Saturday, April 23, 2011

the gruesome Truth. the Lamb. and the Glorious day.

When I think of Jesus, I get a picture of a man in my mind. A humble man, with a soft smile on His lips. I see Him extending His arms out to little children, ruffling their hair, calling them by name. Then He sees me, approaching Him on the grassy field. He calls to me, takes my hand, and He walks with me. I am filled with child-like faith, joy, and peace as I walk with Jesus into the distance...

I day dream about this all the time, picturing me and Jesus, walking in Heaven, laughing together.

The Jesus I most often picture is: Love, Compassion, Humility, Gentleness, Peace, Beauty through Mercy and Grace.

This picture is beautiful. It definitely represents a part of who Jesus is, but it is a very very very limited view compared to all of who He is and was when He was here on earth.

1 "Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 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.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
He was despised, and we held Him in low esteem.

4 Surely He took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered Him punished by God,
stricken by Him, and afflicted.
5 But He was pierced for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on Him,
and by His wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on Him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet He did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so He did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of His generation protested?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people He was punished.

9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in His death,
though He had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in His mouth.

10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes His life an offering for sin,
He will see His offspring and prolong His days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
11 After He has suffered,
He will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by His knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and He will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give Him a portion among the great,
and He will divide the spoils with the strong,
because He poured out His life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For He bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors."

-Isaiah 53:1-12

In the past week I have read this passage again and again and again every day. I've been reading Isaiah a lot lately, and when I came across this passage, I was filled with joy! And awe! I didn't remember ever reading it before (or realizing it was about Jesus before--though I have read the Bible many times in the past, and I'm sure each and every time I have been filled with a similar joy in the fact that some of words in here are very famous words I sing all the time, "He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our sins; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed." Even so, I had forgotten about this prophesy in Isaiah!!)

Each time I read it again and again, I am still filled with so much awe, and amazement. Wow. Jesus was disgusting in appearance. Not always beautiful on the outside like I picture Him. Isaiah says, "He had no beauty or majesty. Nothing that we should desire Him. Like one whom people hide their faces."

On the outside He was gross. Disgusting. Bloody. Wounded. And scarred. If we saw Jesus with the crown of thorns piercing through His head, with His beaten and pierced skin, with nails through His hands and feet, we would have to turn our heads. We'd be too disgusted to even look. We would not want to remember the horrible sight. We'd be more comfortable forgetting. Not seeing.

But this is Jesus!!!!!!

My precious Jesus. The same beautiful Jesus who's Hand I long to hold became so incredibly beaten and ugly, horribly DISGUSTINGLY crucified out of love for me and love for God His Father.

This passage in Isaiah compares that gruesome death to an innocent lamb being slaughtered.

I say, "Lamb of God, Prince of Peace" all the time. But recently this has began to mean so much more to me... Lately, I have been challenging myself to think deeply about Jesus as the Lamb. The innocent little Lamb slaughtered for my sins.

Exodus chapter 12 talks about when lamb's blood was smeared on door frames for Passover. Before this happened a family had to take a lamb into their home for a few days. The children and family may have become attached to the lamb during that time, and then they had to slaughter the innocent, cute little lamb, eat it, and spread its blood on their door frame.

The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread

1 "The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, 2 “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. 3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. 4 If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. 5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. 6 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. 7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. 8 That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. 9 Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire—with the head, legs and internal organs. 10 Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. 11 This is how you are to at it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’s Passover. 12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. 14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD—a lasting ordinance."

-Exodus 12:1-14

In the Old Testament the significance of the lamb was that Israel shed innocent blood. The lamb was a sacrifice. Its blood was a substitute for the blood of a person who would have been killed in the plague. From this night on Israel would remember that innocent life had been sacrificed in their place.

All of this foreshadowed what God would do with Jesus, the Lamb of God.

Jesus' blood was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. Jesus' innocent blood was shed in our place so that we don't have to die to sin anymore. We are free from wrath! Free from the eternal fires of hell. Our sins are washed away by the blood of Jesus. God's love and Salvation now cover us. By faith in Jesus Christ we now have the gift of eternal life!!!!

"It was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a Lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through Him you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him, and so your faith and hope are in God. Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God."
-1 Peter 1:18-23

I've been thinking hard about all of this. Thinking about Jesus' love for me. The love that led Him to die this gruesome way for me. And the love He had for His Father that He would be obedient to Him until death. This shows that He really believed in the Father's love for Him and for us. Jesus' radical life and death show how much He believed that the joy ahead of Him was worth it!!!! He died for us, to be the offering, the sacrifice, the Lamb, so that our sins are now forgiven through His blood. He died so He could rise again. Be in Heaven with the Father. Give us new Life through His resurrection!!! And welcome us into His Kingdom. Wow. That is love.

"Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing 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. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
-Hebrews 12:1-3

I've also been thinking about God's love for us.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him."
-John 3:16-17

I can't imagine how hard and painful that was for God to watch His beloved Son die that horrible gruesome death. But God loved me that much. And God, also, knew the joy that was coming. Why did God want us to share in that joy??!! He could've been selfish. Could've kept the joy of Heaven all for Himself. But He didn't. He loved us that much. Had so much compassion that He forgives us even though we have sinned horribly against Him.

"How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
And make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the man upon the cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

God loves and forgives a horrible horrible sinner such as me so much that He slaughtered His innocent Son, the Lamb, for my sins. And He invites me to eternal life with Him!!!

"He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation."

-Romans 4:25-5:11

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom"

The best part is the joy that all this brings: the promise of eternal life!!! What a glorious day that will be when I can walk with Jesus.

Beautiful. Humble. Loving. Compassionate Jesus.

My Savior.

The Lamb.

My God.

One day when Heaven was filled with His praises
One day when sin was as
black as could be
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin
Dwelt among men, my example is He
Word became flesh and the Light shined among us
His glory revealed

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day

One day they led Him up Calvary’s mountain
One day they nailed Him to die on a tree
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He
Hands that healed nations, stretched out on a tree
And took the nails for me

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer
One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose, over death He had conquered
Now He’s ascended, my Lord evermore
Death could not hold Him,
the grave could not keep Him
From rising again

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming
One day the skies with His glories will shine
Wonderful day, my Beloved One, bringing
My Savior, Jesus, is mine

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