Shortly after Peter professes that Jesus is the Messiah of God (Luke 9:18 – 20), Jesus again tells his followers that he must suffer, be rejected by the church leaders, be killed, and then be raised to life on the third day. He then explains that anyone who wants to be his disciple must take up his or her cross and follow him (Luke 9:21 – 23).
Jesus’ crucifixion begins with a brutal beating, wearing a crown of thorns, and carrying his own crossbeam through the city to the place of his execution. While Jesus
is dying, the land becomes supernaturally dark. Around three in the afternoon, Jesus cries out in Hebrew, quoting from Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:45 – 46, NIV). At this moment, Jesus is taking upon himself all of humanity’s sin, as well as all of God’s wrath, mysteriously experiencing complete separation from the Father.
In John’s account of the crucifixion, he records Jesus’ last words as “It is finished,” after which Jesus “bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:28 – 30, NIV). These words signify the accomplishment of the Father’s will in reconciling humanity to himself. The cross of Christ, the blood of the Lamb, now provides direct access to a holy and loving God.
When Jesus dies, the earth shakes, rocks split, tombs open, and the massive veil in the Holy of Holies in the Jerusalem temple is split from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51 – 52). Jesus is then placed inside of a cave-like tomb secured by a large boulder and guarded by two Roman soldiers (Mark 15:42 – 47; Matthew 27:62 – 66).
The Miracle of Easter
On the third day after Jesus’ death, an angel with an “appearance like lightning” and “clothes as white as snow” appears at the tomb. The guards are so afraid, they become “like dead men.” To the women at Jesus’ tomb who had come to tend to his body, the angel says, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said” (Matthew 28:5 – 6, NIV).
The angel then tells the women to go and tell the disciples the news: Jesus “has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him” (Matthew 28:7, NIV). As the women report this news to the disciples, Jesus appears to them. They fall at his feet and worship him (Matthew 28:9). Jesus, the Author of life, now holds the keys of death and hades (Revelation 1:18). For more on The Most Significant People, Places, and Events of the Bible, watch the 30 second video trailer here.
The following is an excerpt from What You Need to Know About Heaven.
Let’s imagine the impossible. Let’s say a person is born, lives a full life, and dies without violating any of God’s commands. Let’s say the person never utters a falsehood, never harbors a millisecond of ill will toward another person, and never gives God less than 100 percent devotion. Let’s say the person’s every thought, attitude, word, and deed honor God.
In the context of eternal life, such a sparkling résumé would still fall immeasurably short of the standard required for atoning for sin and restoring the relationship with God. Even if no sin were committed, the person would still have an inherited sinful nature to answer for. No one born of man and woman could offer the perfect sacrifice that God requires for the atonement of sin.
A person conceived by the Holy Spirit and delivered by a virgin, on the other hand, would have no inherited sinful nature. If that person could manage the impossible—live a sinless life with absolutely no offenses against God—he would be a fitting candidate to bring about atonement.
Of course, this perfect candidate would have to agree to endure unprecedented agony—the kind of torture and death that would be unimaginable to anyone else. This innocent, blameless specimen of perfection would be subjected to the totality of God’s holy wrath and judgment for the sins of the world. The suffering and pain we deserve would instead be heaped on him. He who knew no sin would, in effect, become sin in God’s eyes—and be punished accordingly.
Only One could satisfy those demands. But in order to do that, he had to leave his idyllic existence in heaven for a life of rejection, ridicule, and betrayal on our sin-ravaged planet. He had to give up his autonomy and become a helpless baby. He had to lay aside his perfections and make himself vulnerable to pain, sickness, and exhaustion. He had to submit to physical limitations, such as hunger and thirst. He had to squeeze his infinite presence into a container of flesh roughly five-and-a-half-feet tall.
Only Jesus could have bridged the gap between God and humanity. Only Jesus did.
The above article appears in What You Need to Know About Heaven, which is on sale where magazines are sold within the United States and Canada.
Genesis 26:5 "I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed"
Imagine how overwhelmed Abraham must have been when God laid these promises on him. The sheer grandness of them caused Abraham to fall to the ground. Of course, God kept these promises. God multiplied Abraham’s descendants beyond what he could imagine. Kings did come from Abraham—most importantly, the King of kings, Jesus Himself.
God has also made promises to us throughout His Word. Sometimes these promises can seem too grand to be true: eternal life in a perfect place with streets of gold? How could this be? But God does not lie. God keeps His promises. If God kept His promises to Abraham, we can be confident He will keep His promises to us. If we find ourselves doubting, all we have to do is return to God’s Word to find the truth: that He has been faithful to His Word, over and over, throughout time, no matter how impossible His promises may seem.
The above devotion is taken from an upcoming project to be published by Barbour Publishing. It will appear in the KJV PROPHECY STUDY BIBLE.
Understanding God's forgiveness can release you from guilt and free you from shame. If you need to better understand God's forgiveness--or if you need to take a step toward forgiving someone else--then subscribe below.
This free series lasts 5 days. Each day you will receive a link to a 2-3 minute video and a PDF to a Bible study that can be completed in 10-15 minutes. This study will cover the following topics:
Day 1: Sin, Confession, and a Holy God
Day 2: What is True Repentance?
Day 3: No Condemnation
Day 4: Stop Trying to Earn God's Forgiveness!
Day 5: How Can I forgive Others if I Don't Feel Like Forgiving?
What's the catch? There is none. Like forgiveness the study is completely free and made available to anyone who needs it.
If we claim to be without
sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins,
he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all
unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8–9)
To confess our sins means
to admit to our sin and also to agree with God that we need forgiveness. When
we genuinely confess our sins to God, he is faithful to forgive us. When we
repent, he purifies us from our sins.
doesn’t mean that you need to keep a diary of every bad thought you think and
every bad deed you do and then name them to God one by one. But it does mean
that, as Christians, we need to continually acknowledge that we are sinners, in
need of God’s saving grace.
we do this, God makes us new. He wipes the slate clean and gives us a fresh
start—every time. We do not need to return to our sinful habits. We do not need
to be slaves to our sin. Through the blood of Jesus, God sets us free from our
sin. Free and forgiven.
The name Immanuel means “God is with us.” Is there any single more comforting word in all of Scripture? The birth of Jesus marked an unprecedented moment in human history. God himself, the eternal I AM, came to dwell with his people in a physical form that was familiar to us. No longer was he guiding the people of Israel with a pillar of cloud or fire that moved ahead of them. No longer was he a disembodied voice who spoke from a burning bush or a storm-lashed mountaintop. In the person of Jesus, God came to live with us, just as the Old Testament prophet Isaiah had foretold.
The above article was adapted from JESUS which my team created for Time Inc. It appears in the winter of 2014-2015 as a special edition magazine within the USA.