Walking Through Difficult Times With Jesus Part 3: Walking Through Death With Jesus

Walking Through Difficult Times With Jesus Part 3: Walking Through Death With Jesus

April 15th is tax day. There is a proverb that goes like this; “There are two things that are certain in life, death and taxes.” Someone gave me a new proverb recently: “These tax forms will be the death of me.” Our pay day for taxes is April 15th. But when is our pay day for death? Do you know when you will die or how you will die? We can’t answer these questions. But are you afraid of death or how you may die? Jesus has already walked through death and came out victorious on the other side of death; therefore, he can help us walk through death as well. Because of what Jesus did, we no longer have to fear death. Here are three ideas about death we no longer have to fear.

1. We no longer have to fear the pain of death. Death by crucifixion was a common form of capital punishment in Jesus’ day. So the Gospels don’t offer much explanation about how it was done. Mark simply says, “They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him.” Mark 15:22-24 (NIV)

Different articles I have read give this description. The arms would be stretched out and a nail placed into the wrists. The nail or spike would crush the large sensorimotor nerve which would produce bolts of fiery pain in both arms. The feet also would be nailed to the cross. The weight of the body pulling down on the outstretched arms would fix the intercostals muscles in an inhalation state and hinder exhalation. In order to exhale, the person on the cross would lift the body by pushing up with the feet and flexing the elbows. The movement placed more weight on the feet producing a searing pain. The flexing of the elbows would also produce the fiery pain in the arms. The movement of the body along the wooden cross would scrape upon the open flesh and muscle tissue. Each breath would become agonizing, tiring, and eventually lead to asphyxia. Sometimes, the legs were broken to ensure a quicker death.

Crucifixion was used to cause the greatest amount of pain to the criminal before the inevitable death. Jesus suffered the most painful death anyone could ever suffer. He gave of himself to endure this painful death for each of us. The soldiers did not have to break his legs. Jesus gave up his life willingly. Therefore, he knows how to comfort us if we should encounter a painful death. So we can let go of our fear of the pain of death.

2. We no longer have to fear the humiliation of death. While on the cross, Jesus suffered the humiliation of being stripped of his clothing, mocked as a king, and insulted for his promises. Mark describes it this way. “Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. It was the third hour when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS. They crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!’ In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.’ Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.” Mark 15:24-32 (NIV)

Ironically, Jesus was the temple being torn down that would rise again in three days. Had Jesus come down from the cross to save himself, he could not have saved anyone else. In order to save us from the judgment and penalty of sin, he willingly stayed on the cross, even through this humiliation.

If you have a fear of humiliation in death, then I ask you to look at the cross today and see Jesus as one who has already been there. He suffered in complete humiliation in his death. That doesn’t mean that we will escape humiliation in our death, but it does mean that Jesus will be there to walk with us through that experience.

3. We no longer have to fear the loneliness of death. Mark describes Jesus’ death in this way. “At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’–which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ When some of those standing near heard this, they said, ‘Listen, he’s calling Elijah.’ One man ran, 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. With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.” Mark 15:33-37 (NIV)

This is a difficult passage to understand. Even the people there were uncertain what Jesus was saying. It’s obvious he was speaking in Aramaic, and it is obvious to us now that he was quoting from Psalm 22:1. But why did Jesus say this with such a loud cry? After studying this passage and looking at many different thoughts, I have come to the conclusion that Jesus was suffering the physical, emotional, and spiritual pain of being God-forsaken. On the cross, Jesus who had no sin took upon himself the sins of the entire world. Therefore, God as Father separated himself from God as Son. Jesus not only suffered the physical pain of being tortured to death, but also he suffered the emotional and spiritual pain in his soul of being alone, apart from his Father. Jesus was given no comfort, no help from God, and no strength from the Holy Spirit. He died alone, without the Father. Because Jesus suffered in death without God’s help, no one else will ever have to suffer in death without God. No one has to go through the loneliness that Jesus went through. No one ever again has to suffer without God’s help, God’s strength, or God’s comfort. Sadly, many people choose to suffer without God because they refuse to believe in what Jesus accomplished for them.

Perhaps you have a fear of dying in loneliness. You can let go of that fear today by taking hold of the hand of Jesus. Believe in Jesus as your rescuer from sin and from the fear of death. Call upon him right now and he will come into your life to save your from your sin. I encourage you to let go of your fear of dying a lonely death; instead, take hold of Jesus who has already died alone so that you don’t have to.

Rather than fear death, walk through it with Jesus.  

