, addictions, and bondage. Evil? Yes! We can be free from the power of the Evil One as we come to believe that Jesus stomped on his head ( Genesis 3:15) and that Satan’s power can never rival God’s.
The cross of Christ frees us from spiritual diversions that do not move us closer to God. It tears down temples and rituals and regimens. It nullifies self-righteousness and spiritual pride. The apostle Paul says in this verse that the effects of the crucifixion of Jesus, this once-for-all antidote for our spiritual disease, is his work, and his grace.
So the choice is this–hang onto the notion that we are to perform well and hope that God gives us a reward for a job well done, or come to the crucified Jesus, be humbled by him, and let his work set us free.
Ponder This: What is it that is limiting your freedom today? And how might this apply to you: “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free”?