Friday, March 30, 2018

Expressions of Faith. A Cross and a Curtain

A Cross                     &                  A Curtain

A Cross
On several levels, Good Friday as a name for the day Jesus was crucified sounds wrong. This version of the title, Good?Friday might be more appropriate.

Then again, perhaps not!

Jewish scholars of the First Century should have known who Jesus was when He came.

Somehow, the finest Hebrew minds misinterpreted the following:

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 53:1-6, 12b

This is the central Old Testament passage on Christ's suffering on the cross as the sacrifice for our sin. 

Be sure you don't misinterpret this passage. 

There is no other pathway to the forgiveness of God and the redemption of your soul.

The appropriate sacrifice was only part of God's plan for entering His presence.

A Curtain
When the Ark of the Covenant was built, the Spirit of God appeared as a visible cloud above the wings of the angels on top of the cover.

The Temple in Jerusalem had the Holy Place, where the priests performed their duties. It also had a Holy of Holies.

This special room held the Ark of the Covenant, which still represented the physical presence of the Spirit of God. Only the High Priest entered that room only one time each year.

The exact size of the Holy of Holies at the time of the crucifixion is hard to pin down. It was at least 30-feet square, and probably at least that tall. A heavy curtain—sometimes called the veil of the Temple—separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place. It reached from ceiling to floor.

A recreated view of the Herodian Temple, focusing on the veil that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. Image courtesy of Glo Bible Software
In Mark 15, we read the statement that veil of the Temple was torn just before Jesus dies.

And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom
Mark 15:38 [NASB]
The picture above may have exaggerated the height of the Holy of Holies. But, even if the height of the room was 30-feet, that means that the top if the thick curtain was 30-feet above floor level. 

Human hands would have started at the bottom of the veil and torn from the bottom up. Whether by an angel's hand or the hand of God, that curtain was torn from top to bottom. Entrance to the Holy of Holies was no longer blocked. This act signifies that God, Himself invites us into His presence.

This means that through Jesus we have free and unrestricted access to God.
I like this version of the tearing of the veil because it portrays Christ's sacrifice as the cause of the event.
The torn veil symbolizes our hope to live in God's presence day-by-day.

It's okay be sad for Jesus's death on Good Friday. But, as Tony Campolo said in a well-known sermon excerpt

It's Friday, but Sunday's coming!

Next Expressions of Faith: Special Easter Post. He is Risen!

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Timeless Truths. Post Resurrection Appearances

I doodled this in the margin space of my notes on this sermon. This should not imply that the message was boring or otherwise non-engaging. Some of my college notes look more like art folios than science lectures.
Oh, yeah, the picture is the empty tomb entrance with the rock rolled away.