 

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Walking Through Difficult Times With Jesus Part 2: Walking Through Pain With Jesus

Walking Through Difficult Times With Jesus Part 2: Walking Through Pain With Jesus

 

Somewhere around 1200 BC, we as humans came up with a rite of passage known as firewalking or walking barefoot across hot coals. This rite of passage was to test a person’s strength and courage. The last time I went to the beach during the summer, I burned my feet just walking on the sand. Yes, I do have tender feet. So I do not understand why anyone would want to walk through hot coals or intentionally cause pain. However, Jesus did choose to walk through pain for you and for me. Here are three types of pain Jesus suffered for us.

1.Jesus suffered the emotional pain of false accusations.

“Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, reached a decision. They bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate. ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ asked Pilate. ‘Yes, it is as you say,’ Jesus replied. The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, ‘Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.’ But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.” Mark 15:1-5 (NIV)

Jesus had been on trial all night before this Jewish council called the Sanhedrin. Many false accusations were brought against Jesus. The only charge against Jesus that they could agree on was blasphemy. This Jewish council condemned Jesus to death on blasphemy. However, the Sanhedrin had to get permission from Pilate, the Roman Governor, in order to carry out a death sentence. And the Jewish charge of blasphemy would not be enough for the Roman Governor to give a death sentence. So, this council came up with a political charge against Jesus—he claims to be a king. This would be a charge of treason against Caesar. So when they bring Jesus before Pilate, the governor asks Jesus directly, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus said yes, but his kingship was a spiritual one, not a political one. He was no threat to Pilate or Caesar.

2. Jesus suffered the physical pain of beatings.

“Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.” Mark 15:15 (NIV)

Pilate becomes a crowd pleaser here to keep the peace. He lets Barabbas go free and then gives the order for Jesus to be beaten and nailed to a cross. The beating was with a leather whip that had sharp pieces of bone tied along the leather straps. A person’s clothing was taken off, and then the hands were bound together and tied to a post. The beating could be done by two soldiers, alternating back and forth from either side of the criminal. As the whip came across the back and wrapping around the chest, the sharp bones would tear the flesh and muscle tissue off causing severe pain and blood loss. This beating was intended to weaken the person and hasten the death on a cross. Many would often die from the beating.

 3. Jesus suffered the spiritual pain of mocking.

“The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. Mark 15:16-20 (NIV)

The beating Jesus suffered had weakened him physically. Yet, the soldiers decided to have some fun at his expense. They mocked him as a king. They had no idea he was the King of kings and Lord of lords. They had no idea he was King over the entire universe.

I cannot begin to understand the amount of pain Jesus suffered. And he did it for you and me. Therefore, when you and I are in pain, we can walk with Jesus. He has endured more pain than we could possibly endure. Here are three specific behaviors we can display because of Jesus walking with us through pain.

1. When in pain, walk with Jesus by remaining faithful to him.

“So keep your mind on Jesus, who put up with many insults from sinners. Then you won’t get discouraged and give up.” Hebrews 12:3 (CEV)

If we are being persecuted, if we are being hurt physically, emotionally, or spiritually, we are to keep our focus on Jesus. He has already endured the insults, the beatings, and the false accusations. He has paved that path for us. There is no reason for us to be discouraged or to give up. Jesus is with us, and we can remain faithful no matter what the pain or the source of the pain.

2. When in pain, walk with Jesus by refusing to fear people.

“Don’t be afraid of people. They can kill you, but they cannot harm your soul. Instead, you should fear God who can destroy both your body and your soul in hell.” Matthew 10:28 (CEV)

Jesus encourages us that no one can harm our soul when we belong to him. Others can persecute us for our faith and yes even kill us, but they cannot harm our soul. Our soul is safe with Jesus. If Jesus is your Lord and Savior, you are safe in God’s arms. Rather than fear people, we are to fear God. Why are we to fear God? Because God does have the power to judge people destroy them in hell. So what does it mean to fear God? Proverbs 8:13 (NIV) says, “To fear the LORD is to hate evil.” So fearing God is not to be afraid of him, but to hate what he hates. God hates evil and sin. Fearing God is to hate what he hates.

3. When in pain, walk with Jesus by trusting God’s judgment.

“He did not retaliate when he was insulted. When he suffered, he did not threaten to get even. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.” 1 Peter 2:23 (NLT)

Jesus is God. He could have sent flames to burn away the Roman soldiers. He could have called for angels to rescue him from the pain. He could have opened the earth to swallow up the Jewish leaders. Instead, he was ready to give of his life for ours, and he did not retaliate. If Jesus had retaliated, if Jesus had called for a rescue from his pain, then you and I would not be here today. Because of what Jesus did, you and I can trust God’s judgment today. God will judge all those who persecute Christians and cause us pain.

