Friday, April 7, 2023

Devotional thoughts based on the chronology of the Passion Week

The Lamb Who Cried

In preparing to write this post, I watched several YouTube video clips of sheep being sheared and slaughtered.  Wow!  I was unaware of the cultural differences or prepared to see the graphic ways sheep are slaughtered.  As I observed the Middle Eastern ritual slaughter of a sheep, I began to understand tearfully the similarities between the slaughter of sheep and the slaughter of Jesus.

The idea of God sacrificing Himself for sinners originated in His heart, even before He brought creation into existence.  When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman [virgin] to redeem sinners (Galatians 4:4).  I can see it:  Jesus humbled Himself as He stepped down from His heavenly throne, removed His regal robe, and added humanity to His divine being by being born of a virgin (Philippians 2:5-11).

Just as God the Father prepared heaven and earth for the birth of His Son, God the Father also prepared His Son, Jesus, to be the sacrificial Lamb Who would take away the sins of the world (John 1:29).  How did God prepare to sacrifice His Son?  Isaiah prophesied seven-hundred years earlier how God would prepare His Son to be sacrificed. 

Read Isaiah 53, then look more closely at verse 7.  There are four events surrounding the sacrificial preparation of the Son of God:

1.  JESUS WAS OPPRESSED.  When ancient Israel was oppressed in the land of Egypt, their lives were miserable as slaves, forced to make bricks, without straw.  In a similar sense, Jesus also felt the pressures and burdens as He ministered to the “house [sheep] of Israel.”  He too felt His enemies stalking and plotting against Him.  Eventually, Jesus’ enemies succeeded in arresting Jesus; and they tortured Him, according to the plan of God.  God the Father rules over all the affairs of man.

2.  JESUS WAS AFFLICTED.  Jesus was humiliated, mocked, ridiculed, and treated shamefully without respect throughout His earthly ministry.

3.  JESUS WAS LED TO THE SLAUGHTER.  It is a terrifying feeling for an inmate on death row to know that his final hour of life has arrived.  While today’s manner of execution is often humane, it is nothing humane about the crucifixion.

4.  JESUS WAS SHEARED.  As Jesus was led to the cross to be slaughtered by God the Father, God used the brutal hands of sinful men to strip Jesus of His clothes and to flog Him.  Jesus was vulnerable as God removed any form of protection from His Son. 


What was Jesus’ response as He was being prepared to be sacrificed? 

Jesus’ responses were voluntary meekness, silent submission, patient acceptance, and loving obedience to His Father’s will.  Even Jesus’ silence before Pontius Pilate and King Herod is another testimony of Jesus’ understanding His Father’s will for Him.  Jesus would be God’s sacrifice for us so that sinners would be reconciled to God the Father.

The prophet Isaiah prophesied the “sin-bearing Servant” [Jesus] would “…open not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).  In other words, when Jesus stood before the Jewish and Roman authorities, He did not defend Himself or cry for Himself; rather, He willingly carried His cross to Mount Calvary and sacrificed His life to pay our sin debt – to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29).

What were God the Father’s responses as He sacrificed His Son? 

FIRST:  God the Father slaughtered the Lamb of God (Isaiah 53:8) because He loves you and me.  God demonstrated His love for us by sacrificing His Son even while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).  Jesus was cut off from the land of the living.  Jesus Who knew no sin became sin for us.  Therefore, on the cross, the great exchanged occurred as Jesus took upon Himself our unrighteousness and in exchanged, gave us His righteousness (2nd Corinthians 5:21).

Nevertheless, there were the twelve legions of angels [72,000 in number] who were ready to rescue Jesus from the cross (Matthew 26:53); however, it was not God’s plan to rescue His Son, as the angels were previously given divine orders to “stand down” and not interfere with God’s plan to redeem sinners with His Son’s blood and life.

As I watched the ritual slaughter of a sheep, its limbs were tied as blood pulsated out from its slit throat, crying out “baahhh, baahhh” several times before bleeding to death.  The image of this dying and crying lamb made it most clear to me as I contemplated the divine slaughter of the Lamb of God, Whose limbs were also bound by nails and rope to a cross while Jesus cried out for us as He bled to death for our sins.  Listen to His cries:

1st Cry:     “Father, forgive them…” (Luke 23:34)

2nd Cry:   “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

3rd Cry:   “Woman, behold Your Son…” (John 19:26-27)

4th Cry:   “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46; Mark. 15:34)

5th Cry:   “I thirst.” (John 19:28)

6th Cry:   “It is finished.” (John 19:30)

7th Cry:   “Father, into Your hands I commend My Spirit.” (Luke 23:46)

Yet, what was the response of the crowds who watched and heard what was happening to the Son of God?  Who took notice?  After all, several days earlier, the crowds had shouted, “Hosanna, Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the LORD!” However, it only took a short time for the fickle crowd to turn on Jesus and cry out, “Crucify Him…His blood be on us and on our children” (Matthew 27:15-26).

I wonder, who takes notice today of Christ’s sacrifice?  While few individuals understood the significance of the events on that first Good Friday, the reality of this event changed the eternal destiny for everyone.  And 40-days after Jesus’ resurrection, about 120 disciples would wait in an upper room in Jerusalem for the promised Holy Spirit Who would begin to turn this world upside down with divine power and the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

SECOND:  God the Father buried the Lamb of God (Isaiah 53:9).  When Pilate gave Joseph of Arimathea permission to take the body down from the cross, Nicodemus also came, bringing a mixture of spices for Jesus’ burial in a new tomb in the garden (John 19:38-42). 

Isaiah says that they [Joseph and Nicodemus and others?] “…made his grave with the wicked but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth” (Isaiah 53:9).  Praise God!  Jesus would not remain long in the grave because Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins was accepted by God by the resurrection of His Son!  AMEN!

THIRD:  God the Father promised the Lamb of God a portion [glory and honor] after the sin payment for our sins was satisfied (Isaiah 53:10-12).  Because of the Father’s love for sinners, Jesus willingly gave His life for sinners like you and me so that we might have life with God the Father. 

Therefore, God the Father will reward Jesus in the following ways:

(a).  He will give eternal life to those who by faith entrust themselves to Jesus.

(b).  He will fulfill the joy of His Son.

(c).  He will declare sinners innocent – “not guilty.”

(d).  He will glorify His Son (Philippians 2:5-11).


Well do I remember the first week in March of 1975 when Sally [my wife] and I responded to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Jesus gave His all so that sinners like us may have eternal life with the Father and the Son.  Jesus demands total surrender of our being and will; anything less is unacceptable.  One day, your knee will bow to Him.  Bow before Him now so that you may bow before His Heavenly Throne of grace and mercy and not before the Great White Throne of Judgment.  I humbly plead with you to repent and to entrust yourself to Jesus.  Amen.


Dear Heavenly Father, our hearts express the joy of knowing that all our sins are forgiven because of Jesus’ sacrifice.  Thank You, Jesus ,that You cried for us and died for us as You were crucified in our place.  Thank You, Lord, for paying our sin debt because there was no way we could ever satisfy divine justice and heaven’s righteousness.  Only You could accomplish this work, and not just for one person but for the whole world.  For that reason, we praise You that we are secure in your love and salvation. 

Indeed, Good Friday is the day the work of redemption was completed.  By the power of the Holy Spirit and with the Word of God, may we be conformed into Your image every moment of every day as we surrender our lives to You. 

Listen to this blessed hymn and be blessed. “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” by Fernando Ortega


Pastor Phil

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