Very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, carrying the spices they had prepared. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the entrance to the tomb, 3 so they went in; but they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 They stood there puzzled about this, when suddenly two men in bright shining clothes stood by them. 5 Full of fear, the women bowed down to the ground, as the men said to them, “Why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive? 6 He is not here; he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, be crucified, and three days later rise to life.’”
8 Then the women remembered his words, 9 returned from the tomb, and told all these things to the eleven disciples and all the rest. 10 The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; they and the other women with them told these things to the apostles. 11 But the apostles thought that what the women said was nonsense, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; he bent down and saw the grave cloths but nothing else. Then he went back home amazed at what had happened.[a]
13 On that same day two of Jesus' followers were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking to each other about all the things that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed, Jesus himself drew near and walked along with them; 16 they saw him, but somehow did not recognize him. 17 Jesus said to them, “What are you talking about to each other, as you walk along?”
They stood still, with sad faces. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn't know the things that have been happening there these last few days?”
19 “What things?” he asked.
“The things that happened to Jesus of Nazareth,” they answered. “This man was a prophet and was considered by God and by all the people to be powerful in everything he said and did. 20 Our chief priests and rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and he was crucified. 21 And we had hoped that he would be the one who was going to set Israel free! Besides all that, this is now the third day since it happened. 22 Some of the women of our group surprised us; they went at dawn to the tomb, 23 but could not find his body. They came back saying they had seen a vision of angels who told them that he is alive. 24 Some of our group went to the tomb and found it exactly as the women had said, but they did not see him.”
25 Then Jesus said to them, “How foolish you are, how slow you are to believe everything the prophets said! 26 Was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and then to enter his glory?” 27 And Jesus explained to them what was said about himself in all the Scriptures, beginning with the books of Moses and the writings of all the prophets.
28 As they came near the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther; 29 but they held him back, saying, “Stay with us; the day is almost over and it is getting dark.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 He sat down to eat with them, took the bread, and said the blessing; then he broke the bread and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he disappeared from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Wasn't it like a fire burning in us when he talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”
33 They got up at once and went back to Jerusalem, where they found the eleven disciples gathered together with the others 34 and saying, “The Lord is risen indeed! He has appeared to Simon!”
35 The two then explained to them what had happened on the road, and how they had recognized the Lord when he broke the bread.
36 While the two were telling them this, suddenly the Lord himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”[b]
37 They were terrified, thinking that they were seeing a ghost. 38 But he said to them, “Why are you alarmed? Why are these doubts coming up in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet, and see that it is I myself. Feel me, and you will know, for a ghost doesn't have flesh and bones, as you can see I have.”
40 He said this and showed them his hands and his feet.[c] 41 They still could not believe, they were so full of joy and wonder; so he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of cooked fish, 43 which he took and ate in their presence.
44 Then he said to them, “These are the very things I told you about while I was still with you: everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the writings of the prophets, and the Psalms had to come true.”
45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “This is what is written: the Messiah must suffer and must rise from death three days later, 47 and in his name the message about repentance and the forgiveness of sins must be preached to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And I myself will send upon you what my Father has promised. But you must wait in the city until the power from above comes down upon you.”
Luke 24:1-49

Several appearances by Jesus after the resurrection are recorded in Scripture. There are four similarities between them.
  • The observers could not believe it was Jesus.
  • There is no connection between Biblical prophecy and the appearance of Jesus.
  • There was excitement and sharing of the event by those involved.

Lessons to be Learned
Jesus always comes to us right in our circumstances.

We must recognize Jesus when He comes. That means expanding our outlook beyond our expectations.

Jesus’ unrecorded appearance to Peter/Simon (v34) illustrates justification (forgiveness) and reconciliation (restoration of joy).

Two disciples going to Emmaus relates women’s experience as a vision. The empty tomb does not bring faith or belief. Faith and belief come with meeting Jesus.

All preachers in Acts use Jesus model of explaining Himself to those on the road by showing Himself throughout Scripture.

The fact of the resurrection is finally established,” not by the women’s testimony but only after Peter and the Emmaus disciples—men—report meeting Him (vv34-36)
Even then, the disciples in Jerusalem think Jesus is a ghost and need physical evidence to believe.
However, the women and all the disciples are affirmed as important by Christ in vv45-49.

When our circumstances don’t change, we can expect God to change us!

Special thanks to Pastor Nancy Clayton for the primary teachings in this post.

Last week's Timeless Truths post (Palm Sunday: Beyond the tree branches) included Dr. Sam Powell as the source of the primary teachings in that post. Here are the links to Dr. Powell's Facebook page and website. My apologies to Dr. Powell for this oversight.

Special thanks to Dr. Sam Powell for the primary teachings in this post (Palm Sunday: Beyond the tree branches).

Dr Powell's Facebook page: and his website: On The Boundary
Next Timeless Truth: Keep Your Distance - A Post-Lentan Message

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Thoughts on Questions on Hebrews Ch 11 from 3/25/18

My Sunday School Life Group is studying Hebrews. Every Monday, I post questions that were discussed the day before in Sunday School. I invite you to ponder/think about them and jot down your thoughts.

On Wednesdays, I post some of the ideas that came up in the Life Group's discussion for you to consider and compare with your thoughts.  

These questions were discussed in my Life Group Sunday. This post includes thoughts from the class discussion.

Chapter 11
Vv 29-40
Answers to the Chart from Monday.
Scripture reference link Scriptures to examples of each column.

Vv39-40 provide a sobering end to this generally uplifting chapter.
1. What’s the good news?
God has better plans than we do.
2. What’s the bad news?
People are not perfect.
3. What do we have to do with this?
Accept that the fulfillment of God’s promise is JESUS.

We Got This Far This Week

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