Pain occurs in our life in a variety of forms; sickness, disease, crime and violence, verbal abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, natural disasters, car accidents, and persecution for our faith. As far as I am concerned, no one will ever suffer more pain than Jesus did. He did that for us, and it was our sin that caused his pain. Today, Jesus is no longer in pain; instead, he knows how to take your hand and walk you through any and every pain of life. Will you take his hand and let him lead you. When in pain, walk with Jesus.

Walking Through Difficult Times With Jesus Part 1: Walking Through Betrayal with Jesus

Walking Through Difficult Times With Jesus Part 1: Walking Through Betrayal with Jesus

In the fall of 2013, the ABC network created and aired a new television drama entitled Betrayal. In the spring of the 2014, ABC canceled the show after only one season. In other words, Betrayal was betrayed. You would think that as common as betrayal is that a television drama about betrayal would have lasted more than one season. Betrayal happens to all of us, and it happened to Jesus.

Here are three harsh truths about betrayal that we learn from Jesus’ experience.

1. Betrayal comes from friends. Only friends can betray us. Here is what happened to Jesus. “Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: ‘The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.’ Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Rabbi!’ and kissed him. The men seized Jesus and arrested him. Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.” Mark 14:43-47 (NIV)

Judas was a disciple and friend of Jesus. However, Jesus was ready for this betrayal and arrest, and he was not going to fight against it. Even though it came from a friend, Jesus was not surprised, shocked, or frightened by the betrayal. He had predicted this would happen. He knew Judas would do it. And he prepared for it through prayer.

2. Betrayal is concealed in darkness. Betrayal is ugly, evil, and dark. This betrayal of Judas towards Jesus happened in the physical darkness of night, but it was also a dark spiritual behavior. Luke tells it this way. “Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, ‘Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour–when darkness reigns.’” Luke 22:52-53 (NIV)

Jesus’ question points specifically to the darkness of their behavior. This mob was afraid of a riot from the larger Jewish community. Jesus had a great following and if they had tried to arrest him in daylight while he was at the Temple, the people would have started a riot. By coming at night with swords and clubs, they demonstrated their cowardice, their evil intent, and their fear of Jesus.

3. Betrayal causes others to desert us. There is often a snowball effect to betrayal. When one friend betrays us, others like to jump on the bandwagon. Let’s see what happened to Jesus. “Then everyone deserted him and fled.” Mark 14:50 (NIV)

Jesus had prepared his disciples for this moment and told them it would happen. Only a few hours earlier they joined in with Peter and stated, “I will never disown you.” Mark 14:31 (NIV) Just as Jesus had predicted and the scriptures had prophesied, they all deserted him.

So what are we to do when we are betrayed? Here are three ideas.

1. When betrayed, rely on the presence of Jesus. In Hebrews, we find this promise. “The Lord has promised that he will not leave us or desert us.” Hebrews 13:5 (CEV)

Unlike English, the Greek language often uses more than one negative in a sentence. In this promise as it is written in Greek, there are a total of five negatives. There are two negatives associated with the word leave and three negatives associated with the word desert. So we could translate it this way; “The Lord has promised that he will not never leave us nor not never desert us.” It ain’t proper English, but it emphasizes the reality that Jesus will always be with us and never desert us. He will walk with you through any and every betrayal you encounter. When your closest friend betrays you and others friends desert you, Jesus will not leave you alone. Rely on his presence.

2. When betrayed, rely on the comfort of Jesus. Here’s another promise in 2 Corinthians. “We share in the terrible sufferings of Christ, but also in the wonderful comfort he gives.” 2 Corinthians 1:5 (CEV)

This teaches us the truth that as followers of Jesus, we will share in the sufferings of Jesus—which includes betrayal. However, we also share in the comfort of Jesus. Since Jesus has already walked through betrayal, then he knows exactly the comfort we need. When you encounter the darkness and evil of betrayal, rely on the comfort of Jesus.

3. When betrayed, rely on the friendship of Jesus. Here’s a wonderful truth from Jesus. “I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.” John 15:15 (MSG)

Even before they betrayed him, Jesus said “I call you friends.” Jesus was entrusting to his disciples the very things of God the Father. At first, they betrayed this trust; but after the resurrection and after Pentecost the disciples took hold of this trust of friendship and conquered the world with it. Even though betrayal comes from friends, Jesus is the only friend who will never betray you. He will always be your friend. Rely on Jesus as your closest friend.

When you are betrayed, walk with Jesus.