"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."
We go to Christ for forgiveness, and then too often look to the law for power to fight our sins. Paul thus rebukes us, "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" Take your sins to Christ's cross, for the old man can only be crucified there: we are crucified with him. The only weapon to fight sin with is the spear which pierced the side of Jesus. To give an illustration--you want to overcome an angry temper; how do you go to work? It is very possible you have never tried the right way of going to Jesus with it. How did I get salvation? I came to Jesus just as I was, and I trusted him to save me. I must kill my angry temper in the same way. It is the only way in which I can ever kill it. I must go to the cross with it, and say to Jesus, "Lord, I trust thee to deliver me from it." This is the only way to give it a death-blow. Are you covetous? Do you feel the world entangle you? You may struggle against this evil so long as you please, but if it be your besetting sin, you will never be delivered from it in any way but by the blood of Jesus. Take it to Christ. Tell him, "Lord, I have trusted thee, and thy name is Jesus, for thou dost save thy people from their sins: Lord, this is one of my sins; save me from it!" Ordinances are nothing without Christ as a means of mortification. Your prayers, and your repentances, and your tears--the whole of them put together--are worth nothing apart from him. "None but Jesus can do helpless sinners good;" or helpless saints either. You must be conquerors through him who hath loved you, if conquerors at all. Our laurels must grow among his olives in Gethsemane.
"Lo, in the midst of the throne ... stood a Lamb as it had been slain."
Why should our exalted Lord appear in his wounds in glory? The wounds of Jesus are his glories, his jewels, his sacred ornaments. To the eye of the believer, Jesus is passing fair because he is "white and ruddy:" white with innocence, and ruddy with his own blood. We see him as the lily of matchless purity, and as the rose crimsoned with his own gore. Christ is lovely upon Olivet and Tabor, and by the sea, but oh! there never was such a matchless Christ as he that did hang upon the cross. There we beheld all his beauties in perfection, all his attributes developed, all his love drawn out, all his character expressed. Beloved, the wounds of Jesus are far more fair in our eyes than all the splendour and pomp of kings. The thorny crown is more than an imperial diadem. It is true that he bears not now the sceptre of reed, but there was a glory in it that never flashed from sceptre of gold. Jesus wears the appearance of a slain Lamb as his court dress in which he wooed our souls, and redeemed them by his complete atonement. Nor are these only the ornaments of Christ: they are the trophies of his love and of his victory. He has divided the spoil with the strong. He has redeemed for himself a great multitude whom no man can number, and these scars are the memorials of the fight. Ah! if Christ thus loves to retain the thought of his sufferings for his people, how precious should his wounds be to us!
"Behold how every wound of his
A precious balm distils,
Which heals the scars that sin had made,
And cures all mortal ills.
"Those wounds are mouths that preach his grace;
The ensigns of his love;
The seals of our expected bliss
In paradise above."
Today's reading: 2 Samuel 16-18, Luke 17:20-37 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: 2 Samuel 16-18
David and Ziba
1 When David had gone a short distance beyond the summit, there was Ziba, the steward of Mephibosheth, waiting to meet him. He had a string of donkeys saddled and loaded with two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred cakes of raisins, a hundred cakes of figs and a skin of wine.
2 The king asked Ziba, "Why have you brought these?"
Ziba answered, "The donkeys are for the king's household to ride on, the bread and fruit are for the men to eat, and the wine is to refresh those who become exhausted in the wilderness."
3 The king then asked, "Where is your master's grandson?"
Ziba said to him, "He is staying in Jerusalem, because he thinks, 'Today the Israelites will restore to me my grandfather's kingdom.'"
4 Then the king said to Ziba, "All that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours."
"I humbly bow," Ziba said. "May I find favor in your eyes, my lord the king...."
Today's New Testament reading: Luke 17:20-37
The Coming of the Kingdom of God
20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is in your midst."
22 Then he said to his disciples, "The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. 23 People will tell you, 'There he is!' or 'Here he is!' Do not go running off after them. 24 For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation....
WAITING FOR GOD
Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. (John 19:38-42)
A small act of mercy on the part of Joseph of Arimathea meant that Jesus’ limp and lifeless body would not be thrown into a pit of a grave, but laid carefully in a rock-hewn garden tomb. Joseph was probably a man with significant conflicts. Wealthy, a prominent member of the Jewish council, he represented the very establishment that was committed to Jesus’ demise. Yet he believed in Jesus, secretly. To believe in Jesus does put one on the spot. Being a committed disciple of Jesus always upsets the status quo.
Nicodemus, also fearful but compelled, came to the tomb too. So there two men, both of whose associations put them at odds with Jesus, both of whom really wanted to believe, are the ones who respectfully wrap the body of Jesus in cloths and seventy-five pounds of spices. Yet the only thing that can really take away the stench of death and its empty stare is resurrection.
These and the other disciples were still stuck in that no-man’s-land between life and death. All that Jesus’ followers had to hold onto were Jesus’ vague words about rising from death. Could such words be taken seriously at all? What would they do in these days? Would they be arrested next? And so they waited behind locked doors because there was nothing else to do.
Ponder This: Is there some way in which you are waiting to see what will happen next? How will you find faith in the waiting place?
Today's Lent reading: 1 Corinthians 15 (NIV)View today's Lent reading on Bible Gateway
The Resurrection of Christ
1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.